「アンダーテイカー」 (Andaateikaa)
“Undertaker”

Well, it’s here, the busiest day of the season. Doubt me? Just look at that schedule – thirteen shows on one day? Oh the memories of some seasons at old. At least it’s a satisfying sort of exhaustion though thanks to the likes of 86 here, because if there’s one show that’s going to be intriguing to watch, this one is it.

Exactly as the ever-popular RC preview discusses in the link above, 86 at its core can be thought of as your classic anime war series, where a ramshackle group of veritable misfits finds purpose and reason on the battlefield amidst utter destruction, countless atrocities, and perpetual suffering. Or in other words, a gritty Sora no Woto without the cutesy slice-of-life mixed with a dash of Heavy Object and Valkyria for spice. The star of the show is Vladelina Milize (Hasegawa Ikumi), an ambitious major of the San Magnolian Republican Army who winds up handler—i.e. commander—of so-called drones, immigrants and other rabble who serve as the backbone of the army. While these “drones” are undeniably human, San Magnolia’s recent conflict with another empire has led to them being ostracized and dehumanized, requiring them to serve for a set period as literal cannon fodder to protect the Republic and its actual citizens from invasion.

From this it’s relatively simple to know where things are going. Vladelina for example is the black sheep in her chain of command, the one person who sees humanity in a group signalled out as a convenient scapegoat. Such care naturally cuts both ways, with her compatriots seeing her as weak and blind to the realities, while her indentured subordinates rightfully suspect pretension, arrogance, and pompous vanity given her comfy position behind the lines. The girl is obviously going to induce some change on the part of her charges given her convictions, but the manner of it – and what happens in the process – will be interesting to see.

On the other side of things are the drones, and once again there should be no major surprises. Outside of the usual array of teammate archetypes the only real important one at the moment is Undertaker—i.e. Shin—(Chiba Shouya) who functions as lead for the group, a quiet and stoic kid who pulls no punches when required. And also one who has apparently caused his previous handlers to go as far as commit suicide. We’ll certainly get into the nitty gritty on that in future episodes given its ominous importance, but for the moment I think the talk on Para-RAID—i.e. the system for handler-drone communication—does enough to answer a lot of the obvious questions. When your command and control system is predicated on the sharing of sensory information (and the sensory information of potentially dozens of combatants) it’s not hard thinking how that could drive some mad. Yes, fully expect Vladelina to start exploring that part in depth – not like it hasn’t already been teased!

Overall while I wouldn’t make any serious predictions here, given the fantastic visuals at work and the fact 86 is scheduled for a 24 episode split cour run, I’d keep an eye on this one if you’re not already doing so. Spring may be stacked in the number of potential smash hits at play, but 86 stands a fairly good chance of leaving all that competition firmly in the dust.

 

OP Sequence

OP: 「3分29秒」 (3-pun 29-byou) by hitorie

Preview

48 Comments

  1. A good first episode! The only thing that i dislike is the opening which is too upbeat and in general out of place considering that Sawano’s score is worlds apart stylistically.

    Lambdalith
  2. Is Lina’s reason for showing empathy towards the Eighty-Sixers really just that she takes after her father? I suspect it’s something else, something deeper. Maybe there will be an answer to that at some point, because I don’t think it was properly explained here. Otherwise, nice first episode. Good thing this is a weekend show too. I’ll always have time to watch it.

    1. I don’t think as well, her father likely pointed her in this direction, but she arguably has taken it further than he probably would’ve wanted. We will likely find out more though, Vladelina’s convictions are too central to her actions to be simply glossed over.

    2. It’s because she cares, not simply because she is compelled by moral duty but also because she couldn’t abide by the thinking of the people around her who simply don’t care at all. However due to the socialization process she underwent, she doesn’t realize her own subconscious biases towards the 86, and that she lives peaceably far removed from the
      ’86th district’, and thus is personally distant with them, and doesn’t make much effort to get to know, acknowledge or remember them. It’s a common phenomenon in humans, it’s simply that her biases are merely milder and more tempered due to her personality and beliefs

      Nishizawa Mihashi
    1. Pretty much… I guess that’s from some kind of popular group and ended up being the opening thanks to contractual obligation with the music label. Maybe someone like those guys, but honestly the song borders in the ear piercing territory.

