Laid Back Camp 2: Ep 4 Impression

Nadeshiko’s hard work is finally paying off. During the first two episodes, there were a couple of scenes depicting what a typical day at Nadeshiko’s part time job was like. Seeing her delivering letters to houses around the neighborhood from the early morning really showed her dedication. I was honestly surprised on how well Nadeshiko did because she can never seem to wake up on time in other situations. Nadeshiko is now deciding what new camping gear she should buy with her first paycheck, but the more interesting part for me was when the show starts to play with the idea that Rin could have more of an influence on Nadeshiko than what has been previously shown.

The girls of the outdoor activity club tend to browse the camping gear magazine every time they get together. Chiaki and Aoi usually base their next purchases on whatever gear Rin is currently using, but Nadeshiko has her sights on something unrelated. Nadeshiko is set on buying a new lantern to use on her next camping trip. She loves this lantern so much that she would visit the store frequently just to stare at it. While it is funny to think about it, I love it just because it was a very “Nadeshiko” thing to do.  While Nadeshiko has decided what she is going to buy with her first paycheck, the money she is set to receive doesn’t seem like it’s going to cover the high price tag of the lantern.

While Nadeshiko is thinking of another way to cover the cost of her lantern, there is a very brief, but interesting scene where she thinks back on why Rin loves solo camping. There is no doubt that Nadeshiko is eager to camp again with her friends and while her mind is juggling ingredients for new dishes she plans to make, she also takes a moment to reflect on Rin’s reasoning in being a solo camper. It would seem to be out of character for Nadeshiko to solo camp the same way Rin does, but when Nadeshiko whispers to herself that she would like to try solo camping, it made me wonder where the show is planning to take Nadeshiko’s character. If this scene is supposed to set up something later down the line in terms of character development, I’d be very curious to see how far they’re willing to take it.

Since her last job was only a temporary position, Nadeshiko has decided to look for another part time job in order to buy her lantern. She doesn’t have much luck looking through the job ads but, Sakura, Nadeshiko’s older sister, is able to come through for her younger sister by finding an opening at a restaurant. I hope the anime will take the time to show us what working at the restaurant will be like for Nadeshiko. I know she did well at her last job, but since she tends to be carefree at times, I really want to see how she handles this new job.

I’d say that this episode was pretty laid back (pun intended), but the part that really stuck out to me was Nadeshiko’s consideration into solo camping. Since the beginning of the series, Nadeshiko was someone who would rather go camping with a group or at least one other person. After hanging out with Rin as long as she has, some part of Rin might be influencing Nadeshiko in some way. I don’t know to what extent, but it certainly is interesting to see an outgoing character consider something as introverted as solo camping. Since Rin is the most experienced in camping I suppose all the other girls are influenced by her in some way, but I would like to see if this adds any character development to Nadeshiko.    

Laid Back Camp 2: Ep 3 Impression

The Rin and Nadeshiko duo are officially back in full force. The reunion between these two happened a lot earlier than I expected. Even Rin herself was a bit surprised. It’s always great to see them interact with each other because I find their relationship to be the most interesting. In a way, the anime does ask the question of whether an introvert and extrovert can truly be friends as it puts Rin and Nadeshiko at a campsite with only their company to entertain themselves. I find them even more intriguing now that this episode has added more character development to both of them. A couple of new characters were also introduced so a lot of new things happened in episode three.

Rin is unable to get back home due to the frozen roads and has two extra days to stay at the campsite at Shizuoka. However, she receives a surprise text message from Nadeshiko who invites Rin to a sleep over at her grandma’s house. Nadeshiko also mentions that a childhood friend will also be coming over. I was really interested to see how Rin would react to this invitation. Rin being a solo camper probably has some relation to her being an introvert and has previously rejected Nadeshiko’s invitation to camp if anyone else was tagging along. It wasn’t until the Christmas camping trip that Rin decided to try group camping. Even though Rin said that she had a good time, it doesn’t mean that she would be so willing to do it again. I really was expecting Rin to turn down Nadeshiko so I was surprised when she didn’t. I like how this added character development for Rin as she seems a little more open than previously.

