Series Recommendation: Soukyuu no Fafner: The Beyond

Beyond the Nothingness, the Azure sky awaits…

After 2 tv series with 52 episodes and 1 movie, Fafner capped it all up with another 12-episode series. However, this last entry was released in quite a peculiar way, with 3-episode chunks at a time released in theatres, each separated by about 5-6 months or so. As a result, fans have to wait almost 2 years to be able to enjoy this beautiful and intense sequel. But thankfully, at the time of writing, the series has been released in full. All 12-episode of Fafner: The Beyond has been released on Blu-Ray and fans can enjoy it worldwide without going to Japanese theatres.

The beginning of the Beyond might be a bit confusing to audiences. Basically it started from a timeskip from the end of Exodus. We saw Kazuki was walking alongside a small child that basically is a young Soushi Minashiro. Between the ending of Exodus and the start of The Beyond, Soushi – along with 2 other Esperanto kids – was “taken” by the Festum to a “fake” Island and raised there with no knowledge of the outside world – just like Tatsumiyajima at the start of Dead Aggressor. However, the true Island won’t just let him go, and they plan on taking young Soushi back. The bewildered kid – now stand at the crossroad of destiny – will have to decide for himself which direction he will go, and who is the true enemy.

+ Plot: After Exodus, we start to see the Festum as more and more “humanlike”. They have started to develop a “psyche” that can feel emotion, just like Misao and Kouyou in a way. The Mir and Core have now gained a new level of power that is just straight-up supernatural, and the Fafner are now literally Super Robots with absurd powers. Many fights are now fought with those SDPs that work in mysterious way, and the emphasis on mental strength is much more critical than ever. This really changed the way characters approach problems and how they view themselves in the grand scheme of things- especially the Fafner pilots, as they understand what lies at the end of the road. The struggle in the Beyond is not just a contest of strength, but also ideology and desires. What the Festum want sounds very feasible and in a way, actually agreeable. But behind that desire is still a violation of human rights to be free since they wanted to keep Soushi as their own while deceiving him. Some plot details are a bit hard to comprehend since The Beyond has passed the Exodus’ line of being easy to understand, as a lot of “powers” come into play and do what the plot need them to do with little explanation.

For the most part, we still see the pilots and Alvis staff from Exodus, just that they have aged up. The timeskip is about 3-5 years from Exodus, so it’s mostly the 3rd generation pilots that have changed – as well as Miwa – the central protagonist for this series. It’s good to see Kazuki taking a backseat for most of the time as he have had 2 seasons to himself mostly. But the dynamic between Soushi – Kazuki – Maya is still an interesting sight to see, only that one side has completely changed into a much younger person. In Exodus, we saw Soushi being quite uncomfortable when things come up regarding Kazuki’s feelings for Maya, and in The Beyond, we saw something akin to that but a bit more juvenile and awkward. The 3rd-gen pilots have all grown up and become much more responsible now, which is really nice too see. Kenji and Sakura have also started a family, which is some of the most heartwarming couple of the show since Aggressor.

+ Animation: You can only go up from there. Exodus has featured what we can call perfect Fafner animation. The blend between 2D and 3D was greatly done, the Fafner moved fluidly and the mechanical “feedback” can be felt on the machines. In Beyond, as the Fafners become more and more “synchronized” with their pilots, they move organically as if they are the pilot themselves. Orange and I.G Zwei (formerly Xebec Zwei) still kept up their quality as The Beyond feature some of the most beautiful CGI sequence, especially those with environmental elements, which looks just like real life footage.

+ Mecha Design: Fafner sorta go the 00/Build Gundam route with the clear parts. The Fafners gain more and more clear parts now, with the Island Fafners upgraded to feature slightly different armor and more “extravagant” equipment, especially in the case of Mark Vier. Weight doesn’t seem to be an issue for any unit since they can carry huge cannons and shield modules and still blitz across the battlefield like nothing. There’s only two Fafners that basically carry over from Exodus with minimal changes: Sein and Nicht. The series also features all-new Fafners and upgrades that are both in-line with Fafner original aesthetics as well as modernizations. Putting Dead Agressor Fafners side-by-side with The Beyond will definitely stun you with how much they have change, and there’s some really nice added details as well – mostly to the heads and body.

+ Music: At this point, talking about Fafner music seems…redundant, as Angela once again hit a home run with both OPs and EDs, as well as a selection of insert songs from previous entries. “The Beyond” give us that yearning feeling for hope that the series start out with, it’s almost like a beckoning for the azure sky beyond the horizon. “Sakebe” is the opposite, delivering an energetic and decisive “warcry” of sorts, showing the determination of the people of Tatsumiyajima. They have decided to fight to the last hope and scream out their determination. The ED – as always – deliver that emotional gut punch that remind you of all the losses, the sacrifices that they have made to reach that tiny glimmer of hope.

+ Conclusion: The Beyond is a nice send off for the saga. I’m not sure if they plan a sequel with the same cast or not but I think this is a great ending point for the current cast and storyline. Kazuki and the previous generation’s arc have been completed and they deserve to rest on a high note. The Beyond delivered another hard-fought struggle for the people of Tatsumiyajima. The length of the series really didn’t leave a lot of room for an all-around development for the cast, which it fortunately didn’t, but rather focus on the main cast exclusively. The side cast we are all familiar with from previous entries have their arc rounded up in The Beyond, which is simple, straightforward and emotional, which is really nice. After this, an OVA called “Behind the line” which will focus on the non-conflict days of the island will be interesting to look forward to. But for now, “The Beyond” has gone further and beyond to deliver a satisfying conclusion.

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