Strike Fighter: Wretched Earth, sometimes known as Strike Fighter Miyuki or simply Strike Fighter, is a sci-fi action-drama anime series created by the Izeran company Vaela Studio. It follows Miyuki Satoi, a genetically engineered, cybernetically enhanced supersoldier, as she completes her various missions and slowly uncovers secrets about the world around her and her own origins.
The series originally aired in early 3553 and finished later that year with 25 episodes. Strike Fighter Miyuki was an enormous commercial success that became hugely popular among Izeran youths (though the anime genre as a whole remains largely unknown among older demographics). In response to the success of the series, Vaela Studio announced a 20-episode prequel series, Strike Fighter: Origins, which began airing in early 3555 and is set to end in early 3556, and a 15-episode sequel with the working title Strike Fighter: Desperate Escape, which does not yet have a release date.
The original voice-acting was recorded in Rihansu, though the series also has official dubs in Japanese, English, Spanish, Eqit and Snailian. Subtitles are also available in all these languages as well as Aht, Tidenal, Fasir and Korean.
Set on a post-nuclear apocalypse Earth in an unspecified century, the series focuses on the island formerly known as Japan, which most characters believe is the only habitable place left on the planet. The island, now known to its inhabitants as Ailyss, since most knowledge of the pre-apocalypse world has been lost, is largely a desolate wasteland, save for its northern and southern tips. From these areas, two rival nations emerged: the fascistic Hakoda Empire, and the democratic Kagos Republic. Living between the two nations, in central Ailyss, is a large number of people spread out across numerous unaffiliated villages. They are known as Scavengers by individuals from either nation.
Not long after it was founded, the Empire came across several intact underground laboratories and weapons caches, giving it an enormous technological boost, which it used to rapidly conquer most of the northern island and crush any resistance from the Republic. Almost a decade later, the Hakoda Empire's conquest of Ailyss continues and the Kagos Republic has been all but wiped out. The true extent of the technological advantage that the Empire achieved by using the underground labs is largely kept from the general public, and so most people are never exposed to anything beyond what was common in the early 20th century, despite much more advanced technology being available to Hakoda's elites.
As a result, the Empire's major cities quickly become overcrowded and polluted by heavy industry. In an supposed effort to mitigate this, the Empire focuses its military might on Scavenger villages; clearing them of their original inhabitants so that they can be repurposed and resettled by Hakoda citizens. Fuel and materials for tanks and aircraft are scarce, however, and marching soldiers deep into central Ailyss was slow and often proved fruitless. With an alternative motive in mind, the Empire's Supreme Commander creates the Striker program. Originally an effort to create superior soldiers through gene therapy, it eventually evolved into full-blown genetic engineering and was combined with advanced cybernetics research. By the time the series takes place, there are fifteen Strikers in existence, though the program is still fairly new.
The genetic modifications that Strikers undergo while still in the fetal stages of their existences interferes with their internal balance of estrogen and testosterone, and so all Strikers are female. Their genetics also make them superior to a normal human soldier in almost every way, as they are inherently stronger, more resilient and have better reflexes. The modifications also cause them to age at an accelerated rate until they reach puberty, whereupon their aging slows down dramatically. Their short childhoods are consumed by rigorous training, and the only family Strikers ever know are each other and the Supreme Commander.
Not long after reaching puberty, Strikers are given their cybernetics. Most notably, they receive their Directed Antigravity Thrusters, which allow them to fly and rapidly accelerate to supersonic speeds, Nanomachine Manufacturies, which distribute machines throughout the bloodstream to enable rapid recovery from most wounds, and the various other implants which allow their bodies to withstand the stress of supersonic flight and survive without normal human needs like food or sleep. The implantation process is extremely painful and frequently leaves scars. It also involves the removal of many internal organs to make room in the body for the upgrades.
Strikers receive their aerodynamic Strike Suits shortly after they receive their cybernetics. The Suits serve to further enhance a Striker's abilities while reducing the physical stress of high-speed flight and helping new Strikers learn how to fly.
