Out of the Spring 2021 lineup, I can only think of one series that auto got a green light for a season 2. A super popular light novel turns manga and anime adaption Eighty-Six. So watching the 11 episode season of the drone/ war series where no ‘humans’ die, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it, actually dropping the series off for a little bit after episode three. But none the less I found myself with free time so I sat down and decide to go ahead and knock out what I had left of the show and honestly, it impressed the hell out of me.
Eighty-Six takes place in a classic dystopian future. Though propagandized as unmanned drones, the Juggernauts of the Republic fight a war against the Legion of the Empire, a war where no humans die. A fact that we discover only to be true in law, not actuality. Eighty-Six is a label slapped on anyone in the Republic that Is not Celena, an act that stripped millions of people of their rights as a human. Exiled, it is up to these 86 to take control of their own life the only way they can, piloting the ‘unmanned drones in order to die on the battlefield.
Not everyone within the government or military is okay with this affront genocidal attack however. Enter Major Vladilena Milizé, a handler and one of the youngest officers in history, she sees the 86 as humans and is hell-bent on making those within the country do the same. Being a handler, it is her job to contact 86 squadrons on the battlefield using Para-RAID, a long-distance communication system. Once connected she leads the squadrons with one goal in mind, no one dies.
It doesn’t really work out for her though.
A brilliant leader she is tasked to take over Spearhead Squadron, a group of veteran 86 lead by Shinei Nouzen, aka Undertaker. Upon agreeing to the task, however, Lena is quickly informed that Spearhead Squadron, specifically under the command of Undertaker is known for going from handler to handler, giving them a bit of a cursed squad reputation. A fact she quickly ignores, growing quite fond of Shinei and the other members as she does all in her power to make sure every last one of them lives as long as they can.
So the first issue I had with watching 86 back when I was keeping tabs on it weekly was its kinda cringe, Lena specifically. Every time she was on screen or fighting with her brass or calling to check in on Spearhead everything she said was just awkward. She would get flustered, say silly shit, and anytime she was trying to convince Spearhead that she sees them as human it came off a bit high and mighty, something she gets called out for.
To my pleasure, this is something that falls off quickly as she and the rest of the squadron become more intimate, more so with Shinei than anyone else. One thing that really picked up that I wasn’t expecting is how dark the world of 86 actually is. In the start we know there is a war, we learn that people are dying, but around episode 6 the weight of that is really felt, and it only gets heavier. This is helped by the fact we learn more about the war, the legion, and how they work, and ultimately, this whole war will end in 2 years things are far from the truth and the Republic is in a lot more danger than they even realize.
86 was a nice addition to a generally weak war tag that hasn’t had any new shows as of late. Added with it already will get a season 2 it is a series I have found myself quite invested in, the last three episodes at moments had me in tears and the closing scenes were something I never saw coming.
As of right now, I haven’t decided If I am going to just wait for season 2 or pick up the light novel in my free time. I find myself extremely curious how true this show is to the source and where it can go from here because from what I have seen so far, I’m very into it. If you are in the market for a classic sorta mech/ genocidal take or just wanting a new refreshing military tagged anime 86 was a touching, entertaining, and downright dark series that had the soundtrack to go with it.
As always, thanks for the read!