Spring 2009 Anime Impressions – Valkyria Chronicles

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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.

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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.

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10 thoughts on “Spring 2009 Anime Impressions – Valkyria Chronicles”

  1. Eh, I sort of agree with you. I really enjoyed the game, in fact it’s in my top five games of all time, but the anime just rubs me the wrong way. I’ve only watched the first two episodes and have no real desire to continue, although I’m sure I will because I loved the game so much. Regardless I hope the anime does well so that Sega will think about making a sequel then I’ll pray if one is made it’ll come to the U.S.

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  2. I think the urge to toss a tsundere in every show out there is causing VC to be far less than what could have been. There were just so many moments where I was put off by Alicia’s facial expressions and reactions and in sum, makes for an average experience.

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  3. Since i didnt play the game i had no set expectations for this one………..however im finding this one pretty enjoyable………and i really like the characters so far in contrast to zzero i really like alica’s facial expressions and i like welkins character how he doesnt like to fight but can get serious if needed….i also like his biology background as well……the tank they use is pretty bad ass but i hope they do something in the anime aside from using it to dominate every one…….overall i have no problem with this one and im enjoying it so far

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  4. Hmmm, first 2 episodes were kinda lame. But after episode 3 and 4 it’s starting to progress in a good way. I can’t say anything definite about this one.

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  5. /agree. The anime also differs from the game’s storyline in more ways than just a few, to the extreme detriment of it’s characters.

    Welkin comes across as being overly aloof and without common sense. He is also completely negligent of Alicia and his sister to the point that I really wonder if they are trying to portray him as some heartless idiot who’s only saving grace is that he’s good with animals and military strategy. It’s so bad that the character is purely unlike-able. I’m actually begging for Faldio to take over the lead character spot at ep 10. It certainly seems like that’s what they are setting up at least!

    Alicia is also overly annoying. It’s as if they took her fiery over bearing side and multiplied it to the same degree that they dummed Welkin down. I’m actually wondering at this point if they intended for the anime Welkin to be autistic. Hell, if they did mention he was autistic down the line at least I could feel some form of empathy for him. As it stands, the characters are unbelievable at best and the rest of squad 7 seem like their deep backgrounds have been removed and all personality switched with cliche cookie cutter archtypes. Any charm they had pretty much went out the window.

    The plot is also makes no sense at times, where the game portrayed a gritty image of ww2 in a stricty watercolour anime kind of way, the anime seems to have made the whole show about a bunch of military teens who are so wrapped up in their own drama’s that the fact they are at war and could die at any minute couldn’t be further from their minds.

    This isn’t helped by the fact that no-one ever dies in Squad 7 (so far). The game did extremely well by allowing most of the side characters to physically draw their last breath and never be seen again. To dramatic effect, I didn’t want them to die, every move I made was planned out and rethought numerous times, through fear of any of the squad hitting the dirt in the open without viable backup to call a medic. I really felt like I was wrapped up in their horrid, colourful world filled with deep lore, political strife and racial tension. With the anime I’m wondering if the childishness will ever end. War was one colourful and scarey. Now it’s a teen drama with occasional heavily one sided battles.

    Why is it all about the tank anyway? It was all about Welkin’s ability to command in the original, not some uber dues-ex tank. I feel like I’m watching yet another Gundam series, but without the space-age style tech.

    It simply isn’t Valkyria Chronicles. It’s a severly dummed down knock off replica thrown to the masses in the hopes of a few shiny pennies in return.

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  6. This anime was extremely disappointing to me as a fan of the game. The portrayal all the main characters was absolutely terrible. I fell in love with the characters in the game, and not a single one in the series caused the same impact for me.

    The storyline of the game is fantastic, and the cutscenes are absolutely beautiful. The couple first episodes of this series reminded me of that, but it quickly faded away. The series tried to expand on the back-story of some of the characters, which was questionable to me, but in the end I liked what we learned about Selvaria and Alicia as youngsters. I cannot see though how they thought changing all the Faldio saving-the-day/betrayal was a good idea though. It worked so well in the video game… here they just made him go nuts and then no one seems to care.

    The game also makes it very clear this is supposed to be a retelling of WWII, albeit with Norse mythology mixed in. The Holocaust, the invasion of Normandy, the atomic bombs in Japan… it is all very clear when you play the game, but here you can link the Jews to the Darcsens and that’s about it.

    The most memorable scene in the video game has to be when Selvaria bats away the tank shell. The way that cutscene was drawn was so impressive I couldn’t get enough of it. I kept watching that over and over again. Here in this series, they replaced it by Selvaria slicing a bullet in half. Still impressive, but WAY less oomph.

    Also, what’s with this Selvaria vs Alicia showdown crap? I’m gonna keep rambling about the same thing, but it’s just that it worked so well in the video game, WHY DID THEY CHANGE IT?!?!? The result was very cliché. If you think of it logically, Selvaria has known her powers for a long time and can control them very well. How do you expect Alicia to be able to take her on 1 on 1?

    Last rant: that was an awfully rushed conclusion to the anime after dragging out some parts in the beginning by adding in unnecessary stuff. Kill Maximilian, it’s over. Not much closing the story as the game did for any of the characters. No garden for Largo, no Largo for Varrot, no singing for Rosie, no wedding for Alicia. The ending sucked worst of all.

    -Luzce.

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  7. I’m not watching V C until I have played the console game. In a strange fashion, the more versions there come out that is detached from the original source, the more bad things crop in. And while PC gaming in the US is only now achieving “actual story quality” with games, the Japanese had it down far longer.

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