Whether an anime can keep up with the quality of their characters into a new season is always a question that naturally pops into my mind. The second season of Yuru Camp makes it clear they know how to handle their cast. Especially when it comes to the relationship between Rin and Nadeshiko. I’m glad to see them bonding again in this episode because I find them to be genuinely fun characters. I found myself laughing when Nadeshiko was covering her eyes while the chief was preparing the eels because she didn’t want to see the blood, but the manner in which she said it and Rin’s response was what made it funny. The quirkiness that comes out when these two interact is more than enough to keep me watching.

A couple of new faces are thrown into the cast of Yuru Camp. We get to meet Nadeshiko’s grandma and Nadeshiko’s childhood friend, Ayano Toki. Nadeshiko’s grandma is pretty much your typical grandma who is very nice and likes to make sure Nadeshiko is comfortable while eating snacks. Ayano is pretty calm and drives a motorbike like Rin, though she does not have any camping experience. What I liked is that Ayano is used to add some backstory to Nadeshiko’s character. Nadeshiko loves to eat and Ayano explains to Rin that Nadeshiko used to be fat in middle school and was forced to lose that weight by her older sister. All the training she did back then also explains how Nadeshiko was able to bike to Mount Fuji in the previous season. The little details like this really add depth to the character. Some depth is also added to Rin’s character as she talks about how she feels with regard to solo camping vs group camping. She doesn’t say whether she prefers one over the other, but leaves at them being both different experiences.   

I feel like this episode did everything right in terms of allowing established characters to bond as well as expand on their background. Especially Rin, who seems to be a little more willing to hang out with other people as opposed to staying solo all the time. I really want the anime to take its time and slowly develop her and they have been doing great so far. As for Ayano, she has no experience in camping and has only seen pictures through Nadeshiko. After hanging out with Rin and Nadeshiko at the observatory, Ayano seems to be intrigued at the idea of winter camping. I would like to see Ayano become a regular member of the cast and go camping with the rest of the girls.   

Laid Back Camp 2: Ep 2 Impression

I’m always down with spending some quality time with Rin Shima. Not only is she the best girl in the show, but it’s always great to see the pro solo camper do what she does best. The episode mainly focuses on Rin traveling from landmark to landmark, though it does briefly switch back to the supporting characters in some scenes. While Rin and Nadeshiko are pretty much the face of the show, the other characters such as Chiaki and Aoi can be pretty funny too. Though, their drunk high school teacher should really take that award this time around.

Rin goes on a solo camping trip for New Year’s and the majority of the episode is about her relaxing and enjoying the sights. While a summary like that may not sound so interesting, the anime has a unique way of entertaining you with a plot that is rather “laid back”. In fact, it’s so laid back, that hearing Rin’s description of what she is eating or drinking almost encourages you to be lazy. It’s really the characters that make the show great and seeing Rin’s overly excited reactions to simple things like visiting a tea shop or rushing to buy souvenirs at a dog shrine allows her to be relatable. The same goes for the rest of the cast, but it’s more interesting to see Rin’s thoughts and reactions since she more on the quieter side.      

During Rin’s trip the coolest part was the sunrise scene on the beach. There is a tradition where people gather on the beach in the early morning, or in other designated locations, and view the first sunrise of the New Year. Much like the first season, Yuru Camp takes an opportunity to be informative to the viewer by incorporating some real life Japanese traditions. It’s kind of funny to think about how much I actually learned from this show, whether it be a specific location or a custom. Watching the sunrise of the New Year with Rin is probably the best experience you could get aside from seeing it in person.

I really have to give a shout out to Toba sensei for never having a dull moment. Despite being a high school teacher, all I can really say about her is that she loves to drink…maybe a little too much. I mean she was drunk for the whole first season of this anime for the most part. Yet, somehow she was tasked on overseeing the camping club of Nadeshiko and her friends. Toba sensei, Chiaki, Aoi and her little sister want to see the sunrise reach the top of Mount Fuji. However, they are running out of time and Toba sensei takes this moment to release her inner Vin Diesel and steps on the gas. Keep in mind that the road to the viewing spot is on a mountain side with some sharp turns. I don’t know what was more surprising, that the sensei is actually a professional driver or that she wasn’t drunk this time.

