After taking down the mobile artillery unit, Essen, Rosie’s past (and her prejudice against the Darcsens) is explored in greater detail. The love triangle between Alicia, Faldio and Welkin deepens, but these internal conflicts are sidelined after the Gallian militia recieve orders to take down an Imperial beachhead at the Mulberry Coast. Squad 7 succeeds, but loses Isara in the process. The Imperial military reacts to this loss by staging a large-scale assault, but Squad 7 is reregulated to a support role. Despite initial successes, Selvaria arrives and manages to repel the entire Gallian army, completely annihilating Faldio’s squad in the process, leaving him as the survivor. Out of desparation, he shoots Alicia, allowing her Valkyrur powers to awaken. She subsequently forces the Imperial forces to retreat and is transferred into the Gallian army. With a Valkyrur on their side, General Damon arrogantly forces the army towards Ghirlandio, where Sylveria is waiting. Alicia engages in a fierce duel with her and comes out on top, returning to Randgriz and stopping Marmotah, alongside Squad 7. This battle ends the war, with Welkin and Alicia return to Bruhl, promising to live and honor the memories of those that died in the war.
- Now that it’s a comfortable 15°C, it’s time I got serious about posting again. I reopen the discussion with the second half of the season, which takes place in the midst of the assault on Essen to liberate Fourzen. The mission completes two of its three objectives, liberating the town and taking down the Essen, but not before General Gregor fires upon the escaping Darcsen prisoners. The mission begins to reveal another side to Rosie, whose initial prejudice against Darcsens conflicts with her experiences during the course of the war.
- The opening unwittingly gives away the fact that Alicia has Valkyrur blood, but those familiar with the game will likely be well aware of this fact.
- There are too many characters for me to realistically name, even in squad 7 alone. I haven’t included any images here, but one of the strengths in the second season is the character development behind Rosie’s story and how she came to dislike the Darcsens, as well as how Isara’s determination to reach her eventually succeed.
- Zaka is a 33-year-old local leader of the Darcsens and was held in an Imperial work camp, where he and his people were forced to work in the dangerous ragnite mines and factories under brutal conditions imposed by Berthold Gregor. He proves instrumental in helping Squad 7 in the Fouzen raid as an inside contact. He replaces Isara after the latter’s death and handles operating and maintaining the Edelweiss.
- Valkyria Chronicles hypothetically could have done without the Valkyrur elements in its plot; doing so would have given the story slightly stronger cohesion, but also would have removed the Valkyrur element from the title. In general, the conventional combat sequences are well-done, bringing to mind traditional deployment patterns from WWII (modern armoured warfare would probably not permit infantry to fight alongside armour in this proximity in non-urban locales).
- After Faldio shoots her, Alicia’s Valkyrur powers awaken. After this point, the anime takes a turn from the war story towards a full-blown duel of the fates between two beings with supernatural powers.
- Alicia has a dead look in her eyes after her Valkyrur powers awaken: she effortlessly repels the Imperial forces and takes down Selvaria in combat, before destroying the Batomys. Caught off guard by the appearance of a Valkyria on the Gallian side, Jaeger orders all Imperial forces to retreat. Selvaria rescues Maximilian from the ruined Batomys and withdraws from the battle.
- Tensions rise between the militia and the regular army after Alicia is transferred, triggering this fight. Welkin’s conflicting feelings about her and his lack of influence against the increasingly intolerant General Damon means that Alicia is transferred into the regular military without second question.
- Alicia confronts Selvaria for the second and final time. The setup is familiar to fans of science fiction anime, featuring a final showdown of sorts between Alicia and Selvaria, although this is not a climatic battle by any stretch.
- I now break the images at the halfway point to do a short discussion of Valkyria Chronicles in words rather than images. Readers will doubtlessly have noted by unconventional review style and schedules. The former arises because I do not specifically look for certain aspects (i.e. plot, characters, visuals, audio, etc) in each anime I watch, and the latter arises because I do not necessarily have a schedule I adhere to for watching anime or writing discussions.
That long plot summary at the beginning is no coincidence, reflecting on how chaotic and quickly the second half of Valkyria Chronicles is, especially after Alicia’s not-so-secret background as a Valkyrur is revealed in the new opening. We recall that Gundam 00 Season Two also had a new opening song at the halfway mark, but cleverly avoided disclosing the fact that Graham Aker’s Masurao could use the Trans-Am system until after it was shown in one of the episodes. Of course, coming in four years after the fact, I don’t really mind spoilers, but I can imagine it being a point of contention for anime fans of that age. Since we’re here, I might as well draw another comparison between Gundam 00 and Valkyria Chronicles, not to determine which anime is “better”, but rather, to outline some similarities. This arises because there are indeed similarities in pacing and plot twists: as the ending of the anime drew closer and closer, the amount of stuff happening increase exponentially. I found myself watching one episode at a time when I started, then around two to three episodes at a time after episode eighteen, and marathoned the last six episodes. I probably would have done the same for Gundam 00, but back then, I was watching as episodes were released.
