Strike Witches (Japanese: ストライクウィッチーズ Hepburn: Sutoraiku Witchīzu?) is a mixed-media project originally created by Humikane Shimada via a series of magazine illustration columns. It was later adapted into two light novel series, three manga series, an anime OVA, a televised anime series and various video games. The story revolves around teenage girls who use machines equipped to their legs to do aerial combat. The OVA preview episode was released on January 1, 2007. The televised anime series later aired
between on July 3, 2008, and September 18, 2008. A second season aired between July 8, 2010 and September 23, 2010. A film adaptation was released on March 17, 2012. A third season and OVA has been announced.
Set in an alternate Earth in the mid twentieth century, Strike Witches tells the story of a fight to protect the world using a combination of magic and technology in a fictional recreation of events occurring in World War II with the national armed forces joining together to confront an overwhelming alien threat, instead of fighting among themselves. Most battles featured in the franchise are fictional recreations of real conflicts of that time, with the human forces (including Japanese this time) taking the role of the Allied Forces, and the Neuroi assuming the side of the Axis Powers.
The titular Strike Witches are young women with high magical potential who are recruited into military organizations around the world to fight against the enigmatic Neuroi, which began an invasion of unprecedented scale on human territory in 1939. This puzzling enemy force has appeared frequently and without warning in many areas across the world throughout history. The weapons of the Neuroi mostly take on forms similar to aircraft, but their most troubling tactic is the spreading of a corrosive miasma. Not only do normal humans have no defense against this miasma, but the remnants of the land affected by it are processed by the Neuroi into new weapons, crumbling huge sections of former nations into the sea. As the miasma seems to be unable to spread across large bodies of water, humanity has designated such areas as their main lines of defense.
To bring out their potential for use in battle, each Witch equips a unique machine onto their legs: the Striker Unit. With the Striker Unit equipped, they gain the ability to fly and their tapped magical potential provides the strength to utilize weapons far too heavy and powerful for a normal person. A defensive field is also created that can protect the Witches from the Neuroi's miasma, as well as other physical weaponry, making them humanity's trump card in the war. The franchise's main media focuses on the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, defending the Britannian home islands, in the first season, as a parallel to the Battle of Britain, and struggling to retake an occupied Italian peninsula in the second season as a parallel to the late stages of the Adriatic Campaign. In the feature film, the 501st join forces to repel an enemy offensive near the Rhine in a fashion similar to the events of the Battle of the Bulge.
Other story elements invoke coming-of-age and quest-for-lost-parent tropes, pacifism versus warrior culture, and the fears of new recruits and those under fire. Friendships, rivalries, and liaisons (managerial, sexual, and so on) among the large multi-national team of Strike Witches drive subplots. Events unfold within a female fashion aesthetic of demure fitted jackets but no pants or skirts, providing ample legs-and-panty fan service. Witches sprout ears and tails (cat- or fox-like) when battle-prepped.
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In a postscript column in Comp Ace, Humikane Shimada had mentioned his desire to use his Mecha Musume concepts across a variety of media, leading to the production of the Strike Witches OVA by Gonzo. However, at about the same time Humikane was also contracted to create the character designs for Sky Girls, which had its televised run in late 2007. During this time there was no word on the further development of a Strike Witches animated series, although promotional items such as plastic figures of the OVA's characters were released. Not until December 2007 was the anime officially announced, after which details were slowly released, such as the casting of the remaining main characters that had no lines in the OVA.
While Shimada had participated in the initial production for both Strike Witches and Sky Girls, the two contrast in their execution of the mecha element. Sky Girls' Sonic Divers exemplify a futuristic approach, while the Striker Units are more fantastical with a closer connection to Shimada's original illustrations. With the use of World War II era prop fighters as a direct base for the details of each Striker and the weapons used by each Witch, the aerial combat aspect of the series is highly emphasized. In the OVA's mock battle sequence one can see various characters use tactics common to dogfights, such as exploiting the advantage of a smaller turning radius and attacking with the sun to one's back. Additionally, each main character uses a real ace pilot as their archetype, to varying degrees.
Two separate light novel series have been published. The first, Strike Witches: Suomus Misfits Squadron (ストライクウィッチーズ： いらん子中隊 Sutoraiku Witchīzu: Iranko Chūtai), was written by Noboru Yamaguchi and illustrated by Hashigo Ueda. The first volume was published in Japan in October 2006, and as of June 11, 2009, 3 volumes have been published. A fourth volume, originally scheduled for Spring 2009, is in production. The Suomus Misfits Squadron series is set in a different time period and location from the anime, and uses a different cast of characters.
The second light novel series, titled Strike Witches: Maidens' Volume (ストライクウィッチーズ： 乙女ノ巻 Sutoraiku Witchīzu: Otome no Maki), was written by Hidehisa Nanbō and illustrated by Hashigo Ueda. As of June 11, 2009, 2 volumes have been published, with a third scheduled for July 1, 2009. The publication of this series coincided with the anime television series, and uses the same cast of characters; however, while some of the chapters are adaptations of the anime episodes, several are original.
