What’s the show? Girly Air Force.
And what’s it about? Alien fighter jets known as the Xi have invaded Earth—they’ve captured mainland China and forced mass evacuations of the country. Among them is Nautani Kei and his childhood friend Minghua who’ve entered Japan as refugees. Kei is intent on getting back at the Xi who killed his parents in an attack on the now occupied homeland that’s when he meets a mysterious girl named Gripen—a fighter jet pilot known as an ‘Anima’ whose sole purpose in life is to save humanity from the Xi.
Well with the name ‘Girly Air Force’ I didn’t expect such a serious sounding story. And that’s a massive hurdle anyone watching this series for the first time needs to get over, the name conjures a different kind of anime then this really is. If you’re expecting a light-hearted comedy about fighter jet pilots and harem shenanigans you are getting almost none of that. That’s not to say it doesn’t have moments of levity and fun—but the core focus of this show is it’s plot and the growing relationship between Kei and Gripen.
Fair enough. So how are the characters? Kei—while determined and motivated can come off a bit insensitive sometimes, especially towards his childhood friend Minghua who has a massive crush on him but remains unreciprocated. She basically plays the ‘wife of a soldier, waiting for her husband at home’ role but with none of the benefits that come from actually being married. Gripen on the other hand is amazing, I love her personality and her character quirks and her voice is so irresistibly adorable. There’s two other fighter pilot girls, who get introduced later on but they are mostly sidelined and are only used for either comic relief or to have a friendly antagonist. It never -even remotely ventures into harem territory despite the fact it very easily could have.
So what’s your opinion on the show? While it was never in anyway remarkable it was consistent and entertaining—the fact it’s a more or less a season long narrative helps tie it all together. It’s also has consistently high quality animation with technically impressive and high-paced fighter jet action scenes in almost every episode.
And anything you didn’t like about the series? Well spoilers incoming but there’s not really any “satisfying” conclusion to the series. Yes, the very specific narrative arc that they were addressing is given a resolution but we’re still no closer to finding out the true intention of the Xi or whether they can be defeated at all. Late in the season we’re given a tease of something truly interesting as Kei begins getting fragments of Gripen’s mind in his own which are not only artfully presented but kind of unsettling. Added to that the mystery behind Rhino and the US pilots and it’s the kind of thing that would almost make me want to read the light novels this series is based on.
Okay then. Final recommendation and score for ‘Girly Air Force’? The most obvious comparison is to that of ‘Strike Witches’ but where that series too often veered off into silly and unfocused, ‘Girly Air Force’ feels a lot more disciplined and that works for this kind of story. Were it not for the girls, and Gripen in particular this show wouldn’t have as much personality as it does and so in some respects the amount you enjoy this series will be roughly proportional to how much you like the characters. I thought it was a lot of fun and told an interesting (if unfinished) story. Flying high: 82 out of 100.
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