When Imperial forces attack a small border town named Bruhl, Welkin Gunther along with town watch captain Alicia Melchiott and Welkin's younger adopted sister, Isara, are forced to flea to Gallia's capital and join the militia. There, Welkin is made Lieutenant of Squad 7 and now must lead his newfound comrades-in-arms to fight the invading Empire and learn more about the truth behind the war.
Let me get this off of my chest immediately. I absolutely love the Valkyria Chronicles games! The sheer ingenuity that went into making a game that utilizes both tactical strategy, as well as heart-pounding edge-of-your-seat third person action makes the game a true-blue modern classic. Also, Valkyria Chronicles contains one of the most heartwarming stories to ever be used in a video game and features characters that are down-to-earth, charming and easy to relate to. That said, I am a bit of a purist so it was somewhat hard for me to review this anime. Was it a bad anime? No, but for an adaptation, it had some kinks in it that needed to be smoothed out.
When it comes to how this anime looks, it passes. But aside from that, there is nothing really to write home about. The animation is adequate with decent fluidity, semi-bright tones and some pleasant character designs. The problem is that I could not help but shake the feeling that this department could have been even better, that the animation could have been a real knockout with some more T.L.C. At times, the artistry of the anime was really well constructed, but for the most part the overall package was underwhelming on the technical side of things. As for music, the series utilizes the same soundtrack from the game and for that I am grateful. The original game had a great soundtrack, so why re-invent the wheel?
But when it comes to any visual medium, there is more to an exhibition than what it can offer aesthetically. Luckily for Valkyria Chronicles there is more than enough in terms of story to keep it engaging and draw you into its world. Every character of squad 7 has their own unique personality and quirks. Welkin is intelligent and shrewd, but lacks any sense of social convention; Alicia is headstrong, but unsure of herself and her abilities; Isara is a mechanical genius, spending all of her time fixing things—you get the idea. At first glance, it may seem that these are all clichés that have been seen a million times in anime and in a sense, that is correct. However, Valkyria Chronicles does it well and without pandering to the lowest common denominator of character development by making everyone a cookie-cutter representation of a trope. Squad 7 is filled with some very memorable crew members and they all receive their fair share of screen time.
That is, until General Damon is put on screen. Being one of the antagonists, I understand that he had to be a pain in the neck for squad 7 by being the judgmental army superior and all, but did the creators have to make him so unlikeable? Every time he was being shown, I could not help but feel that I wanted to wring his neck. He's egotistical, cowardly, and downright irritating. Needless to say, he does receive his just-desserts and when it happens—it's great.
In terms of story, this anime does take some liberties with the source material which, to be fair, is to be expected of any adaptation. Particularly video game ones. However, most of these so-called liberties were not bad in-and-of themselves. I especially took delight in the fact that they delved more into the enemies viewpoint instead of just placing them as being “the scary bad guys.” This made the enemy soldiers seem all the more human and that they, much like the members of squad 7, were fighting for what they believed in and for their families. It's an important thing to remember about any war that it does not simply boil down to “good-guys” or “bad-guys” but that when the dust settles down, lives on both sides were lost and that even though you were enemies, both sides were still human. On the flip side, without spoiling it all, the ending felt rushed and when compared to the original it does not nearly have the same emotional impact.
As a fan of the original games, I expected some improvements in certain areas such as animation quality. But all in all, it was a good adaptation and is worth the time for anyone who wants to see a rousing drama about war with some really well thought-out characters thrown into the mix.
A surprisingly good adaptation with some really well constructed characters and a stirring plot, but also suffers from a lackluster ending and less than stellar visuals. Valkyria Chronicles earns a four star rating. Take away a star if you are a hardcore fan of the original game. — Dallas Marshall
Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source.
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Valkyria Chronicles © 2009 Aniplex, A-1 Pictures, Sega, Sakura Create
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