Two episodes in and I certainly can feel that Schwarzesmarken is missing something to truly make it work. The setting has no problems and what’s presented is interesting but for some reason this isn’t as engaging as it should be. One could blame the art which had some spotty parts during this episode or the pacing which is rather haphazard. Though what’s likely the issue is the lack of likable characters. Theodor has the problem of constantly looking and acting like someone spat in his soup. Tragic past or not, it’s a little hard to sympathise when most of the time he’s clicking his tongue in irritation. Katia is hopelessly optimistic and has the situational awareness of a bear cub in a snake pit. Call me sadistic if you will but there’s a certain satisfaction to be had in seeing Katia get a good beating after spouting that drivel about humanity working together for the greater good. The ideal is admirable but unrealistic, even Alan Moore’s Watchmen made the assumption that if provided with a common enemy Humanity would band together. One of the particular things I like about this series is that it tosses that idea to the dogs. For while it is undeniably stupid, if mankind was faced with an undefeatable enemy ready to burn the world to the ground, you can bet that people behind the scenes would be working to lay claim over the ashes.
So our two main characters are polar opposites, one being a nihilistic blowhard with anger management issues and the other a tone clashing overall happy girl with little idea of the state of her surroundings. They create some interesting dilemmas but lack likeable traits. The rest of the cast is unfortunately too underdeveloped but captain Irisdina holds potential. Though I doubt she truly shot her brother in cold blood to clear her name. The most likely outcome was that her brother gave his life willingly to help clear hers. A pity as I would like it if her loyal and proper demeanor was the result of her trying to redeem herself after committing such a Heinous act. Besides the BETA for an antagonist we also have the Stasi, a branch of the military playing the role of thought police. Normally I am against such a one dimensional villain but the Stasi do a damn good job of being completely hateable. Beatrix and Axmann look to use the war with BETA as a means of setting up a 1984 level of Totalitarian control and they certainly are making things difficult.
From promising reinforcements only to sit in the hanger drinking tea while the people they left died on the battlefield to sending two units on a suicide mission just to kill off someone they see as a potential spy. The Stasi are basically the greatest threat to our main characters, mainly because unlike BETA they hold a position that allows them to kill our characters any time they wish and make sure they can’t do anything about it. Still I don’t find them quite as hateable as I probably should, maybe because the Stasi aren’t making any excuses to what they are doing. They know full well what they are doing and anyone who gets in the way must be removed. So strangely I don’t dislike them, though part of that might be because I find Beatrix to be quite attractive. She does seem like a woman who would give you a damn good time or kill you in the process. I am hoping that we get some likeable characters on the field as that would improve this show immensely. After all it would be a shame to waste such a magnificent setting as this. One so detailed that two east Germans on YouTube have made it a point to list the details and historical relevance. Sadly though it’s taken down due to a copyright strike at the moment. If it gets reuploaded and you are interested try looking for “How German is it? – Schwarzesmarken”