By TheBigN(o respect probably after this post)
I find Strike Witches to be some cheesy endearing fluff that I don’t mind paying money to watch, since I haven’t fully realized the debt that I’m going to be in once this whole med school/residency/fellowship thing is done with. And granted, I’m probably going to get closer to Nomad’s impression of me mostly watching and liking “moe crap” by watching and enjoying this, but it’s not like I mind too much. It’s entertaining enough as it is, and not because of the fanservice, which doesn’t bug me as much as I feel like it probably should (if I’m not paying attention to it, does it mean something’s wrong with me?). And the show is probably not going to stick in my mind when it’s done (unless they pull some awesome stuff down a line that is awesome, aka Mai-HiME), yet seeing another character in Yoshika who tries to use her misguided passion and “heart” try and win the day works for me. And at the moment, it’s a show that I think people might actually miss out on because of the “right” reasons (I couldn’t say that for Kanokon if anyone is wondering, though I liked the show). Lol pantsless 1940s FTW.
Looking back at the OVA again after watching the first couple of episodes, I noticed that I was probably looking at that short piece in the wrong way. I don’t know what I was expecting at first, but I didn’t come off impressed the first time around and felt that the premise fell a bit flat on what it was trying to do. This time around, I saw the OVA as a cheesy parody of those patriotic movies you saw back during the periods of the World Wars with a little bit of team-building, sports anime Go-for-it stuff hidden in between there. It was great with how over the top things were with the music, the story with Yoshika’s quick running away and emotional coming back, the treatment of some characters to Yoshika (Perrine and Sakamoto are notable), the fanservice (sexual, mechamusume or other wise), and when you step back how proud those citizens were of these amalgamations of fetishes. Such funny propaganda. :3
All of that, combined with the fact that like a four episode OVA was crammed into 7 actual animated minutes, made the moment definitely more special. Given that there’s a lot more wiggle room to do stuff in the TV, and based on my initial thoughts about the OVA thinking that it wasn’t great (wondering what were they going to do other than expand on fanservice and so on), I had low expectations coming in (darn those). And I think that helped this current version find its way into my heart just a lot more than I would have having higher expectations if I saw the OVA as I did now. Funny how that works.
I guess a main question regarding the TV series is how seriously it wants the audience to take things. I don’t think it’s aiming to be as parodiable as the OVA was, and it’s definitely attempting to try and make good use of the expanded time allotted (though “good” is in the eye of the beholder). And they are doing a nice enough job for me in making this more serious but still cheerful fun at times, but that might be because I’m a little more different than others. When you can accept the universe for what it is with the no pants/skirts, the homages to WWII icons, the animal ears/tails and all the other fetishes present, these initial attention grabbers should become normalized non-factors. Seriously.
For example, because of the fact that I’ll almost always see the characters de-pantsed (you can tell I’m having fun with this), after a couple of minutes of “WHY AREN’T THEY WEARING ANYTHING OVER THEIR UNDERPANTS? DOES NOT COMPUTE” from the first episode, as long as attention isn’t directly focused on them, it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I guess I unconsciously desensitize myself to them like I did when working on corpses during gross anatomy (sure it’s gross, but it actually isn’t that disturbing or nausea-inducing, even as you realize you’re cutting/sawing/chopping/chiseling off what was once a living fellow human :D), only there’s no grade involved in doing so here. To me, panties/swimsuits/leggings (t’would have been nice if someone wore spats to round out things; those things are epically awesome) are just seen as part of the uniform, and it greatly helps that the characters themselves aren’t embarrassed about it (save for Perrine, but she’s prissy about most things apparently, so what have you). So I just take in stride that that’s just how the world works as long as they keep things consistent (even if it’s just the Strike Witches, since they’re the main focus), and move my attention onto what’s more important to me.
Again, if you know me, it’s a given that I’m watching this for the characters, the growing/developing of said characters (anything can be a double entendre when you set your mind to it) and their interactions with others as they deal with the Neuroi and each other. And from the first three episodes, I think good stuff can happen along these lines (If said stuff is of the yuri-tinted goggle persuasion, than so much more the better, but I digress). This sort of thing is what makes the series so appealing to me, despite that nagging voice of “anime standards” in the back of my head wondering what the hell I’m doing watching this (Standards. Bah). I mean, though silly, silly Yoshika needs to be more true to herself than as it stands (“I don’t want to fight! Except when I do!”), I can watch the show just for Major Sakamoto with her Glam Sight (I would have said Geass, but this makes more sense, especially for those who’ve seen Rental Magica, which is meh), badass Japanese skills (since they all have them, as Yoshika shows a flash of that in episode 2) and above all else, her burly, manly laugh which is mad awesome. I really do think that this show has a lot more “heart” (Strike Witches wa Do Your Best, Deshou?) than many people give it credit for because they don’t bother to look deeper, which is sad. If only one could only overlook those non-factors.
Course, the trouble occurs when those unimportant (at least to me) entities become important, and that tends to be why people cry foul. When you wonder just how serious GONZO wants the show to be. When I have to begrudgingly admit that omo is mostly right here. Because, the question to the viewer tends to become “Well? What does Strike Witches actually stand for?” and the main factor here pertaining to that question tends to be the fanservice, whether or not you consider that to be fair. When they don’t flaunt it, it doesn’t bug me and I don’t think it should bother anyone who sees it as that world’s norm. But the problem comes when they deliberately bring attention to the fetishes, where the pantyshots, furry aspects, or characters being all moe (which I thankfully haven’t recognized yet here) are thrust “in my face” that I can’t write that fanservice off, and thus cry inside (tears of pain? Or joy? Hope? Or Dream?). And when looking at the fanservice, apparently it’s the quantity and quality of it that matters with the question as well; if there’s too much, people can disregard the show as a joke like the OVA. But from the looks of it, that’s not where the show is heading, and so as to match this lighthearted, but not really lighthearted tone, should the fanservice be minimized as much as possible to fit what most people think would work for the show?
I keep seeing this question in my head as “should this anime stop catering to the ‘lowest common denominator’ standards-wise, because something good is there?” and I’m not sure if that’s the right way to look at it as such. Again, this is something that I have a hard time dealing with, since each person has their own tolerance of fanservice, which makes me wonder why it seems like there’s some arbitrary standard about how much is just too much (note that I’m not justifying the fanservice that is there, but wondering about why fanservice makes me and others complain). And that also relates to the “this is why we can’t have nice anime for normal society to see” arguments that some people to state, or at least that I state in my mind. But I always wonder in this case, why people who write it off as trash actually do so. What we’re people looking for from Strike Witches that they didn’t get here? What makes it trash to them compared to me who can see a potential gold mine here, if people bothered to dig deeper? I mean, I’ve already said why I think this stuff isn’t trash.
Which is why the complaints here about the show being what it is are annoying to me, since ultimately, I’m doing the viewing, and good for you if you don’t like it (than you can lump it), even though I think you should check it out more than you might like. I do think Strike Witches seems to be settling for middle ground balancing serious business with silly business, and I do think that in this case, it’s OK to have it both ways (again, seriously. Politics don’t rule the world, dammit!) as long as it’s done well. At the moment, I think things can be done better than they are now, but we have several episodes to figure it out for those who will keep watching. I mean, as long as I have Sakamoto’s laugh, I think I’ll be fine, and I hope others are too. It’s at least done a decent job of that so far. 😛