English Dub Review: Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off! “501st, Are You Feeling the Heat?”

It’s getting hot in here, so please keep your clothes on, all of you are underage.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

After Minna reassures Barkhorn and Yoshika can accept their pay even though no Neuroi have showed up, the pair bounds Shirley in ropes so that she can’t volunteer to drive on the day’s shopping trip (due to her dangerous driving methods.) However, Barkhorn and Yoshika aren’t even the ones who are chosen to go shopping. So instead, Barkhorn forces Shirley to teach her how to drive. While in the jeep, Shirley tells Barkhorn to “go with her gut.” Driven by the idea of seeing her sister Chris when she’s able to drive, she speeds up, causing the steering wheel to break off. The car is stopped, and the girls have no way of getting back home, so they hitch-hike using “feminine wiles.” Hartmann, Lucchini, and Perrine pass by them, but leave them to walk home — warning Sakamoto of “perverts.”

Flash forward to a very hot day. Everyone is using Hartmann’s wind ability to cool off, but she gets tuckered out pretty easily. The girls pose around in their swimsuits and Shirley asks Sakamoto if she knows any way to cool off. Sakamoto suggests telling “100 scary stories.” Yoshika, Shirley, and Lucchini light 100 candles to tell scary stories with, but the room heats up too much. They blow out the candles, quickly realizing that the temperature difference is what creates the illusion of being cooler.

Our Take

There is literally only one time in this episode where the art style gets an upgrade, and it’s for the specific purpose of drawing every outlined detail of the girls in their bikinis — hip lines, bending-shots and all. Please, for the love of god, it is time to lay anime to rest.

There’s a very strong difference between showing girl characters in swimsuits because it’s situationally appropriate, and showing girl characters in swimsuits because it’ll get a few nerds off. A lot of anime shows try to use tropes like a “hot day” or the infamous beach episode trope in order to justify their fan-service, but when a clear scene/shot focus is made to make their bodies the center of attention (through detailed drawings like in this episode, or sexual dialogue characters have about each other’s bodies…like, again, in this episode) it’s very obvious that it’s not about the characters having slice-of-lifey adventures anymore.

It’s debatable if this cast can even be called LGBT representation or not, because while the girls at the very least have sexual feelings for each other, there comes the common problem in anime of writers using a character’s LGBT leanings as objectification and fan service itself — meaning that the character’s identity is less of a character trait and more-so material that some nerds can get off to.

This could very easily be fixed if the writers developed these interpersonal relationships through dialogue and real connection, but unfortunately, that’s asking a lot out of a chibi show (which is a spin off of a show that isn’t very good in the first place.)

Kayla Gleeson

Kayla Gleeson is an entertainment writer and media player, with work involved in shows such as Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" and Chicken Soup for the Soul's "Hidden Heroes." In addition to her work on BubbleBlabber, she also has dozens upon dozens of published articles for RockYou Media. Aside from immersing her life in cartoons, she loves to write and read poetry, be outdoors, go to conventions, and indulge in Alan Resnick stylings of comedy.

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