「本当は」 (Hontou wa)
“The Truth is”

It’s somewhat cliché to state that all good things must come to an end, yet it certainly feels like 86 is tacking in that direction of late. Mind you not for anything the adaptation is doing story-wise – singing 86’s praises is the rule of the land at this point! – but for all those troubles occurring in the production room. Two special episodes in the span of three weeks? Sure hope whatever is transpiring in the background can be rectified shortly because what’s coming down the pipeline deserves all the care and attention the previous material has received.

If the first half of this season was devoted to showing the right of Spearhead to choose to fight and put their lives on the line, this latest arc is about the reverberations of said decision and who those reverberations affect. Frederica of course highlights this pain the most: all her combative arguing, all her lashing out and (quite frankly) rude and hurtful lambasting of Shin and his thoughts concerning his brother, all of it is simple cover for a visceral fear of losing what amounts to her new family. The girl deep down knows what Shin and company must do is necessary, yet cannot contain and control her fears and worries. She’s the naïve side of the coin of death, the party who lacks the grisly experience needed to help stay composed in the face of likely tragedy. Shin to his credit understands this, it’s why he doesn’t lash out; Frederica may be insulting his own actions and objectives, but he knows why she’s doing it. This is why Shin and Spearhead both don’t really mind Ernst’s own chat with them later on, Ernst himself doesn’t like what they must do, but he knows the choice is theirs to make and will support them as best he can – and ensure everyone else does too.

Besides the near certainty someone is going to die sooner rather than later, part of what makes this point of 86 so interesting is the stark nature of Spearhead’s mission. Eliminating the Morpheo will take care of an existential threat to all involved nations, but beyond that what does it do? Simply put, nothing. Taking care of Legion’s railgun just puts the war back on even footing: Legion will still exist, Legion will still be a threat, and Legion must still be defeated. For all the sacrifice involved in this race against time it’s still just a small piece of the puzzle, just one more element which could potentially turn the tide. For this war to truly find its end everyone else must also step up to the plate, and in that regard we’ll have to wait and see what ultimately transpires. Giad’s reincarnation may be committed to the death after all, but what of everyone else, just how willing are they to put their own flesh and blood on the line?

Finding out how well Lena has succeeded in stemming the Legion onslaught – and with who – will go a long way to answering that question. Let’s just say it’s going to be a painful two week wait to find out.




  1. First things first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Ernst at first. But then when Frederica was introduced, the show built up this idea that, at some point, maybe Ernst was ruthless in culling the imperial family that was responsible for Giad’s previous state (his “I’ll destroy the whole world” line sort of alluded to that), but seeing a toddler who had nothing to do with that generated in him a sense of empathy that now carried over to the Spearhead kids. He’ll go as far as destroying the whole world if it meant they are protected. He’s fully trustworthy when it comes to their well being. But if he’s supposed to be the president of the whole federacy, how come he doesn’t have the authority to change the Spearhead’s suicide mission so they wouldn’t go through with it, as that one guy said? Just a genuine question as I think the anime didn’t explain that?

    I actually disagree with the notion that Frederica’s lashing out was insulting to Shin. It felt more (to me anyway) like she’s calling him out on how not so different he is being to his brother, which made me come to the conclusion that his past might predict Frederica’s future, having a big brother who was his one and only true ally and haven in this dark world until he left him behind, having fully succumbed to his inner demons and leaving due to his guilt with Shin. Shin’s brother leaving him had a personal reason that I don’t think applies to Shin leaving Frederica, at least not yet. At least the rest of Spearhead have the same pride as him yet don’t really want to die. They have low expectations of survival, they know their new country isn’t really welcoming (hard disagree with Grethe that no one wants them to die), yet they know their duty because the others are still doing their duties in assisting them despite their blatantly unjustified prejudice, but at the end of the day, they’re not really looking forward to die any more than they didn’t while at the 86th district. Shin? He’s a death seeker. His involvement in this suicide mission is primarily driven by his desire to just not have to be left behind again.

