Fortified with vitamin C-4.
As this is the season finale, in case anyone new is just dropping by: In a few days I will have a dedicated post for an overall Girls’ Frontline anime series reflection. [Edit: Girls’ Frontline, Anime After Action Review]
My single episode write-ups get quite long enough as it is. Trying to append an overview of the entire production to the tail end here would be overkill. Plus, having some additional distance rather than trying to rush and grind out two posts back to back makes for a more balanced use of my weekend. To say nothing of the hope for the final posts to still be enjoyable enough reading for folks.
For everyone else: we have this one final night.
Last week, I mentioned how the opening credits gave folks a rundown of various Sangvis Ferri Ringleaders. So they might have been wondering who could be next, such as a return of Agent. Alchemist was not in the introduction, so the effect of Squad Negev stumbling into her worked as it did in the source material. But there was always another character there in the intro the whole time.
I was wondering how the show was going to handle meeting the individual referred to as Mastermind.
The opening credits keep her by and large shrouded in shadow. It is quite similar to the art which often appears whenever she has a significant speaking role in the majority of the mobile game. Meanwhile, the anime has featured a lot of aggressive darkness and desaturated color grading. So heading into this episode, it was a real tossup in my head over what the show might do with it.
I find it interesting how we went in the complete opposite direction.
The scene of M4A1 first talking to Mastermind features the harsh and clinical laboratory lighting environment from the prior dream sequences with ST AR-15. So I am reminded of events like the first episode. All of the fiery infernos of the opening chapter with Agent in the original game swapped with deep darkness in the anime. In a sense, this scene is an interrogation sequence. Mastermind wants, above all else, to capture M4A1 and know who she is and why she was made. Which is not something M4A1 is in any way equipped to answer. She has no idea. ST AR-15 reminds Mastermind about telling her this was never going to work, as Mastermind has been utilizing the infected AR Team member as a communications bridge.
Do you remember a number of episodes back when I mentioned the show had kind of breezed over what concepts like “Level Two” and whatnot were? This is a situation where understanding android consciousness levels in this world comes into play.
M4A1 was, in the physical sense, knocked out cold on the floor the entire time the conversation was happening.
But she could still dream. And chat. And know this is not someone who she wants to talk with.
Elsewhere, the rest of Gentiane’s deployed units link up with Squad Negev.
I appreciated the little joke dialogue line of Micro Uzi celebrating having fresh ammo. Her running out of bullets the other week and asking her Dummies for more was a slight bit of amusement in an otherwise dire situation. And things were only going to get more desperate this time around.
Squad Negev and Gentiane’s forces being baited into an ambush during their retreat works to cover weaker aspects of the production in the same way the planetarium siege functioned. There are Sangvis Ferri units swarming from all sides, but nobody has to move all too much. The camera kept its attention on Negev and everyone else being pinned down. The show features a little bit of location damage, as the cover everyone is using is chipped away at. But I do feel a bit more scenery gore could have set the visual tone further, while still keeping the camera off the trash mobs.
At any rate, on the character front everyone is shown in various states of desperation. Nobody has a way out.
Even the player insert character Gentiane by her own admission has failed to account for the retreat going so sideways. Her having a clenched flashback to previous losses as M16A1 yells about folks being left to die is a reminder towards what is supposed to set Gentiane, or indeed you, apart.
I spent a lot of time the other week talking about Negev’s costume. As I figured we would see her again this week, this feels like a better time to mention her special character skill in the mobile game. Every time Negev reloads she gains a hefty damage buff. An extra fifty percent after every reload, stacking up to three times. Which, of course, stacks with all other damage buffs as well. Machine Guns are the only general unit type in Girls’ Frontline which have reload downtime. By and large, a Commander wants fights to be as fast as possible. Negev is an armory oddball, where her value comes into play only during prolonged slug-fests. Under those particular situations, brute force math means she can spit out monstrous damage. This is why she is always boasting to folks about being a specialist.
Between this episode and last, despite the sieges, we never got to see a visual representation of this skill come into play. Giving Negev even more screen time in these last two episodes would be a tall order given the main plot we have to cover. But it does mean her struggle to come up with a safe way out for her team is sold more as a confident captain desperate for good ideas. Which given the sensitive nature of trying to portray her at all, comes across as more considerate than her mind being clouded by bloodlust. In the English game client the name of Negev’s skill is Manic Blood.
But we do have cavalry.
Some folks might gripe at the idea of the other Commander characters Gentiane has met sending their own forces to relieve her position. Perhaps a bit too “Power of Friendship” for those who would consider themselves more above it all. But, Girls’ Frontline is at the end of the day a gacha game. Getting out of a tight story spot by others sending aid and reinforcements is common. I like when the player insert character in this type of anime adaptation is not some kind of all powerful master of reality.
Gentiane needed help. Kalina thought far enough ahead to ask for it. And Gentiane recognizes and thanks her for her efforts.