I’d like to say that this episode of Yuru Camp felt like a virtual trip in a way. It was cool to hang out with Rin as she essentially took us to various places. I was actually surprised that the show tries to put the characters in different locations rather than falling back on the same old places from last season. Since the roads that lead back to Rin’s house have frozen over, she’s pretty much stuck at the campsite for the next two days. While she is glad to have the extra time, I’m getting the impression that she might run out of things to do.     

Laid Back Camp 2: Ep 1 Impression

I really have to say that it feels great getting back into Laid Back Camp (Yuru Camp). It’s not anything that should be surprising. This is the type of anime where you can just sit back and let the characters make you feel cozy. Being able to hang out with Rin and Nadeshiko for a second time was once again a pleasure. As a pro solo camper, I was wondering what other major locations Rin will decide to camp at. Likewise, I thought the same for Nadeshiko, who was once a novice camper following in the footsteps of Rin, has now become somewhat of a pro herself. I really enjoy being able to see characters grow or go through some sort of gradual change, which is something season one of Yuru Camp handled pretty well. After watching the premiere of season two, I’d say it’s on track to pull that off again.

Season two of Yuru Camp picks up right where season one ended. Before the story actually progresses, the first half of the episode acts more like an origin story for Rin which was interesting to say the least. While the last season did mention that Rin’s interest in going camping started with her Grandpa giving her camping gear, it never really went past that. This time we get to see how Rin’s first camping trip went and how she learned to set up a tent and start a fire. Rin was first introduced as a loner pro camper, which would eventually only make her backstory more interesting. It really was a treat to see how Rin handled her fist camping trip and it adds more depth to her character. The brief cameo of a younger Nadeshiko gazing at Mt. Fuji from afar was a nice little nod to the origin story. I love it when the writers remember the little details like that.

Last time, the story ended with Nadeshiko getting a job offer to deliver letters for the holiday. She did a better job than what I imagined knowing how Nadeshiko can be sometimes. Nadeshiko is still very much into camping all thanks to Rin, and she has been working this temp job in order to save money to buy more camping equipment. I can tell she really wants to get together with all her friends again. However, due to the holiday everyone seems to be scattered all over the place doing their own thing, especially Chiaki, who is stuck spending her holiday working at a liquor store. Some might call that a fate worse than death, but aside from that, I’m more than certain Nadeshiko will get her reunion soon.

Since it seems like Rin still has more free time during her holiday she is already planning another trip to her next campsite. She has many places where she wants to go, but can’t seem to settle on one. Plus, her food preparation has become a bit complicated since she thinks she is getting fatter from the last Christmas camp. I can’t say I can relate, but Rin is perfection and looks fine to me. In the end, she settles on visiting a dog shrine. All the locations that appear in this anime are apparently real so I will definitely check out that dog shrine because the story behind it sounds interesting.

Despite everyone being scattered around for the holidays, Rin and Nadeshiko reunite briefly in the post credit scene. It was rather heartwarming to say the least to see these two interact again, even if it’s for a little while. Rin has really grown to like Nadeshiko unlike earlier in the series where Rin found her to be annoying. While Rin would rather camp alone, if she had to go with somebody it would definitely be Nadeshiko. This last scene was my favorite so far and I hope we get to see more moments like this.

Is the Order a Rabbit? Bloom: Ep 4 Impression

The previous episode had briefly mentioned that Cocoa and Chiya were organizing a culture festival for their high school. While I initially thought it was just a minor event to fill up some time, there was a lot more to be said about it as the episode goes into further detail on how the festival came to be. I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised because given the nature of this anime, I knew it wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to give Cocoa and Chiya the spotlight. The two girls are one of the funniest from the cast mainly because of the way they think or their inability to read the situation at times. When you put Cocoa and Chiya together, there is no telling what you are going to get.

Cocoa and Chiya, along with a group of their classmates, are in charge of putting together a culture festival. Their classmates are wondering how things went with Cocoa and Chiya who had left to get supplies from the prestigious high school. Cocoa and Chiya tell their classmates that they got along well with the rich girls, but they competed with them for prizes. They take it a step further and tell their group that they even beat the principal to win a golden rabbit sculpture. Considering how Cocoa and Chiya tend to exaggerate their stories, there is no way to tell how accurate this is, but they really did bring back these prizes somehow. Either way it’s always hilarious to see the way they completely go overboard in retelling stories.  