- Miyuki Satoi: Striker One, the main character of the series. Miyuki has the most Confirmed Kills of any Striker, but would much prefer to spend her time relaxing.
- Hoshi Tanaka: Striker Five and Miyuki's best friend. Although not as skilled as her friend, she is always upbeat and enthusiastic.
- Hana Matoi: The one of the Hakoda Empire's founders and its Supreme Commander. A deeply fascist woman, she believes in eugenics and that some people are inherently better than others and this is reflected by their positions in society. She created the Striker program and played a major part in raising every single Striker, secretly giving special attention to Miyuki.
- Akira Nakamura: A young man and a soldier for the ailing Kagos Republic, much to his chagrin. He is a selfish and cowardly individual, but finds himself enamoured with Miyuki shortly after meeting her (and surviving the encounter).
- Kiryu Saitou: A mysterious warrior with incredible fighting skills and a dark past.
- Sakura Saitou: A young girl, Kiryu's daughter and apprentice. She longs for adventure and deeply desires to know who her mother is.
Wretched Earth was very well-received by Izeran anime fans and quickly became one of the highest-grossing anime series ever produced by Izera's burgeoning anime industry. Internationally, the Strike Fighter franchise has also gained some traction in the Levant and the Verandi Empire, and has even elicited some attention from the Norb Network.
According to Media Analysis Unit Gene of The New Norb Times, the series has a plot that is sufficiently distinguishable from existing media to allow for the possibility of excitement and surprise in a statistically relevant sample size of polled subprocesses. She commends the animation, saying "[it] utilizes a visual style that exceeds mean quality by over one standard deviation". The review also praises the depiction of the cybernetic implantation of sapient lifeforms as dangerous, while criticizing the show for portraying their benefits in an overly positive light, glorifying the abilities they provide. Gene's Verandi counterparts by and large expressed similar opinions.
Reviewer Dillon Zemke of Keikaku Magazine praised the series' story and tone, calling it "dark, but never overwhelmingly so." He went on to say that the main character, Miyuki Satoi, made for "a deeply intriguing anti-hero," and that the series blends its "high-octane action sequences" well with its "character-developing down-time." Zemke gave the series a 9.5/10, saying that his only complaint was in regards to "the few moments of gratuitous fanservice [...] that didn't fit the rest of the show's tone [and] clearly didn't need to be there."
The Osseg Media Review gave the series 7/10. It approved particularly of the positive light military service appeared to be given - "A far cry from the sneering that seems endemic in certain foreign media" - and the rich, detailed setting. "It is clear that a lot of work and care has been put into this product," as the publication put it. However, it went on to criticize what it saw as "occasionally cliched writing" and certain artistic choices. Overall, the magazine felt that it was a "worthy addition to any person's collection, if not without faults".
Strike Fighter Miyuki faced some controversy shortly after its original airing ended as some accused it of portraying fascism in a positive light, a claim Vaela Studio quickly refuted.
Video Game AdaptationEdit
In early 3555, the third-person character-action/Hack-and-Slash video game "Strike Fighter: Superiority" was released for all modern game consoles. Produced by Terran company Dark Magician Girl Concern in collaboration with Vaela Studio, the game originally only sported voice-acting in Rihansu, Spanish and English, but was later patched with added content that included Eqit, Korean and Japanese voice-overs. Subtitles are available for most other languages.
Although the game ties in with the main series, its story is considered non-canon by Vaela Studio. The game follows the exploits of Striker Sixteen, a silent protagonist and (supposedly) the first male Striker to ever exist, as he is given various missions that relate to several events featured in the show. All of the series' main characters, complete with their original voice-actors, are featured throughout the game.
Keikaku Magazine's Lase Rookson gave the game an 8/10, praising its exciting action sequences and excellent graphics but expressing disappointment over the game's short length and predictable story. Rookson also said that, while the show's characters and voice-actors each make several not-insignificant appearances throughout, not being able to play as any of them was disappointing. Nevertheless, he concluded that it was still a solid game and that fans would be missing out if they didn't at least try it.