Girls’ Frontline (or Dolls’ Frontline which seems the more appropriate name but not the one Funimation is using) is a military anime set in a future after the third world war where military companies use ‘tactical dolls’ to fight on the font lines. Naturally these tactical dolls are female, clad in scanty clothing and in one instance full on maid outfits. I’m guessing there’s a fan base for it which is the only reason I can see for this sort of fan-service because underneath the ridiculous outfits there’s potential a plot to explore though episode one doesn’t seem like its really found it’s footing.
Girls’ Frontline has some potential but the first episode isn’t a great sales pitch.
While I was looking into this title I found out that Girls’ Frontline was based on a mobile game and there had actually been a comedy short-form anime made about this one back in 2019. Which in many ways seems like the better way to go here given these characters are ludicrous when you think about it in any logical way.
Even if androids advanced to the point where wars could be entirely fought by them, there’s legitimately not way they’d be designed the way these characters are and they certainly wouldn’t be clothed this way. Taking the setting seriously is kind of important given this iteration of Girls’ Frontline seems to be wanting to be taken seriously with its pensive team leader who second guesses her own decisions at the heart of this episode at least (and why would we want an indecisive android leading a team).
But the part where Girls’ Frontline really lost me was when the maid androids showed up and had to actually lift their skirts in order to deploy the weapons attached to their lower halves. It was absolutely ridiculous to assume anyone would design an android soldier in such a manner (outside of anime or apparently a mobile game).
But it really does play out like they are expecting you to take this concept and world seriously. But its a suspension of disbelief I just can’t get to. The whole thing is ridiculous and it makes it very hard to take the scenario seriously. I’d have been far more likely to just roll with it if they weren’t androids but even then assuming any soldier would enter the battlefield in such a get-up with a weapon you couldn’t deploy without first lifting your skirt would probably have been a bridge too far.
Anyway, in addition to the brooding leader who wonders if the decisions she’s made are right, we also have another team of dolls they come across prior to reaching their objective. Apparently they’ve been abandoned and are walking around on ‘stand-by mode’. Later in the episode the team we are following activate them to assist in holding off the enemy and then we see them all get wiped out.
Clearly Girls’ Frontline wants us to consider the ethics of this and potentially how sad it is that they were destroyed but realistically I haven’t managed to empathise with them. Sure they look like cute anime girls but none of these characters has yet managed to impress upon me that they are ‘living’. Something like Gunslinger Girl did a much better job of eliciting that kind of emotion although the comparison is faulty because they were girls given cybernetic advancements. Still, that anime managed emotional resonance.
I’d love this to find its feet and really flesh out the world here as Girls’ Frontline has potential. But between the character designs and feeling like the exposition came at us in the beginning of this episode in a major dump that ended up playing like I was watching a promotional trailer for a different movie this first episode is shaky at best. Still, I might give this one another couple of episodes and see if Girls’ Frontline does improve or whether this is as good as its going to get.
Images from: Girls’ Frontline. Dir. S Ueda. Asahi Production. 2022.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.