In September of 1944, thanks to the actions of the Allied Forces, with the 501st Joint Fighter Wing “Strike Witches” at their centre, the Neuroi nest in the skies above the Republic of Gallia was eliminated, ensuring the security of western Europe. The Allied Forces took advantage of this victory to plan to take their resistance to central and eastern Europe in earnest. At their base in Petersburg in the Empire of Orussia, the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing “Brave Witches” prepared to receive orders to deploy…
Hikari has always idolised her older sister Takami and her reputation for being a legendary member of the Brave Witches – a group of girls with magical powers able to manoeuvre special leg propeller-jets that enable them to fight the Neuroi, a beliggerent alient race that literally consumes the earth in order to give themselves power. As a result, Hikari is constantly training and preparing for the opportunity to be just like her sister. When that time finally comes, she is just in time to see Takami become overwhelmed by a surprise onslaught of Neuroi en route to their first base, and Takami falls into a coma. Hikari is determined to what she can for the group of Brave Witches in her sister’s absence, insisting that she become part of the 502nd Brave Witches wing in Takami’s place (even though she admits that she’s not a patch on her sister’s talents). Although she is determined, the veteran group have their doubts about Hikari’s capacity to fight. Her magical powers are low, she can’t synchronise with Chidori, the new make of leg propeller-jets that she is currently using. She’s woefully inexperienced and they believe she will be more hindrance than help.
However, through sheer force of determination and her willingness to risk her life for her new teammates, Hikari is given a chance to prove herself. To become one of the Brave Witches, she must go through rigorous training and win over her comrades in order to fight alongside them at their level. Will Hikari become just like her sister, or will she forge her own path to success?
Essentially, Brave Witches is a spin-off show of Strike Witches, but the storyline is it’s own and so you don’t really need to have watched Strike Witches to enjoy this show. Of course, there are some references and cameos from the previous story, but those new to the franchise (like me) can enjoy this one without prior knowledge of the lore. In a nutshell, this is an anime with a historical setting with a girls-with-magical-powers twist. To cute things up a bit, whenever the Witches engage with their magic, they gain a pair of ears and a tail of an animal: fox, bear, rabbit, cat etc. It’s not really made clear why this is, but at the very least it does make an otherwise rather visually-dull series cute enough to pull in the audience.
This also helps differentiate the members of the rather large cast. As with any anime with a long line of names and faces, there is the concern that we won’t get an acceptable amount of depth from all of them. In typical style, Hikari looks to be getting to know her comrades slowly but surely so far, usually focusing on one or two of them per episode. This helps to showcase all the personalities and demonstrate their fighting styles when it comes to facing off against the Neuroi.
When it comes to the dogfights against these monsters and attempting to destroy their nests, the scenes are quite impressive. They’re taken rather seriously when you think that this is an anime about girls with cat ears that wear nothing but underwear from the waist down. Though the Neuroi themselves are rather basic in design the cloud and sky backgrounds are intricate and boost the effectiveness of the fight scenes. Even the buildings around the Brave Witches’ base are nice and detailed, bringing a dash of realism that helps to balance the concept.
Though not the most impressive or deepest anime of the Fall 2016 season, I have to say that I’m enjoying following Hikari’s story and I’m eager to see where she ends up at the end of it all. This is a part of the World Witches franchise and I’d be interested in watching more of their narratives.