「スピアヘッド」 (Supiaheddo)

Although only early days for 86, I think it’s safe to say this one will be a treat. Optimistic thinking? Certainly, but the pieces are here for something good should the stars keep aligning. After all, any time two seasons and slow buildup present themselves, best expect the scales to at least tilt towards the positive.

Probably the one thing surprising me most about 86 so far is the production values. Whether down to enticing eye candy designed to sucker you in before the inevitable midseason drop-off or not, there’s no denying A-1 has thrown some serious fat stacks at this show. Battles are case in point, featuring some excellent 3D CGI and special effects work that really adds to the overall aesthetic; movement is appropriately chaotic, explosions have oomph, and the grit and grime of war is thoroughly present from start to finish. It honestly feels a lot like Aldnoah (well, the good first part of Aldnoah), which given the soundtrack at work too isn’t that bad a comparison to have.

As for actual story, we also got some hefty tidbits to help keep things moving along. Probably the big one here is the reason for San Magnolia’s war, with the autonomous Legion enemy effectively being a machine consciousness that got out of control, wiped out its masters in the Giad Empire, and turned its attention towards Magnolia. At least they have an expiry date estimated to occur a year or so in the future, right? Yeah, I’d take that detail with a hefty grain of salt until more is learned. From everything revealed so far, there’s no indication the future is anything but dark and full of terror.

And that then leads to the matter of the 86s themselves. In short, pretty much pure racism: San Magnolia strips those not deemed “true” citizens of all their rights and uses them as a veritable janissary force to keep the country safe while promising then a better future for their sacrifice. I can agree with Lina for detesting this system and wanting to completely overhaul it, but it’s incredibly hard not thinking the girl is naïve; after years of being treated as subhuman with current citizens seeing them as little more than tools, there’s nothing to suggest 86ers will be suddenly allowed to retire and become recognized human beings once again after Legion is defeated – if anything, San Magnolia is likely to clamp down harder and either concoct a new threat needing them to remain as 86ers, or just liquidate them all. True change will only come when the current Magnolian leadership is forced into it, which funnily enough has already been teased with Lina’s increasingly outspoken attitude and the risks she’s inviting.

It may only be early days, but expect things to soon get wild in the world of 86.

Random Tidbits

While the technology at work in 86 is undeniably mecha-esque sci-fi, there’s some modern familiarities lurking under the surface. For example, not often you get your spider machines flinging APSFDS at the enemy.

For those curious on the German names, Eintagsfliege is a Mayfly – pretty good name for such critters – and Löwe is a (male) lion. My inner pedant calls out when more than one Löwe is present though; they’re Löwen, not Löwes!


ED Sequence

ED: 「Avid」by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki



  1. The end of the episode really highlights Lena’s naivety. Her standing for the 86 during the lecture is also ineffective because she can do that only because Jerome protects her from punishment, making her appear as a spoiled princess in a rebel phase. I also have the feeling that Jerome assigned her to Spearhead to temper her idealism or resign like many other previous handlers of the squadron.

    1. I like too how it’s unclear right now just how far Jermone’s protection gets her. Vladilena clearly hasn’t thought about the consequences of vocalizing her morals too much, and indeed seems under the impressions no one could smack her down hard should she get too annoying. Will be interesting to see when that happens, because it’ll happen sooner rather than later the way she’s going.

  2. Too early to tell if this will be great, but the first 2 episodes are surprisingly good. There is already adequate world building in the first 2 eps, and there will be more time. Our Lena sure is naive and it would seem that this treatment of the 86 has a deeper story than just being of a “different” race, and I hope the show will explore this further. Anyhow, this show still has got the momentum and I hope it will be able to maintain it. Oh, and the OST rocks though many argue it is too derivative for a Hiroyuki Sawano composition, with some melodies reatining bits from AoT and Re:creators

    1. In theory the first cour should be able to cover the first book.
      Book 2 and 3 originally were intended to be a single volume but the story was expanded to the point of requiring two volumes. Ideally they should adapt book 2 in the second cour ending with a cliffhanger but they may decide to compress the two books to complete the narrative arc by the end of the season.

