Top 5 Military Focused Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

I’m not the biggest fan of military movies or war focused stories (at least not realistic ones). I find them a little bit depressing to be honest. There are exceptions, usually science fiction or fantasy is enough of a hook (such as Starship Troopers), and I’ve definitely noticed a soft spot for anime that brings in the military (though being told something is military focused isn’t the draw).

Today I’m looking at my favourite military focused anime. Authenticity isn’t a concern. I don’t care whether the ranks and positions are wrong, whether characters would actually be able to behave in certain manners in a real army, or whether the military exists or is part of an entirely fictional setting. I’m just concerned with anime that I really ended up enjoying that had a strong military focus. As such, I’m sure there are many great military anime that aren’t going to get a mention and I’d love to know your favourites so feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this time around go to the entire Gundam Franchise, which I continue to have a love/hate relationship with as the various entries either really grab me and pull me in or I end up abandoning fairly early on, and Heavy Object. Now Heavy Object is an anime in general that doesn’t get enough conversation so I really wanted it on my top 5 list, but the numerous flaws with the show prevented me from putting it above anything on the list. That said, I really liked Heavy Object, a lot more than I expected.

Number 5: Attack On Titan

Now, I won’t deny that season two of Attack on Titan saw my patience wearing thin after a fairly big slow down in the second half of season one. But, the early episodes of season one really grabbed me and while the titan at the wall was a big part of that, so was Eren and crew’s original military training. It is such an integral part of the show and the characters and those early episodes were really good. Season three also picked up a lot of things and part of it is the power structure of the world including where the military fits into that. All and all, while this isn’t one of my favourite of all time anime, the military influence is quite strong and some of the better moments comes when the story focuses on these elements.

Attack on Titan

Number 4: Full Metal Alchemist and Brotherhood

Whether it is FMA or FMA Brotherhood, the military focus of Armestris is pretty clear. Love the uniforms, as impractical as they appear, and a lot of the drama in the show comes from the higher ups withholding information from subordinates. Also, characters are regularly compelled to act against their own nature because being in the military does mean following orders. Both versions of Full Metal Alchemist really do an excellent job of showcasing both the problems of large military organisations as well as the camaraderie and loyalty that can grow between soldiers working for a common cause. All and all, a solid anime with a military focus to sink your teeth into.

Full Metal Alchemist - Military

Number 3: Code Geass

Right, so we’re really moving away from realistic here, but I love Code Geass. The ongoing war, the terrorist tactics, the military responses and escalation of weapons of mass destruction… despite the mechs and the fantastical political scenario so much in terms of the themes and ideas are incredibly relatable but it ends up being over dramatised and becomes pure entertainment. From Lelouche’s flamboyant persona as Zero to the amazing feats Suzaku pulls off, everything about this story is great entertainment, even if a little tragic if linked back to reality.

Code Geass
Okay, I couldn’t find a nice picture of the military uniforms, but the school uniform is pretty military like.

Number 2: GATE

This one had to be on the list. In fact, this was where I started and I felt for sure GATE would end up being number one. Alas, I remembered something better, but for now I’ll just go through why I love GATE. It reminded me a lot of the early Stargate episodes with the military going through to other worlds and Daniel Jackson trying to talk with the populations why they looked for resources and the like. Yet, it had all the crazy anime trapping we’ve come to expect from isekai with elf-girls and magicians, and of course Rory Mercury… Want to see the Japanese military face off against a fire-breathing dragon? Helicopters taking on bandits storming a fortress? GATE was great fun to just strap in and watch.

GATE

Number 1: Full Metal Panic

Lastly, we get to my number one entry on this list. When thinking of military focus of course I thought of the number one military maniac himself, Sousuke Sagara. I absolutely loved Full Metal Panic’s ability to balance a fairly serious military style story with hired mercenaries and various agencies as well as the high school comedy aspects. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense if you stop and think about it, but it absolutely gets the fun factor right and some of the fight sequences and the tactics they come up with are incredibly impressive.

Full Metal Panic

And there you have it, my top 5 military focused anime. As I said, I’d love to know yours so leave me a comment.

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March Podcast for Patrons – Mecha Anime

This month I turned my attention to Mecha anime in my podcast for patrons (patrons, if you are wanting the password for the podcast post, it is available on my patreon site for you). If you are interested the following anime are discussed:

  • Evangelion
  • Gundam
  • Full Metal Panic
  • Star Driver
  •  Knights of Sidonia
  •  Heavy Object
  • Code Geass
  • Darling in the Franxx

If you are interested in becoming a patron and accessing the monthly podcast or patron only episode reviews, please visit my patreon site. I am going to continue to work towards creating better content and a greater variety of content and I really appreciate your support.

