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Strike Witches: Season 2(TV) (2010)
No synopsis for Strike Witches: Season 2.
For more about Strike Witches: Season 2 and the Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray release, see Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 26, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray Review
A second look warrants a reevaluation.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 26, 2012
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Was I too harsh on Strike Witches: The Complete First Season? Considering some of the pretty vitriolic private messages I received, many thought so, but here's the deal: if this second season of Strike Witches had come first, I probably would have had a much more positive reaction. One of my issues with Strike Witches was its cursory rewriting of history, but some seemed to miss my main point, which I freely admitted might not be that big of a deal to others. While I referenced the series' tendency to ignore the real Japanese culpability in World War II, what the main thrust of my argument was actually was more concerned with how Strike Witches kind of arbitrarily incorporated real life elements (like slightly changed character names or even actual battles) without referencing Japan's role in the central conflict of the twentieth century at the same time. In other words, it was the cavalier attitude toward history as a whole, incorporating some elements while patently ignoring others, that rubbed me the wrong way. The good news here, at least for those of you who thought my analysis of Strike Witches's first season was out in left field, is that the second season of the series spends much less time on revisiting aspects of World War II (colored through Strike Witches' recasting of the conflict as an alien invasion) and much more time on developing its bevy of buxom characters. And the result is a much more enjoyable, less problematic enterprise that may even convince old curmudgeons that a show about girls with rocket legs and bosoms busting out of barely intact blouses have some redeeming characteristics.
This is not to say that there still isn't abundant time given over to the Strike Witches attempts to defeat the nefarious aliens of the series known as the Neuroi, and in fact the first couple of episodes this second season are mostly given over to the girls battling a "new, improved" Neuroi that has significantly greater powers than the forces the girls encountered in the first season. But there's an interesting shift that happens around the third episode of the second season. While the alien battle scenario is never far from the surface, the show begins spending much more time on the interrelationships between the girls, including taking time to fill us in on various back story elements which helps to make each Strike Witch something more than just a cutesy name culled from a World War II flying ace combined with a regional accent.
While there probably isn't anything quite as outrÚ as the infamous "panty episode" in the first season, the second year of Strike Witches continues with its at times really odd combination of fan service, bizarre humor and boisterous action set pieces. There is one episode here which at least recalls the panty episode, where a little nugget of Neuroi ends up infiltrating the girls' clothing, kind of like bed bugs. One of main goals of Strike Witches continues to be having the girls disrobe for any given reason, or at least strike animated poses which allow copious views of their breasts or up their skirts. The second season does seems to have slightly tamed everything down, though, although relatively speaking, this is still easily one of the most risquÚ anime in recent memory, one which definitely pushes the envelope in terms of nascent sexuality and which is therefore not appropriate for younger viewers.
There's quite a bit of time given over to training regimens in this set of episodes, including the girls attempting to harness some new technology, but what really sets this second season apart, and which is by far the most effective element of this second season, is how it takes a little breathing room in quite a few of the episodes to simply let the girls interact with each other. The first season was so intent on establishing the premise as well as "typing" each girl with her weirdly quasi-fictional nationality (easily identifiable countries were just slightly relabeled, per the usual Strike Witches approach), this second season takes it for granted that a base line has been established, fans will already know the basic elements of the story, and so a little time can be taken to provide some insight into various characters.
So was I too hard on Strike Witches' first season? Perhaps, but I would argue not by much. The show is still a patently odd combination of factors and I still have issues with how it repaints history, arbitrarily taking whatever elements it wants and subtly twisting them while at the same time ignoring other elements entirely. The first season was more "out there" in terms of its ubiquitous fan service, and while that is still certainly an element in this second season, there's also a slightly more relaxed attitude here that is focused at least as much on the character of the girls rather than only their physiques.
Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Strike Witches: Season 2 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. FUNimation routinely provides screeners (i.e., discs only without packaging), so as of the writing of this review, I can't state positively whether this second season is an upconvert like the first season was, though that's my hunch. (Strike Witches was produced right on the cusp of when most production went full time to HD, so there's an outside chance this second season is native HDŚas soon as I have packaging, I'll update the review.) One of the reasons I'm hedging here a bit is that, as Scott Sager mentions in one of the commentaries included on the Blu-ray discs, the animation is considerably more detailed in this second season. While there's still a certain softness that is reminiscent of the first season, there's also somewhat sharper line detail, as well as slightly more robust color and saturation. If I were able to score things in quarter points, I'd probably up this second season to 3.75 to indicate it's slightly, albeit noticeably, sharper than the first season.
Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As with Strike Witches: The Complete First Season, this second season benefits from an extremely effective English dub delivered via a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. There is still some annoying voice work as with the first season, this season has the same glut of wonderfully immersive battle scenes, where various effects populate the surrounds (there are some absolutely fantastic panning effects when the girls fly). What's notable about this second season is the attention to detail even in some of the quieter moments, where some placement of discrete channel effects is very smartly handled. Fidelity is outstanding and dynamic range is extremely wide.
Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Strike Witches: Season 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I still wouldn't place Strike Witches anywhere near the top of my "all time favorite anime" list, but I must admit I vastly preferred this second season to the first. It was fun to get to know these weird little characters better, and I actually liked the fact that the series didn't focus exclusively on the alien attack scenario. There's still some content here that I'm sure some will find objectionable, including some of the most ubiquitous fan service ever, but the show also has a daffy sense of humor that helps it rise above its kind of salacious subtext. Strike Witches's second season is no forgotten masterpiece, but it's a good sight better than the first, and so comes Recommended.
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