Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow Vol. 02 – Review

SW OVA vol. 02 Review Title

As with Vol. 01 and 03, Operation Victory Arrow Vol. 02 takes place between the end of the second TV season and the Strike Witches movie. In vol. 02, we switch locations to the picturesque Aegean Sea with the focus on 501st Joint Fighter Wing (JFW) members Flight Lieutenant Charlotte E. ‘Shirley’ Yeager (United States of Liberion) and Pilot Officer Francesca Lucchini (Duchy of Romagna). Vol. 02 opens with Shirley and Francesca on some R&R at Francesca’s home. They soon get orders to head to the Crete base for an operation against a pesky Neuroi on Delos who’s causing trouble with nearby shipping lanes. The planned Delos operation causes Francesca quite a bit of distress since she has precious memories of family vacations there. In fact, her father (who is serving in the Romagna Navy) has promised to take Francesca to Delos again during his upcoming leave. After arriving at the Crete base, the two are joined by 31st Joint Fighter Squadron Afrika members Flight Lieutenant Hanna-Justina (“Hanna”) Marseille (Karlsland) and Pilot Officer Raisa Pöttgen (Karlsland). Also making an appearance is Colonel Edytha Neumann along with Afrika Forces Commander, Field Marshall “Ernst” Rommel. The “Desert Fox” has traded hot, sandy desert tank warfare and flea/scorpion ridden tents for attractive, striker equipped witches and a swank Crete base. I call that a step up.

Impressions

Let me get my primary issue with Vol. 02 out of the way first. I thought things were going just fine until the show pulled some over-the-top, cheesy “Hollywood” type drama with Ernst “coming to save the day”. First, give me a break. Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (see WWII References) or not, landing a plane on a “Liberty Ship” (see WWII References below)? Yeah, not buying it. Second, why is the overall theatre commander flying out into the middle of battle? (I’m as shocked as you are girls).  Actually how did Ernst know the winch would run out of fuel?  That was a ridiculously well-timed entrance.  I could go on.  It’s all just a “bit” too much, and worse, completely unnecessary. Anyway, after a jaunty line of dialog, Ernst hooks up some jumper cables, and… we’re good to go. Cue a couple rounds of shelling by the fleet and scratch one Neuroi. *sigh* Rather than add any drama, the whole thing broke immersion in the story for me. :/

I really do not understand why the Strike Witches O.V.A. staff felt it was necessary to play up Ernst’s role in all of this. Even before his “dramatic”… whatever at the end, he received considerable screen time – certainly more than a lot of high-ranking, non-witch commanders who are lucky to get 30 seconds of screen time and a line or two or dialog. I can only guess someone on the Strike Witches O.V.A. staff is a big Rommel fan. Having watched both TV seasons, the movie, and O.V.A. Vol. 01, Ernst’s surprisingly large role was both conspicuous and kind of odd for this series. In my opinion, they should have ditched that whole “jumper cable” scene. I had no problem with Ernst’s role up until then. However, if they felt they needed some added drama, have Edytha make a dramatic entrance to help shield the tow cable from attack until the fleet gets a chance to pulverize the Neuroi. Plenty of drama available right there – the four are unable to shield the cable entirely, some near misses start to fray the cable, etc., etc.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to more positive aspects. Apart from the above complaint, on the whole I found Vol. 02 entertaining. I didn’t find Vol. 02 all that funny which is kind of shame since I think the Strike Witches franchise has some good humor, and I do like comedy. Yet to my surprise, I didn’t mind the relative lack of comedy which I think in large part is due to Vol. 02 maintaining a consistently appropriate tone/atmosphere. No need to force a joke just for the sake of having one (something other shows could learn). The pacing was good, arguably very good. The narrative flowed without any rushed feeling. Compared to O.V.A. Vol. 01, there were not as many “WWII Easter Eggs” apart from the usual equipment used by the girls (i.e. WWII fighter plane based strikers units and weaponry), Peter Skene Ogden USN WWII Liberty Ship, Harley-Davidson WLA US military motorcycle, and Fieseler Fi 156.  Even so, I didn’t mind that either.  Again what was presented worked for the story.

