I’ve been doing my bit to support legal anime downloads by keeping up with Strike Witches at BOST. I’m still not convinced that the series really needed to be made. Conceptually, it’s delicately balanced on the borderline between absurd and dumb, but, as Steven says, you’ve got to embrace the stupid. If you can overlook the manifold impossibilities and a few other problems, it’s fun.
It’s not great art. I don’t have much of an apetite for fan service, and the constant panty shots quickly become annoying. However, I’m more irritated by the protagonist, Miyafuji. In the first episode she’s an idiot pacifist who refuses to fight even the aliens attacking the Earth. In the second episode, she shows her quality by disobeying orders and getting in the way during battle. ((Miyafuji hadn’t enlisted yet, so it’s not actually insubordination, but it was still inexcusable. In a more realistic setting, it could have been disastrous.)) Of course, the battle is won with Miyafuji’s help and Sakamoto tells her that she did well, but it’s hard to enjoy a show when I’m constantly muttering “idiot.” It doesn’t help that the token meganekko is a snotty French twit.
On the other hand, the flying scenes are exhilarating and the battle in the second episode is genuinely exciting. Also, there’s no Rachmaninoff. I still prefer the original OVA, though. (Speaking of the OVA, here’s yet another example of why I don’t take most reviewers seriously.)
I also watched the first episode of Birdy the Mighty: Decode. I don’t think I panned the earlier OVA as severely as Steven remembers. It actually isn’t too bad; the main problem is that it ends just as the story gets interesting, and for that reason I can’t recommend it. Decode is slated to run thirteen episodes. That might be long enough to tell a complete story about the high school boy and the interplantary policewoman sharing the same body.
The new version makes a lot of changes, which are not necessarily improvements. For instance, Birdy’s uniform is now symmetrical:
Death the Kid might approve the new design, but I prefer the earlier version.
Birdy maintains a low profile on earth by disguising herself as a model whose image appears in magazines and on billboards. ((It makes as much sense as the Sailor Starlights’ disguises as members of a boy band.)) Tsutomu’s parents leave town for several months in the first episode, and his annoying sister has her own place, leaving Tsutomu alone at home. This is convenient for a young man apt to change into a woman at awkward times, but it sacrifices opportunities for both developing Tsutomu’s character in the context of his family and for embarrassing moments. The new Birdy is played by Saeko Chiba, who tries hard but isn’t Kotono Mitsuishi.
It’s not awful, but it doesn’t look to be an outstanding series. Perhaps I’ll watch more; perhaps not.
Update: Ubu has a fairly positive take on what he’s seen so far of Birdy.
When Geneon abandoned region one, not only did we lose a lot of anime, but we also lost the principal source of anime OSTs. I just scanned through the musical offerings at that other dealer and spotted no new soundtracks, unless you count the Suzumiya Haruhi spinoffs. This is a pity. Often the soundtrack is the best part of the show, e.g., Cowboy Bebop, Azumanga Daioh, Spice and Wolf. The remaining Geneon titles are cheaply priced. If you still don’t have a copy of the Haibane Renmei soundtrack, grab one while you can.