Love Live Superstar: Ep 2 Impression

After a fairly strong opening, it’s clear that Superstar wants to be able to stand out from the crowd. The different approach in its storytelling and the way they handle the characters from here on are going to be a major factor in accomplishing that. Kanon’s character is an excellent addition to the Love Live series and her problems are what make her most relatable. The show presents Kanon in a way that allows you to sympathize with her which will make us root for her more as the season progresses. Keke has the potential to be a great supporting character for Kanon since she is aware of Kanon’s difficulty singing in front of people. Episode two expands further on Kanon and Keke and you can already see the character progression right from the beginning. Love Live has always relied on its characters and this episode shows that Superstar is very aware.    

Episode two does a good job balancing between character development and plot. The idea of starting a school idol group acts as a catalyst for the girls to grow as characters. Kanon is already going through some changes because of this fact. Rather than having an obsession with school idols, Kanon sees it more of an opportunity to conquer her fear in something that would be bigger than an audition. If she could sing as an idol then the failure to be accepted into her high school’s music program would be irrelevant. I feel that Superstar was careful not to have Kanon’s change be forced for the sake of the plot, but more so because of her interactions with Keke. That’s why I think Keke can end up being a pretty strong character due to her influence over Kanon.

Keke Tang has the potential to stand on her own. Her overblown solutions for normal problems is what makes her stick out from the cast. Suggesting things such as transferring to another school or trying to start a mini revolution on campus just to get her idol group approved are some of the ways we get to see the extent of her exaggeration.  Keke is able to channel a combination of being funny and cute, which makes me wonder if her personality has been influenced by her obsession with school idols. We also get to know a little more about Kanon’s friend Chisato, who apparently likes to rap about Kanon’s pet owl, Manmaru. Though, that spontaneous rap was giving me some heavy Kaguya Sama vibes.    

The story begins to open up a little more by giving the girls their first task. The head of the school will only allow Kanon and Keke to start a school idol club if they are able to get first place at the Yoyogi school idol festival. Since Ren has forbidden Kanon and Keke from creating the club because it will bring a bad name to their school, it raises the stakes in presenting it as an “all or nothing” situation. Chisato plays a bigger role by being the one who trains Kanon and Keke in dancing even though they don’t have much time to prepare. Kanon is also putting a song together on top of all this, but it actually gives her motivation rather than discourage her. Knowing what I know about Love Live, I can feel something big is being set up here and I really want to see how the story turns out at the idol festival.   

I really am looking forward to see how this all plays out in the next episode. So far the balance between character development and plot is better than I expected. I am truly invested in both. Specifically with Kanon, who went from someone who thought her life was over to someone who feels motivated to get a second chance. It really is great to see this progression, but I am also interested in seeing more about Keke, Chisato and Ren in the future.

Love Live Superstar: Ep 1 Impression

Love Live Superstar is one of those shows that will prove to be a pivotal point for its franchise. It is the turning point whether the series will decide to tire us with more of the same or if it actually has something new to say. Being a big fan of Love Live and Love Live Sunshine, I was a little concerned that Superstar would be too comfortable riding the success of its predecessors and end up being something lazy or uninspired. Thankfully Superstar puts those concerns to rest as it proves to the audience that the Love Live formula can be reworked through its characters. I was impressed on how much I enjoyed the first episode and it felt like a fresh take due to some changes in its storytelling.

There are a couple of changes done in Superstar, but the one that stuck out to me was the way the story puts more of a focus on the emotional weight of the characters. The main character Kanon Shibuya loves singing, but she is unable to do so in front of an audience. She suffers from severe stage fright that causes her to freeze up and pass out. The anime doesn’t leave it at a harmless case of performance anxiety either. It pushes this concept further by having this issue have major consequences in her life. Failing the entrance exam for the music program at her high school and confronting past classmates who were accepted are some of the few. These flaws make Kanon an interesting and relatable character and I already want to know how she deals with this problem as the series progresses. Honoka and Chika also had their struggles as well, but Superstar is able to make Kanon’s problem feel more personal. 

