For episode two, we can present for you: another episode one.
I mentioned as much last time, but: a big purpose of “Chapter Zero” in the original Girls’ Frontline mobile game is to show the AR Team in action and working together, before they peel off so M4A1 can retreat. The human player Commander has no role in those events. But your first day on the job is around the same time.
Gentiane, who arrived at Griffin & Kryuger right at the end of the last episode, is our lady commander stand-in.
When the game first launched, the Commander was left as vague as possible. In the chapters since, the Commander now has dialogue. In addition, players have the option to make a dress-up chibi style custom character who can be self identified with “♀”, “♂”, or even an open declaration of “???”
The mobile phone strategy game with anime android gun ladies has at least some better gender identity options than most AAA video games. Which is a low bar, yes. Yet the industry continues to trip over it year after year.
Regardless, this brings us to who Gentiane is introduced to: Kalina.
In the game story, she serves as a more chipper and laid-back optimist compared to other Griffin personnel. When the Commander did not have dialogue, her role was also to be reflecting out loud on whatever it was your (at the time) silent protagonist was “supposed” to have said. Also: she runs the real cash money shop. She wants you to buy gems. She wants you to spend gems. She is always on screen within the shop, with a Live2D avatar and voiced lines often talking about money.
I appreciate how there were zero jokes about gems in this episode.
I would bet gems on there being a gem (or other money spending) joke down the line. It would be fitting and appropriate. For the time being though, I welcome the restraint. Kalina is portrayed as a competent adjutant getting to know the new Commander she has just met. Kalina’s one real joke is the pleasant remark about how Gentiane’s schedule includes a combat mission within the hour, when all Gentiane wants after arriving at base is a nap.
If Gentiane feels rushed, I also have to agree with her. This episode has the unfortunate mission of setting up:
– Our audience stand-in,
– Time for her to meet her starter team,
– A tutorial style mission so she is is not fighting a Sangvis Ferri boss on her first battle,
– A few additional Griffin personnel and android characters,
– Ingram getting away from Scarecrow,
– The boss fight with Scarecrow,
– Setting up Executioner receiving the decoded coordinates for M4A1,
Among other things. There was a quick bit with Persicaria listening in on the mission briefing before the Scarecrow battle commenced, as she sits in a dark room and says nothing. You remember the lady with cat ears and a lab coat from the first episode, of course.
Heck, consider the scene where in Gentiane’s first mission, her units need to deploy their dummies. The way this works in the game world setting is the “main” unit can control several additional androids within the same model series. Having the core units armed and ready on a helicopter, with the dummies stored in suitcases in the cargo hold? So far so good. Unpacking them in the field? Sure. But the act of getting the dummies armed and dressed is shaved down in such a way to look like Science Fiction Nanotech Magic. We are scrimping for literal seconds in places this week.
Given the order of events as presented in the game, I had kind of expected this. We had to give some time to characterize Gentiane at least a little in ways the game could kind of hand-wave at this stage before. But it is a lot of stuff to cram into a single episode. In another show, each half would have been its own episode. But we used episode one on the Chapter Zero material. Three episodes of tutorial reenactment would itself be a tall order. So this may have been a necessary evil to dodge one bullet for another, depending on what point in the story it wants to end the season on.
The conflict continues to advance and evolve in the game, after all. Adaptations of Fate Grand/Order can break off each of the distinct arcs, as they are all self-encapsulated worlds and points in time. This would not work here. I also do not expect us to cover “everything,” whatever such a thing would mean in a still updating live service game.
Without getting too far ahead of myself, or into spoilers for anyone watching the show without knowledge of the game: take a look at the opening again. You will see a clear shot of M16A1 without an eyepatch, which transitions to reflect how she looks in the present, and she turns to confront a series of red tubes. I assume the series is hinting to cover the subjects of the past (how she gained the eyepatch), the future (those red tubes), and everything this entails. This would place us… well, around Chapter 10 to Chapter 10.5 Which may not sound too bad on the surface. If each chapter was an episode, plus the Chapter Zero bit we did last week, then we are on track considering a twelve episode series or so.
