Schwarzesmarken remains a strange specimen of an anime, while still not excelling it is clear it has the potential to. So why is it not a great anime? Well it’s beating the same point as my last post but I do think characterisation is key here. In this episode we had two characters introduced whose main purpose was to be disposed of. In practice this tactic is a very cheap one and only works as a cheap development device or a lazy emotional manipulation tactic. That said when I felt more for a disposable soldiers death than I did for the rest of the cast then something is amiss. Katia and Theodor have gone through important developments in this episodes which could help give the characters more likeable traits but the developments are far too sudden. Theodor has opened up and admired that he wants to protect Katia to make up for failing to save his sister but this has come well, pretty much straight out of nowhere. From our perspective Theodor has only known Katia for a few days and whatever time he did spend with her, she was aggravating him to no end. Katia’s revealation is equally sudden, though in her case a little more believable. It’s logical that one would lose optimism when seeing the threat first hand and it is something that she really needs as a character. Hippy logic won’t save anyone as even if east and west Germany did join hands to battle the threat of BETA, the situation would be equally as dire.
On looking at these developments I can see how these characters could come to these conclusions but it feels as though we are missing a huge part of the process and given just the beginning and conclusion. I have a beef with how it was shown as well, with both Katia and Theodor both speaking of their feelings as if they were speaking to an invisible psychiatrist. It’s a problem not only here but even present in the original trilogy of visual novels as Shirogane Takeru(The protagonist of Muv Luv) was also fond of spelling out his new found revealations to people. Though in that case they managed to find a way of it helping with character development by making one of the characters Takeru’s “Noble Confidant”. Speaking of which, the Visual Novels made it a point to introduce and flesh out the characters first long before the plot even started. It was a tactic that is both a strength and weakness of the series as a whole. That may sound contradictory but let me pit it this way, it added a heavy layer of tedium for anyone beginning the series in exchange for a deeper emotional connection later down the line. That may be an aspect that can’t quite translate to anime which makes me question whether a animated adaption would be a good idea. After all so far both Muv Luv adaptions have been rather lacklustre and the reason for that could be an element you can’t experience outside of a visual novel format. That said its more likely due to poor adaption in those cases as I do hear that the anime isn’t doing the Schwarzesmarken light novels justice so far.