  3. You Guys and Girls, know of the Anime Sora no Woto?

    – They have the last working Spider Tank, just their Aim Target Lens was defect. But they succeed to fix it

    – early in the Episodes some Girl saw a Ghost inside an Old School

    and here can come a Crossover into Play. Let this Ghost Girl be Lina’s

      1. I read a bit into this “Demon” they Slayed there in Sora no Woto

        Well, it could had been an War Helicopter or War Plane. It only says about Wings
        The Destruction could be his Weapons and Bombs.
        The Maidens are of course War Prisoners that somehow took over and crashed this “Demon” into decapitating his “head”? Well it could be the Section of the Plane or Helicopter where the Reactor or Engine is stored. because even after decapitating it, they take turn to keep it’s Rage at bay and the Townspeople spray Water over them.. So in today’s Technology, what need even Years of cooling after its cool down? Right. Nuclear Atomic Engines… or it would set the World of Fire again…

        So as you see, perhaps Sora no Woto could be the World after 86 or a similar Universe

    1. Interesting crossover idea. But does sora no woto have actually anything to do with 86? Writers? Influences? Otherwise it’s just two series with spider bots. BTW loved sora no woto, cute girls doing mecha things is best genre, and trumpet!

      1. Well, i see it this way. If they followed the Ghost Story from this Old School, perhaps the entire Anime Sora no Woto would be another one. But in the end Sora no Woto was Hope!

        As for you questions, i do not know anymore. Sorry. Yes. But the Sora no Woto Captain and survivors of her Crew saw Hell and more what we saw in the Opening

  4. Failed to evolve is a curious choice of words. Sounds suspiciously similar (but not the same) to Seikai no Senki. But whereas the Abhs are modified for life in space, can’t really tell what’s so special about these silver haired and silver eyed humans. “Snow Witch” seems to qualify but is apparently an 86 too. Can’t see anything different between her, Lena or the other squad members.

    When it comes to battle, I fail to see what is the point of having the handlers. Seems to be an overly complicated system for a battlefield management operator. Will have to wait and see how the other battles turn out.

    1. There is nothing special about the Alba. They are just racist to the point of eugenics, something we already saw in our world.
      Snow Witch has mixed blood, hence she is considered an 86.

      The Handler is the command and control officer and it’s a normal thing in any modern army of the real world. Spearhead squadron is just good enough to be able to operate autonomously because their previous handlers were useless.
      The Pararaid system was developed because the Eintagsfliege jam any type of standard communication. Without it it would be impossible to manage the battlefield.

      1. Regarding the handlers, what I meant was it really doesn’t need something as complicated as syncing your audio system. Simple headset comprised of mic and earphone should be enough (just like real life). No need for regular calibration too.

        Can’t say I see a reason how syncing multiple brains is more jam resistant than advanced secure voice communication. From what I know of it, it should actually be easier to jam instead. Still, nothing wrong with sci-fi ignoring the scientific details. XD

        1. Pararaid is actually a form of machine assisted telepathy; you hear the transmission in your head, not with the headsets. It’s calibrated to the brain language center so you have to actually talk to make it work, otherwise the transmission would be an unintelligible mess.
          The Eintagsfliege actually block any form of communication and non visual detection (they emit particles analogue to the Minovsky particles in Gundam) to the point that the Republic don’t even know if there are other surviving nations. Without the Pararaid system any kind of organized operation would be totally impossible.

    2. Regarding the handlers, as Lambdalith mentions it’s mostly due to command and control. Some processor/drone units like Spearhead are easily capable of operating autonomously with great success, but I’d wager there’s plenty more who do not have those capabilities, especially if they’re inexperienced.

      A handler also provides a responsibility cutoff; as 86ers are treated as fodder, placing an Alba in charge ensures military law (as it applies to actual citizens) can be followed and mistakes answered for. If your “autonomous” weaponry goes berserk or happens to lose ground, you need an “actual” human being to blame for it after all.

      1. Haha, didn’t really think about the responsibility part. Kinda like the situation in Beatless in needing a human to take responsibility. Actually thought they were more like political commissars at first. But that should probably go to the MP in the class room.

