Episode Review: NieR:Automata Ver1.1A Episode 4

Song of the Machines
After a 3-week delay that felt like forever, Nier:Automata returned with an explosive episode. It seems to be the norm for A-1 to comeback with an impressively well-done episode to recapture the fans. And I have to say, they kinda accomplish that – about 80%. Episode 4 pushes on with the story of the changes in the machine lifeforms and bring us to the next boss of Nier – Simone the Mad Songstress.

We start the episode with yet another creepy machine lifeforms sequence where they re-enact another human’s behviour. This time it’s a theatrical play, which constitute high entertainment in the human world. While last time we saw them doing mundane hobbies and some basic human instincts, this time they’ve went into more high-class societal activities. And not just the play itself, but also the machine lifeforms around them are also part of the “reenactment”. It’s easy to see that the machine lifeforms are evolving at a rapid rate to become even more “human”.

We get some more skype calls between the Council of Humanity and Commander White. It’s clear that the Council is disregarding the actual situation and is just following an old obsolete plan that was laid out a very, very long time ago. For people who played the game, they already knew the truth about the Council, but for “new” viewers, it’s also easily deducted that those “old” human aren’t actively giving a damn about the war and is just trying to keep the status quo. Commander White is also showing distress and her lack of faith in the Council and the humanity behind the veil. The “Jinrui ni eikou are!” slogan are being used as propaganda and a restraint on the YorHa androids.

It is not unusual in post-apocalyptic scenarios that the last bastion of humanity that claim the revival of humanity is their ultimate goal is just a sham. And I can definitely feel it as does other viewers after 4 episodes where they keep recycling their empty promises and “trust the plan” order – even though so many irregularities have popped up. For game players, it’s obvious when they play the game that the “people above” are suspicious as hell. Looking forward to the eventual revelation of this “Council”.

2B and 9S was given a new mission to investigate MIA android soldiers. Their blackboxes’ doesn’t show that they have been destroyed but rather still alive. That led them to an opera house where the machine lifeforms were performing the play previously. There they encountered the Mad Songstress. The battle with “her” was visually spectacular. The motion, the impact and the effects are very much identical to the game – which is pretty awesome. 2B this episode is much more agile and aggressive compared to ep 2 and 3. And of course the fanservice was great while not being too “in-your-face” like many people were screaming and looking for peep frames. So every frame of 2B running with her gravity-defying skirt is a plus iykwim.

9S though, once again failed with his hacking. At this point, I think 9S’ hacking is a way to show the machine’s psyche evolution rather than an effective tactics. Even though he got a hit in the end, it’s also thanks to 2B risking protocol and perform a hacking of her own. Not to mention she had to haul his asses across the theatre because he was useless while hacking. I guess it’s quite accurate to the type of unit he is. But really 2B in this episode is just an absolute goddess dancing around the battlefield and hack-n-slash like Dante from Devil May Cry. The choreography and storyboard are very well done for the action part. And even though 2B had very little dialogue or just general facial expression changes, her little interactions and tone of voice add a few more bits to her character. Though seeing the “play” as well as the mom and daughter machines at the end definitely affect her “emotions” quite a fair bit.

Episode 4 of Nier is a much needed kick to the anime train. It’s very fortunate that it isn’t delayed any further like Eighty Six. At least this episode is visually pleasing and with decent plot advancement. While I do want more 2B and 9S interaction, we would probably get more in the latter eps. Also the skit at the end is still as funny as always, it’s a really great way to give some levity to this post-apocalyptic series. Hopefully there won’t be anymore delays in the future.

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