I remember going into this anime, I mentioned how I was going into it with extremely low expectations in large part because the whole Military, Mecha genre wasn’t something that really appealed to me. However, 86 – Eighty Six didn’t really feel like an anime that focused heavily on those aspects and that’s something that ultimately worked in favour of the show.
Slated as a Action, Military, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mecha, this 11 episode anime, 86 – Eighty Six, is a very powerful anime. I personally thought that it would lean heavily on the mecha side, which is typically something that mecha/military anime tend to do but 86 – Eighty Six breaks that. Instead the anime focuses on the injustices, mistreatment of a country that has stripped its own citizens of their rights and forces them to fight a war to protect everyone else, everyone who is Alba. Sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it? I am sure there will be many comparisons between real world events and things within the anime. So I will not lingers on the various similarities and comparisons that can will be made. Instead I will focus on what I enjoyed about 86 – Eighty Six.
This anime is about Lena, a ‘handler’ who handles ‘processors’ (Individuals who are not Alba, herein known as “86”), who are fighting an endless war against the Legion. Although Lena is apart of the Republic of San Mongolia, she is probably the only one in the country who actually cares about the 86 and sees them as human and members of the state, even if everyone else does not.
Although Lena is one of the main characters of the anime, she doesn’t get a ton of screen time. This has to do with the fact that in terms of main characters, she’s the solid number two. While the surviving members of the Spearhead, Shin, Anju, Theoto, Kurena and Raiden are the ‘main characters’. Lena’s role throughout the story was one who constantly tried to connect with the people who her country deemed as ‘undesirable’. She always made a conscious effort to have her squad replenished with supply, and always had their backs during the tough moments. Lena also always made a conscious effort to know their names, in short, Lena wanted them to be treated as human and as individuals of the state and she did everything in her power to make that happen. That’s why I admire Lena a lot, she doesn’t fall her country’s policy on anyone non-alba. She loves are cares for them and that’s something deeply ingrained in her by her father who also cared deeply for the 86 and hated all the injustice committed against them.
A lot of the anime did cover that and everything surrounding Lena, however, it was only half of the series. The second half of the series, once only five remained. It focused on them and Lena then took a backseat and if I’m being completely honest, I think that was the best decision for the anime. The reason why I think it was the best decision of the anime was because it allowed us to build a connection with the remaining members of the Spearhead. We got to see how close each one of them were. The followed each other, fought with each other and died for each other. They supported one another during their lows, but were also there to celebrate and appreciate the highs. Something I loved about the latter episodes was once Shin and company walked into the 86th district. We as viewers got to experience a whole new side to our characters.
We saw their cold, battle-hardened hearts and beings void of emotion turn 180 degrees. When they entered the 86th district you could immediately tell that each one of them felt free. Shin and company long knew that their Squadron was meant to be an execution squad, where those who have survived the longest are sent to die on missions they couldn’t come back from. Seeing each one of them accept that fate and more importantly, seeing them experience a life in a place untouched by war. A place where it felt bright and vibrant. Re-experiencing or experiencing things that were stripped from them and their families a long time ago, was powerful. You couldn’t help but feel a swell of emotions see each one of them happy, enjoying that freedom, even though they knew that they were going to ultimately die. Watching Kurena experience school for the first and last time really hit hard.
86 – Eighty Six was a tale of two stories. The first being the will of one person (Lena) and her drive to fight against injustices committed against the 86. The other being, one of a unwavering friendship and keeping the faith even in the face of death. I’ve definitely developed a love and admiration for Shin, Anju, Theoto, Kurena and Raiden. The strength each one of them has shown, is something I love. They fought together, they lived together, they experienced peace and freedom together and they died together. The rollercoaster of emotions I’ve felt watching the last few episodes has been one wild one and I do not think any other anime can come close to replicating such a feeling.
86 – Eighty Six is definitely one of the best anime to air in the Spring 2021 season, heck, I think it’s one of the better anime to air this year. I highly recommend this one. A++