A (human) index that likes to code
Also drinks way too much coffee
Published Nov 01, 2021
I am not a huge fan of mecha anime, yet I found 86 quite enjoyable. Recently, I had a debate with a friend about why the mecha genre is usually overhyped and underwhelming to say the least.
He is a mecha fanatic, having his entire MyAnimeList profile half-filled to the brim with nothing but mecha anime. Needless to say, someone of this background would naturally defend the genre that defined both his childhood, and his interests in real life. In my defence, I stated the mecha anime’s only selling point is the fact that there are giant robots fighting one another; it is like ordering Frappuccinos in Starbucks - ordering a mostly non-caffeinated drink in a shop well-known for selling coffee.
Caramel Frappuccino | Source: Starbucks
I visit a coffee shop to obtain caffeine, typically in the form of coffee. Hence, it is definitely surprising to me that someone would still buy Starbucks that is not coffee; it’s like using mecha to cover up all the parts that make anime great: the ability to tell impossible stories, bring forth emotions that can’t be portrayed by flesh-and-blood actors, etc.
The mecha genre has such a large reach that most people watch anime from this genre for the sake of looking at the robotic parts - when it boils down to it, the story is just another typical shounen, lacking the substance that highlights the benefits of anime.
For every trend, there exist exceptions. 86 is that one rare anime that I can truly respect as an entry befitting anime, as it tells a story otherwise impossible to do with actors. 86 depicts a country with twisted policies that lasted for an entire generation, allowing the plot to hide ugly truths, and pass even the most blatant of lies as absolute.
One of the robots used in 86, alongside the pilot | Source: CVPhased from MechaCatalogue
Take for instance in 86: by policy, humans who are not Albinos are considered livestock, despite being the same species as anyone else. The separation leads to growing tensions between the two parties, and what makes it worse is that the humans considered livestock have to fight to defend the very same country that forsaken them; all these while the Albinos live privileged lives peacefully in the capital. This draws a parallel to some issues in our real world too, particularly in the form of racism in various countries - I’m sure you can figure out where and how it is similar on your own.
I have a soft spot for particular characteristics when it comes to anime characters; thankfully, they have illustrated this trait so beloved to me well.
Main Character | Source: Looper
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then it’s fine; I’m not too biased to it or anything, although I can already hear a particular acquaintance & mecha fanatic of mine screaming baloney.
Due to certain parts of the anime requiring very precise audio & visual synchronisation, furthermore conveying a certain sense of dread, the anime have to had execute audiovisuals well to receive a high score - thankfully, it met my expectations. While it was not the most beautiful art I’ve seen in anime, it gets the job done.
You better believe that there were tons of this, characteristic of the first season of any series. The main character experiencing growth would be Vladilena (the MC), although you would also see relationship building (and destroying) that gets one emotionally attached to the characters.
Depsite 86’s setting that confines the world to a military theatre and a capital of a country, the plot allows greater world building beyond what it should have had access to. Furthermore, after the ending of Season 1, I speculate that the world will open up a lot more for plot reasons. World Building is definitely not its strongest suit, albeit it has no requirement for excellence in this regard.
86 is a mecha anime that also have the substance; it can exist independently from the mecha genre and still be enjoyable to watch. If you are into combat that is 8:1, main character struggles against making friends from an ostracized group, and an immediate heartbreak at the end of the series, I encourage you to give 86 a shot.