I’m really not surpisred at all, but Cocoa and Chiya’s master plan for the culture festival was to set up a beer hall for an Oktoberfest theme. This is a festival that is being held at a high school where people of all ages are welcome to come so I guess the best idea was to serve beer. In all seriousness this wasn’t really beer, it was only apple juice. Though, they did a good job to actually make it look like beer. Cocoa had good intentions for setting up the beer hall because she also wanted to use the culture festival to promote the Rabbit House café. Chiya was managing the beer hall so she could experience what it would feel like to be a manager. Since Chiya plans to manage the café she works at one day, this was the perfect opportunity for her to gain experience.

In the last episode, Chino had visited a prestigious high school with Maya and Megu to see if it was a school they could see themselves attending. While Chino has not decided on a school yet, she felt a connection with Cocoa’s school after experiencing the culture festival. Chino wants to attend a school that is fun and the interactions between Cocoa, Rize, Chiya and Syaro has convinced Chino to consider Cocoa’s school over the prestigious one.

The last scene has left me wondering of what Chino’s final decision will be. I think she will be set on attending Cocoa’s school for a few reasons. The main two being that she already has a close relationship with Cocoa to begin with, but Chino also saw how much fun her friends were having. I also think Maya and Megu will end up going wherever Chino decides to go. I can’t see those three being apart for any reason. I wonder if the anime will bring this topic up again because I would really like to see what ends up happening.          

Is the Order a Rabbit? Bloom Ep 3 Impression

I always enjoy my time watching Gochiusa. The anime has this strange ability of taking ordinary situations and turning them into scenes of pure entertainment. The overblown humor and exaggerated reaction from the cast is guaranteed to make you smile at least once. The main focus for episode three is on Chino and her classmates Maya and Megu. The three girls are debating what high school they should attend and which would be the most suitable them. It’s funny to see them even having this conversation because they all look like they are in elementary school, however they may be a little older at this point in the series.

Megu invites Chino and Maya to go on a tour of a prestigious high school, which also happens to be the same school Rize and Syaro attend. Maya is not too thrilled about the idea of going to a school that has strict rules and customs. At this school there is an etiquette of having to greet your classmates every time you pass by them and Maya is concerned that the greeting will cause her to develop a syndrome from it. Maya is funny because she tends to worry about things that normal people don’t worry about. Then again, I guess you could say the same about Cocoa and Chiya since their train of thought is not much different.

Speaking of Cocoa and Chiya, they played a smaller role than they usually do, but we still got a chance to see them carrying out their usual antics. Cocoa and Chiya are now somehow in charge of carrying out a cultural festival at their school. One of their classmates doesn’t have much faith that Cocoa and Chiya have the qualifications to carry out such a big project. If you know these characters well enough, it shouldn’t surprise you to see Cocoa and Chiya brag about trivial skills that have nothing to do with leading a project. In a hilarious way, Cocoa and Chiya give off the impression that they are some unstoppable duo who are going to wage war to carry out the festival. Cocoa and Chiya are already outlandish on their own, but when they’re working together there’s no telling what they will come up with.

During the tour of the high school, Chino and Maya become separated from Megu. It could have been easily avoided since Megu told her friends to wait for her as she went to the bathroom, but Maya was convinced that Megu was lost because she was taking too long. As they search for each other, Chino and Maya run into Syaro while Megu runs into Rize. Syaro wants Chino and Maya to change into the school’s uniform because she thinks they will get in trouble if a teacher spots them. Rize does the same thing to Megu despite both Syaro and Rize receiving an explanation from the girls that they are not trespassing and are on tour. It was funny to see Rize treat this like an infiltration mission since she is obsessed with anything that has to do with the military or weapons. It was even funnier to see the three girls just having fun with it as Syaro and Rize blow the situation out of proportion.

Gochiusa Bloom sticks to what it does best and that is never make things as simple as they need to be. While keeping things simple could be ideal for other anime, Gochiusa has put itself in a position where simple runs the risk of being boring. Though the show never has to worry about that because the cast of colorful characters alone are enough to carry an entire episode. I enjoy hanging out with the girls and can’t wait to see what kind of craziness they get themselves into next.                         

