Strike Witches (ストライクウィッチーズ 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 are essentially moe anthropomorphizations of military planes. 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 has been greenlit for production.
Set in a world similar to Earth in the mid twentieth century, Strike Witches tells the story of a fight to protect that world using a combination of magic and technology. The titular Strike Witches are young women with high magical potential who are recruited into militaries around the world to fight against the enigmatic Neuroi, which began an invasion of unprecedented scale on human territory in the year 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.
In order 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. Also created is a defensive field 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.
Strike Witches takes place in an altered version of Earth, ravaged by the Neuroi. Several large pieces of Earth's landmasses have been obliterated (with Europe and Africa being the most intact), drastically altering the appearance of the planet in comparison to its real-life counterpart. The nations from which the main characters hail are also based on major world powers of the time albeit with different names and altered territories.
Japan is known as Fuso Empire, the United States is the United States of Liberion, Germany is Imperial Karlsland, France is Gallia, Great Britain is the Commonwealth of Britannia, Austria is Ostmark, the Soviet Union is the Orussia Empire, modern Italy is split between the Duchies of Romagna and Venezia, Finland is Suomus, Norway and Sweden are Baltland, and Spain is Hispania.
Magic is a natural ability unique to Witches which manifests as a blue aura followed by the appearance of animal ears and tails. Magic is stated to be divided into two categories telepathic/clairvoyant and telekinetic and are treated as a natural force of energy subject to the laws of physics. Although physically taxing, control and technique can improve the expenditure of energy. Magic can be used for such things as healing, vastly enhancing strength and vision, and for stabilizing and enhancing weapons such as guns and swords. They can even be used to survive in hostile environments such as the vacuum of space and from radiation. In battle, their most common uses are powering the Striker Units and forming defensive shields. Magic can freely interact with technology and as such can be strengthened through technological means and even hijacked by the Neuroi.
- Deflector Shield
An ability universal to all Witches is the ability to raise runic energy shields for protection. Shields are consciously activated but instinctive in nature able to block multiple attacks coming from all directions and even protect Witches from crashing into objects. Each shield bears different glyphs depending on the nationality of the Witch i.e. Fuso Witches have Japanese characters etc.
A female user of magic. Male users do not appear to exist in any of the media (though a mecha intended to supplant the Strike Witches is named "Warlock", or male magic user). It has been suggested by the novels that male Witches do exist but are rarer and likely much weaker hence their absence in the Witch corps contrasting the universal male presence in the standard armed forces.
An animal spirit which binds to a Witch increasing their innate magical power as well as grant unique abilities. For instance rabbit familiars are known to grant super-hearing while cat familiars can grant night-vision. They are outwardly visible by their ears and tails on the witches they merge with when manifesting magic. Familiars are able to manifest entirely and even act independently but rarely do so. Familiars are either absent entirely or not emphasized in the anime.
- Striker Unit (Air)
A pair of hybrid mechanical/magical propeller devices used by Witches for flight and worn over their legs. They are rigid, preventing movement of the knees, but can be disengaged on the field if needed. When wearing a Striker a Witch's power is vastly increased by a magic engine in the unit, resulting in the constant manifestation of their animal ears and tails. It grants them the power of high speed flight. Strikers require high magical aptitude however and Witches who are either too weak or past their prime cannot use them effectively. Each character's Striker is designed to resemble a type of World War II fighter plane.
- Striker Unit (Land)
The tank equivalent to Air Strikers. Land Strikers resemble the caterpillar treads of tanks and even allow Witches to travel at high ground speeds via a sliding motion. Note the treads are located in the lower leg sections and spin along the shins and calves; no physical contact is made with the ground instead a magical field propels the Witch. Because magic is subjected to the laws of physics large amounts of magic is used like fuel to maintain flight in Air Strikers. Land Strikers by contrast don't have this problem and can instead focus all their magic into their shields making them more durable like tanks.
