The Spring 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!

How would you rate episode 1 of
Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off! ?

What is this?

The witches of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing – aka “Strike Witches” – have been assembled from all over the world to lead the effort to retake Europe from the alien Neuroi. As newcomer Yoshika gradually discovers, however, lots of shenanigans go on at the base during downtime, and this is an account of such nonsense. Yoshika's first two lessons involve how difficult some of the witches are to wake up and how surprisingly pathetic (or even dangerous) the cooking “skills” of her fellow witches can be. Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is based on a manga spinoff of Strike Witches, and it streams on Funimation, Tuesdays at 12:15 PM EST.

How's Funimation's SimulDub?

This short series fully retains the English dub cast that worked on previous installments in the franchise, for better or worse. I've always found English dubs for this franchise to be hit-or-miss, and that proves to be the case here as well. Cherami Leigh as Yoshika and Kira Vincent-Davis as Mio are still two of the stronger efforts, Luci Christian appropriately cutesies Hartmann up, and a barely-recognizable Stephanie Sheh works better-than-expected as Barkhorn, but the others aren't as effective. It's also not as boisterous an effort as I would have expected, but it could be limited by its source material in this case, which is struggling to fully hit its comedic stride. -- Theron Martin

How was the first episode?

Theron Martin


With the third core Strike Witches series due in 2020, this run of 13-minute episodes feels like a placeholder intended to maintain fan interest in the meantime. Based on the first episode, it should serve that function pretty well. While it doesn't do anything exciting or different, all that really matters is that it's rather funny.

This series seems to be set during the earliest days of the first Strike Witches TV series, and as a result, only a rudimentary familiarity with the cast is necessary. The premiere's epilogue also does a run-through of introductions for those who haven't seen the series in a while. The opener suggests that we will see lots of pranks and pratfalls to come, and the opening narration promises a sort of behind-the-scenes exposé on what life in the 501st is really like; so this series is like a “Real Lives of Combat Witches” segment. The first episode focuses on two aspects of base life: how the Witches function (or not) in the morning and how the kitchen duties are handed. Some of what's shown is based on quirks that were established about the characters in the original series; Hartmann is a slob who sleeps unguarded in her underwear, though naturally it's taken to much greater extreme in this comedy series. In other cases, new quirks are added that were at best vaguely suggested by the original content, such as how Francesca is so prone to falling asleep in random spots that just finding her to wake her up can be quite the task.

The other gimmick of the first episode is the culinary gags. Hazardous cooking has been a staple of anime humor since at least the Urusei Yatsura era, and in this case Mina is the worst culprit. That results in a standard set of jokes, though Lynette rescues the set with her much more original take on how to make a salad. (This is probably the episode's funniest individual scene.) Where this season's Isekai Quartet opted for the chibi approach to deliver its humor, this series keeps the character designs somewhat intact but just draws them in a simpler fashion. While that does distinguish this title from the core series, I have to question the wisdom of this decision because it also saps the cute factor that should complement the humor. Primarily because of that, I can't give this one a high rating even though it is reasonably entertaining.

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