I saw the first episode of Strike Witches 2 a few days ago, and it reminds me of everything I loved about the first season: adorable fan service, yuri, and pantsu. Indeed, I enjoyed the first season so much that in anticipation for the second, I bought the stunning artbook from Shimada Humikane, who both designed the characters from Strike Witches and coined the term, “mecha musume.”
The pages in the artbook really feature some of the most beautiful artworks. The thick coloring and the bold lines are simply gorgeous. Even more impressive are the charming character designs. I love the contrasting blend of flesh and machine, of animals and girls, and of uniforms and panties. However, at first glance, the mecha and the animal ears seem to be an incoherent combination. Yet, although the two parts should not go together, they just feel so right in Strike Witches.
When one considers what mecha musume are, Shimada Humikane’s design really starts to come together. Mecha musume are the anthropomorphized forms of military vehicles and weapons. Much like the many anime mascots and “-tans”, mecha musume are part of a popular trend of personifying abstract ideas and inanimate entities through embellishing characters with various indicative features.
The mechanized legs are really reminiscent of different World War II aircrafts. For example, Striker Units have propellers, engines, and fins. Even the coloring and the flags suggest of military planes. Certainly, when the girls wear those Striker Units to become Strike Witches, they embody those characteristics. Indeed, they become moefied versions of military weapons.
One of the better examples of this is Sanya. With her Striker Unit and her ability to receive various wavelengths and sing, she is essentially a radio satellite. Those antennas really drive the image further.
Realizing this, it is not such a stretch to tie the mecha to the animal parts. Animal ears and tails are the most abundant forms of moe anthropomorphism in anime. Nekomimi, kitsunemimi, wankomimi, usagimimi, and everything in between are everywhere. Thus, besides being moefied versions of vehicles, these girls are also personified forms of pets and cute animals.
As a further stretch of this, Strike Witches can also be other ideas personified. For example, with her katana, Sakamoto perhaps hints at an anthropomorphosis of Japanese mentality and spirit. Various costumes also suggest anthropomorphisis of different cultures. Indeed, Strike Witches is just one big presentation of moe anthropomorphism… and pantsu. It is blatant about its fan service and about its attempt to add some cuteness to everything, even war.
And I love Strike Witches for that.
Updates and my responses have been kind of slow lately. I apologize for that. 😦
I am moving back to California soon and I have just been so busy between personal stuff and other engagements. Once I settle down again, things should pick up.