「行くよ」 (Iku yo)
“Here We Go”

And with that it’s all over – at least for the next few months. There should be no real shocker with 86’s midpoint conclusion this week: Spearhead found the ending they were destined to see, and Lena came to if not acceptance a willingness to at least ensure they are not forgotten and their sacrifice isn’t in vain. Obviously it’s not the actual ending of course given the second half airing in fall (let your imagination run wild on that), but as an ending it easily checks off all the necessary parts.

Given everything we’ve seen and the realization of more to come there’s two ways to think of 86 thus far. You can see this finale in the conventional anime sense as overly disappointing, a continuation of last week’s venturing into Spearhead’s headfirst thrust into fate which didn’t really provide a good taste of future events we all know are coming. Or you can take it as originally intended (considering this series’ origins as a one-off), a singular tale not meant to give a proper conclusion as much as a relay that there’s nothing at this point left to tell. For Lena and Spearhead, their mission and purpose as defined from the start is now quite literally over.

Highlighting this aspect best is the presence of All Quiet on the Western Front in Spearhead’s quarters. Much like Remarque’s tale 86 thus far isn’t meant to be a glorification of war, but rather a sombre take on the costs and consequences war forces onto the shoulders of its participants. War twists you, takes from you, irrevocably changes you; as Shin, Paul Bäumer, and every other soldier (looking at you in particular Lev) have discovered since time immemorial, often the only thing which can bring peace after such experiences is the serenity of death. Shin of course tried to spare his comrades and give them the chance at life in comparison to Paul despairingly witnessing his own fall around him, but I think we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. Spearhead went out the way they came in, and not a single one regretted the choice they made.

Such melancholic finality, however, does bely the elephant in the room of what’s coming, and though tearful acceptance was this episode’s intent, teasers were still present for those looking to what happens next. The big one of course is that artillery system Legion is employing; I don’t think I need to say much about how angry imperial guard and flashbacks of royalty point to a new enemy perfectly capable of sundering San Magnolia’s defenses. Then there’s also the increasing presence of Legion itself which while likely given how far Spearhead penetrated, also suggests a buildup for a major attack. In short, Spearhead’s liquidation has done nothing to interfere with any potential hammer drop, and indeed might have even accelerated matters. Clouds have been on 86’s horizon for a while now, but the first flashes of lightning are now visible and it won’t be long before the thunder claps rings across the sky.

Whether or not Spearhead is around to see the show is fully up in the air (as with all anime protagonists, doubt death until emphatically confirmed – ethereal scenes included), but rest assured Lena herself won’t be far from the action. House arrest or not – and some arrest that turned out to be – she’s on a mission, and it’s one which could have far greater impact than even she realizes.

Season-long wait or not, good idea to get ready for it now boys and girls, because while 86 may have indulged in the darker side these past couple of weeks, something tells me the real suffering has yet to properly begin – and I shall be here with you all again to see it once fall finally rolls around. Well, after finding out what that special episode holds of course!

 

Preview

21 Comments

  1. Damn you cliffhanger!
    Now I will have to wait a few months to see how many – if any – of the Spearhead survive…
    And what turn will take Lena’s (now with the cat in tow!) career after her Spearhead rescue stint.
    One thing that gives me hope is finding Legion commander with non-San Magnolia origins. This might mean that there are other states – maybe Imperial remnant of sorts? – still fighting Legion.

    ewok40k
    1. Other states fighting the legion was already quite confirmed in the previous ep: the Löwe in the zoo was damaged by someone else. It was immobile too, so it couldn’t had wandered there from the San Magnolia combat zone either.

      Almost makes me wonder if Spearhead was trailed by some other military since that scene. Them relying so much on Shin’s legion-sense could make them lax against non-legion forces…

      Ravenlord
      1. I wouldn’t say confirmed – that Löwe could’ve been damaged through other means – but it’s definitely being foreshadowed heavily. The question is not if but who the protagonists run into, and on that front 86 has done a really good job keeping a lid on the specifics.

  2. Well well, if we all hadn’t known a second cour was coming a few months from now, this still would have made a for pretty decent and competent conclusion. I actually liked it if it ended this way. Their journeys have reached the end. Of course, with the knowledge that the second cour is just around the corner, that was one hell of a cliffhanger. I have several theories as to what will happen to Nouzen et al, but I try not to think about it so as not to make the long wait sting. All in all this was a decent watch, the pacing was good, and although I would have liked to know the characters from the 86 camp better, they were killed faster than I’d have expected.

    I’d have to comment though that I have several thoughts about the world building. I know they set this up as a 2 cour anime so some world building was noticeably absent and the focus was more on the characters. Given how paper thin some details about the world are (japanese writing system in the imperial territory which none of the characters are able to read implies remarkably different cultures or even a connection to our world), I am more intrigued than ever. I hope the next cour will be able to answer most of our questions. I’d love to see more of the world of 86.

    WavePlus
    1. Regarding connection with our world, as explained by the author in the afterword, Eighty Six is set in a parallel world with different story and geography. However she decided to use unit of measure and languages of our world to avoid unnecessary clunky parts when distances and caliber are expressed in unintelligible made up values etc. The books read by Shin instead are straight homages to the literary works that inspired the story.
      Anyway that school was in an Orienta (same ethnic group of Kaie, which was also the only actual pseudo Japanese character in the series) district in the old Giadan Empire (which at the core was more like an extremely big Kaiserreich) territory. If the next cour is a good adaptation like the first one you’ll get literally all the world building you want.

