Is it just me or has this new season of Strike Witches really kicked it up a notch? Perhaps even a notch could be an understatement. I really have to say that the second episode of Road to Berlin was fire (no pun intended). This episode was one big action sequence that pulled me in and did not let go until that last few minutes. Imagine the final battle from Strike Witches 2, but on steroids. That’s probably the best way I could describe it. The animation from the battle sequences are definitely the best in the series. I noticed a lot of 3D animation being implemented into the character models when flying which I don’t recall seeing in previous seasons. I hope the quality of animation continues this way because that was beautiful to see.
While the first episode was setting the scene for the first battle, episode two dives straight into the action with Yoshika defending herself against the iceberg Neuroi. As any Strike Witches fan would know, Yoshika is probably one of the strongest of the 501st due to her incredible magic power which has only become more refined throughout the series. As an anime fan, I expect characters to grow stronger over time, but it’s important to be mindful of the situations you put these “strong” characters in. It can be a little boring and predictable to see the main character beat everyone so easily because they’re so strong (Ahem, One Punch Man), but I’m glad to see that Road to Berlin did not fall for this mistake. The show is aware of Yoshika’s strength and puts her in a situation that is suitable for someone at her level. Yoshika is fighting a Neuroi with a flimsy striker unit and without a gun—only being able to use her magic shield to protect herself. While I wasn’t expecting anything bad to happen to Yoshika, it kept the battle interesting to see one of the strongest being challenged.
It truly wouldn’t be a Yoshika battle without some kind of epic comeback. Yoshika rushed to check on the distress call coming from the warship Altia’s dad was commanding and Yoshika had to settle for a piece of junk striker unit. During the battle Yoshika’s striker unit begins to malfunction and can no longer keep her suspended in air. It might be weird to say that she was lucky to crash land on the deck of the warship, but I suppose it’s better than falling into the ocean. Yoshika is stuck on the ship holding off the beams from the Neuroi with her magic while the crew repairs her striker unit. She pretty much lost all of her offensive options and is just trying to help the ship tank its way through the Neuroi beams. The ship ends up taking heavy damage, but out of the smoke, Yoshika comes up the elevator shaft with her repaired striker unit. It was very reminiscent of Yoshika coming up the elevator in season one when she flew a striker unit for the first time. I was very happy to see that throwback.
The Neuroi heads off to the port of Antwerpen to destroy the military’s supply base. While Yoshika’s striker unit has been repaired to let her fly, she cannot use it at her max speed. As she struggles to catch up with the Neuroi, her friends from the 501st come in to help. Yoshika is reunited with her team and the Strike Witches come together once again to take down the Neuroi. As expected, the overwhelming speed and firepower was too much for the Neuroi to escape from as it was quickly destroyed. I mean they really shot this dude up to pieces. Even though the Neuroi was destroyed, the iceberg still carried its momentum and the Strike Witches could not stop it from crashing into the port of Antwerpen. The Strike Witches won the battle at the cost of their supply base. This is wartime and it keeps things in perspective to show that the good guys can’t win everything.
I’m glad to see the Witches all back together again. Seeing them shoot up a Neuroi through the skies of Europe really brings me back to a better time. Minna explains that there is a plan to counter attack the Neuroi at Berlin and officially reinstates the 501st joint fighter wing of the Strike Witches. Since Mio Sakamoto is no longer able to participate in combat due to her fading magic, she is being replaced with Shizuka—a character who was last seen in the Strike Witches movie. I am kind of bummed to see that Mio might be sidelined, but I’m interested to see how Shizuka handles the new role given to her.