Original Run: October 3, 2021 - December 26, 2021 *(TBD)* Number of Episodes: 10 *(12)* Genre: Action, Drama, Mecha, Military, Science Fiction Based on the Series Created By: Asato Asato
*(Since December 23, 2021, episodes 11 and 12 have been delayed. Anime Hajime will feature these two episodes in their own Impressions post upon their release.)*
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for 86 Part 2. Reader discretion is advised.***
The remaining members of the elite 86 squad, Spearhead, made a break for freedom. They are no longer second-class citizens and cannon fodder for the Republic of San Magnolia.
However, the world they entered is unknown territory filled with dangers.
Shinei “Shin” Nouzen (voiced by Shouya Chiba) leads his team into the wilderness, but they soon run into catastrophe; in an instant, the group finds themselves decimated and on the verge of death. Sadly, their fate remains unknown back in San Magnolia, and the once commander of Spearhead, Vladilena Milizé (voiced by Ikumi Hasegawa), can only hope for their safety.
Fortunately, Shin and his comrades survive the wilderness and end up in the Federal Republic of Giad. At last, these belittled and enslaved warriors have a chance to put their days of combat behind them. But since war is all they have ever known, the call of the battlefield is impossible to ignore.
Perhaps I am misreading the room, but it feels as though 86 has been one of those shows that has stayed well under the radar. I say that because, compared to some of the other anime that came in 2021 (Attack on Titan, Tokyo Revengers, Komi Can’t Communicate), this one hasn’t been making as big a splash. However, as anyone who has seen it will tell you, this isn’t a series people should ignore.
86 Part 1 was outstanding, and 86 Part 2, the focus of this review, was bit its equal. Which reminds me:
As of this review going live, 86 Part 2 hasn’t finished.
For reasons I am unaware of, the final two episodes have experienced a delay. Fans who watched the series as it aired have been waiting since the end of December 2021 and will need to continue doing so until March 2022.
Since 86 is a strong contender to take home ranks during the 4th Annual Anime Hajime Highlights (February 2022), we have decided to cover Part 2 as is. Episodes eleven and twelve will be the focus of their own Anime Hajime Impressions post when they ultimately air.
Therefore, wherever this review may fall – which will be a recommendation – the conclusion will remain tentative until the last two episodes come out. After all, I have seen plenty of otherwise brilliant shows crash and burn right at the end. Fortunately, I am confident 86 will not suffer the same fate.
As for the actual reviewing part of this review, Part 2 was less action-based than its predecessor, preferring to emphasize the growth and development of its characters. And given how many powerful character-centered moments there were in Part 1, that is saying quite a lot.
Now, if you go into this season thinking you will need to keep track of two storylines occurring simultaneously, let me tell you, that is not a concern. Whether that is a good thing, though, will depend on which of the two protagonists you find more appealing, Vladilena Milizé or Shin Nouzen.
If your answer is Vladilena, don’t worry, she does have a role to play in Part 2. Except, this season is, unquestionably, Shin and his comrades’ story. And let the record show, I thought this path made the most sense for the larger narrative.
Unlike Part 1, where the members of Spearhead experienced blatant racism and inhuman treatment from the ruling Albaians, Part 2 had our leads go through a different form of discrimination.
First off, although the Federal Republic of Giad legally considered Shin and his friends, which was a step up, many in the Giadian government and military saw them as, at best, expendable. At worst, there were those who considered the 86 to be monsters who only knew how to fight and kill.
Additionally, among those who were genuinely trying to look out for Shin and his friends’ best interest, their attitude was often stifling for other reasons. The series said it best, and I’m paraphrasing:
Spearhead escaped a prison of hate only to end up in a cage of pity.
Ignoring this series’ stellar animation, beautiful music, and kick-ass action, 86’s strength has been its characters. When you stop to think how much they have had to go through to get as far as they have, it’s nothing short of amazing.
Theirs is a story you want to see finished. And that really is it, isn’t it?
It was a real blow when I realized Part 2 didn’t yet have its conclusion. It was then an even more devastating realization that where this season paused was at the cusps of what might be a genuinely excellent climax. I don’t know if the show will set itself up for a part three, but with everything that has happened so far, it would appear this series has plenty of life still in it.
Looking back on Part 1’s review, seriously? Star-dates? That was the best I could think to talk about as a negative for this series? That is nitpicking if I have ever seen it. Still, that does go to illustrate how solid the first season was.
With that in mind, I want to remind you; I am saying that Part 2 was as terrific as its predecessor. Be that as it may, my god, it could be slow.
Okay, maybe “slow” isn’t the fairest word I could have used. I should have gone with “repetitive,” which actually sounds way worse.
The point I am trying to get at is, this series has firmly established Shin as a very brooding character; he does have plenty to think about. That wasn’t too bad a problem. What got incredibly old, though, was how every other character kept thinking he would be any different.
I lost track of how many times people confronted Shin over his tendency to carry all the weight of war on his shoulders. While the sentiment was a commendable one, Shin has given zero indication that he will stop doing it. Getting mad at him over and over again is not addressing the issue.
How many scenes in this season involved someone confronting Shin that he needs to let other people look out for him and that he doesn’t have to be the one to do everything? Part 2 rehashed this same conversation so many times it is at risk of losing the power it once had.
But I suppose we will see how this series brings it all to a close soon enough.
Of all the stellar shows to come out of 2021, and there has been a fair bit, I would encourage you not to let this one slip on by; it is quite fantastic.
Along with boasting the same quality of animation and action as its predecessor, this sequel continued an already impossible-to-put-down story. Thus, the time between this review’s release on the conclusion airing will be long.
86 Part 2 has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise 86 Part 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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