Valkyria Chronicles is set in a fictitious continent reminiscent of 1930s Europe. The continent, called Europa, is divided into two main powers: The Imperial Empire, a monarchy in the east, and the alliance of democracies called the Federation in the west. In this world, there is a very important resource called ragnite; its uses range from fueling weapons of war to use in medical treatments. Since ragnite is such an important resource, the Federation and the Empire are constantly at war with each other for it.
The story takes place in the neutral country of Gallia, known for its bountiful reserves of ragnite, when the Empire decides to invade and seize the ragnite for themselves. The story follows Welkin, the son of a former war hero; Isara, Welkin's Darcsen adoptive sister; and Alicia, a member of the Bruhl town watch, as they fight the Imperials in the ragtag Gallian militia group, Squad 7.
Squad 7 fights to regain their homes and livelihoods with Welkin as the squad leader and commander of the Edelweiss tank; Alicia as a scout; Isara as the pilot of the Edelweiss, and a variety of colorful individuals.
Well, well, well, look what we have here? Can anyone say "under-appreciated" and "under-watched"? Those words would probably describe Valkyria Chronicles very well.
At first glance, this anime probably doesn't look like anything special. Originally based on a tactical role-playing game of the same name for the PS3, this anime might look like a couple of things. At first glance, it might just look like a military anime that wants to chock itself full of violence and gunplay. However, this is a serious, serious misconception. Let's get to the review and see why, shall we?
Story: The story that encompasses
Valkyria Chronicles is as follows. It takes place in the year 1935, in an alternate history where two opposing military factions, the Empire and the Federation, wage war against one another on the continent of Europa. It's an alternate WWII inspired-setting, and one of the things that surprised me the most about this anime was a lack of giant robots. Instead, their roles are taken by all manner of tanks, artillery pieces, and other standard military fare, all a-la-Advance Wars. This, I felt, made the anime stronger, as they got by without using a concept used in so many other animes. Continuing with the story, it kicks off in a small town called Bruhl in the neurtal territory of Gallia, where a young girl on town watch, Alicia Melchiott, happens to cross paths with the son of a Gallian General, whose name is Welken Gunther. After this fateful meeting, the two are cast into the military life, where they battle for their lives and lives of their comrades, all while trying to stay relatively sane. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of romance in this anime, and it is some of the best I've seen. In general, the plot is pretty amazing in my opinion, and from what I can tell, it follow the game pretty well.
Art: I believe that the art was good, though it could have been done just a little better. I wasn't a big fan of the use of 3D effects in this anime, though I admit it was probably necessary for some parts. Nevertheless, the character designs are awesome, and remain very close to their game counterparts.
Music: A seriously amazing aspect of the series, in my opinion. Both the OP and ED of the first half were awesome, and the second half, while not as on par, was also good in terms of the musical content. All songs in the anime are definitely iPod worthy, and they easily fit the dramatic mood of the anime.
Characters: Definitely one of my favorite parts of the entire series. All the characters make up a pretty diverse cast. Welken and Alicia remain to be my favorites, mostly for their personalities and mannerisms when around one another. Even still, the other members of the cast didn't end up just being placeholders. I would warn all who watch this though. Being a dramatic anime, I would expect some important character death. Even still, it doesn't detract from the series at all, and instead strengthens it greatly.
Enjoyment: Seriously, I believe this anime was extremely enjoyable, to the degree where I couldn't stop watching for a day straight. It definitely, definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf, or on your hard drive.
There's not much else to say about Valkyria Chronicles. In short, I believe it to be one of the most under-appreciated anime around. In my book, I believe it deserves a perfect 10/10, as it was I believe to be a shining example of what SHOULD be done in an anime series. In all honesty, this anime is highly, highly recommended, and a definite example of a diamond in the rough that should be dug up just a little more often.
Valkyria Chronicles is not only one of my favorite games for PS3, but one of my favorite games of all time! So how does this anime live up to its video game inspiration? Well...it certainly isn't bad, but it also could have been a lot better. Give me just a few paragraphs and I will try to explain my thoughts.