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin Ep 12 Impression (Final)

This has to be one of the best episodes in the entire series. Road to Berlin has really outdone itself here and I couldn’t ask for a better conclusion. The action was great, the suspense was at its peak, and something unexpected happened that almost gave me the feels. There were a lot moving parts here switching between Yoshika trapped within the Neuroi dome, Shizuka onboard Sakamoto’s plane, and the rest of the witches fighting within the subway tunnels. The whole episode was basically one big action scene where the constant gunfire and explosions made you feel like this was going to be all or nothing. For the biggest battle of the series, this was definitely Strike Witches at its finest.    

The witches take the fight to the subway tunnels of Berlin where they locate the control center of the Neuroi dome. A massive battle immediately breaks out which is animated beautifully. Despite being an extended action sequence, the animation flowed very nice and that remains true for the rest of the episode. The underground is heavily guarded by the Neuroi since this is its weak point. As the witches damage the control center, the dome begins to get thinner. Everybody plays a part in this battle. Even Sakamoto, who has been mostly absent since the beginning of the season, gets a fair amount of screen time. Like Yoshika, Sakamoto does what she can without her magic.

Sakamoto and Ursula are dropping anti Neuroi bombs onto the dome, but in order for it to be effective, the bomb needs to explode right above the surface. Shizuka flies Yoshika’s striker unit and shoots the bomb over the surface which rips a hole through it. On the other side Shizuka spots Yoshika fighting off the Neuroi on her own with a machine gun since Yoshika doesn’t have any magic left. Shizuka wants to go protect Yoshika, but Sakamoto orders Shizuka to stay back. The episode does something interesting here for Shizuka’s character. Shizuka is someone who does not question orders once they’re given to her. Throughout the season, we can see Shizuka physically convincing herself that an order is an order. Surprisingly, Shizuka actually pulls a Yoshika and disobeys the order. To see someone who was strict on following orders end up going against them, especially in a high stakes battle, was very unexpected.    

Speaking of unexpected, this episode almost gave me the feels. Heck, I even still felt it watching this scene a second time. Shizuka fights the mini Neuroi inside the dome, but Yoshika’s striker unit is depleting her magic quickly. As Shizuka kills the last Neuroi, it shoots off one last beam which critically injures her and she comes crashing down. It’s very tense to see Shizuka bleeding out and Yoshika struggling to use her healing magic knowing it’s not going to work. The whole time I was wondering, is this really going to be the end for Shizuka? I was really on the edge of my seat especially when the scene got really quiet after Shizuka passes out completely. Thankfully, this moment is what allowed Yoshika to regenerate a burst of magic and she is able to heal Shizuka. This scene really came out of nowhere, but I appreciate Road to Berlin pushing the boundaries of the series.  

The battle gets crazier from here due to Yoshika’s regenerated magic. Her speed has greatly increased and she’s just mowing down enemies like nothing. I don’t know if she’s reached a new level or if Shizuka’s near death experience has Yoshika pumped up to kill some Neuroi. The witches group up again to finish off the battle. The main focus here is Yoshika who is really killing it, no pun intended.

This was a great conclusion to the season. I really don’t think you could have made a better final episode. The battles in Road to Berlin were so much bigger and more intense than the previous seasons. The 3D style for some of the flying animation was something new they did this time around and it looked great. The soundtrack was amazing. Strike Witches has always had some great orchestrated pieces and both old and new were used throughout the season. Minna’s fading magic was never brought up again since episode ten, so I wonder if they’re saving that issue for a future season. I really had a blast getting back into Strike Witches after a ten year gap and I hope we get the chance to hang out with the girls again in the near future. Now that Berlin has been liberated, I wonder where they will go next.         

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin Ep 11 Impression

The final battle has finally begun and the fate of Berlin will soon be determined. I can already feel that this is the beginning of the end. Sakamoto and Ursula are transporting weapons, the army is fully mobilized with everything they’ve got, and the witches are defending the skies. We are once again treated to some lengthy action sequences which fits well for the final confrontation. I was hooked on to the events that took place during the battle, but I was also interested to see what was going to happen to Yoshika and Shizuka. I thought these two were going to be out of the fight so I was surprised to see them being able to contribute so soon.

