Valkyria Chronicles – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Senjou no Valkyria

 

Related: Valkyria Chronicles 3: Unrecorded Chronicles

Similar: Fullmetal Alchemist

Allison & Lillia

Alderamin on the Sky

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Historical Action Romance

Length: 26 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Faithful look and feel of the game.
  • Welkin’s goofiness.
  • Well-realised world.
  • Don’t need to play the games to get it. Miracle!

Negatives:

  • Added several unnecessary and dull characters.
  • Some episodes are a distraction.

(Request an anime for review here.)

A game to anime adaptation that doesn’t require you having played the source material? What world am I living in? Valkyria Chronicles may not be as good as the game, but it’s still a fun anime.

It follows Squad 7 led by biologist Welkin Gunther in the war effort to protect Gallia from the Empire and its Valkyria soldier. Accompanying him is his Darcsen sister Isara, childhood friend and baker Alicia, and an assortment of other mismatched Gallians. They’re just going to have to get along if they desire to make it out alive.

One can draw obvious parallels between World War II Europe (eastern France specifically, judging by the landscapes) and the world of Valkyria Chronicles, which it differentiates with the fantasy element of the Valkyria and a slight magi-tech twist to its weapons and vehicles through the use of ragnite. The Valkyria is a goddess-like angel capable of wiping out armies with a single shot of her lance. You feel the threat she poses to the Gallia, though not as much as in the game when she can wipe your team.

The game is a turn-based strategy that progresses from mission to mission with story cutscenes and dialogue in between. You can’t use that format for a series though, as who would want to watch a battle every episode bookended by bits of story? Instead, the team smartly took the story, characters, and world of Valkyria Chronicles and turned it into an enjoyable, though still flawed anime. It feels right, art style included. I get the cosy feeling from the anime as I did from the game. Not as strongly, mind you, but enough not to be disappointed.

The sense of fun remains as well, which is nice. When Welkin first returns to his village after years away on study, Alicia mistakes him in a hilarious scene for an enemy spy sketching out the terrain. He’s actually sketching a trout. Mid-interrogation, the village comes under attack and his sister, Isara, happens to keep a custom tank in their barn! They fight off the attackers and thus begins their war effort. The army gives command of Squad 7 to Welkin with Alicia below him, much to her irritation.

The game had a good balance between drama and fun, so expect anime tropes in this war story. However, the adaptation does go too far at times. For instance, a war reporter follows Squad 7 to report their triumphs and to score interviews with its heroes. Where she was a minor character in the game, popping up between levels for a little fun dialogue, the anime dedicates too much time to her, including a full episode of her playing hide and seek to land an interview with Welkin. There is no plot or character advancement through any of this. All extra story added to the anime that wasn’t in the game doesn’t succeed.

I wonder why they added these sections when there is already so much good unused material at the source. Most baffling of all are the new characters, a group as bland as mud, including this generic shounen anime kid. Who invited these people? They have a purpose, as shown later on, but why add new characters when you still have dozens unused from the original cast? Using the old might change the story a little, but that’s acceptable. I don’t get it.

Thankfully, the proper characters are solid. Welkin’s head-in-the-trees personality is always great, as skilled at war strategy as he is at animal study. He uses his knowledge of birds to read signs of incoming fog in their next skirmish. This use of his non-combat skillset in the plot shows good character design. Alicia’s baking sadly isn’t prevalent (does make for an omega cute ED animation though).

Not everyone gets along in Squad 7. Several members don’t take kindly to Isara’s presence in the group, for she is a Darcsen (marked by her black hair) and the animosity towards then hasn’t died down after a thousand years. This parallels the Jews in WWII, somewhat. The interpersonal conflict is solid, culminating in a satisfying subplot.

I wish they had kept the character classes, as they would provide extra flavour to the supporting cast. The game had you make teams comprised of scouts, engineers, lancers, and shock troopers, which gave more of an identity to each character as their class worked into their personality. Here, it doesn’t feel the same to have most of the squad fight in a common manner. Once more, I wonder why they made this change. It took more effort to remove the class identities than to keep them in.

The anime will never match the game – no one should have expected it to – yet it is still a damn good effort. You don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy Valkyria Chronicles. That said, I don’t want to oversell it – this isn’t going to blow your mind. It’s…pretty good. And much better than I had anticipated.

Art – High

If they hadn’t made the effort to texture and shade the art in the same style as the game, I would have been sour. However, character faces look different and I can’t figure out why. They didn’t improve. The great world and character designs carry from the game (except for the new characters, who look like background extras).

Sound – Medium

The voice work is decent. I preferred the English in the game, though the anime has no dub. Good soundtrack. ED is disgustingly cute!

Story – Medium

A biologist, a baker, and an engineer join the army to fight off invaders in this WW2-inspired adventure based on the Valkyria Chronicles video game. Fun characters balance well against the war drama, though it does play it a little too safe.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Try it. This is a fun war anime. You don’t even need to play the game to enjoy Valkyria Chronicles – I do highly recommend the game though. (Can’t wait for Valkyria Chronicles 4!)

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative: None

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