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21 November 2016: The uncanny valley of military anime

Jonas
Damn it, Private Death Flag, where is your rifle?

The so-called "uncanny valley" occupies the spot between the clearly artificial and the standards accepted as (or indistinguishable from) genuine articles. This concept is generally applied to automata and realistic human robots which generate a sense of uneasy revulsion on the part of the viewer because they're "just not quite there." However, I am applying this concept to explain why I can't quite accept military-themed anime such as this season's Shūmatsu no Izetta and last season's Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin.

Izetta
Double envelopment.

I would have expected both Izetta and Alderamin to safely occupy the "clearly bullshit" side of the military anime spectrum. After all, one is about a witch using her powers to defend the homeland of her lesbian love interest, and the other is about a bunch of soldiers and their Pretty Cure fairy pals. The Izetta trailers even prominently showcased the pantsless witch flying around on a big ass anti-materiel rifle fighting Not Nazis.

Local national and Ikta
Winning hearts and minds.

Unfortunately, Izetta also tries to integrate serious military matters into the balance, which makes its more absurd and pandering aspects less palatable than they would have been in a less realistic show such as Strike Witches. Likewise, Alderamin faltered by trying to offer its audience a glimpse of the horrors of war while still championing its characters' sophomoric sense of ideological superiority.

Tsuu
These fairies do fuck all.

Additionally, Alderamin also suffered from its ridiculous air-powered weapons which are only air-powered to be different. Look, I'm willing to accept that these yahoos fight with BB guns instead of literally anything more effective, but don't try and pretend an air-powered mortar makes any sort of sense. If you want to be different for the sake of being different, just power all the weapons with the enslaved Pretty Cure fairies instead. The Hell else are they there for?

Ambush
An ambush nobody could possibly have anticipated or prevented.

To be fair, it's understandably difficult to get military-themed anime right, so I suppose these shows should be commended for at least attempting to bridge across that valley. But perhaps we would be better off by strictly exploring the more entertaining parts of the absurd side. Here, shows such as AKB0048 and basically any show about big ol' robots punching things can thrive without having to worry about grating contrivances, out-of-place tonal shifts, or bombastic moralizing.


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