One of the main questions I had going into this episode was how Yoshika and Shizuka were going to go back to being productive members of their team. Yoshika had exhausted all of her magic while Shizuka had an injury on her leg and heavy guilt on her conscience. It turns out that both girls came out of this a little better than I thought. Shizuka’s leg healed up pretty quickly, but she is a bit emotionally unstable since her failure has taken away Yoshika’s ability to participate in battle. As for Yoshika, her magic should be replenished within a few days. However, the assault on Berlin will go according to schedule and the request to delay to operation for Yoshika’s magic to return was denied. Yoshika isn’t someone who sits back while a fight is going on, so I was left wondering what she was going to do next.

The main battle was excellent. Seeing the witches and the army fighting within the center of Berlin felt like an uphill battle as they tried to take out a new type of wall Neuroi. The wall Neuroi are pretty formidable since they are essentially large shields that cannot be destroyed with the standard machine gun. Luckily General Patton has brought a super tank that is able to destroy the Neuroi wall with one shot, and yes…this is the same General Patton you’re thinking of. Shizuka was able to hold her own during combat this time, though for me she seemed a little off. I got the impression that she was pushing herself a little too hard in order to make it up to Yoshika or something like that. Doing too much could be bad news, but maybe I was just looking too deep into it.

Speaking of Yoshika, she actually did a lot more than I expected her to. She was onboard General Patton’s super tank healing any injured soldiers. Yoshika was granted this request from Sakamoto so the other witches had no idea about it. I remember back in episode one of Road to Berlin, Sakamoto finds Yoshika studying medicine so that she can heal people without using her magic. I love how the show circled back around to this detail and is ending on one of the first things Yoshika did. It really makes Yoshika stick out as the witch who can still aid in combat without using magic.

This episode did pretty well to address the concerns that were created in the previous episode. Both Yoshika and Shizuka seem to be doing fine given the circumstances. I really did think that the two girls would be out for the entire episode, but I suppose their personalities wouldn’t let them stay out of the final fight for Berlin. The Neuroi have trapped General Patton and Yoshika within a dome and have blocked the other witches out. I’m interested to see if Yoshika’s magic will come back sooner than expected and to see how the season closes out. I have a feeling something big is going to happen.      

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin Ep 10 Impression

Road to Berlin is on a roll now because episode ten was the perfect follow up for last week’s episode. The witches finally begin their assault on Berlin which allowed the episode to give us some awesome action scenes. The suspense and drama were kicked up a notch and really carried some weight after the high stakes battle from episode nine. At the center of this drama is Yoshika and Shizuka, where the consequences of their actions don’t really hit you until the last few seconds. The cliffhanger ending continues to raise the bar for episode eleven because not only was the assault on Berlin a failure, but also two witches are now possibly unable to fight.

The episode doesn’t waste any time in taking us straight to the action as the witches are dropped into the skies of Berlin within the first few minutes. The air force have destroyed the clouds surrounding the Neuroi nest leaving it vulnerable for the witches to destroy the core. I knew something was up because witches were about to win this major battle too easily and it turns out my gut feeling was right. In fact, this goes very poorly for the witches as a swarm of mini Neuroi surround them and begin destroying planes left and right. Yoshika used up a lot of her magic in protecting a few planes which leads to a dilemma for her. She is ordered to leave the battle in order to conserve her magic while watching the planes she can’t protect explode out of the sky. The episode begins to play with this idea where no matter whether Yoshika follows the order or not, there is no good outcome.

The Neuroi once again attacks the base at Kiel as it tries to keep the witches out of Berlin. This battle adds more pressure on Yoshika in making her choose between two bad decisions. While Yoshika chose to obey the order to head back to base in the last battle, her decision this time will determine whether Shizuka lives or not. After a miscalculation, Shizuka is left bleeding on the wing of the Neuroi. Not only that, but halfway through the battle, the Neuroi decides it is going to kamikaze itself into Kiel just to win the battle. Yoshika was told to not engage in battle because her magic power is needed at 100% for the next assault on Berlin. Yoshika is struggling to obey this order and even received a scolding from Sakamoto before the battle occurred. As soon as Shizuka goes down, Yoshika disobeys the order and engages the Neuroi. I really like the tension presented in this scene in forcing Yoshika to make a difficult decision. I knew what she was going do, but what caught me off guard was the consequence that came with it.