    I’m fully aware Shin is doing his duty just like the rest of Nordlicht. I’m aware he still has his pride. I’m aware he should carry out all that and not ask for any special treatment because that’s what all the departed in Spearhead were doing, what Lena was doing. And I agree that Frederica should accept that orders are orders, there’s no avoiding this, and that Shin accepts it. I understand and agree with that notion. What Frederica is criticizing him for is that he’s not just leaving her behind by going to a suicide mission, he’s leaving her by threatening to become something like his brother, a shadow of his former self for someone else (read: Frederica herself) to carry the burden of putting down. He doesn’t realize that he’s about to start a vicious cycle. It’s the same kind of issue she had with him back when he first got deployed recently and had another one of those episodes with his creepy smile, a sign he’s close to succumbing to his own demons. By going down this path, he threatens to add another ghost for Frederica to be haunted by. The fact that he’s fighting primarily to die is exactly why he goes insane with that scary smile. It’s like he’s telling the Legion to “come take my life. That’s why I’m here.” The rest of Spearhead don’t regret anything. They’ve survived so far, they got a taste of what life could be like without fighting and were even open to it at first, and they’re now fighting again because it’s their choice, and they’re ready to handle the consequences. When they got a new lease on life, they made the conscious free choice to fight again, taking their own time and pace until the day (hopefully) comes when they realize they actually deserve to be happy with their lives (hard agree with Grethe there). I don’t feel like Shin is the same. He’s still trapped in his survivor’s guilt, so his choice to fight again didn’t really feel his to make so much as it was metaphorically ordered upon him by his demons. It’s even implied when he had that talk with Raiden where Raiden said that living a slow peaceful life “can’t be harder than trying to survive the Legion” and Shin just didn’t have any of that notion. When he told Frederica that he doesn’t want to join her regret and atonement, that told me he’s not confident he can face his demons head on and learn to accept them, to accept that he’s here, alive, thanks to everyone before him. Thanks to his brother. Because he doesn’t have something in the future he believes in, his past keeps chaining him down, and his present doesn’t give him solace, just like Kiriya thought Frederica was dead and got consumed by his own guilt, never to have a future for himself. And honestly? No one can blame Shin for not having something to look forward to other than death. Not when the world doesn’t seem to want him around, not when he alone was burdened with being the Reaper, and not when people like Nina add a whole new potentially deadly meaning to what being a Reaper could be.

    And I figure the reason he doesn’t confide in anyone with this is because chances are he’d expose himself as mentally unfit for combat, which only adds to his problems, never mind to Frederica herself who’s too young emotionally to handle all that. Only ones left are his Spearhead comrades, but perhaps his guilt is too great that even they can’t give him what he needs.

    Really all of which is to say that Shin is written so well, and that all this conflict inside and how he’s not laying out it in the open on purpose is all quite captivating to me. That, combined with the story’s pacing, will surely make his character development all the more believable and impactful in the future.

    1. Once they enlist in the army, they won’t get special treatment even if they are the president’s adopted children. It’s for that reason Ernst can’t just pull them out because “they’re kids” or because “they’re my children”. They are technically under the authority of the commander in chief after all.

      But Ernst could probably rule against their decision if the commander in chief is putting them in this mission as a means to get rid of the Morpho AND them. It’s why he asked whether or not this was part of their “cleansing” which is another way of saying exterminating those who are a potential threat to the Federacy’s survival. Ernst wanted to be sure whether their decision was influenced by other factors besides the Spearhead’s combat ability and if this was truly the best option for humanity’s survival. Of course the commander in chief won’t say that they also intended to cast out the 86, and of course Ernst knows that full well. He just can’t throw a baseless argument to prove that he’s right.

  2. So hypothetically speaking let’s say this suicide mission given to the 86 was successful and ONLY the 86 crew survives. Was it worth it; was letting 86 get the sort end of the straw worth dying on the frontline?

    Oddly enough I feel like 86 got the best deal the Federation had to offer. If you compare and contrast, The 86 crew got to ride an aggressive plan (meant for combat, not for leisure travels) while the rest of the forces were laying down their lives to open a path. Every soldier who wasn’t part of the suicide mission ended up being a PEON and used up to divert the enemy.

    Don’t hate the 86 crew, hate the leaders who decided this platoon should have a missions that will provide accolades. While every other soldier are instructed to support the 86 group by being bait.

    1. If Spearhead succeeds even in the face of nearly all of them dying it would be worth it, at least from a strategic picture. A few casualties for eliminating a weapon capable of wiping cities off the map? Anyone would make that trade, especially Spearhead themselves. It’s one of the stark realities of war made blunt: for victory to be achieved, people will have to die.

  3. I. Really. Miss. Lena.

    That pipsqueak is annoying as hell. Even knowing her position, it still doesn’t change that. Maybe it’s the squeakiness. Something Lena certainly isn’t.

    Ernst is scary. His tone of voice says a lot throut the episode. Really think he meant it when he said he’ll destroy the world. Seems like he wants to prevent what happened to San Magnolia. Lena’s uncle is content with seeing the country burn, Ernst wants to go the extra mile. Still, was fun seeing Spearhead’s reactions to his cheering.