There are currently six manga series of Strike Witches. The first manga, Strike Witches: Maidens of the Blue Skies (ストライクウィッチーズ 蒼空の乙女たち Strike Witches Sōkū no Otome-tachi?), was serialized in Comp Ace between September 25, 2005 and January 26, 2006. A second series, Strike Witches: Maidens in the Sky (ストライクウィッチーズ 天空の乙女たち Strike Witches Tenkū no Otome-tachi?), was serialized in Comp Ace between July 26, 2008 and December 26, 2008 and compiled into two manga volumes. Seven Seas Entertainment will release the series in North America in April 2014. A third manga, Strike Witches: The Sky that Connects Us (ストライクウィッチーズ キミとつながる空 Strike Witches Kimi to Tsunagaru Sora?), also referred to as Strike Witches 1.5, which takes place between the two anime series, began serialization in NyanType magazine from September 26, 2009 to 2010 and was release in one manga volume in September 2010. A fourth manga titled Strike Witches Zero: 1937 Fuso Sea Incident (ストライクウィッチーズ零 1937 扶桑海事変 Strike Witches Zero: 1937 Fusou Kaijihen?) which focuses on Mio Sakamoto during the Fuso Sea Incident in 1937, began serializing in Nyantype magazine in 2011 and currently has two manga volumes. A fifth manga titled Strike Witches: One-Winged Witches (ストライクウィッチーズ 片翼の魔女たち Strike Witches - Katayoku no Majotachi?) which focuses on the Isle of Wight Detachment Group, began serializing in Comp Ace and currently has two manga volumes. A sixth manga titled Strike Witches: The Witches of Africa (ストライクウィッチーズ アフリカの魔女 Strike Witches: Africa no Majo?) which was previously a semi-official doujin which focuses on the African Front, began serializing on November 10, 2011 in Comptiq magazine.
Strike Witches: Witch in Africa
Published in August 2008, and jointly authored by Humikane Shimada, Takaaki Suzuki, and Takeshi Nogami. It is considered semi-canonical. The B5-size publication contains a manga and novel section, both dealing primarily with the "Star of Africa" Hanna-Justina Marseille during the North African Campaign. Details on the Strike Witches world setting that could not be added into the anime were also added into the publication.
Strike Witches: Witch in Africa was originally meant to be included in the anime DVD booklets, but because of a reduction in the booklet size, it was instead published as a dōjinshi. The manga will be serialised in Comptiq beginning November 10, 2011.
Strike Witches: Tiger in Desert
Published in December 2008. Similar to the first volume, and set in the same general time frame and location (North Africa, circa 1942). Consisting of two volumes it follows an experimental Karlsland tank witch unit based on the Tiger I.
World Witches: Witches of the Sphinx
Published from 2010 to 2012, the series takes place in North Africa, 1943 and concerns the joint effort of the Storm Witches and three tank witch units under the command of General Patton, General Montgomery and General Rommel in retaking the Suez Canal. Five volumes were released.
Sengoku Witches: The witch of Honnō-ji
Published in 2009. Takes place during Japan's Sengoku period. Oda Nobunaga is rescued from Honnō-ji by his page, in this version the witch Mori Ranmaru, instead of committing suicide in the incident at Honnō-ji.
Main article: List of Strike Witches episodes
An original video animation directed by Kunihisa Sugishima and produced by Gonzo and released on January 1, 2007. The first anime season was produced by Gonzo and aired in Japan between July 3, 2008 and September 18, 2008. Aside from the traditional televised broadcast, the series was also made available with English subtitles and English dub through YouTube, BOST TV and Crunchyroll, using a simultaneous release schedule similar to that of The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk, also produced by Gonzo. The YouTube and Crunchyroll broadcasts operate under a streaming window, allowing users to freely watch each new episode of the series on the day of their release for a set amount of time. Crunchyroll also offers individual episodes to be purchased and downloaded during and after this streaming window has ended. An uncensored version of the series was later released on Region 2 DVD, containing nudity that was obscured for the TV broadcast. The first volume was made available on September 26, 2008, the second on October 24, the third volume on November 28, the fourth volume on December 26, and the fifth volume on January 30, 2009. The anime has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment and was released on March 30, 2010. A second series entitled Strike Witches 2 was produced by AIC and aired between July 7, 2010 and September 23, 2010. This season has also been acquired by Funimation Entertainment and was simulcasted on their video portal, with an intended home video release in September 2011. The release was held back until October 2, 2012. Manga Entertainment released the series in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2012.
A third television anime season has been announced. According to writer Takaaki Suzuki, this will not be a continuation of the previous two seasons but will instead be a new series. An OVA titled Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow, which features three short stories taking place between the second anime season and the film, was released on September 20, 2014 and receive special theater screenings.
On October 28, 2010, a film adaptation of Strike Witches was announced to have been greenlit. Produced by AIC, the film was released in Japanese theatres on March 17, 2012 and on DVD and BD on October 26, 2012. The film is currently licensed by Funimation.