The other witches are struggling to hold the Neuroi back from crashing into Kiel, which would not only destroy their supply base, but kill the troops stationed there as well as Shizuka onboard the Neuroi. Yoshika uses her magic and holds back the Neuroi with her bare hands, which gives the other witches the time needed to save Shizuka and destroy the Neuroi. So all seems good until Yoshika ends up fainting with the medical team saying they no longer feel any magic power from her. Shizuka feels responsible for Yoshika’s condition and she faints as well.

This was a great ending, but very unexpected for me. The drama was excellent and it really put Yoshika in a situation that I’m not used to seeing her in. That’s not to say there hasn’t been important moments in the previous seasons, but this one seemed to carry the most weight. The other witches as well were put in a difficult place as they struggled to hold back a Neuroi that was crazy enough to be willing to kill itself just to take out Kiel. Drama aside, the action was great and pretty lengthy where the assault on Berlin was about half the episode. I really hope this trend continues because Road to Berlin really shines when it tries something knew. I’m looking forward to see what happens to Yoshika and Shizuka now that they are potentially out of the fight.        

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin Ep 9 Impression

What a great episode this week! The action was amazing, but more importantly, it was the situation that the characters are put in that made it more interesting. As I have mentioned before, you can never go wrong when you put strong characters in difficult situations and that’s exactly what episode nine did. This time the focus is on Minna and since she is the leader of the 501st, I assume she is the most skilled of the group. While it was great to see the other witches handle an opponent that had the upper hand, I never really get to see Minna do the same. Minna is always calm and collected even when her fellow witches report back saying they failed to take down a Neuroi. Putting Minna in a high stakes battle within the Neuroi nest is what sold me on this episode.

As the witches and the other divisions of the military begin to take back key locations that were once under Neuroi occupation, the Neuroi begin to get desperate. The Neuroi nest launches a missile to destroy Kiel with one blow, and while they keep missing their target, they are launching daily missiles which are landing closer and closer to Kiel. The Neuroi missile is too fast for any of the witches to intercept and even Shirley admits it. I noticed that speed seems to be a common theme this season. The speed factor is what has made the Neuroi formidable to the witches and I find that pretty interesting because it was never like that before. I can only guess that the Neuroi have adapted and realized using only their firepower on a witch never goes in their favor. If they are too fast then the witches won’t be able to land a blow to destroy their core. Luckily, despite the difference in speed, the witches know someone who can help.

Erica’s twin sister Ursula, who is a weapons developer, creates a new striker unit known as the ME-163 Komet. The Komet is designed to amplify speed while not draining the user’s magic power excessively. Since the episode is focused on Minna, she is the one to use the new striker unit. Minna goes through a training exercise in shooting down a test missile and it was barely a challenge for her. Though she was out of breath after using the Komet. Minna was seen struggling a bit using her regular striker unit at the beginning of the episode as well. I know Minna is the oldest witch of the group and seeing her out of breath usually only means one thing. I was not expecting the anime to bring this up so soon, but Minna is now in the early stages of losing her magic ability due to her age.

The best part of the episode has Minna, Erica, Trude, and Ursula traveling to the outskirts of Berlin under the cover of night to avoid detection from the patrolling Neuroi. The last scene is great because it adds suspense by putting pressure on the witches. While Ursula is setting up the Komet for Minna, a Neuroi comes in to attack them and Erica and Trude have to hold it off to buy Minna some time. The Neuroi that Erica and Trude face isn’t just any Neuroi, but it’s the high speed one they struggled with back in episode six. As Erica and Trude have their rematch, the Neuroi nest prematurely launches another missile towards Kiel. Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts in this battle, but each one is significant. I can usually get the sense when the battle tips in the witches’ favor, however, this time I was left wondering whether they were going to pull it off or if this was really going to be the end for Minna. Even more so when the Neuroi nest launches their desperate attack at the very end.

The dark clouds, the ominous glow from the massive Neuroi nest, and the overall atmosphere gave the episode a shift in tone. Considering the circumstances, I think the shift was necessary. The area surrounding Berlin and the Neuroi nest should be a gloomy one compared to the mostly sunny strike witches base. It really lets the viewer feel where they are and lets them see how hopeless places become under Neuroi occupation. Aside from the story, the action was excellent and fun to watch. I feel like this is the beginning of the end as the witches will now take the fight straight to Berlin.