- As such, I make very little attempt to drive my discussions around anything resembling analysis, and instead, are content to make occasional remarks about particular scenes through the use of images and figure captions. Here, we have Alicia facing off against Selvaria and putting up an impressive show despite the former being relatively untrained. Selvaria’s past is revealed during the course of this final duel, showing viewers that she was once a test subject and was ‘saved’ by Maxmillian.
- Where Selvaria finds her resolve to fight in her (unrequited) love for Maxmillian, Alicia finds her equivalent in Welkin and Squad 7. The mechanics behind how motivation works for Valkyrurs are not mentioned explicitly, but it is presumed that the traditional “fight for what is worthwhile” maxim holds here. Alicia subsequently defeats Selvaria, and the latter uses the Valkyrur’s Final Flame to create a nuclear explosion, taking her out, along with the rest of the Gallian army.
- Princess Cordelia Gi Randgriz current heiress to the Randgriz line of Archdukes and is in fact a Darcsen. This surprise is initially less significant to those who have not played the game, but reading through the source materials find that Cordelia’s ancestor Randgriz had hidden his ancestry after switching sides in the War of the Valkyrur and was made the ruler of Gallia. Her determination to end discrimination against the Darcsens gathers her support, but also triggers the Gallian Civil War, which is covered in Valkyria Chronicles 2.
- We now jump ahead to the final battle at Castle Randgriz, where Squad 7 is engaged with the occupying Imperial Forces to prevent the Marmota from reaching the castle, where Maxmillian intends to recover the Valkof, an ancient weapon used by the Valkyrur during their ancient war of conquest. It is capable of projecting an extremely destructive beam of light, and its test-firing annihilates the top of a nearby hill. Before it can be fired a second time, Alicia interrupts its charge.
- The Marmota is a land dreadnought that acted as Maximilian’s ultimate weapon. Blurring the line between tank and battleship, the Marmota is powered by four engines and two propellers work in parallel, reflecting on the Empire’s tendency to rely on costly superweapons to defeat its enemies. The Empire thus conforms to the Tarkin Doctrine, which states that effective rule is achieved through the fear of force, or specifically, through the creation of ‘ultimate weapons’. Of course, this doctrine fails to account for what is to happen should such weapons be defeated, and in fact, time and time again, the destruction of a superweapon typically represents a great cost to the deploying party.
- At the series’ finale, Rosie and Zaka are fighting together, setting aside all of their differences to achieve a common goal. Of all the characters, Rosie has had the most interesting character development and background of everyone in Squad 7. Having lost her parents to Darcsen militants, Rosie initially held a grudge against the Darcsens, but her time with Isara before the latter’s death allows her to overcome this prejudice; Rosie later writes A Love Passed On in Isara’s honour.
- Alicia is captured by Maxmillian after attempting to block the Valkof’s second shot. His plans unraveling, Maxmillian attempts to convince Alicia to join him, but she rejects his words. I watched the final episode before my convocation, which means that it has been nearly two weeks since I finished the finale.
- Maxmillian wields the Artificial Valkyrur system in his final duel with Alicia. Despite its immense power, it is dependent on the generators on board the Marmota; this limitation ultimately results in Maxmillian’s defeat, but not before an amusing final battle.
- Apparently, a kiss can shut down the Final Flame, and my posts terminate after a fixed number of photos. Thus, it’s time I wrap things up. In terms of production value, Valkyria Chronicles holds its own where compared with anime of the 2009 era: while there are CG elements, they aren’t terribly disrupting, and in general, the graphics are reasonably polished (except for maybe a few scenes, where, closer inspection in HD finds that some components are understandably simplified for ease-of-animation). Similarly, the sound and voice acting isn’t noteworthy, but it is not terrible, either. One now understands why I don’t judge anime for these things in general.
- Valkyria Chronicles is an anime suited for those seeking a science-fiction type series set in an alternate universe where tanks roll right alongside ancient magic. As to why I began watching this now-four year old series? Let’s just say that I do not observe conventional anime watching patterns, and picked this series up to see another series’ depiction of an alternate 1930s-1940s Europe.
My final word on Valkyria Chronicles is decidedly more favourable than those of more prolific reviewers: this is almost exactly what I had anticipated coming in, and was the result I got out of it. Where they found a “decent series that had its share of flaws”, I see an anime that is worth watching for its curious setting and its compelling tale that cleverly depicts everyday life and military activity in a militia from a fictional world. Thus, comedic exchanges between the members of Squad 7 are set right alongside the realities of warfare, giving each of the characters a distinct personality. The only main issue I had going through the anime was the near-total absence of any historical background: while the Gallian War is detailed appropriately in all the ways that matter, the Valkyrur and Darcsens are never explained in any detail, leaving viewers to fill in the blanks themselves. I’ve heard this issue holds for the game as well, so I’ll assume that the Valkyrur were simply Forerunner-like beings who had a propensity for ragnite. For those who have not played the game, Valkyria Chronicles is a reasonably enjoyable anime, not dissimilar to Gundam 00; I can’t speak for those who have played the game, seeing as I am a PC gamer and as such, did not buy a PS3.