As usual with the franchise, despite a short run time of just under 26 minutes, I thought the characters and character interactions were done well. Nothing “out of character”, but rather consistent with previous material (e.g. Shirley and Hanna’s oppai feud). In fact, I thought there was some nice subtle character depth/development added. Hanna’s softer, empathetic side was shown (not to mention her super kawaii blushing), and I got a sense of Francesca growing up a little when she accepted (sort of) Delos being destroyed rather than be the cause of Shirley and Hanna fighting. I found Edytha interesting because she’s the first witch I really didn’t like. She needs to chill out a little rather than expect perfection every time from Hanna (*pats Hanna ❤ on head*). However, while some might consider the “hard-ass military type” to be cliché, I found her a good, realistic addition. Not every commander is going to be the caring, “motherly” type like Minna, and a “hard-ass” officer is certainly realistic.

Video quality was mostly solid if unspectacular. I think vol. 01 looked somewhat better though perhaps it might be due to the version I watched. Voice acting was good as usual, and same for the music (OP/ED and BGM in particular) as I’ve come to expect from the Strike Witch’s franchise. I suppose I should mention the fan service which was back to TV Season 1 & 2 levels. To be honest, I was surprised since the previous theater releases (Strike Witches Movie and O.V.A. vol. 01) were much more tame and limited in that regard. O.V.A. vol. 02 is definitely a NSFW anime. Personally, I didn’t mind the fan service – nothing new for this series (again very much in line with TV Seasons 1 & 2), and I do not think it got in the way of storytelling. However, others who don’t like that level of fan service may have an issue with it.  Finally, one thing that I liked about both O.V.A. Vol. 01 & 02 is the short end scene with Yoshika and Michiko discussing a post card Yoshika got from the witches featured in that particular O.V.A.  Minor detail, but something I think adds to the presentation, and a nice touch by the Strike Witches O.V.A. staff.

Overall, I think Vol. 02 compares favorably to O.V.A. vol. 01 though the two are pretty close. While not up to the same level as the Strike Witches Movie, I found O.V.A. vol. 02 to be good, solid Strike Witches fare until towards the end.


 WWII References

  • Peter Skene Ogden USN WWII “Liberty Ship”:  A USN WWII “Liberty Ship” which was torpedoed by U-boat off the coast of Algeria in Feb. 1944. Though heavily damaged and abandoned, the ship did not sink. It was later towed and beached for possible salvage, but ultimately declared a total loss and scrapped.
  • Harley-Davidson WLA US military motorcycle:  Shirley’s motorcycle – complete with leather Thompson submachine gun scabbard.
  • Fieseler Fi 156 “Storch”:  A small German liaison aircraft built before and during World War II. Production continued in other countries into the 1950s for the private market. It remains famous to this day for its STOL performance.
  • Usual Strike Witches references including WWII plane based Striker Units and weaponry.

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_01 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_02 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_03 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_04 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_05

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_06 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_07 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_08 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_09 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_10

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_11 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_12 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_13 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_14 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_15

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_16 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_17 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_18 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_19 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_20

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_21 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_22 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_23 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_24 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_25

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_26 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_27 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_28 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_29 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_30

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_31 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_32 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_33 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_34 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_35

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_36 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_37 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_38 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_39 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_40

Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_41 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_42 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_43 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_44 Strike Witches OVA Vol 02_45

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5 thoughts on “Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow Vol. 02 – Review

  1. So far, this is the best OVA episode. Because the non-witch personnel (Neo-Venetian fleets) are really able to kill the Neuroi and Ernst is more better than Maloney & Baron Tedder wannabe. And chibi Lucchini remind me with chibi Aika in ARIA The Origination ep5.

    I wonder if OVA!Rommel is a younger brother of Erwin.? (I want to see the Rommel family & Germany Armed Forces reaction about this).

    But, there’s a problem. The Storch is able to land in PSO Liberty ship, is that really possible..?

    And what happen to Signore Lucchini, is he passed away..?

