Episode Review: NieR:Automata Ver1.1A Episode 1

For the Glory of Mankind!
We’re starting 2023 off with one of the most anticipated adaptation of a video game series: NieR:Automata by Square Enix. The game was crowned many awards and was a phenomenon when it was released with its many intricate alternate plotlines. Now A-1 Pictures is tasked with bringing 2B and her companions onto the animated screen, and of course, it is a massive responsibility, but if any studio can pull this off, it’s A-1.

While A-1 doesn’t have too many mecha series under their belt, their human character animation and combat are extremely good, and with Nier, we will have a 50/50 mix between that as 2B, 9S and A2 are pretty much human in appeareance since they are androids. But there will also be a lot of Flight Module combat as well as most of the enemies are mechanical robots. We look forward to how they are going to pull this off for the rest of the season, but first impression is very positive. The opening song by Aimer is also very cool, with the stylistic choice of rendering the scene onto the ground – making them seem like past events etched into history. The black and white color-scheme also works well as an “introduction” sequence, there maybe more colors added in later as well. We’ll see.

The first episode is basically the same mission from the game. With 2B and 9S taking out a Goliath-class weapons with plenty of combat, subtle characterization and actually not a lot of exposition for the settings (which should be explained next episode or so). NieR:Automata is famous for its recurring timeline with multiple endings and this adaptation definitely count amongst those, and they are definitely banking on the majority of the viewers to be players of the original game, so some of the more obvious info might just be hinted at instead of wasting screen time to explain. That might lead to the pacing of the anime to be much quicker than the game’s progression, which is kinda expected since it would be impossible to adapt everything.

For the first episode, we got to see how 2B and 9S fight, along with their personality, which at the time is still simple but still enough to let us know what kind of “android” they are. 2B is devoted to the mission, but still caring for her comrades, and she prefer getting up-close and personal if she can. 9S is cheerful but efficient, preferring to do things the smart way. These two are basically each other’s yin-and-yang, complementing each other quite well, right down to their mission sentiment. At least, what they both share is the mission to fight for the glory of mankind.

Now we come to the visual, and yes A-1 did delivered splendidly. The details in each frame is amazing and none of them can be regarded as “mediocre inbetween frames”. The character model – while 2D, are drawn with great details down to their hair strands and lips. The combat choreography of 2B is very well done and the camera angle is much more dynamic compared to the game, which is pretty good since the added stylistic choice complement existing materials well. Furthermore, there are some sequences that utilize “black bars” to indicate the “digital world” or rather a “flashback” of sorts, basically mean that events are not happening outside the real world at the time, it’s a pretty jarring change that will no doubt make you notice the change , which remind us of the QTE/cutscenes in games.

For the CG, the Flight Model combat is very well done. All of the CG models in the game has very great texture and movements, since it’s obvious that Square Enix supplied the studio with the existing models and they used it as a base. The transformation of the Flight Module is quite exaggerated but it’s not a bad thing at all. The transition from 3D to 2D and blending of both are done quite well. You can notice the transition but they don’t break up the scene at all and you can enjoy the anime without noticing any discrepancies. Overall, A-1 did a splendid job visually.

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