The Neuroi are the primary antagonists of the Strike Witches. They are a belligerent alien race that appears every so often. They literally consume swaths of the earth to gain their power, Europe and Africa being the most affected continents. Since they derive much of their energy from consuming land, they can not travel over large bodies of water.
It's of note that humanity gives names to the Neuroi depending on the class and role they fulfill or due to the nature or features of the class in question, as shown in the Witches of Africa Doujinshi and the Misfits Light Novels. For some Neuroi classes they are given Latin sounding names of origin like: Diomedia, Laro's and Laro's-kai or names based on the shapes, actions, attributes or nature such as the Flying Goblets, Ziggurats and Turtle class. Even Infantry class Neuroi have been observed in the field.
They are also further identified though class type depending on their function: Recon types (Neuroi dedicated to reconnaissance roles), Attack Types (Neuroi designed primarily for attack roles and direct warfare), and Siege Types (massive-sized, formidable Neuroi that are designed to either remain in place, to serve as a mobile fortress to defend Neuroi territory, or to serve as a juggernaut to steamroll through allied lines), although other general role classifications like Artillery Types, AA Types and other such Neuroi role fillers may also exist.
Most highly common class are given such names. Unique Neuroi classes, however, receive an alphanumeric designation of "X" followed by a number, likely indicating the order in which those Neuroi are encountered by the 1940's. The X-11 Witch class Neuroi is one such example.
Throughout history, the Neuroi have been known by many names - including Kaii (怪異, strangeness) and Rätsel (German; riddle). However, starting from the Second Neuroi War, they received the name of a mythical tribe that once lived in the Black Sea region due their recurrent emergence from that area.
The first known contact between humans and Neuroi occurred when ancient Egypt was at the height of its glory. It is unknown what preceded this, but humans were able to seal a nest of Neuroi beneath a city. They struck the name of the city from history, as even knowing of the seal would cause it to break. When these Neuroi were inadvertently released during the Second Neuroi War, their models were revealed to be identical to the models of Neuroi already fighting in the area. The reason for this fact is unknown, but it possibly implies that the Neuroi didn't develop technologically until the Second Neuroi War forced them to do so.
The Neuroi appeared sporadically throughout human history after this point, but they never posed a serious threat until after the invention of the magic engine, a steam-powered device which amplified a witch's magic ability many times, and the resultant rise in magic usage. The first wave of Neuroi attacks culminated in the First Neuroi War, which lasted until 1917 and was a massive victory for the Neuroi, as humanity had not yet figured out a means to effectively fight against them and was forced to constantly retreat. Despite losing the First Neuroi War, humanity still prevails in places where Neuroi attacks are rare.
It was eventually discovered that witches could block the Neuroi's miasma and beam attacks, allowing them to get close enough to Neuroi to potentially fight back. To complement witches in battle, the Striker Unit was developed by Dr. Miyafuji in 1935. Older units were believed to already be in use after the First Neuroi War. It used a magic engine to enhance a witch's magical abilities, allowing them to fly and to carry weaponry that can otherwise only be mounted on vehicles. The new breed of witches, who flew with these new Striker Units, became known as Strike Witches.
The first uses of Strike Witches in battle were in Hispania in 1936 and during the Fuso Sea Incident of 1937, in which an exploratory group of Neuroi approached Fuso. The inhabitants of Fuso were prepared for this battle, as they'd been awakened to the renewed threat of the Neuroi after sightings in Hispania, and they had been training witches in anticipation of sending them to Hispania. The battle was a large victory for the witches, and it helped bring such aces as Sakamoto Mio and Anabuki Tomoko to fame. Possibly as a result of their resounding defeat here, the Neuroi have not attacked Fuso since this incident.
In 1939, the Neuroi launched an attack of unprecedented scale on mainland Europe. As the nations there had gotten used to peace, they were unprepared for the assault and began to fall one after another. Ostmark was hit first and fell quickly. Karlsland was able to hold out against the Neuroi for much longer, but they were still eventually forced to retreat, with their military scattered to the east and west. Gallia wasn't able to hold out much longer against a ground assault from the Neuroi, and the military forces there focused their efforts on evacuating as many people as possible to Britannia , which, as an island nation, was much more defensible against the Neuroi.
