The love that some people have for certain anime character traits can be a funny thing. There are entire communities dedicated to some particular aspect, like flat chests, or glasses, or the tsundere archetype, or tentacle violation. Equally funny is the fervor with which some people will champion their chosen fetishes. There are some people who will lash out with unbridled hostility if you dare attack their favorite things. I’m definitely among their number – insult my doll collection and I will hate you forever.
Nonetheless, I will go ahead and simply say it – I really don’t like animal ears on anime characters. They bug the hell out of me. No, I don’t know why I feel that way – one may as well ask why my favorite food is my favorite or why I hate certain sports teams or musical groups or waking up early or why I go absolutely ballistic if somebody driving slower than me passes in front of my car. It’s just the way things are.
Charlotte Yeager is the latest figure by Alter from the mecha girl-cum-pantyshot anime Strike Witches. Sculpted in 1/8 scale, she stands about 24.5 centimeters from her base to the tip of her tallest bunny ear. Her base is a standard transparent plastic disc with some biographic information, and she attaches to it via a short metal standoff that plugs into a hole in her left leg. An instruction sheet provides some helpful guidance in getting her rifle into her hand.
Like her fellow 501st Joint Fighter Wing witches, Charlotte pays tribute to a real-life Second World War pilot, in this case Chuck Yeager. While a highly-decorated combat pilot in his own right, General Yeager is best known for his postwar work as a test pilot, in which he became the first person to break the sound barrier. He also appears to be the only pilot to still be alive among all of the flight officers the Strike Witches characters are based off of. One wonders if he knows about this anime.
When Gonzo debuted the publicity materials for Strike Witches, I had conflicted feelings about it. On one hand, I thought the premise seemed pretty cool, particularly since I’m a Second World War history buff and the lack of pants was very cute. On the other hand, I really did not like the anime ears and I also felt the striker units looked stiff and silly, reminiscent of full-leg plaster casts. I also didn’t care much for how they threw almost every conceivable fetish against the wall hoping that the concept would stick, though to their credit they didn’t include headphones or musical instruments in any of the character designs. Watching part of the anime, I feel like I’d like the show better had they handled things differently.
While I’m not a fan of the ears, I’m certainly a fan of anime action girls and girls with weapons. I also like that Charlotte is the American girl in the Strike Witches cast – which, being that I am a happy resident of the United States, is a major reason why I got her.
That wasn’t the only reason, though. In keeping with the conventional depiction of American girls in anime, Charlotte is one of the more buxom characters in the 501st. She wears an attractive military khaki blazer and shirt with an olive drab tie. I find her outfit appealing since I like both anime girls in military uniforms and anime girls wearing neckties. Oh, and I like anime girls who do not wear pants, but that sort of goes without saying.
Charlotte’s striker unit is based off of a P-51D Mustang and is emblazoned with the logo “Glamorous Shirley,” which presumably pays homage to the real Yeager’s aircraft “Glamorous Glennis.” The striker unit is rendered very well, sporting an attractive bare metal finish based on the schemes used by many US Army Air Force Mustangs. Black and white stripes adorn the front of the unit and the little wings, similar to the D-Day recognition stripes painted on Allied aircraft. The side features the Liberion roundel. Overall, the sculpting is excellent and the paint application is nearly as good; there is some roughness and misalignment in the striping, but it’s not easy to notice.
Some extra prop blades are included if one desires to display the striker unit at idle. The instruction sheet also shows how to replace them.
Charlotte’s weapon is the famous M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. The BAR is a World War I-era rifle often used as a light machine gun, and it remained in frontline service for nearly half a century. The BAR can also be seen in the film Saving Private Ryan, where it is carried by PFC Reiben.
Her rifle is sculpted and painted very well, with a weathered finish and heavy shading that give it a realistic and well-used appearance. The wood forestock is a bit less convincing – it looks much more like plastic than wood – but that’s hardly a noticeable fault.
If you watch the anime – or any anime these days, really – you just sort of get used to views like this.
The stiffness of the striker unit more or less dictates the sort of poses that can be used, and most Strike Witches figures depict the characters with their legs spread and ass out. Charlotte is no exception, and while her pose is sort of cool, I can’t help but think it also looks a bit awkward, with her legs defining a nearly perfect triangle. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m assessing the attractiveness of a female body – fictional or otherwise – I don’t want to be thinking of geometry equations.
While I like Charlotte a lot, I’m definitely feeling the temptation to Dremel off her ears and take my chances with putty and paint. I doubt I’ll do that, since it’s easier to just overlook them and concentrate on the parts of the figure that I like. That’s how I’m viewing the anime as well, though I’ve characteristically misplaced the first DVD somewhere. Charlotte is a very nice figure and despite my distaste for the animal ears, she may not be the last Strike Witches figure in my collection; Alter’s Barkhorn looks quite nice and I like Gertrude a lot. There’s an exception for everything, it seems.
Liberion girl, you came and you changed my world …
The background here comes from a photo taken by Abby Lanes which is distributed according to a CC BY 2.0 license. I printed it out because I liked it so much and used it as a backdrop, since Charlotte looks like she is flying through the skies.