First Squad – the rant of truth…wait that didn’t come out right

An anime about WWII and Russia made in collaboration with Russians? I’m not surprised I jumped to watch it after I discovered about it.

Here’s First Squad – the moment of truth.

Set in WWII, the Nazis and Soviet are trying to bomb each other’s country. Seeing the poster, I get the feeling it’s going to be real cool and exciting, until I see that the main character, Nadya, is using a katana.

Excuse me? Katana? Used by a 14 year old little Russian girl?

The only thing Japanese I see in this movie is the zombie Samurai that appeared for 3 seconds!

Yeah I know Russian girls are tough and all that but…huwat?

Okay, ignoring that, I should have paid better attention to the summary. What the hell is waking up zombies from the time of the crusade war to help fight in World War 2 going to do?

I shall be ignorant and ignore all of the odd elements here and jump to the actual review.

The movie started out pretty good in my opinion. Even though it jumps around a lot, it still manage to tell some story. But something happened. We have Nadya, the main girl, (her name is pronounce Nad-ya. At first I thought it was Nadia but no) waking up to see a monk and he sent her to Moscow. There, she meets some kind of General that told her to go to the world of the dead to bring her friends back. Now is where it gets so intensely confusing and…I just don’t know what to say. The character’s actions and expressions are all weird. I don’t know if it’s about the dub (not the English or Russian dub. I’m talking about the Thai dub here.) or it’s about the script itself, but it feels so…emotionless. Characters also don’t get any development, Leo and Nadya looks like normal friends when they kissed and had such a painful farewell. I don’t even remember the other 3’s names. And when she’s with her friends, Nadya is like a normal teenage hero of those repetitive adventure anime who’s like; I can’t save the world alone, let’s kill all the bad guys with the power of friendship! But, when she’s with others in the regular world, she’s like the amnesiac heroine who wants to remember her past or something. Choose, Nadya. You can’t be both.

It just doesn’t make any sense.

In the dub version of my country they cut the documentary part out, so I’m not going to say anything about it. I actually wanted to see what it’s like, but people who watched the full movie said it’s not recommended. Well, fine.

Oh, and also when this movie got localized in Thailand it basically flew off shelves. The feedback? Nahhh…

Then there was the ending. I’m not going to spoil anything here but it was so unsatisfying. I sat staring at the screen wondering if there’s going to be a short scene at the end after the credits but alas there was none. And then I sat through the credits looking at the names like: well, I hate you, you, and you. Oh, and you too! At least I didn’t hate the art department. Well, except the guy who did the character design of Nadya’s sidekicks.

I think this movie lacked some storytelling. Seriously. A whole lot of storytelling.

Well, enough with the story, I’m going to go to art now.

I actually love the color palette of this movie. It gives off the whole cold and dreamy (or confusing) feeling of story. Nadya also looks a lot like Thorfinn in Vinland Saga for some reason. The art is gorgeous. I like the scenery best. Don’t mention character design because they were so other worldly I don’t know what to say. At least I see efforts to get the anatomy right and the amount of details they put in, not like some Thai animations where the characters look like they had too much botox on one side of their face. I think the art is the best thing this movie has to offer. I can even tell ‘Oh hey, it’s the kremlin!’ Really, this is the only good thing about this movie.

What I appreciate, though, despite their maybe absurd-sounding storyline, is their effort to convey the atmosphere of a war. They made an effort to research the backgrounds and make stuff look real, unlike some other WWII animes out there. (Without considering the fact that dead people are beating up middle age knights with katana, machine gun, rifle, and flame turret)

I’m still confused why the Sputnik became a machine to send a human to alternate reality.

Sound: nothing in particular. Not good not bad.

I have been interested in Russia ever since reading Anne Fine’s The Road of Bones, and I loved it. And there’s this secret I never told anyone, that I actually cried after listening to Russia’s national anthem (instrumental) for the first time. But this movie is a huge let down. By huge, I really mean it.

Overall:

What should I say? I don’t recommend it unless you’ve got too much free time on your hands.

By the way, the official website is a pain to look at when you have to tilt your head to read stuff. It’s extremely cool though: http://www.first-squad.com/

If you want to see what it’s like, check this out:

Until we meet again.

until we meet again.

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