Goals - March 2018

Once I reach $50 a month I plan to hopefully release a video post for patrons (and once I get better at making videos doing this with some frequency).

At $100 a month I plan to remove WordAds from my site which means patron only posts will not have any advertising attached to them.

At $300 a month, in addition to patron videos that will hopefully be more regular by then, I will produce 1 video post a month for the blog which patrons will have early access to. Increasing that to 2 video posts a month at $500. Though these are goals at this point in time and will need to be reviewed as I get closer to these targets.

However, I would love to know what you would like to see on the blog and if you become a patron what you would like to see as a reward. Be sure to let me know in the comments of visit my patreon site and give me some feedback.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

 

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Heavy Object Series Review

Overview:

In the future, warfare has been revolutionized by the invention of mechanical weapons called “Objects.” These Objects are overwhelmingly powerful, rendering traditional weapons like guns, tanks and fighter jets completely useless. Qwenthur is an un-athletic, but smart soldier who aims to work as an Object mechanic. Stationed at an Alaskan Object base, he meets Milinda, a stoic but beautiful Elite Soldier who pilots her own Object. As they learn to support each other in battle, Qwenthur begins to uncover the grim secret behind the Heavy Objects.

Sorry about the copy and paste synopsis but I really couldn’t actually think of a better way to explain this without being just a little bit sarcastic so I borrowed.

Review:

I previously wrote up my first impressions after watching episode 1 of this series. It was relatively scathing (and that was the toned down version after I’d slept on it) and to be honest I didn’t see me getting through the 24 episodes. I did finish the series and it actually surprised me by how into it I was by the end, even thinking I wouldn’t mind if it continued, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still fairly critical of this series as a whole.

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To that end, I’m going with a plus/minus review. It’s been awhile since I’ve done one and to be honest, it’s the best way to cover the main points I’d like to raise about Heavy Object.

Plus +

The last 12 episodes. After a relatively ordinary to terrible beginning (depending on how critical you would like to be) the second half of this series finally figures out what it wants to be. The over the top fixation on groping and staring at the female anatomy by our main protagonists gets toned right down (though not removed because it is a core part of their friendship by that point) and the story focusses more on building credible relationships and the action. From that point on (if you make it that far) it’s actually a relatively solid if overly generic action piece. The last three missions in particular really drew me in despite some gaping holes in the plot (but if that was going to be the deal breaker I would never have made it that far). The end result is you walk away feeling that you watched a much better series than you did.

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Minus –

The entire first half of the series which has no idea what it is trying to accomplish. We meet Havia and Qwenthur (what is with the names in this show) shovelling snow and then they rescue the Princess (Elite trained to pilot the object) and then they get medals before being sent to another war zone. We go from snow to water to forest back to snow as they bounce our reluctant ‘heroes’ around the globe and their outfits change colours to match the setting. In between action scenes we see them slacking off, flirting, swapping dirty magazines, occasionally being sexually harassed (or sexually harassing) their superior officer (it’s hard to tell who is the harassed and who is doing the harassment at times), a whole pile of characters come and go, and we blow up a bunch of objects (which makes it difficult to believe that these things are really all that bad given how flawed some of their designs are). The bottom line is that there is no focus other than constant jabs at the cost of war and the stupidity of some of the orders being given by the higher ups. While an anti-war / humans are terrible theme can work fairly well in a mecha series, it kind of needs to be given a bit more thought than just repeated whining from the cast about how bad it sucks to be a paid soldier (or student working in a military unit in Qwenthur’s case – and who the hell sends a student to the front line of a battle with bombs but no gun?).

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Plus +

Havia, Qwenthur and Milinda build a fairly solid bond of trust that after you get over their individual character quirks is quite believable. Also, while the bulk of the focus goes to Qwenthur for their achievements he never actually does anything on his own so at least they aren’t setting him up as some kind of superman (which is a shame because that would make the final episode a little more believable). I like that Havia get’s dragged along, and even though he clearly would prefer to walk away his ties with Qwenthur don’t allow it. I like that Milinda doesn’t defy military orders but she’ll take ‘advice’ from Qwenthur in the middle of a battle. There are times when the buddy act gets a bit thick but mostly these characters are quite enjoyable to watch interact. Though, Qwenthur really needs to not be so incredibly dense when it comes to Milinda. While it’s a standard trope for the guy to be oblivious in this case it is so over the top and by the second half the of series you genuinely cannot believe he still doesn’t get it.

