The Strike Witches had left their mark in the anime world and fans appreciated their contribution to the “Milimoe” genre. Now it is time for a new squadron to take the stage. Did they too make a strong impact? Let us find out as we take a look at the tale of the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing in Brave Witches.
Check out my reviews of the Strike Witches 1st and 2nd seasons along with the movie HERE.
Genres: Action, Magic, Science Fiction
Themes: Fanservice, Mecha Musume, Military, Yuri, Witches
Number of episodes: 12 + 1 bonus episode
Plot Summary: The Neuroi, an enemy of mankind, suddenly appeared mainly in Europe in the 1930s. Only girls with special magical powers called Witches could confront the Neuroi who were difficult to destroy with ordinary weapons. In 1944, the Neuroi nest above the republic of Gallia was eradicated, and safety of western Europe has been ensured. The allied forces earnestly began planning for an oppositional operation towards central and eastern Europe. An order to scramble is given to the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing “Brave Witches” whose base is in Peterburg within the Orussian Empire.
To be honest I do not have much to add that I have not already in the Strike Witches series. The cast is definitely different and each of the girls stand out with their own personalities, mannerisms, character development (the girls who get an episode dedicated to them anyway) and have their time to shine in combat and casually. However, the flow and pacing of the show is very similar to the main series. The main character this time is an up and coming Witch named Hikari, seen above using her special ability Contact Eye, who wants to become a badass witch who fights for truth, justice and pantless like her super cool older sister Takami. However, she is not skilled at using magic at all and her flight ability is average at best. Basically her story arc is a classic one, a hardworking and determined soldier who is not the best but will do all she can to join the ranks of the elite. In that regard the show does a good job taking viewers on a fun journey with Hikari and the other Brave Witches who have their own personal challenges to overcome and are not all full fledged badasses yet but are as willing as Hikari to get stronger.
So yes, while the narrative is similar the cast is different and do not feel like carbon copies of the Strike Witches. Having said that, the show does reference the 501st Joint Fighter Wing a couple of times throughout the story. There are even some surprises. Viewers concerned that the show is overloaded with references to the Strike Witches that it takes away attention from the Brave Witches need not worry for they are kept to a minimum and do not overstay their welcome. They are there to both make fun contributions to the show and remind viewers that the story takes place sometime after the first season and before the movie.
The battles between Witch (along with the military sometimes) and Neuroi are still as awesome as ever with each dogfight not lacking in excitement. As far as the fanservice goes, besides the above screen grab of the premiere episode the ecchi content is surprisingly toned down believe it or not. Oh the vintage Witch series panty shots are present and acccounted for as fans and detractors would expect but rarely does the fanservice go beyond panty shots. Hardly any scenes of the Witches showing off their cute and sexy bodies. Granted the 502nd’s base is set in a snowy area so it would make little sense to have a swimsuit episode or segment. One cool addition is that, similar to Akuma no Riddle, during commercial break sequeways the show posts brief summaries of information regarding the Witch series such as Witch abilities, weapons, the 501st’s first campaign and more info about the show’s current setting. Neat stuff worth pushing the pause button for and checking out.
The animation quality is similar to Strike Witches. I did not spot any noticeable differences. There is some CGI during dogfights but other than that it is of similar quality. The same goes for the soundtrack. Fits the show and is enjoyable. I especially love one of the more recurring battle themes. It is easy to tell which one it is. It is my favorite theme in the soundtrack. The OP and ED are nice.
As far as the yuri goes it too is somewhat toned down but still very much present, especially courtesy of one Countess, aka the only Witch in the anime version to wear pants so far. Readers who have read my KEIJO!!!!!!!! G-View can think of the Countess as a Mio Kusakai Lite. She is a proud hunter but and one of the strongest Witches in the group but she is not as deliciously ferocious as Mio. Besides The Countess, there are other ships and couples within the 502nd. Who they are I will leave up to the interested to see for themselves.
Overall Brave Witches is more of the same in the Witches series but its content and the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing are cool enough to make it a welcome addtion for fans of the franchise. As readers can tell it is recommended to SW fans. It may not set the Witch fanbase on fire nor will it change the minds of series detractors but another Witch squadron getting their own anime is still very much appreciated.