How will Eighty-Six go in its opening episodes?
Watch or Drop? Rules
- The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
- At least 3 episodes have already aired.
- Episodes 1- 3 to be watched in a single sitting and a decision reached as to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
First Impressions of Eighty-Six:
After the Price of Smiles I wasn’t exactly inclined to jump into another mecha fantasy anime particularly when I heard about Lena, the military girl who is pretty naive. Don’t get me wrong, a fantasy, military story could be amazing but we’ve had a fair run of ordinary to terrible ones recently and so I put off giving this one a spin for a bit.
My first impressions were that Lena was almost obnoxiously naïve in her self-righteousness and I haven’t quite figured out yet why she’s so protected given the military really shouldn’t put up with her tirades and speeches. Then again, she’s still doing her job and does nothing to change the way things are done other than make speeches so I guess she’s largely harmless in the grand scheme of things.
The 86 are the more interesting characters and the first three episodes give us some glimpses of their daily life and their battles but we’re still early days. What really isn’t clear is what the end game is for this story. The set-up seems to indicate the war will just end itself (a fact that seems as suspicious as the declaration that no humans are dying in the war) so if we’re not fighting to end the war and so far there is no sign of a rebellion or uprising it really makes you wonder where this story wants to take us.
While we’re playing with a lot of cliches, the story set-up is actually pretty interesting. The city with its homogenous looking people and clean and safe environment built at the expense of the lives of those essentially cast off and declared inhuman. While it is blunt and lacking in nuance, it does have a lot of parallels to situations in real life and I am curious as to what 86 intends to do with the set-up (hopefully something).
The action has also been pretty interesting. While the mechs haven’t been on screen a lot they are an interesting design and some of their movements have been pretty cool. Also nice to see a mecha anime that doesn’t feel the need to just make yet another humanoid robot swinging a sword around. Not that there’s anything wrong with that design, it’s just kind of been done to death at this point.
Sadly, Lena, the main character so far, has left little impression on me other than I’d like to give her a good slap. If you are that angry about how the 86 are treated then actually do something instead of just shouting at the occasional person for bad-mouthing them. The fact that she feels like she’s doing anything for them by chatting to them each night just kind of irritates me and I was actually really glad at the end of episode 3 when one of them gave her a good dose of reality.
However, outside of a dislike of Lena’s starting point (and she could grow as the series progresses), I didn’t find much to complain about in these opening episodes. There’s a nice balance of learning about the world, meeting the characters and some action and it keeps things interesting. It isn’t moving at a fast pace though so I’m curious as to how much it will get through in 11 episodes given in 3 it really hasn’t done much other than set-up.
I’m not as hooked on this one as some other shows I’ve tried but I was pretty invested as I watched the first three episodes and I am interested in the outcome. It is a definite watch from me once it finishes.
Images from: Eighty-Six. Dir T. Ishii. A-1 Pictures. 2021
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