At the same time, the Neuroi expanded into the east, conquering much of Orussia and expanding until the Suomus Misfits Squad was able to score some surprising victories and hold the line against the advancing Neuroi. The victories of this squadron inspired the formation of Joint Fighter Wings, which were comprised of witches from various nations working together, where they were able to bring varied technologies and skillsets together.
The Neuroi expanded southwards into Afrika as well, although humanity found it much easier to defend the massive plains of this continent. The incredible visibility meant that the plains of Afrika were the one and only place where conventional artillery could outrange Neuroi weaponry, allowing Afrika to be defended by a much smaller complement of witches than other fronts of the battle.
Eventually, the efforts of the witches, in particular the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, allowed humanity to regain territory it had lost to the Neuroi. The 501st was responsible for the destruction of the Neuroi hives over both Gallia and Romagna. Both of these hives were destroyed in part due to efforts to mimic Neuroi technology. In Gallia, the Warlock was designed using research performed on a recovered Neuroi core, but it was deployed before testing was completed and turned on humanity after attempting to control the Neuroi. When the Warlock's core was destroyed, its connection to the Neuroi in Gallia resulted in a chain reaction that destroyed all Neuroi in the airspace and liberated Gallia.
Similarly, the hive over Romagna was attacked by the battleship Yamato after it had been "Neuroified." Although the Yamato was successfully able to destroy the hive, the aftermath saw the formation of a massive Neuroi core which was attached to the Yamato and Sakamoto Mio, using the latter's shields to protect itself from all attacks. The core was only able to be destroyed when Miyafuji Yoshika used up all of the magical ability within her body to perform the legendary Shin Reppuzan attack on the core. With the destruction of this core, all remaining Neuroi in Romagnan and Venezian airspace were destroyed.
As of 1945, Neuroi hives have been confirmed in the following regions.
- Berlin's airspace - this massive hive is the final target of the European Resistance Operation;
- Black Sea's coast - the very first hive that appeared in the beginning of the Second Neuroi War;
- Elbe River - located in the vicinity of the river's mouth, it is currently being opposed by the 506th Joint Fighter Wing;
- East Gallia - destroyed thanks to the efforts of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing;
- Nuremberg - presented in the movie;
- Ostmark's airspace - apparently multiple hives can be found in this region. Portion of the easternmost areas of Karlsland and the westernmost areas of Orussia are also in their sphere of influence;
- Prague - presented in the movie;
- South Karlsland - apparently located near the Rhine river, destroyed by a stronger hive that later established itself in Venezia;
- South Novgorov / "Vsiliy" - presented in Episode 3 of Brave Witches. Currently being opposed by the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing;
- Sphinx's airspace - currently being opposed by the 31st Joint Fighter Squadron Afrika;
- Venezia - destroyed thanks to the efforts of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing;
- "Grigori" - presented in Episode 3 of Brave Witches. located at the White Sea. Currently being opposed by the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing;
- "Anna" - also presented in Episode 3 of Brave Witches. located somewhere in Western Orussia, Currently being opposed by the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing;
- "Vzsily"- another hive presented in Brave Witches located in Western Orussia a few miles away from the "Anna" hive; located to be in close proximity to Homyel and Kiev. Opposed by the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing;
The Neuroi show great variety in their designs, and their models have evolved as the war has progressed. Their designs have typically progressed from small models that are employed en masse to fewer, larger models.
With the exception of drones, all models of Neuroi in use by 1944 have a single, critical weakpoint: their core, a red polyhedron whose size varies with the size of the Neuroi. If the core is destroyed, the entire Neuroi will be destroyed, along with any drones it has deployed and any other Neuroi under its control. The core is typically buried within the center of the Neuroi, although exceptions exist (such as one Neuroi which kept its core in a distant bug-like Neuroi). Neuroi surround their core with black armor that shows a hexagonal pattern. Certain patches of this armor are colored red, which signifies the location of the Neuroi's energy weapons.
Earlier models of Neuroi were vastly different in design, and more closely resembled conventional aircraft. They lacked the cores and regenerative abilities seen in later models, and could be shot down by damaging their engines or dealing enough damage to their wings. It is unknown at what point the Neuroi developed their modern designs.