      Lambdalith
      1. Very likely contract obligation. Music label is likely a member of production committee and tells producers that in exchange for my funding, you must use this song of my choosing for the OP.

        zztop
      2. As zztop says. Probably down to either the production committee or a member of the committee wanting to use the group either for quid pro quo or to help keep costs down (as licensing an outside group’s music can quickly grow expensive depending on the music label).

      3. The song wasn’t sonically appropriate for the IP but well, the money for the production must come from someplace

        I consider music from the metalcore band Killswitch Engage very appropriate for 86, particularly a select few from their entire discography, but I’m certain that an attempt to license the songs would be a problem larger than they could handle even if it may be narratively fitting

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  3. While watching the episode I didn’t think the drones are immigrants or actual humans. I thought countries are fighting in simulations and these are advanced AI (NPCs) living in their own reality which is the battleground of the future.

    Yantos
    1. tf? why make it so complicated? and that makes no sense given everything that happened in the episode… not to mention that this is the entire summary given for the show from before it aired…

      GoXDS
      1. Haha, yeah. I was pondering the same thing. Why did I make it more Sci-Fi in my mind 🙂

        Have to admit that I didn’t read the summary though so my imagination was running wild.

        Yantos
    2. As GoXDS goes into there wasn’t much attempt at hiding the fact all the fighting is actually being done by humans. I think the confounding factor may be that the enemy empire is utilizing purely autonomous machines (to our knowledge) so it’s easy to think at face value that San Magnolia would be doing the same.

      1. Yeah, I know they weren’t hiding it. I guess the premise wasn’t too subtle.

        I think I was overcomplicating it in my mind to make it more reasonable and realistic in a sci-fi sense. Imagining that the fighers are advanced AI (with their own personalities and lives inside the simulation) and their commanders are just not getting attached to them due to that.

        After all, I don’t think it is very realistic to imagine that wars would be fought by AI vs human pilots in some kind of vehicles. First, there can be no competition there in terms of skill, aim, speed, etc. Second, the vehicles they were using were obsolete even by modern standards – they were using rifled guns instead of laser guided missiles for example.

        So it made more sense San Magnolia and their enemy were deciding their conflict via a match of very realistic looking lets say Starcraft 11 🙂

        But yeah, as I said I was just overthinking things. Bored with too much time on my hands I guess haha.

        Yantos
        1. One interesting aspect in the news broadcast is that they refer to the Legion as what remains of the Empire in paste tense. They also said that Legion is going to shut down in two years, meaning that there is nobody to order it around and the system is reaching the end of the programmed operational life. In other words those autonomous weapons may have exterminated their masters.
          In that case you don’t want to risk to end in the same way developing your own murder ai.

          Anyway 86 is not set in the future but in a parallel world in which the technology followed a different path, mostly due to a totally different geography and culture. In various fields they are way behind the modern world, while some type of weapons were nullified by Legion.

          Lambdalith
  4. It’s hard to figure out why they managed to get some of their handlers to commit suicide. Quitting I can see, but suicide? The closest I can think of, is that they are in denial. Especially with how much alcohol is involved in their off time.

    Sharing auditory information shouldn’t really lead to that. The start of the episode also shows that the handlers (Lena in this case) has good control of the Cocktail Party Effect. Of course can’t really say on what a shot in the head is like. Doubt there are research into that, but you never know.

    The silver hair and caste system kinda reminds me of Sekai no Senki. Just ramped up to the extreme.

    For some reason slightly impressed that they animated the loading progress on the device. Feels strangely realistic.

    theirs
    1. My guess is that para-raid system is the one that causes the previous handlers to commit suicide, it links the sensory system of the handler with the “drones”. That, and coupled with the “humans” seemingly oblivious to the reality of war, so when the para-raid system brought them the reality of war, it broke them.

      danes256
      1. The reason why they are baffled about the suicides is because the Pararaid system is not a new thing at all. Millions of 86 are dead by now and the few handlers that care about them resign after a while. The problem is not that the Alba are oblivious to the reality of the war but that they are willingly trampling on others (the fact that the Juggernauts are “manned” is not a secret, the civilians just don’t consider 86 humans) to maintain their lifestyle. As it’s said the suicides are not for crisis of conscience but because they “hear the voices of the dead” in their head during and after the synchronization with Undertaker. He is the reason for what happened to the previous handlers, not the Pararaid system at large.

