86 episode 6

Shin and Kaie in a peaceful flashback

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

If the more serious parts of 86 ever fail the series, it has a good fallback plan: just depend on Lena being adorable. The way she gradually loses it in the scene right before the closer, as she realizes that what she just innocently said to Shin could be interpreted a whole different way, is precious. (And kudos to the adaptation team for fully animating that. Most series wouldn’t bother.) Fortunately for her, Shin is too distracted by other things to notice.

Part of why Shin is that distracted is made clearer by the rest of the episode, which opens with an exceptionally grim and graphic flashback to a younger Shin finding his brother’s wrecked Juggernaut with its desiccated, headless corpse still inside. (Other corpses are laying around in the ruined library as well if you look closely.) The irony that a soldier who uses a headless skeleton as his insignia ends up headless himself is quite thick, but more importantly, that scene is the visual affirmation of what Shin described to Lena last episode: about how the Legion is harvesting the brains of dead 86s. That, combined with the much later scene of the older Shin hearing his brother’s voice, reinforces the implication from last episode that his brother is still active out there as a Black Sheep – or, more likely, a Shepherd. Lena’s scene at the end is either a welcome or distracting counterbalance, depending on point of view.

The rest of the episode in between shows how the series may actually spend the whole first cour just adapting the first novel, as most the episode’s contents are either completely anime-original or else dramatically fleshing out scenes that are only briefly referenced in the novel. Despite that, nothing feels the slightest but superfluous about any of it. The party scene reinforces that, while the 86s are all soldiers, they’re still just teens at heart and just as prone to goofing around in their downtime as any normal teens. The most welcome aspect of that scene for me was giving Kaie a bit more screen time; I found her to be mostly forgettable as a character when reading the novel, but the anime gives her a much stronger and more appealing presence. The scene also does not forget the underlying racism of the setting, as they talk about a Lena that they have not even conversed with yet via para-RAID. Interestingly, that conversation also seems to pointedly skewer the “white savior” trope.

The battle scene maintains the series’ high technical standards so far, while also introducing an unsettling element not seen in previous battles: the vaguely humanoid Legion which are basically suicide bombers. Two characters die in this battle, of which one – Daiya – is a loss at least as major as Kaie. His death is just casually mentioned in the novel, but he gets significantly more attention in this version, so showing his demise is more warranted and, given the romance between him and Anju, has more impact. Meanwhile, Lecca is, I think, getting named for the first time, but goes out on an equally dramatic note with a suicide shot before a Legion can claim her head. Both that and the scene where Daiya has to be finished off by Shin stack up the grimness of the 86s’ situation. No real help is to be found with Lena’s uncle or Annette, either, although the cat plushie Annette gives her as a birthday gift creates another interesting parallel; it’s stuffed in the Republic, while the 86s’ cat is a live one. Certainly that’s not coincidental.

Again, I could probably go on for a while about the richness of the little details and visual cues, such as the way the 86s looking at Theo’s sketch steadily increased, or the leaf that fell from the plant as Lena remembered the sound of Shin shooting Daiya, but I’ll let that go for now. The short version is that, even with a lot of anime-original content, the series shows no sign of dropping off anytime soon.

OTHER SERIES I’M FOLLOWING:

Higehiro episode 6 – Man, that was edgy, but also every bit as ugly as expected. I honestly wasn’t too surprised that the series came to that, partly because predators like that – who can sense when a girl is vulnerable and box them into “consenting” to sex – are all too real, and Sayu still practically radiates vulnerability. Kudos to Sayu’s support team for coming through in her defense, and to Asami in particular for not wavering after learning about Sayu’s secret. This is arguably the second-best series this season after 86.

How NOT To Summon a Demon Lord Omega ep 6 – Diablo shows up and pwns everything. Yawn.

Vivy – Flourite’s Eye Song ep 8 – Have the to give the series’ creators credit here; that was a twist that I did not see coming, though in retrospect it makes a certain amount of sense. Very curious to see how this plays out.

Zombie Land Saga Revenge episode 7 – Fun episode with Tae as the focus, but what consequences will that ending having?

One thought on “86 episode 6

  1. I am really surprised that in season that beside 86 has such great shows as Vivy, Odd Taxi (really recommended) and Megalobox 2: Nomad you decided to grant second place to show that in this very episode just totally mishandled the whole rape issue. Not only introducing rapist just to start making him sympathetic character – and through the words of his victim who’s now no longer “mad at him” at that would be poor decision in any case, but Higehiro even makes complete mess of the rapist supposed “better side”.
    The case for Yaguchi’s “weird” honesty is that he didn’t out Sayu, which makes her positively surprised. There are several problems with that:
    a) Even if we ignore that outing her at this point could harm him as well, and believe him it was his own moral code at work, not harming further someone you’ve already harmed is hardly good standard for goodness. The first episode had this speech about smoking outside and having standards to judge people, now the standard is at not committing even more evil?
    b) Sayu is surprised that he kept his word, but forgets that he also promised her to restrict his visit to talking, promise he almost immediately broke when they went inside? People who only keep promises when convenient aren’t usually considered “honest”.
    c) He even refuses to apologize for “asking her for sex”, claiming it was his right to ask, but he ignores – and no one calls him out on it – that he 1) only got to the situation when he could ask her for sex because he blackmailed her, 2) he asked for sex in situation where he already ignored her refusal to i) talk with him, ii) to let him in her home, iii) the fact that she already said she’ll let him in only to talk, not to have sex, before they even started talking, iv) once in her home, he forcefully demanded sex from her ignoring her repeated denials. And yet we are supposed to believe he didn’t realize she would have thought that obviously demand for sex was part of the blackmail as well? How dumb would he have to be to not realize she would feel cornered and forced to agree?
    d) We learn that he apparently only blackmailed her to have talk with her, and considered the “deal” done at that point, which is why he didn’t out her even though he didn’t get sex, but like I explained above she had no way to know that ambushing her on the road, blackmailing her to let him in, ignoring her wishes at every point is OK and breaking his promise not to assault her in his moral code but blackmailing her for sex is out. That makes him someone who blackmailed teenager into rape regardless what was in his heart of hearts, and yet for some reason show tries to points out that he didn’t treat sex as part of blackmail like it has any practical meaning.
    This is a bigger mess then Koikimo at that point, which had “only” a stalker redemption story, and the next episode doesn’t make it any better. If story about sexually abused teenager can’t refrains from whitewashing rapists, it’s pretty big failure.

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