English Dub Review: Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off! “501st, You’re Splitting Up?”

At ease, soldiers.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

While Sakamoto was attempting to master Shin Reppuzan using her sword, she accidentally splits the base in half. Luckily, no one is injured — but she decides to use blood to strengthen her blade even more. She recruits Yoshika to heal her while she prepares to cut her own stomach, but Minna catches them in the act (of what appears to be seppuku.) Sakamoto sends Yoshika and Hartmann to find some replacement blood. They drain some spare fish blood and bottle it for her (without Sakamoto knowing it was from fish.)

Meanwhile, Minna has just gotten word that the Allies were planning on using their battleship (Yamato) as an artificial Neuroi in order to infiltrate and launch a full-scale attack on a nearby Neuroi nest — using no witches. She sends all the girls to a remote island, so as to not have them interfere with the Allies’ battle plans (and repairs on the base.) However, while practicing Shin Reppuzan on the island, her blade’s force winds up cutting over the ocean and striking the Neuroi (which had absorbed the Allies’ battleship off-screen.) The nest is destroyed, and Europe is saved (unbeknownst to the witches.)

When they return to Minna and get the news, she informs them that the 501st would need to be temporarily dismissed, since there was no longer a threat to fight (or base to live at.) The witches all giddily (and bitter-sweetly) talk about what they’ll do after the group dissolves.

Our Take

Guess all that talk about blood strengthening blades isn’t just a bunch of fish oil, huh? (Badum tst.)

The format of this show, from start to finish, has been all over the place. First, it was just a spin-off chibi show that wanted to depict all the characters in wacky situations, but then the last episode is legitimately plot related and they save Europe? Weird flex, but okay.

The only other episode that had a singular, solid, non-cutaway plot like this was “501st, Time to Save Lives?” — so did they just decide within the last two episodes to have more narrative cohesion? The finale didn’t even have as much artistic variation as that previous episode did — which is surprising, considering that the finale literally decided “the fate of humanity.” One would think that this would be the time to pull out all the stops on whatever animation budget this show had (which, granted, was obviously very small — but why leave us with the aftertaste?)

There was a sort of whiplash in suddenly hearing a male voice actor in the show — even if it was just unnamed soldiers. It also added a bit of comedy to things that were welcome. (“Oh no! A bunch of stuff happened off-screen, and now the Yamato’s been absorbed by the Neuroi!”) With a budget that small and only 11 minutes to tell a story, the only real thing to do in a show like this is to use meta-humor. Simple, yet effective — and taking into account all the types of “comedy” this show has tried (mainly being fan-service) it’s good to see…literally anything else.

With a small bit of emotion added in with the soldiers taking their leave, it definitely leaves room for the show to close comfortably. Will the 501st crew ever reunite?

That all depends on however many pennies they have left in the animation budget.

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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