        Lambdalith
        1. This. While I personally do suspect the sensory feedback will become important later on given the focus on just hearing this episode, the earlier suicides can easily be chalked up to PTSD from virtually experiencing the events the drones went through.

          Not that hard to believe either, given the handlers have seemingly never been to the front or witnessed war firsthand, experiencing it through the ears of multiple troops at the same time could quickly become unnerving. Particularly if you have a group of subordinates who don’t try and sugarcoat or tone down the experience.

          1. While PTSD is certainly possible, I really doubt it is just from experiencing it from multiple ears. The handlers are really good at filtering out sound and compartmentising others as background noise. Lena’s case with her mother being shown (and heard) here. She only hears the record player and everything else (including her mother) is filtered out.

            A different situation to real life drone pilots, who gets PTSD because they couldn’t detach themselves from the action and it ends up being too up close and personal. One has to focus visually, while the other can aurally filter things out.

            theirs
          2. Don’t disagree with it not being down to PTSD, but IMO I think it’s too early to suspect all the handlers are good with filtering and compartmentalizing. It’s like the real world drone situation, some will be able to deal with it professionally and others will wind up becoming too personally (and emotionally) involved.

            To be fair though we’re theorizing on limited information; need to find out more about the Para-RAID system before anything can be properly determined,

        2. Just watched the first episode and I don’t remember seeing the civilians being aware of the 86’s existence. And when I mean civilians, it’s the non-military people we see walking in the streets, having lunch at cafés, and so forth.

          If this episode didn’t show that these civilians knew about the 86, then is this a spoiler for a future episode/chapter?

          writerRichieK
  5. It´s Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans meets Marginal Operation.
    I liked it. It wasn´t groundbreaking, but gets me interested.

    Slightly disappointed withe the ost and ed song, as i was expecting something more Sawano like, especially ost wise, i was expecting something more with a banger.
    Hopefully, it won´t stay behind things like Aldnoah, Unicorn, Guilty Crown, etc.

    Rama
    1. Personally I highly doubt it’ll turn into another Aldnoah or Guilty Crown, the source material is too good and critically acclaimed to fall apart like those series. Just how good it winds up being though will take a while to find out.

  6. This felt like another episode of Code Geass Akito. Which is not a bad thing, but it’ll have to do more to feel unique.
    btw. not the kind of opening that I expected from a Sawano show.
    I expected something similar to his Aldnoah Zero opening’s or LotGH These to name a recent one.

    boingman
    1. Well, it’s considered by many a spiritual successor to Akito and the author said that it’s one of her inspiration for the story. Other inspirations are Muv Luv Alternative, Screamers (the movie and the original novel) and Gundam in general.

      Lambdalith
    1. In bonus materials Asato Asato said that she modeled the Republic as a country based on founding ideals similar to the French Revolution that ended up totally betraying its foundation to survive. I think that’s more thought provoking than a totalitarian militaristic state because, without the scapegoat of an evil dictator, it shows how common people can commit atrocities not only to survive, but to maintain their privileges at the expense of others during period of crisis.

      Lambdalith
        1. Yeah, it’s one of the few things that the story gives away from the start. For the Republic this is just the normal state of things now and they just consider the 86 pigs disguised as humans that can only be useful serving at the front in place of the Alba, which are valuable real humans.

          Lambdalith
  7. there is also problem of basically outsourcing defence toi slaves…. bad idea if ever I saw one. first there is risk of rebellion, – any technical safeguards can be bypassed with time and effort…
    and if the obedience problem is solved perfectly, there is risk of military taking over power from civilian government lacking citizen-soldiers

    ewok40k
    1. They seem to have a lot more freedoms compared to a typical slave army. Though that might just be the particular unit shown.

      Armies like these has appeared numerous times throughout history. And they do rebel. Some even managed to take power.

      theirs
  8. Well, i can’t say anything because it would be spoiler, but the first novel address everything in a very methodical way. However if the anime is like the novel (so far is very accurate and it even expand certain things) a certain degree of attention is needed to the dialogues because there are no real infodumps.

    Lambdalith

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