  5. Okay, this episode showed some much needed background info. First, we know how the republic came to be segregated, second, we know what enemy they are facing. Lena might be calling for human rights for 86, but somehow I doubt her appeals will make much headway. I can see the situation of 86 changing for better only in 2 cases. Either they rebel en masse, leveraging their firepower, or the foreign threat will force populationwide conscription amongst Alba citizenry, therefore exposing them to plight of 86, and maybe even forcing them to fight in mixed units. Case in point was that only in dire circumstances of Korea war Pusan perimeter did US army start to mix white and black soldiers. One thing I would like to know is what is ratio of Alba to 86 in total population, is this case of minority being opressed, which usually is much easier to sustain, or majority being opressed, which usually ends up with rebellion and regime change.

    1. Right now I’d wager 86ers are in the minority, but we need to find out more about the overall 86 situation before being able to discern that part correctly.

      As for the 86 situation yeah, the only way that changes is mass revolt or a major military defeat. Given the current situation I expect the former more than the latter, however how such a thing occurs (if it even can occur) remains to be seen.

      1. I think you will be in for a surprise then.

        There are hints of it already, but given how most of the population are told that there are no death’s in war and fighting is done with autonomous drone, there will be no “mass revolt” and those who do know just don’t care.

        1. He probably meant armed slave rebellion, Spartacus style.
          There was a reason only rarely slaves were pressed into armies, historically.
          And in at least one case when they were, they managed to overthrow regime and become rulesrs themselves (Mamluks, Egypt)

          1. Let’s say that the Alba worked hard to prevent that. The front is at a 100km from the Grand Mur, which is an impressive continuous system of fortifications that makes the Maginot Line look like a sand castle. The perimeter is also ridden with mines and fixed anti personnel guns mostly to avoid 86 rebellion. It’s so dangerous that the entire logistic chain use air transports. Crucially all the artillery piece is still under Alba jurisdiction while the 86 have only their Juggernauts…that probably would break after just 20km…
            Another aspect to consider is that the 86 are almost extinct by this point and only the youngest of them remain.

          2. @lambdalith this might bite Alba in the ass yet. What will they do if they run out of 86ers, or, worse still, enemy bots wont shutdown on expected date?

  6. Good episode, but wonder how long we’ll have to wait for human Giad Empire representatives. I doubt that they have all been wiped out. Not saying that it can’t work without that human element if the main conflict is between the 86 and their oppressors.
    The ending song reinforces how bad their choice for the opening song turned out to be. Such a shame.

  7. I just can’t get into this series. These are serious issues but they’re being handled in a such a sloppy and immature way. They want to have these characters be childish and klutzy and talk like they’re in a regular highschool slice of life anime but also to have these serious background problems. The two completely clash, and that classroom scene was some of the most awful and awkward exposition I’ve ever heard.
    If you want to have your silly teenage happy go lucky characters, you can, and if you want to have a serious storyline you can, but you can’t usually do both, and if you are, it has to be handled a lot better than it is here. I just can’t go straight from “people are dying!” to “oh my gosh, like what boys do you like?” and take either seriously, and that’s how this feels, at least for me.

    1. The last exchange actually highlight Lena immaturity and the fact that she lives far away from the battlefield. She knows what’s happening, but experienced it only from the distance and without adults to tell her that the war is horrible. The fact that she pieced together by herself is already something.

      Regarding the Spearhead Squadron they can die any day, so they are enjoying every minutes they are not on the battlefield. That’s just human. Just watch us: the last two years has been terrible and yet here we are here discussing anime…things we like. Being doom and gloom every single instant during a crisis is not realistic; just think that in WW1 during the Christmas truce the soldiers started to play football and other sports with their enemies in the no man’s land between the two trenches. Would you consider that not realistic if it was presented in a piece of fiction?

    2. Personally the whiplash in tone works for me, largely due to what Lambdalith describes.

      While cliche, war is very much long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Those downtime scenes are what should be expected; the average soldier is going to live for the moment and seek distractions more than focus on what could happen when the time for fighting arrives.

      The only difference between this and a normal situation is that the troops won’t form active friendships; you’ll notice for example none of Spearhead seemingly engage in anything besides superficial banter or ribbing. To do that would develop attachments that will break you because you can lose those around you at any possible moment.

      Admittedly though this is still early days; how well the series handles struggle and major points like key character deaths later on (as that will happen eventually) will be the tell.

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