The Neuroi from the Movie seem to have the ability to block radio communication, teleport and avoid detection by Heidemarie W. Schnaufer's antennae (until it comes within close range) for unknown reasons. The model of Neuroi that prominently appeared in the Movie possessed an alternate form, the purpose of which is also unknown.
Also revealed in the movie is that before the advent of the 17th century ancient Neuroi often took more animal-like, monstrous or "demonic" in form, judging from ancient paintings, drawings and scripts that show Neuroi-like creatures locked in battle with witches and humanity, indicating that the Neuroi are an old enemy of humanity and witchkind, and only recently Neuroi have grown and adapted to take on more powerful vehicle-like forms.
While beast type and Machine-beast type Neuroi have been noted and seen in battles even up into 1945; they aren't quite common to the same degree as more vehicle like Neuroi.
Neuroi are shown to have not only varied forms and iterations of such forms, but also various abilities apart from regeneration and beam attacks; aside from some Neuroi being able to transform, deploy drones, assimilate human technology to make into other Neuroi, and deploy deadly Miasma, there are Neuroi that have been seen and documented to posses abilities that permit them to deploy Chaff to disrupt and jam radio transmissions as well as both conventional and magical radar, being able to absorb electrical energy to increase their power and sabotage power sources, an instance of Neuroi being able to make, control and weaponize it's own personal adverse weather conditions like Blizzards to hide movement of itself and Neuroi allied units, change the battlefield and even weaponize the weather for attack and defense, a case where a Neuroi artillery spotter type unit could roughly change it's shape and appearance (if at times crudely) to hide itself while deploying an Electromagnetic signal to mark targets for Neuroi Artillery units to fire upon, and finally, with the case of the Spinx, being able to ask it's opponents a question that, if unable to be answered, keeps the recipients of the question frozen in place and vulnerable to being attacked. It's likely that certain kinds of Neuroi may posses even more of their own unique and specialized abilities outside of the conventionally expected Neuroi abilities; allowing for greater power, abilities, movement and tactical options.
A small Neuroi deployed in the defense of a larger Neuroi. Drones do not have cores of their own and cannot regenerate themselves. It is unknown whether destroyed drones can be regenerated by their parent Neuroi, but this has not been seen in combat.
The standard flying class of Neuroi, and the most common type of Neuroi seen in the anime. A large-type Neuroi is comparable in size to a large aircraft at its smallest, but they can also be much larger. A single large-type Neuroi is capable of overpowering fleets of ships or multiple wings of conventional fighters. When possible, a wing of six or more witches is used to take down a large-type, although it is possible for a single witch to take down a large-type with sufficient skill or luck. Certain large-types are capable of deploying drones, typically by splitting their bodies into multiple parts.
Unofficial name for unique models of Neuroi which are deployed for specific purposes. There is no apparent upper limit to the possible size of Neuroi, with one even manifesting as a 30 km-high tower. They still suffer the weakness of having a single core, which will result in the destruction of the entire Neuroi when destroyed, though it is usually much better defended. Capital Neuroi are almost always able to deploy numerous drones in their defense.
The ground-based counterpart to large-type Neuroi. Heavies typically resemble tanks, and although they are much more powerful than human tanks, it is possible to defeat them with conventional anti-tank measures. Certain heavies take a four-legged form, nicknamed "turtles." Tank Witches are the preferred countermeasure, followed by Strike Witches, as heavies are usually able to overwhelm most conventional forces once they are in range to use their weapons. In flat terrain where artillery can accurately shoot outside of their visible range, it is often possible for them to destroy heavies before the heavies are in range to counterattack.
Extremely large ground-based Neuroi that are exceedingly difficult to destroy. They are virtually impossible to destroy with conventional weaponry, and even witches face much difficulty in destroying them, often owing to size, firepower and both thickness the durability of the Neuroi's metal shell. One example of an Ultra-heavy Neuroi was a massive Neuroi that consisted of an assimilated ship's hull. Such Neuroi combat platforms are heavily armed and armored and it's implied that even their cores are more durable compared to other Neuroi and requiring of tremendous amounts of firepower to breach the armored shell and and a bit more firepower than normal to destroy the core.