An interesting addition to the cast is the Chinese exchange student, Keke Tang, who tends to ramble on in Chinese whenever she gets excited. The story structure is reworked a little bit here in that Keke is the one who is interested in starting a school idol group rather than the main protagonist Kanon. It’s a minor change, but I think swapping this detail was able to add a little more tension between Kanon and Keke in certain moments. Keke might come off as a little annoying in being too persistent to convince Kanon to start a school idol group, but she is also the only who believes in Kanon more than Kanon herself. This could lead to some interesting character development between the two.

The thing that really draws me into Love Live aside from the awesome music is its heavy theme centered on failure. I feel that Superstar has taken this theme to another level by having Kanon already be a character who has been through a lot the minute she is introduced. While Chika and Honoka started optimistic and were set back by failure later on, Kanon is already starting from failure. Her flaws and experience make Kanon relatable and I love the way the anime has set her up. They could really do anything from here and I’m interested to see how her character evolves.   

Superstar is off to a great start and Kanon Shibuya is such a joy to watch. She has such a strong voice that really allows her to stick out and I am completely invested in her character. I think the changes done in Superstar were great and it is something crucial that will allow this entry to stand on its own in the long run. Some elements are brought back such as Ren being another Dia, but the changes outweigh the similarities. The opening was great and I hope Superstar will bring more surprises in the coming episodes.     

Laid Back Camp 2: Ep 5 Impression

No matter how much I may love a series, I’m not someone who ignores its flaws for the sake of being a fan. In fact, I point out these flaws because I am a fan and want to see the series make adjustments. I found episode five of Yuru Camp to be a bit slow in terms of progression, but it’s not because the episode did anything wrong or even different from the others. This episode still captures the essence of the series, but it was missing an important element that has been driving season two recently—Rin and Nadeshiko. Since the end of episode one the relationship between these two has been expanded upon and the way they influence each other has allowed them to grow as characters. Episode five is still classic Yuru Camp, but for anyone expecting more Rin and Nadeshiko, the timing might seem off.

Rin and Nadeshiko take a back seat this time around and the main focus is put on Ena, Chiaki and Aoi. The three girls decide to spend their winter break camping and head out to Lake Yamanaka. Despite not having the two main characters around, the episode does try to make up for it in other ways. This is usually thanks to Chiaki since she is the funniest of the three just because she is so over the top at moments that you can’t help but to at least crack a smirk. The highlight of the episode was the scene with the deer mascot because it really is a good example of Chiaki at her best.

Another thing done well which is not specific to this episode, but more so to the entirety of the anime are the locations depicted and atmosphere. All locations that appear in Yuru Camp are based off of real life places and the recreation is spot on. The Mt. Fuji area was great to see in greater detail since we were only able to see it from afar. Chiaki, Ena and Aoi stop by local stores and hot springs which really allows you to take in the culture without actually being there. That has always been the strong point of Yuru Camp and can be quite informative for anyone interested in visiting these areas.  

My main criticism with this episode is that the focus was taken off Nadeshiko and Rin at a time where I feel it shouldn’t have. The anime had just made an interesting choice in the growth of these characters where Nadeshiko ponders whether she should try solo camping. On contrary, Rin tries to understand what the fun is in group camping as opposed to her usual solo camping. I know this will be further expanded on later, but I think this episode would have been better off shown later. I wonder if the creators were aware of the lack of Rin and Nadeshiko in this episode because Rin does make appearance in a short skit at the very end.   

The episode itself didn’t do anything wrong and it does have its strong points. The atmosphere is great as always and Chiaki’s sense of humor is actually very good for someone who is more or less a supporting character. The timing felt a little odd in that Nadeshiko and Rin’s character were being developed further, but then are no longer to be found all of a sudden. I suppose this is just what happens in anime to prolong the parts that everyone is waiting for. Regardless, I know that an anime like Yuru Camp never fails to unfold its characters in unexpected ways.

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 of 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.