It might appear that I’ve fallen very far behind in doing my spring anime impressions but I haven’t – it’s all going according to the plan. Rereading some of my old impression posts, I realized sometimes how lost I was in figuring out the series based on only one episode. Therefore, I decided, starting with this season, to only write an impression postafter I felt that I had a handle on the series. This might be after one episode or three episodes; in the case of Valkyria Chronicles I needed 3 episodes.
Rating: episode 1 – 8/12B+
Rating: episode 2 – 7/12B
Rating: episode 3 – 6/12B-
Anticipation Level: low
The setting for Valkyria Chronicles is in an alternate 1930’s Europe where two large empires rule most Europe. Our main characters belong to a small neutral country bordering both empires and they lead a relaxful life until one of the empires invade their country. This will push our rag-tag band of heroes into action as they fight to save their country.
As I mentioned above, I needed 3 episodes because while I was fairly positive about the show after 1 episode, I didn’t know where the plot was going or how the story would develop. After the second episode, I was a little less impressed with the series and had a feeling about how I would write this up but I still wasn’t positive. Now after the third episode, I finally feel that I can see how the series will hold up over the long-run.
After the first episode there was 2 facets of the show that really made me interested about the series. The first was the high animation quality and the interesting animation style. I’m assuming the animation style is mimicing the video game that this show is based on but that doesn’t detract from how nice it looks. It always warms my heart to see an animation studio willing to create a unique look for a show and it’s an even bigger plus when this style looks good. The other part of the show that I really enjoyed was how Marina Inoue is voicing the main female character, Alicia, and is given just a ton of lines. She has a great range in voicing the various different moods of the character – anywhere from a husky, take-no-prisioners voice to an infectiously happy voice to a sad, small voice.
The problem is after being initially drawn in by these two facets, each subsequent episode suffers from diminishing returns in these two areas. It’s no longer possible to get by just from looking good and hearing Marina Inoue, the novelty has run out. What’s needed then is the introduction of an interesting cast of characters or an interesting plot or, ideally, both. After 3 episodes, Valkyria Chronicles hasn’t really delievered either.
The characters side of the equation suffers from the main male character, Welkin, having about as much character as you’d imagine a soggy fish stick would. Nor is there any chemistry between the main characters Welkin and Alicia. This isn’t Kana and Fujioka from Minami-Ke or Iku Kasahara and Atsushi Dojo from Library War. And the plot has been underwhelming and has been implausible to the point of making the show a fantasy. I’m willing to give a show some slack but the tank battle scenes have been about as close to reality as a person being able to double jump in real life. For example, in real life, I’m pretty sure pontoons where attached to tanks and that allowed them to cross a river – they didn’t drive along the riverbed. (Maybe I’m getting a little nit-picky but does this world have airplanes? They have these super awesome tanks but no one has invented the airplane?)
In conclusion, a show can’t be carried by just enjoying a single voice actor and the animation. There needs to be more if I’m going to stick around; there are shows like East of Eden with both interesting characters and plot and other shows like Cross Game that have a great cast of characters and is focused on developing these characters and their stories so if Valkyria Chronicles does not improve shortly, it will get dropped.