- Wearing Striker Units
To wear a Striker Unit the Witch inserts her legs into the devices. The receiver ports are actually pocket dimension devices and require near to total skin contact to operate properly (or even fit in for that matter) as such no active Witch wears pants as they would take too long to remove due to the erratic and often sudden nature of Neuroi attacks. Entering a Striker Unit takes only a split second. Only one Witch is known to wear pants but has long gone past her prime and been promoted to the rank of Air Vice-Marshal. This serves as one of the primary vehicles of the show's fan service. Consequently since the Witches primarily wear the uniforms of their countries' armed forces most of which were meant for men (and the establishment of Witch forces was sudden and unconventional at best restricting new uniform redesigns) many of them don't even wear skirts or anything to cover their lower bodies with exception. Some Fuso (Japanese) witches wear short Hakama instead of Navy or Army uniforms while others have sufficiently large shirts or jackets or simply wear pantyhose. Of note however is the fact that this style while technical in origin has become a very popular and very common fashion trend among civilians due to the fame and respect accorded to the Witches. Consequently many young civilian women are shown to also not wear skirts or pants but no one not even men find this in any way strange. This is comparable to the development of the bikini during this time period. As a result any social problems this might have caused at first have since become moot by the time the series begins hence why Witches are rarely seen wearing lower body clothing even when off duty.
- Magic Engine
According to supplementary material the magic engine appeared alongside the steam engine utilizing steam technology to enhance magical power. The current magic engine was invented by Dr. Miyafuji and utilizes an internal combustion engine. Of note is the existence of stand alone magic engines that do not require a Witch to be immediately present one of which was used to power a human built Neuroi enhanced battleship.
- Witches' Base
The 501st's first personal base of operations was in Britannian territory. It is an ornate castle that resembles Mont Saint-Michel, located on a small island jutting into the Strait of Dover near Folkestone. Its proximity to the Gallian coast makes it a strategic staging point for the Witches to quickly engage threats coming from the Neuroi-occupied European mainland. The second base they utilized was an ancient stronghold of Witches near Rome. It's most prominent features was an angel statue resembling the one in Ponte Sant'Angelo and what appears to be a Colosseum.
The primary antagonists of the series. They are mysterious alien entities composed of black honeycomb structure material harvested from conquered territory. Their intentions or origins are unknown however they display high levels of intelligence and are capable to adapting their weapon designs and tactics regularly. They come in various sizes from small to gigantic; capable of self-sustained flight, rapid repair, and armed with directed energy weapons. Durable self-repairing Neuroi have special multi-faceted gems within them called Cores as their power sources and only Achilles' Heel. Neuroi can be defeated by conventional forces albeit at great difficulty as their durability and firepower vastly exceed the technology of human forces. Exacerbating the problem is their ability to produce a corrosive miasma which can corrupt human machinery turning them into more Neuroi. Only over water (lacking in landmass) is the miasma neutralized however naval vessels lack the maneuverability to avoid the beam weaponry of the highly durable battleship sized Neuroi usually deployed over water making ships equally outmatched. Only Witches with their shields, high agility and magically enhanced weaponry can defeat them without incurring massive causalities. The Neuroi's designs, like many other elements in the series, have a historical basis in that they are modeled after experimental aircraft from the World War II era. Land based Neuroi are shown and seem to take the shape of armored vehicles or walker type shapes. One such land Neuroi, a Super Heavy Land Type, consisted of an assimilated Ship Hull.
- Neuroi Hive
Strongholds of local Neuroi presences they resemble giant conical funnels of swirling black clouds the size of mountains. Because Neuroi cannot move over water they mostly remain stationary over major human settlements where they slowly harvest the landscape to make weapons.
Template:Unreferenced-section 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 television anime broadcast, 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 three 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 of the Heavens (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. 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.
Strike Witches: Witch in Africa
Published in August 2008, and jointly authored by Humikane Shimada, Taka'aki 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.