Except: there are multiple major story events along the way. Arctic Warfare (Chapter 7.5), Operation Cube (Chapter 3.5), Operation Cube Plus (Chapter 7.75), and Deep Dive (Chapter 8.5), before we could consider attempting the events of 10.5.
This is not “oh, I want you to have the full experience with all these Easter egg references!” player nitpicking type stuff. The story in the game is a continuing conflict. The story and war has serious dependencies on these major events.
So wherever we are going to stop, I hope the series can take a moment to breathe. After the “mission in progress gone sideways” first episode and the “what feels like a two-parter jammed into one suitcase” episode this week, it has been a lot for anyone to take in. It moves, to be sure. But a lot of folks will want something more to hang on to than raw momentum alone.
As of this writing, I live in New Jersey. We have Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, the tallest (and second fastest) roller coaster in the world. And has been, for over fifteen years. But your personal favorite coasters have buildup time too though, if you follow my meaning? There is an ebb and flow to the ones I imagine stick with you.
If we are going all the way to 10.5, I do not think we can do such a thing in any comfortable way in twelve episodes. So I hope my thought about Asahi Production being selected because they would be in a position to make additional material is correct.
The old twelve episode season, have a season away, then finish with airing another twelve episode season or so playbook. Or so I can hope.
I always feel kind of bad for Scarecrow.
She has a sharp design: a backless tailcoat tuxedo type dress paired with a dual respirator gas mask. Both of those in conjunction with twintail hair and Mobile Suit Gundam flying funnel weapons commanded with a conductor’s wand.
She is the first boss players get to give a real defeat on their own terms with their own teams. And unlike some other Ringleaders, this is about the extent of her story role.
Scarecrow walks onto the battlefield around the 17:00 minute mark.
She is shot to the ground around 19:30.
Her suicide bomb blows up by 22:00 minutes
While I needed multiple attempts to win against her back in the day, a modern fresh Commander with new starting player rewards would stomp her forces about as fast. So I… suppose it could be considered somewhat accurate, in a way? But I digress.
I would have liked to have seen Scarecrow commanding her units on the field, rather than walking out to fight only after they were wiped out. It would have given her a bit more screen time. A beat for the Griffin forces to have a “We eliminated her entire escort, but she is still pushing us back!” reaction would still feel organic in the heat of the moment.
As far as adapting the shot of a defeated Scarecrow being laid out on the ground: The anime version sure was torn up far harder, while even sidestepping the tummy tears on her dress in the original shot. Without even accounting for the preceding shot in particular of Ingram eviscerating Scarecrow’s arm apart in multiple places.
Which to go back to the matter of just how fast this episode moves: Ingram getting revenge on Scarecrow should feel quite a fair bit more earned here. Ingram was on screen and torn up even worse than Scarecrow is in the screenshots above. But it was all of a few minutes prior from our perspective, so it feels like she was never in for repairs for long. Again, it feels like this is something which would have worked in a two parter, but we lack the luxury.
Scarecrow’s signature gasmask flying apart and away in the commotion gives a bit more emphasis for the one other significant thing Scarecrow is known for. Her stalling for time by chatting with Griffin about humans who hide in their bases, and prefer to talk over monitors and dummy dolls. It should be recalled how even though Gentiane took the noted to be unusual step of interviewing her androids before her starting mission, this was also done over video. While Scarecrow was not talking about this in particular and rather human conduct at large, it stands out for the adaptation.
Scarecrow is still humanized a bit before her detonation, as her voice glitches and shorts out, even while she taunts Gentiane at the risks of battlefield emotion.
Her “Welcome to the frontline, fräulein” final zinger wordplay does feel better than the original game script allowed for. As a reminder, we did not have Commanders With Gender at the time.
A lot of good and dreadful action movies alike would kill for a character with only about five minutes of screen-time to snipe such a line before bowing out.