Image source: スクールガールストライカーズアニメ公式 on Twitter

School Girl Strikers Animation Channel is a series based off of a smartphone game. Much like other game-based anime series, the creators needed to find a way to address the issue of the player. So they opted to remove the player completely. Or did they?

[Note: This article contains minor spoilers for School Girl Strikers Animation Channel.]

In School Girl Strikers, five young girls form a team in a special task force, called the Fifth Force, dedicated to protecting reality from mysterious enemies that invade through warps in space-time.

The series is based on a smartphone game from Square Enix in which the player commands and communicates with the various characters. In the game, the player is tasked with selecting the members of his or her main team, the Fifth Force special-ops unit–Altair Torte–obtaining and equipping upgrades, training the characters, and hunting and defeating enemies.

However, in the anime series, Fifth Force commander Tierra takes on the role that the player normally would of leading the Altair Torte team in addition to her role as commander of the entire Fifth Force. By expanding–or rather, focusing–Tierra’s responsibilities, the series casually glosses over the role the player normally would play.

Image source: スクールガールストライカーズアニメ公式 on Twitter

Series based on video games where the player plays themselves as the protagonist have to figure out a way to deal with player choices. They tend to either make the choices of the player character ambiguous or simply remove the player character completely. School Girl Strikers Animation Channel seems to have gone for the latter.

However, those who have actually played the School Girl Strikers game might recognize that the player controlled character is actually still in the series.

In the video game, the story begins after the final battle. The characters are caught in some kind of time loop with their abilities reset to where they had originally started. The player, who was their commander and was with them at the final battle, learns that his/her memories have been damaged and can’t remember anything that happened before. Not only that, but he/she has been turned into a cat. A literal cat. Not a cat-eared character or something like that. A cat.

Watching the series, viewers may notice that a black and white cat appears in various scenes in the anime (the cat appears in the above series promo video at 1:40). While the feline seems to serve as little more than a cute mascot in the anime, knowing about the state of the player character in the game, you realize the truth: That cat the is the player.

Obviously, the cat in the anime doesn’t take on any of the player roles from the game. In the series, it’s just a cat. Still, knowing that it’s the player proxy does a lot to change how you view the series and all the scenes that the cat shows up in.

Meow.

School Girl Strikers Animation Channel can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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