How would you rate episode 7 of
I’m not familiar with the light novel version of 86 beyond its reputation: a gripping story with heavy themes by an author obsessed with garter belts. So while I can’t make any comparisons based on the process of adaptation, I can comment on the result. Episode 7 is an impressive example of non-linear storytelling, mixing up the effect with the cause. It’s not the first time 86 has told its story out of order, but this episode was particularly strong, with fireworks and the delicate sounds of a piano binding it all together.
Lena is already at her breaking point, being lambasted by Kurena and only being able to offer symbolic assistance. After the Legion reveal, both the audience and Lena herself were probably thinking that there’ll be no further surprises, but now we’re hit with another one: Spearhead Squadron are a Suicide Squad™. But perhaps what’s more surprising is not that these people are never going to get reinforcements or help, but instead that they all have compelling reasons not to rebel. Like Lena herself, I feel it’s natural to ask, “Why don’t you just turn around and destroy San Magnolia?” But no matter how bitter they might be, they still have a motivation to continue to protect it and rise above the torment.
Not that that does anything to calm the audience though, and I feel Lena will have a similar reaction. I’m still waiting for her to turn up on the battlefield with a big gun, ready to take on their fiercest enemy. Speaking of, it does seem like the show is distracted from the Legion itself and it’s hard to know where we’re actually going. Is it freedom for the 86? Is it destruction of the Legion? We meet Big Brother mech in the post-credits sequence, but after all we’ve heard about the Albans, it’s hard to think of the Legion as the true enemy right now. Thankfully I have trust in 86‘s writing and directorial talent to be able to help us refocus on the emotional weight behind taking down Shin’s robot brother.
As always, 86 is still an incredibly well-directed show, this time being the responsibility of Tomohiko Ito. He and series director Toshimasa Ishii actually share a mutual connection with the legendary Mamoru Hosoda: both of them have served as his assistant director before making their directorial debut. Ito worked on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, while Ishii worked on Mirai. There’s no better endorsement of their skills.
One of the most impressive parts of Ito’s Episode 7 is the way in which he uses the fireworks throughout the episode. They signify several different things: Hope, destruction, and kindness. The hope for the war to be over, the destruction that it takes to get there, and the kindness of Lena towards Spearhead Squadron. The episode is constantly reminding us of these connections, binding together the battles with the fireworks themselves, and finally giving both Lena and Spearhead a view that they can share together. As a result, whenever I now think back on the episode, I’m thinking about those fireworks and all the pain and hope they represent.
God, I love anime. See you next week!
86 is currently streaming on
Callum is the host and creator of the YouTube channel The Canipa Effect where he explores topics within the anime industry. He also serves as Video Editor at OTAQUEST, discussing the art and creation of Japanese pop culture. You can also find him talking nonsense on Twitter.