86 has had a bit of a rocky history. Its first cour and or season, but for the sake of the common opinion, cour was delayed. Its second cour then got delayed and marketed as another season. And then individual episodes within that got delayed weeks and months at a time.
If it were any other anime, I would say that the rough release schedule and the fact that it took almost a year to air the whole thing would have been a death sentence. But despite all these trials and tribulations, 86 came out on top as an amazing series that stood firm, fought through the hardships, never sacrificed quality once, and made an adaptation that not only did justice to the great light novels but elevated them even higher.
Yes, 86 had a rocky road, but it shows that as long as a series has passion, care, and the time to reach its full potential, no amount of delays, no matter how poorly timed, will be a death sentence at all. It will have fans eagerly awaiting those months on end to see the next beautiful episode.
I, for one, loved the series. I make no attempt to hide that. I wrote about a smile. I wrote episode reviews for the second cour. Hell, I think 86 has 14 (15 with this) posts total on the site, which I believe is more than any other anime. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Yeah, I also went back and read all the light novels. I love 86, ok? I love it a lot.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what to say in this review of the second cour. I always do full reviews for all the series I do for episode reviews, but I feel I’ve said pretty much everything I’ve wanted to about 86. But I’ll figure something else out since I’m always down to talk about this series.
I’ve mentioned it before, but the first 11 episodes of 86 are perfect as their own thing. It adapts just the first volume of the light novel, focuses solely on the Republic and all of that stuff, and doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s the perfect concise beginning for the story, and it would have worked just fine if it never continued.
That means that continuing something like that can be kind of rough. Not only do you have to keep with the themes presented at the start, but you also need to find a logical way to push the narrative forward, which is even harder when there’s a fitting enough end already.
Where do you take a self-contained story of soldiers sent on a suicide mission after their service is over? Where do they go from there, and how do they react? There are a lot of ways it could have been taken, but the next story arc starts what I believe to be the real meat of 86
Yes, it’s about racism and discrimination, and while that’s always present and still relevant nine volumes into the story, the much bigger plot point becomes the mental state of these soldiers. How do they live in a world that doesn’t want them? How do they live when they’ve never desired anything? What will they do when they leave the battlefield for good?
It becomes about soldiers who try to live when all they’ve ever known is fighting. The entire first bit of this second story arc is Shin and the gang living peacefully, but because they don’t know anything else, they gravitate right back to the battle, this time of their own free will.
I was talking to a coworker who doesn’t like 86 and stopped it early on because he thought the racism part was too forced and done poorly. While I disagree, I told him about where the story goes afterward, and he said that it sounded way more interesting, which I completely agree with.
I also think the later arcs are better than the first, despite still enjoying it, but I largely think that’s because of the setting in the first arc. I wouldn’t care so much about these soldiers and their struggles had I not known what went on in the Republic.
I don’t talk bad about 86 much because there’s not much bad to say, in my opinion, but I will say that mentioning the oppression done in the Republic nine books into the series feels a bit like it’s time to move on, so I understand why that part may get stale.
But you then have to ask yourself if the characters would ever truly be able to move on from that, and the answer is no, they’ve been through far more than any human, let alone a child, should. That type of pain doesn’t just get wiped away.
I also mentioned this before in my original review of the series, but 86 doesn’t really do anything unique. That’s something my coworker brought up. Everything it does has been done before and better at that.
I don’t know if I’d say everything was done better, but I largely agree. Still, 86 is a combination of a bunch of different moving parts that are all done really, really well to create a very thrilling ride.
It has amazing action, awesome mech battles, amazing character development, a fascinating story, and a beautiful, honestly wholesome romance. It’s even got politics. It does a bit of everything, and all of it is handled well enough that it manages to stand on its own.
And then you give it a beautiful adaptation with some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in an anime in a bit, and you have the powerhouse that was 86. One of the big 2021 anime of the year contenders if Mushoku Tensei and Ranking of Kings didn’t exist.
I really hope we get another season. I just hope that it’s handled with the same care by the exact same staff. If the stars align, sure, give me more. I’d love that.
Thank you very much for reading
I can do without the delays, though.