Plus, we may as well have something of a last hurrah parade for the characters we know. The Commanders are vocal about trying to, for sure this time, bring everyone home. This is about the only moment of celebratory mood left in time we have remaining.
Most of the back half of the episode is focused around ST AR-15.
For good reason, as those of us who figured what we would be ending the series on knew where we were going. And what everyone else would soon see.
SOPMOD II manages to link up with her buddy, only to be given some major responsibilities. The whereabouts of where M4A1 was hidden away. A data drive containing materials ST AR-15 uncovered during her independent spelunking in Sangvis Ferri databases. As well as what she wants to say to everyone. ST AR-15 has to head off on her own to… save everyone. The unstated nature of this worries SOPII. But she also has her new mission to tend to, retrieving the AR Team leader.
I am sure unloading numerous rounds into Alchemist’s head beforehand helped our most emotional one blow off some steam first. She has to focus now more than ever.
ST AR-15 meeting up with M16A1 on the way to her destination allows her to explain what SOPMOD II has in her possession. As well as to be more frank about what still remains on her own person: a detonator. She rigged a structure full of explosives. M16A1 smacking her in the face leads to the most joyous noises to ever leave ST AR-15’s mouth in the entire series. But she is, in the end, allowed to continue to head towards her goal. The AR Team possesses more complex neural clouds, with all this entails. M16A1 does allow her colleague and friend to make her choice.
Lending more of our ever dwindling clock to these goodbye sequences is far more important to me than seeing a long elaborate fight sequence with Alchemist.
As ST AR-15 confronts the one called Mastermind, the opening credits music begins. As a directorial decision, I like the use of tying the end of the song to where our aspiring building bomber is about to press the button. Only to have her hand sliced off by the walking corpse of Alchemist which SOPMOD II pumped so many shots into earlier.
Which, allow me to go back to the idea of characters and their original game mechanics. Alchemist is indeed notorious for having something of an immortality streak. The mobile game has gone on long enough for the popular designs of Sangvis Ferri Ringleaders to become recruitable characters in their own right. Alchemist’s tendency to not die makes her quite a popular friend support unit.
Here, ST AR-15 does not appreciate this character skill quirk.
Time dilation kicks in to allow ST AR-15 her final internal monologue about what she wanted out of life. The helicopters to retrieve the Griffin units from the field are here, but a recovered M4A1 runs back towards the one they are leaving behind. SOPMOD II and M16A1 follow. The sun is coming up, as we complete the day from the previous episode. ST AR-15 is pumped full of holes as she scrambles for the detonator.
ST AR-15 had her lone walk at the end of episode ten. There was a focus on her left eye staring out towards the sun as she reached out ahead of her.
Here, the focus is on the other eye. She reaches again. ST AR-15 grabs her future.
I like the symmetry.
Our final bit of Griffin and Kryuger dialogue is M16A1 radioing back to Gentiane about all units having left the combat zone. One casualty. The Commander replies the mission will be considered complete upon their return. We never see Gentiane’s full face.
The last we see of Gentiane is her back, as she processes events and stares before the now empty strategic map.
As it became ever more clear to me the series was going to end on the “Comet” chapter, and thus the plot point of ST AR-15 blowing up a building, I was looking forward to seeing how the show would handle deploying such a “downer” finale.
Even the extra scenes squeezed in during our last credits have a go at twisting the knife. Gentiane’s other androids are outside around the base, sharing stories and all in all having a nice time. The remaining members of the AR Team have secluded themselves, sat down at a base cafeteria table with an empty chair.
We have seen the team in this kind of setting twice before. Once going back to Gentiane reviewing training tapes and stumbling into a coffee break amongst friends. Later, with the reunited AR Team catching up before departing for the secret Griffin base conference. So as a Rule of Threes bit, the dramatic change in tone for this gathering works.
It is the last we see of the AR Team we have followed for so much of this season.
Elsewhere, Kryuger is having an office discussion with someone.
The panning shot is careful not to reveal their face, and I have tried to not give out story points before the show does. But I feel comfortable enough telling you this is RO635.
I enjoy RO’s character arc a lot in the mobile game. As a credits teaser character, she works well for someone like me. It was nice to see even a hint of her. We are in fact so close and just shy of the point where she first shows up in the story. I hope we get to see her adventures animated.
I am writing this the weekend of the season finale. As these week by week write-ups act as something of a time capsule: As of this writing, there is no confirmation of any additional Girls’ Frontline anime.
The mobile game has its anniversary for its original launch each May. If any anime seasons, movies, or home video specials were to be announced, this would seem like when it would happen.
If not, the final words in the entire show come from the Sangvis Ferri side of the field.
Agent meeting with Mastermind, each only having lost Dummies. While the ST AR-15 detonation situation is regrettable to them, Agent has a suitable replacement. A different Griffin android has been infected with the Parapluie program, as well as the interference module system.
She recommends waiting a while before activation.
ST AR-15’s heroic personal monologue had her reflecting on her actions being worth it, even if it only bought seconds.
So a lingering question for the anime-only viewers is: how many seconds did she buy?