In Strike Witches, an elite group of young witches fight aliens in a World War II-era alternate universe. The witches fly thanks to technologically-advanced jet-boot things developed by the army, and are powered in part by their magic ability. We're introduced to the witches through the eyes of a 14-year-old Japanese girl as she gets recruited and travels to Britannia for training. Continental Europe is under alien control.
But wait, there's more! In this alternate universe, female army (air force?) officers don't wear skirts, or even pants. Instead, they just wear panties. (If you happen to hate the tyranny of pants, be sure to check out Daphne in the Brilliant Blue or Reign: The Conqueror.)
Also, when the witches activate their magic, they grow animal ears and tails. I got in trouble in my Spice and Wolf review for saying Holo may be of interest to furries. I didn't realize "nekomimi" was a thing. The Strike Witches are definitely nekomimi.
Let's pretend for a moment that the Strike Witches wore pants and didn't grow animal ears. Without those elements, this is almost a decent show. When the Strike Witches zoom through the sky, they are fueled by a higher budget than most anime series. The alternate history is interesting enough. The incidental music is shockingly good. Particularly during the naval scenes, the wartime ballads are charmingly patriotic.
Unfortunately I'm sure that if you cut out all the fetish-y stuff from each episode, this series would be half as long. Almost every episode features a bathing scene with the girls groping each other shouting about who has "grown". A little less groping and the war would be over a lot sooner.
Plus Strike Witches has cinematography about as delicate as the movie 300. I haven't read a Strike Witches script, but here's what I think episode nine's screenplay must look like:
COLD OPEN (before the credits)
EXT. SKY – EARLY MORNING
CLOSE-UP on a camel toe. We ZOOM OUT to reveal SANYA LITVYAK* flying back to the base, YAWNING.
SMASH CUT to the opening credits.
An infinite number of shots begin close-up on a character's underwear before panning up to her face.
Maybe I could still deal with Strike Witches, but in one of the later episodes it's revealed that witches start to lose their magic around age 20, just like Morning Musume. Up to that point, I just assumed that maybe there were no older witches because the war was going so badly. Maybe they were recruiting child soldiers out of desperation. Nope! I could almost deal with this show if the characters were older. Unfortunately, teenagers with low self-esteem get fetishized and I find that offensive.
Nevertheless I found this less offensive than Popotan because at least the characters are pubescent. Strike Witches gets points for not being a 30-minute ad for an erotic videogame starring an elementary school student. At least Strike Witches has a conclusion within the anime series, so you don't have to play the game to find out how it ends. Rin ~Daughters of Mnemosyne~ got higher marks from me for having a sexually mature protagonist.
Strike Witches is a bit like Hetalia; each character represents a different country. They aren't anthropomorphic personifications but they are representatives. Charlotte, the American, has the largest breasts. Francesca, from "Romagna", is the darker-skinned character who sleeps in the trees. Like a little monkey, she's carrying on a racist trend from Su in Love Hina and Tanya Natdhipytadd in Battle Athletes.
No one has sex in Strike Witches or Hetalia. (If these virgin girls had sex they wouldn't be pure, would they?) That is left up to the collective fan imagination as they pen doujinshi in Japan, and/or write a lot of fanfiction Stateside and make music videos about various "OTP" couples.
A little less groping and the war would have been over sooner! That is gold!