Of every possible plot point the anime adaptation of Girls’ Frontline would cover, this was by far the one I held the least anticipation for.
I am always open to pleasant surprises. But the “Message” chapter of the original story has three main topics. For one, the introduction of some Squad 404 members, who play significant roles in future story events. We have, as we covered last week, M16A1 interacting with them and showcasing a tell of some longer history. Then reuniting with the rest of the AR Team. Intruder gumming up the area across the chapter plays second fiddle to both of these points.
By her own admission in every form of this story: Intruder’s job is to kill time.
If I was ranking every Ringleader class unit in the Sangvis Ferri arsenal, Intruder is at the bottom of my list. She made the least impression on me when playing the game story. Unlike other short lived Sangvis leadership like Scarecrow, she does not even have a character design which left a lasting impression. This is all somewhat understandable, as again her stated role is to waste hours.
She is vamping, not the star attraction.
Her personal story exists in a weird space between intermission and filler, as everything else is coming together.
The anime version of events placed all the Squad 404 material of this chapter in the previous episode. This means Intruder is tasked with shouldering the entire burden this week.
Which is… not the optimal role for her to be cast.
From the moment Intruder walks out upon the theatre stage in her introduction, she does not move from this spot until the moment she is shot to the floor.
It is a challenging situation to work around. Her projection of power through a large number of “fake” bases spewing signal data for Sangvis echelons which do not exist is, on paper, an interesting direction. While she has standard mass production grunt infantry at her disposal, more could have been done with falsifying armor units and such. Intruder is not supposed to be some kind of mastermind puppeteer, so it would be a careful balancing act. But the show has been at its weakest when the Griffin girls are fighting trash mobs. This would be one way around such a problem, at least for a one off episode gimmick.
The threat of a Manticore or two they can not seem to find leading up to the theatre confrontation could have set the stage more. Intruder is committed to not moving from her position. So M4A1 and the rest needing to strategize around the potential surprise of armor, which may or may not exist, outside the building could have been interesting.
The multiple gun turrets arranged within the theatre seating area is a fine enough trick in the moment. But the sequence could use an extra little kick for the group to consider. The turrets having distinct blind spots to exploit, a small victory followed by one more threat, then heading into the Intruder fight, would give her a stronger sendoff.
Intruder opening fire herself lasts less than sixty seconds. Which in itself is fine. She has a clear disregard of cover on her stage, while this is also the final stand of someone more or less destined to die here. She would not have minded taking out any others with her, of course. But a short fight should leave space for other things.
For all the scenery chewing she attempts throughout the episode, a few extra lines about the tragedy of it all would have felt appropriate.
In the original game script, she asks M4A1 if she would like to come over for tea. Something like a kettle and seating as stage dressing would feel right at home in any number of spots. Before, during, or even after the shootout. Each would have its own potential weights. A taunt. A consideration for what might have been. Or indeed a mere suggestion of another way to kill time, before getting chewed up in the shootout. The tea going hot or cold could pair well with the state of the record player she does use as a prop.
I am sure Intruder must have her fans. But because I never latched on to her appearances in the source material, I feel all the more compelled to consider what I would have wanted to see here.
Once again, Intruder has come and gone.
Stage crew for theatre productions was my primary extracurricular activity back in middle and high school. Intruder feels like a Ringleader who should have at least a novel presence in my mind.
But I just never think about her much. While her dedicated episode gives her a total spotlight, I doubt this will change.
As for non-Intruder related sequences: pairing SOPMOD II up with PPK for a night operation is far too perfect of a team-up for how little screen time they shared together.
One wants to dissect Sangvis eyeballs and whatnot all day. The other dreams of receiving such painful attention. We have yet to see SOPMOD II cutting loose to her full capabilities, and PPK has one of the most potent personalities of the common two star player units. SOPMOD II has a friend I am looking forward to seeing more. But I hope the show gives PPK a bit more time along the way.
Otherwise, M16A1 rejoining the rest of the Anti-Rain Team went about as expected. She gets to have her bright and self assured swagger about everything working out. M4A1 gets to slap her in the face for the worry and trouble. The slap is deployed much faster in the game, with near immediate impact. But M4A1 being quiet and upset to the side a bit while her big sister talks, then bringing out the hand, also works.
With this, the loose general story arc of getting everyone from the opening mission back together again is complete.
Congratulations, you made it.
The stage is set, and everything is in place for the story to start moving forwards.
Even Intruder is, in the end, happy about her role in all this.