Some Neuroi have taken forms resembling Strike Witches, in some cases even being modeled after individual witches. In these cases, the Neuroi are almost exactly as powerful as the witches they mimic. However, they lack the experience of witches and their capability for teamwork, so these Neuroi are no match for an experienced wing of witches. The Neuroi witches learned through espionage, after a brainwashed witch was released to train with other witches, while transmitting tactics back to the Neuroi. The Neuroi witches were also assisted by brainwashed witches in battle.
A witch-like Neuroi, known as X-11 (aka Neuroi Girl) was seen again much later in the war, over the Brittanian Channel and later in Venezia. This Neuroi was not designed to mimic any individual witch, and it used standard Neuroi weaponry and defenses rather than carrying guns like the previous Neuroi witches. In the first encounter with this Neuroi, Miyafuji Yoshika attempted to make contact with it, and she gained knowledge of the Warlock project as a result. However, the Neuroi witch was destroyed by the Warlock before its plans could be ascertained. Another witch-like Neuroi was seen over Venezia, where Takei Junko attempted to communicate with it. This attempt was interrupted by the appearance of the Super Hive and the destruction of the Neuroi witch by other Neuroi.
Small and Medium-typesEdit
Smaller aerial Neuroi, typically deployed en masse to defend hives. Although rarely seen in the anime, as the Neuroi have shifted to primarily using large-types for offense, small and medium-types are the greatest contributors to witches' kill counts. As they lack the armor of large-types, it is possible, though costly, for them to be destroyed by conventional weaponry. The Flying Goblet's frequently found in Africa fall under these categories.
The primary Neuroi base of operations, which generates lesser Neuroi to fight in its offense and defense. Hives can appear seemingly out of nowhere, and there is no known way to predict where they will appear. From the outside, hives appear as a roughly conical black funnel cloud. Their inner walls carry the characteristic black hexagon pattern. When a hive is destroyed, all Neuroi that it has spawned are also destroyed.
A unique hive which appeared in Romagnan and Venezian airspace in 1945. The Super-Hive was an order of magnitude larger than normal hives, and was colored dark green rather than pitch black. It also possessed a large spherical, armored area below the bottom of the cloud-like portion, which is not present in normal hives. While the core of a normal hive is little larger than the core of a large-type Neuroi, the Super-Hive's core was far larger, comparable in size to a normal hive. The core also showed the ability to learn very quickly, being able to generate shields after partially absorbing Sakamoto Mio.
A nest can be best described a ground bound "hive" that nominally deploys ground based Neuroi units, although some small and medium class air units can and have been documented to deploy from Nests as well in supporting roles. Used as a type of Neuroi ground base, they are seen as structures, caverns and tunnels leading into the ground, although the exact size and shape can vary. It can be ventured that the interiors are similar to that of hives.The Anonymous Metropolis (AKA: "The Pyramid with no name") that was stumbled upon in Africa during the Battle of the Sphinx was one such example that is well known; this particular nest appeared when a centuries old sealing spell that was made to seal away the Anonymous Metropolis was broken by its mere existence becoming known, which released the nest as well as all the Neuroi that were sealed away with it. It's not certain how many nests there are in the Neuroi war outside of the example found during the battle of the Sphinx.
On two occasions, allied forces have used Neuroi technology to enhance their own weaponry. The first instance of this was the Warlock, which used a captured Neuroi core as its energy source. After it was deployed, the Warlock began to show independence from its controllers. It eventually coated itself in Neuroi armor, took control of all Neuroi in Gallian airspace, and turned on the allied forces. When its core was destroyed, the Warlock was destroyed along with the Gallian hive and all other nearby Neuroi.
The second instance of the allied forces using Neuroi technology was with the Neuroification of the Yamato. Unlike the Warlock, the Yamato remained firmly under allied control. It gained Neuroi armor, beam weaponry, regeneration, and the ability to fly. After destroying the shell of the Super-Hive, the Yamato was partially trapped within the hive's core until the core's destruction.
Behavior, Abilities and Tactics Edit
The behavioral patterns of Neuroi tend to vary widely. These range from wild, uncontrolled, undisciplined, and unruly mobs to calculating, methodical, cautious, and regimented units. Neuroi behaviors and strategies tend to vary between platform types and classes. In any event, Neuroi are typically noted as being, in some way or another, hostile to humans, though rarely Neuroi have been documented as being hostile to other Neuroi. These cases are rare and it is not yet understood why a Neuroi would attack a fellow Neuroi. Some Neuroi, such as the X-11 class Witch type Neuroi, have also been noted as not showing overt aggression or any kind of initial belligerence towards humans unless fired upon and attacked first; though again, reasons for this abnormal behavior are unknown and only speculative.
