Eighty-Six ep 14: Return to the battlefield

Long time no see, everyone! It’s your boy, The Feels!
After everyone’s heartfelt determination last episode to go back to the place they belong, episode 14 show us how the Giad Federacy conduct themselves in the military as well as on the battlefield, and how Shin behave in this new yet familiar environment as well.
The episode first show us some heartwarming stuff, in this case, how the Federacy differs from the Republic in terms of its treatment towards soldiers, both alive and fallen. They are respected as human beings, while they are alive as well as when they are dead. Seeing the monument of the fallen Eighty-Sixes with all of their names carved on it must have alleviate the burden on Shin’s shoulder, since he knew that his comrades finally have a resting place now. But alas, there is one that will never rest, and that is Shin’s most trusted companion – Fido. Seeing Fido revived and stronger than ever was a pleasant surprise for the Nordlicht Squadron as well as the viewers (well, those who haven’t read the novels that is). The ending of the 1st cour shows how loyal Fido is despite an AI, and that is enough to bring us to tears, and now, the persistence of this “dog” has moved us once again.
However, the atmosphere from the start to the end of episode 14th also shows how this new Giad were not a perfect country, as it had its own rights and wrongs. The people that alienated Shin’s group, the young girl adoption culture in a combat squadron, etc. The first and second episode may have shown us an ideal country that value human pride, or at least, aren’t as bad as those in San Magnolia. This episode reminded us that we may have been too naïve, and that in the military, things are always darker than what they seem. The anime provided us enough visuals to tell us that. No matter where Shin go, he is still looked at with strange eyes. This time, noone view him as a pig but rather a berserk monster craving for the battlefield but ultimately, their conclusion were the same: Stay away from him, if you don’t want to lose your life. However, there is just one person that doesn’t do that.
And as methodical as a one-two punch, that lead us to the 2nd most beautiful thing: Eugene.
In the novel, he did not leave that much impression as a result of how much he was mentioned. With how the anime changed the order of story, the staff made sure that we knew him, understood his motivativation and his relationship with Shin. Where as in the novel, the order of events portray him as “just another soldier acquaintance on the battlefield”
He, is one that Shin could say “He is my friend”.
The bond between him and Eugene is very different to Shin. It was unlike anything that he had felt before. Even with his XO Raiden, whom he have fought together with for the longest time, Raiden was more like a brother-in-arms, not just a “friend”.
Eugene knew him not as an 86 but as a normal human being. He befriended him through pure emotion, not with any interior motives. And Eugene shared his little family, his dream to Shin, a stranger whom he just met not too long ago. When Shin tried to find Eugene’s young sister, for a brief moment he stopped because he realized that his hand was stained with blood, and he wiped it clean before picking up that picture, for he wanted to show Eugene the most important person in his life without any blemish of the battlefield. Do you remember that one flower stained by the blood after Shin did what he must do?
A random flower blossomed on the battlefield, beautiful, yet its surrounding was too cruel. Eugene is not the first soldier that Shin has put to rest with his own hands. He has “executed” hundreds of his Eighty-sixes comrades before, but they were people like him – disposable, that’s why he could pull the trigger so willingly, because he understood their pain. But to Eugene – a man, an older brother – with a normal dream of a normal, happy life, something too alien for Shin to grasp, yet ended by the very same gun that ended the Eighty-sixes. Surely this will affect him in a completely different way, since unlike the others, Eugene has “someone” waiting for him at home.
This episode is just too beautiful, even if it is filled with dread at the end.
Oh, and I guess we get to see some Reginleif action too. Well the Vanagandr was established to be this big hunky clunky tank and while they have high firepower and sturdy armor, they are still very vulnerable to the Legion’s onslaught. But the Reginleif is the opposite: slim, nimble and fast on its feet. Although, only the Eighty Sixes, particularly Shin, can utilize these units to their fullest, as they put minimal care towards the pilot’s safety. The short and brief action sequence was well-done with a really epic BGM. The distinction in mobility between the units are shown very clear and emphasize Shin’s ability on the battlefield. Now that he isn’t in the crappy Juggernaut anymore, his combat prowess has increased even further.
The art in this episode is beautiful! All the details in the most impactful scenes are all immaculate. The lighting, the atmosphere, the subtle “jerk” in even the smallest of gestures speaks volumes of the character’s feeling at the time. A1 and Shirogumi is doing some great work.

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