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Minus –

The objects themselves. This is mankinds latest war achievement? Really? Cumbersome, difficult to maintain, hopelessly fragile machines that are limited to a small group of people that can actually operate them, that are economically draining to build in the first place? They need fairly clear paths to get anywhere, ongoing maintenance so a base has to be built near the combat zone, the outer parts (i.e. the weapons) are not protected by the ridiculously thick armour that covers the rest so are susceptible to strikes, and the pilots only have a thin amount of control because so many systems are automated and even the pilot struggles to cancel some of those systems (such as the self-destruct). All and all, these objects are a failure of an invention and no self-respecting military would bother. With that, the entire foundation upon which Heavy Object’s world is built comes crumbling down and every conflict around the Objects just becomes ludicrous.

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Plus +

While there are factions within the military and between the great powers of the world, not every single person is either a moron or evil. There are real people in positions of power. Some are a little overly ambitious, naive, or separated from the reality of the battlefronts, but we only meet about three genuinely crazy people in this entire series. And no one out for revenge because of some long forgotten tragedy in their childhood. For a series that hit so many other cliché plot points, the absence of this was actually kind of refreshing. Sure, people had tragic backgrounds, but they didn’t use that as an excuse to do nothing but sit around and brood and laugh hysterically at slaughter.

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Minus –

Why does everyone become obsessed with Qwenthur? Particularly every girl. And why are there maids? I know I said the second half of the series got better but the group of ‘mercenaries’ that Qwenthur hires (after they try to take him and Havia prisoner) running around in the snow dressed as maids really just makes you want to roll your eyes and then bang your head against the desk. It’s obvious from the beginning that Milinda has a thing for Qwenthur, his superior isn’t actually after him but certainly has a soft spot for him and Havia, the ‘ohoho’ girl who pilots the object from the other guys has a thing for him, the maids like him, the disciplinary lady, and so on and so forth. They all like Qwenthur. And all the higher ups and plotters are all focussed on Qwenthur. Why not just take out his superior so he no longer has free reign? Why not discontinue his student whatever he is doing? Why not post him and Havia in different locations? For that matter, why not focus on Havia given without him Qwenthur would have been dead about twenty times over? Okay, it’s kind of nice for the smart guy to be the centre of attention but this is an excessive amount of fixation on a guy who hasn’t figured out that a 90’s haircut is probably not the best suited style when running around a battlefield.

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Alright, I’m not going to heavily recommend Heavy Object to watch because it just doesn’t do enough to warrant it. If you’re after something light, where stuff goes boom a lot, girls are regularly put into a fanservice role, the plot makes enough sense on the surface but can’t handle any closer scrutiny, and has reasonable music (except for one karaoke in the cockpit scene) then Heavy Object is entertaining enough and if you survive the first few episodes actually gets better.

Final complaint: Who has emergency battlefield surgery (including having to have their heart restarted) and manages in the same day (same afternoon even) to return to battle?

Heavy Object First Impressions

Overview:

War has been changed by the creation of giant machines known as objects. And that’s all I’ve got so far.

First Impressions:

I’ve watched one episode so far. In that episode I endured a very long opening narration that tried to short cut through any meaningful world building by giving an incredibly dull history lesson which I kind of zoned out during and so had to go back because I missed the actual information about Objects. We then move straight into a dialogue between two ‘soldiers’ who lament the uselessness of their jobs in a world with objects and also touch on class warfare and point out that they are being paid by the taxpayer (four times in nearly 5 minutes). Of course, during maintenance, we have an obligatory scene where due to a malfunction the belt tightens on the female pilot and out protagonist of sorts is torn about whether he should touch her chest to help her or not which is finally resolved where she uses the emergency evacuation. And then we transition to a fight where it looks like the object was destroyed by another, the pilot evacuating again (there’s foreshadowing for you) and then we get to end credits.

If it sounds like I wasn’t particularly impressed then I probably wrote that exactly right. I didn’t watch this when it first aired and it’s been in my queue on AnimeLab ever since. I actually heard some good things about it back when it aired so I was kind of disappointed. I sat down to watch this because I was feeling pretty dreadful (sick lately) and wanted a diversion and instead I started wondering if this was ever going to get over these awkward first moments and actually start a story.

That said, the premise if promising enough to give another couple of episodes to try to stabalise. I’ll write a review when I either quit or finish.