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 in 2010 two volumes have been released. Takes place in 1943 North Africa and concerns the joint effort of the Storm Witches and three tank witch units in retaking the Suez Canal.
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 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 is scheduled for release on January 30, 2009. The anime has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment and was released on March 30, 2010.
The series 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.
|#||Ending performed by|
|1 & 2||Misato Fukuen and Saeko Chiba|
|3||Misato Fukuen and Kaori Nazuka|
|4||Misato Fukuen and Mie Sonozaki|
|5||Chiwa Saitō and Ami Koshimizu|
|6||Mai Kadowaki and Erika Nakai|
|7||Miyuki Sawashiro and Sakura Nogawa|
|8||Rie Tanaka and Saeko Chiba|
|9||Misato Fukuen and Miyuki Sawashiro|
|10||Misato Fukuen and Rie Tanaka|
|11||Saeko Chiba and Miyuki Sawashiro|
|12||Misato Fukuen, Saeko Chiba, Rie Tanaka, Miyuki Sawashiro, Kaori Nazuka, Sakura Nogawa, Mie Sonozaki, Chiwa Saitou, Ami Koshimizu, Mai Kadowaki, and Erika Nakai|
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 2011. 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.
|#||Ending performed by|
|1 & 2||Misato Fukuen and Saori Seto|
|3||Misato Fukuen, Kaori Nazuka and Miyuki Sawashiro|
|4||Mie Sonozaki and Ami Koshimizu|
|5||Misato Fukuen, Chiwa Saito and Ami Koshimizu|
|6||Mai Kadowaki and Ayuru Ōhashi|
|7||Rie Tanaka, Mie Sonozaki and Sakura Nogawa|
|8||Misato Fukuen and Kaori Nazuka|
|9||Saori Seto and Miyuki Sawashiro|
|10||Sakura Nogawa and Shizuka Itou|
|11||Saori Seto and Rie Tanaka|
|12||Misato Fukuen, Saeko Chiba, Rie Tanaka, Miyuki Sawashiro, Kaori Nazuka, Sakura Nogawa, Mie Sonozaki, Chiwa Saitou, Ami Koshimizu, Mai Kadowaki, and Ayuru Ōhashi|
On October 28, 2010, a film adaptation of Strike Witches was announced to have been greenlit.
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.
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. Whilst 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.
- A fourth game, Strike Witches 2: Heal, Cure and Do Puni Puni (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.
- "Gonzo Confirmed to Animate 2nd Strike Witches Season (Updated)". Anime News Networik. April 28, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2009.
- GHD article.
- Crunchyroll forum post detailing Strike Witches release.
- Uncensored Strike Witches images
- "Funimation Adds Hetalia World Series, Strike Witches 2". Anime News Network. 2010-07-30.
- "TVアニメ ストライクウィッチーズ オープニングテーマ「STRIKE WITCHES」エンディングテーマ「ブックマーク ア・ヘッド」 [Single] [Maxi]" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- "Strike Witches Ending Theme Complete Collection". Hitoshi Doi. Retrieved March 31, 2009.[dead link]
- "TVアニメーション ストライクウィッチーズ オリジナルサウンドトラック" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- "ストライクウィッチーズ 秘め歌コレクションその1-宮藤芳佳&坂本美緒-" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- "ストライクウィッチーズ 秘め歌コレクションその2-サーニャ・V・リトヴャク&エイラ・イルマタル・ユーティライネン-" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- "ストライクウィッチーズ キャラクターコレクション 3" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- "ストライクウィッチーズ キャラクターコレクション 4" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- "ストライクウィッチーズ キャラクターコレクション 5" (in Japanese). Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
- Ashcraft, Brain (June 16, 2009). "Cradle Your DS With Fake Girl's Gym Shorts". Kotaku. Retrieved June 16, 2009.
- "ストライクウィッチーズ 白銀の翼" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- Official Website (Japanese)
- Funimation's official Strike Witches site
- Official Video Game Homesite (Japanese)
- Strike Witches wiki