      Lambdalith
    2. I think the secondary cast is the only real complaint I have with this season. As you mention they didn’t really receive any detail, and while one expects such throwaway characters in this type of story, it would’ve been nice to get some further detail and/or cut down on the number shown. That IMO would’ve helped reinforce how emotionally detached Shin and the others had to be, and how hard it was at times for them to maintain that detachment (as Anju following Daiya’s death best highlighted).

      1. I honestly don’t know if A1 could have found a way to flesh out the secondary cast more given the limited air time. I already found the pacing quite good, so I guess the secondary characters were really dispensable in terms of storytelling. It would have been nice to see how the 86 coped up with their impending and inevitable deaths. Of course, they don’t have enough time for all that. It reminds me of the anime “Bokurano” where each of the characters had different ways of facing their impending deaths, but then again the characters of Bokurano were few and they had all of 2 cours to explore all that.

        Also, it actually surprised me that 86 managed to deliver one final but sweet revelation re: Spearhead mechanic, that character backstory alone would make up for one whole episode or even 2.

        WavePlus
  3. Let’s just say that cliffhangers like that are always kinda sus, especially in adaptation of LN series with multiple books already published XD
    That said, A1 did a good job in choosing how to end the series; the episode is actually a fusion of part of book 2 for the Spearhead survivors part and the actual epilogue of book 1 for Lena. It works noticeably better for a visual media compared to the structure of the original novels.

    Lambdalith
  4. I´m gonna say it right now. If they pull a Aldnoah Zero s2 and he´s not dead after all, i don´t care how good this story is, i´ll do the same i did with AZ and drop it ep 1 right there and then.
    I hated that “stunt”.

    Rama
    1. Not a stunt at all. This chapter was from book 2 and it wasn’t even a cliffhanger. They put it at the end of the first cour because using the ending of the first book was not exactly the best idea in an anime.

      Lambdalith
      1. I guess you could say it’s a reason to read the LN and confirm if he really died or not.
        I have nothing against he dying, you could even say that i liked it, it was a bold move that you don’t see that many times in anime, and that’s why i’m saying that i would hate if when this returns they pull a “stunt” like AZ s2 and go “Haha, fool you. He didn’t die after all”.
        If you’re going to kill one of the mc, he better not “miraculously” return alive for p2, that’s all.

        Rama
        1. -Spoiler warning from the novel-

          Show Spoiler ▼

          Pancakes edit: spoiler tags.

          Lambdalith
    2. The one benefit compared to AZ is that we don’t have any scenery or explicit statement indicating death. Shin’s headless scene for example is more metaphorical than literal right now (as Lambdalith mentions you can see a similar effect in earlier Shin flashbacks) and the rest of Spearhead lack any blood; they are as much unconscious as dead at the moment.

      It can be considered a ruse, but if they are still alive it would be in line with everything we have seen so far.

  5. Actually liked this episode and wouldn’t really mind if it ended up being the ending. Especially that letter. Really shows how close they became. Possibly helped Lena find out about the first spearhead member that accepted her too.

    The only major gripe is that scene at the very end. It sounds like he joined legion and that headless body somehow implies it. But if he did, there’s no way he’d meet his older brother. After all, he personally delivered the coup de grace. It doesn’t make sense.

    Looking at the dates, they are still alive when Lena visited that base. She’s a resourceful girl with good connections, so anything can happen. (Please save Fido)

    Can’t wait for the the second cour.
    To find out what she named the cat.

    theirs
    1. Definitely agreed, if this was a single cour adaptation I would’ve liked this ending. Melancholic, likely to irritate a certain group of viewers, but perfectly in line with the type of story this aimed to be. Not something you can say of many anime – let alone anime adaptations – these days.

  6. How much of this was anime original again? I thought that this episode would be all Lena. Instead it was more of the Spearheads which felt like more padding to me after last week.
    Also, I‘m a bit annoyed by that cliffhanger with Shin‘s (imaginary) head gone and all meeting his brother, although we know that the novel is still going. Which means that they were saved, and I‘d have prefered the episode showing that. And THEN switch to Lena. No need to create artificial drama.
    Speaking of Lena, she sure doesn’t seem to be bothered by a bit of house arrest. Is that the only punishment she got? Does she intend to continue working as a handler? For the next team? Seems doubtful. Or at least it won’t be for long with the amount of Legion on their way.

    Anyways, I enjoyed this first cour a lot, especially the 2nd half. The temptation to continue with the LN is real, but I‘ll see if I can hold out until October provided they confirm that date in the Special broadcast. Great production, both 2D and CG, and Sawano‘s OST adds a lot to the enjoyment.
    Thanks for the coverage.

    boingman
    1. The part with Spearhead is not anime original, but it’s from a chapter of the second novel. They did a bit of switcharoo to make a cliffhanger. For the anime it works better this way for a variety of reasons, but i understand the complaints.
      Regarding Lena’s future…let’s say that she has plans…

      Lambdalith

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