    (Finally accept the fact that Finnish-Russian duo won’t bee featured)

    • @ernietheracefan: First, thanks for the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch reference (added it to the review). Got lazy and didn’t check on that. XD To be clear, I agree that “Ernst” (I’m sure he’s based upon Erwin Rommel in the same way Strike Witches Movie’s “Donald D. Eisenhower” is based off of Dwight D. Eisenhower and TV Season 1’s “Trevor Maloney” is based upon Trafford Leigh-Mallory) is better than Maloney from TV Season 1. However, I do think O.V.A. Vol. 02 overextended Ernst’s role as noted above. Cut the whole “coming to save the day” part at the end, and I wouldn’t have any issues. Even then he gets a much bigger and better role than say other high level, non-witch commanders apart from Maloney who played the antagonist role.

      Agree that it was nice to see non-witch forces (e.g. Neo-Venetian fleets) playing a meaningful role in a battle. Usually non-witch forces are at best supporters or at worst cannon fodder.

      Re.Signore Lucchini: My impression wasn’t anything “grim-dark” (i.e. he died). I took his absence at the end as simply his leave didn’t come up yet, and the witches visited Delos right after the battle. Remember, there’s no reason for all witches to hang around the area for any substantial length of time once the mission is completed.

      Re. the Fieseler Fi 156 Storch landing on a WWII Liberty ship: Sorry, but I just can’t buy into that. It’s too much given that very small landing area. STOL is one thing. VTOL is another.

      Lastly, yeah, looks like no Sanya or Eila for the O.V.A. series. :/

      • “No need to force a joke just for the sake of having one (something other shows could learn)”.
        I’m not sure about that since the only male character wasn’t appeared in flesh.. BTW, nice jab, mate..:v

  2. I agree with daikama that “Ernst” is just that universes analog of Erwin Rommel, just as the Strike Witches all have names that are related to RL WWII fighter pilots.

    AFA the Storch goes, This reference gives the landing distance as 61 ft (~19meters) and takeoff at 212 ft (~70 meters). The plane is 33 ft long so it can land in less than twice it’s length (!). Relooking at that scene, it’s pushing it. If it landed on the hatch cover. there’s no way, but if the hatch is flush with the deck it just barely makes it. Not going to take off however.

    Given where the Neuroi was ensconced, I thought this was going to be a homage to the movie “The Guns of Navarone” where they had to sneak in and blow it up. While it was entertaining overall, I did find that there were a number of things that bothered me. One was Francesca’s main concern about the island being somewhere where she holidayed. How about making it about having to destroy the homes of people that had been living on the island before the Neuroi showed up? Yeah, I know, the ruins, but the Neuroi just killed the crew of a ship. Have some perspective. I also thought Rommel coming to save the day seemed out of place for this show. As diakama points out, how did he know they were running out of gas? I would have preferred Rommel to be “Emma Rommel” also.

    The bath scene also seemed out of place for me. Not that I’m really complaining, but the fanservice has usually been less explicit and the scene of Shirley in bed was just a bra and panties so why go all out in just the one scene? I haven’t watched Season 1&2 in awhile so I might just be misremembering though.

    Bottom line, enjoyable and good to see the girls again. Looking forward to Arnhem and wish they had another season.

    • Nice find regarding the Storch landing data. The plane’s landing distance (and stall speed) is very low, but this isn’t exactly under ideal conditions – nice wide open, flat/level landing area, etc. Consider this side view of a Liberty Ship. Notice all the cargo winches, raised decks, etc. You can see some of them in the anime when the plane lands. There’s an even better view in the anime around the 16:30 mark when Shirley says “That Liberty Ship! We can use that!”. Not only must the plane either have to swerve around or drop over all that, but if you look at the 16:30 mark picture, the ship is half sunk at a fairly steep angle. Granted, suspension of disbelief varies among viewers, but for me it’s too much. Might as well have had Ernst heroically parachute onto the ship with a 5 gal. can of fuel for the winch generator. >_>

      You’re right, the set up does remind me of the old war movie The Guns of Navarone. Hmm…. maybe I’ll rewatch that. 😀 As for O.V.A. vol. 02’s bath scene, that was perfectly in line with TV Seasons 1 (especially) and TV Season 2. Lastly, a third season of Strike Witches was announced quite a long time ago, but still no announced air date for that. As far as I know, Strike Witches Season 3 will not cover the 501st JFW, but rather some other group of witches. I’m hoping it’s an adaptation of official LN The Suomus Misfits Squadron

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