Behavior of early Neuroi was likely akin more to beasts, monsters, and barbarian type units; acting either independently, small packs of creatures, or a loose horde of individuals fighting as a mob. It seems, however, that by the turn of the Magic power revolution and at the start of the First Neuroi War, this method of tactics and combat doctrine has slowly started to change. From the events of the Battle of Hispania all the way to 1944 the Neuroi appear to be slowly changing tactics to being less predictable, having movement and attacks be very sudden and their inter-unit interaction facing development and growth. However, as noted in the 502nd interactions with a Neuroi artillery/spotter unit, the Neuroi appear to be grasping some basic form of understanding of human tactics, strategy, and warfare but appear to have difficulty in fully taking advantage of squad base unit tactics and trying to possibly overcome a learning curve of better implementing combat doctrine that appears to draw inspiration from modern human squad tactics; and doing so with some middling success. However, tactics that the Neuroi develop and deploy of their own ideology and paradigm, generally speaking and whatever that may be, have proven to be very difficult for allied intelligence to fully and accurately track, at least consistently as far as Neuroi movement patterns are concerned, and their reliance on using large wave tactics and intimidating individual Neuroi classes with great offensive and defensive power has proven to be very effective for what it is. Use of bizarre and strange Neuroi combat platforms with equally strange, unpredictable abilities also prove to work in providing outside-the-box problems that allied units and witch units can't easily and readily counter on the fly; requiring some time to figure out how to best counter such strange units and their abilities with unconventional tactics, ideas and approaches. Neuroi that specialize in high speed and reaching operational high altitudes also prove challenging to face and destroy, and Neuroi that possess impressive stealth and evasion abilities are also very troublesome to detect by either radar or by sight and can prove a significant threat to allied units. While not fully capitalizing at times on such a fact, there have been times where Neuroi units have managed to, at least on a basic level, implement some limited form of squad based unit interaction and discipline and can even prove to be quite a competent, if not greater, threat; though for such cases it usually depends on the specific Neuroi units and what fellow kin platform they are working alongside.
Most small Neuroi, whether air or ground combat types, usually fulfill the roles of small air fighters, small sized infantry class, escorts to larger fighters and units, and large-scale swarm tactics in the sky or on the ground. Other units also typically fulfill various combat roles though specific abilities and tactics can vary with Neuroi being able to use bullets, bombs, rockets, artillery shells, or even beam weapons. There are also cases of Neuroi capable of using a combination of different weapon types.
Certain types and classes of Neuroi have also been noted as being able to transform to better improve their speed, attacks, abilities, and effectiveness or to initiate special abilities unique to the specific Neuroi class in question. In addition there are Neuroi that can deploy core-less drones or even other individual Neuroi. Depending on the type of Neuroi, typically this is a feat capable by most huge type Neuroi and larger.
An interesting note is that Neuroi are as of the moment documented to show a disdain and aversion for large bodies of water. Thus, there are no Neuroi units that are currently known to adopt class types that can travel upon or wage war upon the sea. While they can cross the skies above bodies of water, Neuroi appear to have very short flight times and appear to stay within a certain proximity to land in order to return to their lines and in turn return to the miasma. The exact reasons for this are vague, although some speculations put forth claim that Neuroi can't withstand or operate well in such excessively large quantities of water, possibly disrupting their biology as well as having little to no access to resources of the land for their own purposes. The only times Neuroi have spent an extended time over seas and oceans are to conduct close to shore patrols and combat missions or infiltration, or as a sort of one way trip invasion that demands a lot of time, resources and Neuroi unit support of kin units; as seen during the Fuso Sea incident.
In addition, while Neuroi can and have crossed forests and frozen lakes to accomplish objectives; it's apparent that such terrain is still rather disliked by Neuroi due to the nature of the layout of such terrain, risk of ambush, the difficulty traversing the claustrophobic tree line, and risk of the ice breaking and drowning in the frigid waters. In such cases, travel is likely done only if absolutely necessary and if other, specifically designed Neuroi units can ensure clear and secure paths across the forests or frozen lakes.