I am super-happy about this episode. The appearance of Sanya and Eila is something I had hoped for, but not really expected, so having them show up in this episode feels absolutely wonderful. A delightful Thanksgiving present, even if they are celebrating a Christmas-like holiday. Seeing those rockets flash past Nipa and then hearing Eila’s voice makes me want to squee for joy. I knew those two were in the area searching for Sanya’s family, so out of any of our girls from the 501st they had the highest chance of showing up. And the then the music changes over to one of the iconic themes from Strike Witches! …Eeeeeeee! I love these two!
The episode is pretty nice even from the start. It’s fun watching Hikari, Nipa, and Kanno go sledding on the frozen river as the sun rises. It’s particularly amusing watching their varied reactions to the cold. Nipa doesn’t even notice it, going so far as to comment that this might be a warm winter. Kanno is bundled up with a heavy coat and probably extra layers underneath (no pants, of course, but that’s the series’ trademark, so we can just laugh at it good-naturedly rather than call her an idiot for it) and is still shivering. Hikari is wearing her standard school-uniform-over-swimsuit combo (does she even own any other clothes?), and is clearly cold but trying not to show it.
Playing around on frozen bodies of water is fun: I’ve done it when I was younger. Of course, it’s all fun and games until someone falls through the ice. To state the obvious, this is bad. Luckily our girls are witches, so this isn’t as immediately life-threatening as it would be to the average person, but still. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Ironically, the one who suffers the most is the one who didn’t get soaked in freezing water. Hikari suddenly comes down with one of those debilitating Japanese super-colds so often portrayed in anime. From the discussion we learn the witches don’t normally catch colds, but exhaustion and overwork can weaken them enough to make it happen, and Hikari’s magic is weak enough to begin with.
I have to say I like how this episode showed that Hikari has managed to befriend basically the entire squad by now. Had Hikari gotten sick in episode 3 or 4, Rall, Rossman, and Sasha would undoubtedly have said something like “that’s too bad, but it’s all the more reason she shouldn’t be here.” Now they’re regretting not having thought of how recent missions may have overworked her, and thinking of how they can take better care in the future. For that matter, seeing everyone enthusiastically pitch in to help with Nipa’s plan of having the Saturnus festival in order to raise Hikari’s spirits is heartwarming as well, including Commander Rall pointedly pretending she doesn’t know anything is going on, and that everyone just has all this free time for perfectly legitimate reasons.
I do start to feel bad for Poor Krupinski after a while. She just suffers punishment after punishment this episode. Sure, she brings the first one down upon herself, but after that everything else is just mistakes. Mistakes with poor consequences, yes, but still just mistakes. She just gets the short end of this stick throughout this episode, and even though I’m not really a fan of her character, I can’t help but feel they’re being a bit hard on her.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the girls’ supply problems. We’ve known since episode 2 that the Neuroi were endangering their supply lines. Now they’ve completely cut them off, and the artillery strikes on their warehouses last time are leaving the 502nd dangerously low on provisions. Whenever the 501st ran low on food and such they could go shopping, but the 502nd doesn’t have that luxury. The city and countryside around them are evacuated. Even calling for help from Suomos seems likely to yield little, because the Suomos base only has a single supply line that is barely enough for their own needs. So the Neuroi have cut off their supplies, destroyed their stockpiles, and our girls are soon going to be in the unenviable position of not having enough food or ammunition to remain combat-capable.
This week the Neuroi gets close enough to strike directly at the witches’ base, and despite the urgency of that situation, only one witch is able to sortie and respond. While that was due to unexpected influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms rather than loss of fighting capability, the Neuroi will likely interpret it as the latter, and keep pushing. And frankly, it probably won’t be long before that is the case. Sanya and Eila’s gift is more than welcome, but how long can a few crates of food last; and how long can that sort of transport make it through when the Neuroi are literally at their doorstep?
This is a good episode. It maintains its feel of happy times among the girls as they get along and get to know each other better, while not losing the darker undertone that’s been building as the Neuroi threat continues to mount. Having two of may favorite witches from Strike Witches drop in for a visit is just wonderful icing on the cake. Next time… you all may remember that in my last episode review I predicted that this one would be about either Krupinski or Rall, and that turned out to be wrong. Well, the preview this time sure looks like the next episode is going to be about Krupinski. We’ll have to wait and see.
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