    Nice to know Grethe’s pilot wings aren’t just for show. Bet half the reason she wants to take that plane out of storage was just so she can fly it. Honestly quite interested in knowing what it’s like to ride a ground effect vehicle. Maybe it is addictive?

    1. If it does mach 5.4 (1000km in 9 minutes, to quote Grethe) then it must be pretty scary! But I guess there’s maybe a zero too many in that distance because there was no comma after the 1, which takes the speed down to something much more realistic.

      It’s a strange design for a GEV, though as the engines are usually mounted high up so they don’t ingest stuff.

    2. Yeah it’s definitely the voice, I can appreciate Frederica’s purpose in this story, but between her voice and age she does have a habit of getting on nerves 😛

      And fully agreed regarding Ernst, his quick change in demeanour was wicked and shows his happy and optimistic exterior hides one hell of a dangerous blade. You can get a very good appreciation of why he’s commander in chief when his personality seems at odds with the position.

      1. I wonder what destructive option has Ernst up his sleeve…. Nukes?
        Other than that, I am pretty sure that despite sucidal nature of the mission, someone will make it out alive (most likely Shin, because he doesn’t really care…. it is people having loved ones or dreams to fulfill that end up carrying death flags).
        Frederica is annoying as hell but she has a point, she really cares about her friends.
        I miss Lena too, very much. And Anette, too. We last have seen them organizing last stand in capital of San Magnolia, so their chances of survival are as slim as Spearhead if not worse. After all Spearhead at least has functioning and dedicated armed force – and antion – behind them…

  4. Apparently the staff problems are caused (ironically) by Morpho itself. Anyone that saw the design from the LN knows that this thing is even more difficult to animate than Gundam Unicorn Shambloo because, like the latter, it was designed as a hyper complex piece of machinery (once you see it you’ll know why its called Morpho…) not intended for animation unless heavily simplified. They are taking the ambitious route on this and they want to render the model as seen in the LN illustrations…something that’s commendable, but a bit ill advised in my opinion, especially if we consider the kind of animations needed for a lot of its screentime. I hope that this attention to detail doesn’t detract from the directing of what counts the most: the parts with the characters.

    Fun fact: the Nachzehrer is based on a design from the Soviet Union that reached the prototype phase and was one of the biggest military aircraft ever built. It earned the nickname of Caspian Sea Monster and was supposed to spawn a line of ekranoplanes, one of which designed as a flying aircraft carrier. The prototype crashed due to human error, but the project was plagued by problems and would have resulted in units too costly to be fielded and with unclear roles and deployment strategy.

      1. The author herself said in vol 3 that it’s based on the Caspian Sea Monster with an airframe similar to a B2 Spirit and the transport capability of a AN 235 Mriya. The choice is probably dictated by the fact that the actual Soviet aircraft, while fascinating in concept, looked like something from the Thunderbirds

    1. IMO it’s probably not just the Morpho itself, there’ll be other production reasons for such a delay like subcontract troubles or general animation issues. All speculation on our parts however; unless someone involves decides to leak details we’re SOL haha.

  5. Nachzehrer being a GEV stealth bomber made me laugh. Would be a shame if all it did was transport the Spearheads. The launch using a catapult was pretty awesome.

    I’m usually not too much a fan of Misaki Kuno’s loli character voice, but she did a pretty good job voicing the distraught Frederika this episode. Since there’s no way that she won’t play a role in the upcoming Shin vs Kiri faceoff and she was nowhere to be seen later, it’s a given that she sneaked onto Nachzehrer.

    With the upcoming fight presumably taking max. 2 episodes and maybe another one for the debriefing, I wonder what that means for the remaining episodes. Well, no idea how much material of vol. 3 is left after that.
    Still hoping for a surprise Lena appearance.

    1. Heh slightly annoyed I didn’t think Frederica would’ve snuck onto Nachzehrer because it’s all but a guarantee. The girl won’t be satisfied simply letting Shin handle everything, she’ll want to do her part and assist to the best of her own abilities.

  6. I do disagree that Frederika is insulting Shin and his purpose. Shin, at this point of the story is mentally unstable. He honestly believes that Lena is dead right now plus the letters he receives from Eugene’s sister affected his mental health.

    He is tunnelling right now and only wants to fight so that he will die. We cannot deny that Fred is projecting on Shin and is afraid of death but she also clearly sees that Shin is entering a vicious cycle right now and she knows that nobody wants to see him die so she calls him out.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *