The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Valkyria Chronicles: At the halfway point

At the midway point’s close, Squad 7 and Squad 1 are assigned to take down the Esen, a mobile fortress that has been bombarding Forsen. Previously, under Welkin’s command, Squad 7 has produced victory after victory, taking advantage of both Welkin’s capacity as a leader and the Edelweiss’ exceptional performance. Beginning with a successful capture at Randgriz, Welkin next is sent to assault the Kloden base. As thing wear on, it becomes clear that Alicia is developing feelings for Welkin, and Faldio is experiencing the same for Alicia.

  • I had begun watching Valkyria Chronicles after finishing The Pianist, and as such, felt an immediate sense of similarity between this war and the Second World War. The Bruhl town watch put up a valiant resistance against the Imperial Army, but suffer heavy casualties and do not make appearances beyond the second episode.

  • The Edelweiss was designed and constructed by Isara’s late father, Theimer, this tank’s 360-degree rotating turret, fully automated loading system and other innovations completely revolutionized tank technology. Built to be operated by two, Welkin mans the guns and issues commands to Isara who is in control of both the wheel and wireless radio.

  • Susie, Isara, Welkin and Alicia vow to return and liberate Bruhl after playing a pivotal role in securing the citizen’s evacuation.

  • Alicia expresses total disgust after learning that she will be in the same squad as Welkin.

  • Welkin’s seemingly carefree and absent-minded tendencies belie his unusual methodologies and capacity to adapt his degree towards military applications. Initially, Squad 7 does not believe Welkin to be capable, and Welkin wagers his position as commander on a risky operation.

  • Welkin quickly earns his squad’s respect following a successful gamble to retake Vasel bridge. After correctly predicting fog in their weather, he uses the Edelweiss to plow through the river and surprise the enemy elements on the opposite shore. While occupied with the Edelweiss, the remainder of Squad 7  quickly retake the bridge.

  • The amount of fanservice in Valkyria Chronicles is quite minimal and is only present in a few scenes.

  • A tsundere girl with twin-tails holding a small porcavian winged pig is reminiscent of how things rolled in CLANNAD.  Named Hans, he becomes an honorary member of Squad 7. Hans possesses impressive agility and jumping ability. He also appears to be intelligent enough to understand human words and emotions.

  • The Edelweiss is overpowered in the anime, effortlessly shrugging off all of the tank rounds fired at it and provides Squad 7 with a significant advantage on the battlefield.

Between Squad 7’s phenomenal performance and the gradual shift in attitudes towards Welkin’s capacity as a leader, Valkyria Chronicle‘s first half ends up being an enjoyable watch that showcases Welkin’s capacity as a leader and his growing relationship with Alicia. In between the combat, the series presents its story in a somewhat comedic manner, especially with regard to the episode surrounding Irene Ellet, a reporter, although it also makes an (albeit half-hearted) effort to explore how the current world came to be. The backstory behind the Valkyrur’s invasion and the Darcsen Calamity sound immensely interesting, although both elements are only explored to a minimal extent. I’ve dug around for other materials, but these points remain poorly explained, leaving major gaps in the history here and there. In other universes, the backstory usually is filled by novels and other tie-in materials: for instance, the Forerunners from Halo have an extensive amount of background, sufficient for consumers to explore how the Halo universe came about. The same cannot be said for the Valkyrur and the Darcsens; as viewers, we are simply forced to bear with it. Fortunately, the Valkyria Chronicles anime itself remains sufficiently self-contained, and while the lack of a proper presentation of the history might slow the anime down, there still remains the war between the Empire and Gallia, which is decidedly more polished in presentation by comparison.

  • The Darcsens are Europa’s oldest indigenous race, said to have lived across the continent since ancient times. Darcsens are subject to ethnic discrimination which stems from an historical fact that their ancestors repeatedly initiated war and scorched all of Europa.

  • Alicia’s fear of Welkin’s ‘true’ nature being exposed leads her to take extraordinary measures in disrupting Irene’s attempts to interview Welkin.

  • Valkyria Chronicles was released at around the same time as when Gundam 00 Season Two was wrapping up. Fans came in expecting a retelling of the story in anime form after it was announced, and since I do not have a PS3 or the game to base my experiences on, I’ve opted to approach the anime from purely open-minded perspective (I usually approach adaptations with a bit of bias if I previously know what’s going on, such as for the Harry Potter movies).

  • Selvaria Bles and Maximilian at one of the Valkyrur Ruins in the Barious Desert. For whatever reason, this post doesn’t feature them as frequently as Squad 7, so I’ll introduce them here (or rather, with the age of this anime, re-introduce). Maximillian is an an Imperial prince, second in line of succession to the Imperial throne, and absolute commander of the Empire’s occupation forces in Gallia. His strategies revolve around using massive force to crush the Gallian opposition, including super weapons such as huge land battleships and Selvaria’s Valkyrian abilities.

  • The incident involving the Imperial soldier in episode ten is a reminder that all soldiers in classical warfare are human, operating under orders and oftentimes, hesitant to execute their superior’s wishes. After being trapped by a blizzard, an Imperial soldier arrives and threatens them with a grenade, but eventually reveals that he joined the Imperial military with the hopes of having a better life. Despite this, he grew disillusioned and deserted, being shot in the process.

  • Ten episodes in, and it becomes clear that squad 7 is more or less a completely unified, competent group that has participated in enough successful operations to shame General Damon, one of the brass in the Gallian Army who attained his position via nepotism and as such, is completely incompetent. As such, as the war progresses, Squad 7 is increasingly treated like Bad Company and is deployed on suicide missions. Like Squad 7, they come out of each mission successful, much to Damon’s consternation.

  • By episode twelve in Gundam 00 Season Two, the Ptolemios crew has successfully tested the 00 Raiser and evades the Federation and A-Law’s efforts to capture them. In Valkyria Chronicles, the Gallian Princess is kidnapped during a ceremony honouring Welkin and Faldio’s successes, and Squad 7, with Faldio’s assistance, is sent to retrieve them.

  • Irene catches wind of princess’ kidnapping as a reminder that there are deeper and fouler forces at work behind all of the nobility and higher-ups. Where I live, the news is always discussing some sort of political scandal or another surrounding the federal government: I view this as merely a product of how transparent our system is, permitting even for the most (seemingly) minute of things to be disseminated to the public. A public sufficiently dissatisfied would probably vote in a new government here, but in monarchies and authoritarian states, this is not possible, and indeed, their governments tend to suppress a lot of information.

  • By now, any competent general would have realised that Squad 7 has the unique skill of getting a mission done properly without unnecessary casualties. They are deployed to take on the Essen, a massive mobile artillery unit commanded by General Gregor. Berthold Gregor is a 51-year-old Drei Stern general. The oldest general, Berthold is level-headed yet merciless, feared even amongst the Imperials for his brutality and lack of compassion even for his own troops. He is voiced by Chikao Outsuka, who had also played Aeolia Schenberg in Gundam 00.

  • Ramal is one of Faldio’s subordinates and appears to have a crush on Isara. The whole methodology surrounding the Imperial forces and their habit of wielding superweapons means that should these superweapons ever be compromised or destroyed, the wielders would sustain a significant loss of staff and resources. This is partially why I prefer for armed forces not to field superweapons, instead, depending on smaller innovations to common weapons and superior training in general to secure victory.

While Valkyria Chronicles is considered by more well-known anime critics to be lacking in a coherent story and believable characters, the anime itself is an adaptation of a game, and as such, presents the story from perhaps what might be considered one possible means of playing through the game. My opinions might change once I reach the end of the anime, but presently, I find a series that continues to keep things interesting through a combination of combat and character dynamics. In other words, I don’t see the lack of coherent story (yet, at this point). While the characters’ archetypes are nothing new (especially for those who’ve seen a lot of anime in general), from a personal standpoint, I maintain that it is not so much what a character is individually, but rather, how they interact with the other characters and their environment (not one or the other, but both). In Valkyria Chronicles, the environment is the unique point, providing analogues of 1930s hardware and weapons powered by ragnite (in place of oil). I find great interest in shows set in alternate worlds (Break Blade and Sora no Woto come to mind), so it should come as little surprise that Valkyria Chronicles has proven to be an enjoyable experience thus far, for its depiction of conflict in a world that is similar to, and yet different than our own.

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