The first season used two pieces of theme music. "Strike Witches: To Do What I Can" (ストライクウィッチーズ ～わたしにできること～ Sutoraiku Witchīzu ~Watashi ni Dekiru Koto~?), performed by Yoko Ishida is used as the opening. "Bookmark A Head" (ブックマーク ア・ヘッド Bukkumāku A Heddo?) is used as the ending. "Bookmark A Head" is performed by the main cast as usually duets and the singers vary from episode to episode. "Lili Marleen" (リリーマルレーン Ririi Marureen?), translated by Takaaki Suzuki, and performed by Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke (Rie Tanaka), is used as an insert song in episode 8. In Funimation's release, Lamp of a Wish (願いの灯火 Negai no Tomoshibi?), a song also sung by Rie Tanaka from the CD album for the Strike Witches: What I Can Do Along With You game, was substituted for Lili Marleen.
The single for "Strike Witches: To Do What I Can" was released on August 20, 2008 by Columbia Music Entertainment and also a version of "Bookmark A Head" performed by Misato Fukuen. An album entitled the "Strike Witches: Ending Theme Complete Collection" (ストライクウィッチーズ Ending Theme Complete Collection Sutoraiku Witchīzu Ending Theme Complete Collection?) was released on October 10, 2008 by Columbia Music Entertainment, containing all versions "Bookmark A Head" as well as the insert "Lili Marleen". The original soundtrack containing 36 tracks was released on September 9, 2008.
For the second season, the opening theme is "STRIKE WITCHES 2 ~The Magic of Smiles~" (STRIKE WITCHES 2 ～笑顔の魔法～ STRIKE WITCHES 2 ~Egao no Mahou~?) by Yoko Ishida and the ending theme is "Over Sky", which is once again performed by members of the vocal cast.
Additionally, five albums of character image songs where released by Columbia Music Entertainment:
- Strike Witches Hime Uta Collection Sono 1 -Yoshika Miyafuji ~ Mio Sakamoto- released on March 18, 2009
- Strike Witches Hime Uta Collection Sono 2 -Sanya V. Litvyak ~ Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen- released on March 18, 2009
- Strike Witches Hime Uta Collection Sono 3 -Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke ~ Erica Hartmann ~ Gertrud Barkhorn- released on April 1, 2009
- Strike Witches Hime Uta Collection Sono 4 -Perrine-H. Clostermann ~ Lynette Bishop ~ Yoshika Miyafuji- released on April 15, 2009
- Strike Witches Hime Uta Collection Sono 5 - Francesca Lucchini ~ Charlotte E. Yeager- released on April 15, 2009
There are currently four games based on the Strike Witches franchise. While mainly based on the characters featured in the anime, characters from the two manga series also appear in some of the games. The first three Strike Witches games will have the same opening "private wing" by Yoko Ishida
- Strike Witches: Blitz in the Blue Sky - New Commander Struggles! (ストライクウィッチーズ -蒼空の電撃戦 新隊長 奮闘する！- Sutoraiku Witchīzu: Sōkū no Dengekisen - Shin Taicho Funtousuru!?), is a simulation game developed by Russell Games for the Nintendo DS and released on November 26, 2009. It features Junko Takei.
The Witches take under their wing a candidate commanding officer from the Fuso Empire, Junko. She contacts the 501st to inform them that she will be meeting up with them during a training exercise. At the same time the military announces a new operation: to make a concerted strike against the Neuroi at the Gallian coastline and establish a new frontline base. Pre-orders for the Nintendo DS version received a fake girl's gym shorts DS pouch with their order.
- Strike Witches: What I Can Do Along With You - A Little Peaceful Days (ストライクウィッチーズ -あなたとできること A Little Peaceful Days- Sutoraiku Witchīzu: Anata to Dekiru Koto - A Little Peaceful Days?) is a visual novel title also developed by Russell Games for PlayStation 2, which was released on May 27, 2010. This adventure game features Amaki Suwa and Nishiki Nakajima.
To the south of the base lies a deserted island where the Witches are
conducting open-air exercises. However, when the carrier they are stationed on comes under surprise Neuroi attack, the Witches are left stranded. In the two weeks that it will take for reinforcements to arrive, the Witches decide to carry on with their maneuvers, as well as make sure they can survive.
- Strike Witches: Silver Wing (ストライクウィッチーズ 白銀の翼 Sutoraiku Witchīzu: Hakugin no Tsubasa?), is a bullet hell shoot 'em up developed by Cyberfront for Xbox 360.
Players control a group of three witches, and change positions to best defend against the Neuroi. And this game also features Junko Takei, with Nishiki Nakajima as a downloadable character.
It was released in Japan on July 29, 2010. In Jun 28, 2012, this game
also available in PSP. Everything in Xbox 360 version also available in PSP version.
- A fourth game, Strike Witches 2: Heal, Cure and Squish (ストライクウィッチーズ2 いやす・なおす・ぷにぷにする Sutoraiku Witchīzu: Iyasu Naosu Punipuni suru?), was developed by Kadokawa Shoten for Nintendo DS.
The game features tactical shootouts between Witches, as well as minigames in which the players massages one of the Witches. It was released in Japan on October 21, 2010.