As you are well aware, unless you have been living under a rock, there is a genre of fiction called “alternate history”. Alternate history is basically imagining a separate timeline if one or 2 major events went differently. It is widely used across all forms
of media from novels to anime to video games. A common sub-genre of alternate history is fantasy alternate history in which magic and different laws of physics exist, so we have to imagine how that would impact the events of history and shape the world. Both Fullmetal Alchemist and Code Geass are within this sub-genre, with FMA taking place in an alternate Nazi Germany and Code Geass also taking place in an alternate WW2 with Japan fighting against the Britannian (American) invaders. Valkyria Chronicles at first just looks like yet another WW2 fantasy alternate history, but it actually does many things quite differently and still feels rather unique.
The next 3 paragraphs are talking about the game Valkyria Chronicles on which this anime was based. If you are already a fan of the game and only wish to read about the anime adaptation, you can just skip these paragraphs and start reading at the Story Section.
Firstly, the alternate technology is powered by a fuel source called "ragnite", which has its own constraints and drawbacks. These realistic technological limitations prevent limitless asspulls, so it doesn't get as absolutely ridiculous as some other examples of alternate tech... like the original alternate WW2 story, "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K Dick. A novel where by 1950 the Nazis have completely terraformed and colonized Venus and by 1960 have colonized every planet in the Solar System! It is fortunate for us Americans and our national pride that the SS Sturmbannführer, Wernher von Braun never saw a copy of High Castle. He would have died laughing and we would have lost the moon race as a result! Thanks a lot Philip K Dick!
Secondly, the writers of the game really did some history research and managed to fit a bunch of obscure and interesting WW2 facts into the game’s story. Here are just a few examples. Remember the absurdly giant tank during the last battle that used naval artillery and was like a battleship on treads? That was based on real blueprints for a German tank called the Landkreuzer P-1000 that ThyssenKrupp pitched to Hitler, who actually greenlit the project! The project was cancelled though in 1943 because the Nazi architect and weapons designer Albert Speer realized that it would be insanely vulnerable to aerial bombardment and suffer the same fate as other absurdly large “wunderwaffen” like the Schwerer Gustav Railway Cannon (which also appears in the game). In the world of Valkyria Chronicles, airpower doesn’t exist so the plan went ahead. The Valkyria in the game’s story are an extremely powerful, ancient race of warriors that came from a now sunken island in the farthest north. Their mystical powers are the result of a special energy that only their race can use, but it is believed they lost their abilities by intermixing with the physically weaker southern races. This backstory was actually taken from the insane beliefs of Nazi occultism espoused by Heinrich Himmler. On a less fun and far more tragic note, The genocidal campaign carried out by the Eastern Europan Empire to exterminate the “Darcsen” race actually follows sequence of the Holocaust fairly accurately with massive propaganda first, then forced labor camps and ghettos, then extermination squads that closely follow and collaborate with the invading Imperial Army to exterminate any Darcsen villages in newly conquered areas, and finally fully operational death camps. Interestingly, in America our experience learning about Nazi genocide consists of reading “Night”, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “Number the Stars”, and maybe watching “Schindler’s List”. Our school history textbooks only focus on the Western Front, so most Americans believe that the Holocaust was the murder of 6 million Western European Jews who almost entirely died in extermination camps. In reality only 60% of the victims ever saw a camp, with 30% killed by death squads and ghettos making up the remaining 10% of deaths. However, these paramilitary “einsatzgruppen” only operated on the Eastern Front where 5.5 million of the 6 million Jewish deaths occurred, so they have been erased from America’s popular history and collective memory. If you actually visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC or talk to history scholars you will learn about them of course, but in American movies, Television, books, comics, games, you will almost never hear a word about them. Yet in this somewhat obscure JRPG they actually get this detail right! As I said earlier, these are just a few examples.
Lastly, Valkyria Chronicles avoids 2 common mistakes that are often made by lesser quality historical fiction. Valkyria Chronicles always remembers to show war principally as suffering, death, and loss. Many civilians and at least 1 of your main characters will die no matter which actions you choose in the game, or how skilled you become at it. By portraying war as fundamentally inglorious by its very nature, it manages to avoid the jingoistic bullshit that convinces a new generation that war is about an awesome display of patriotism and manliness. War is not something to embrace and look forward to! Valkyria Chronicles also has a diverse cast of characters displaying the good and bad on all sides. Real war is never a simple matter of good vs. evil with an army of noble elves vs. bloodthirsty orcs. In terms of nation, your side has plenty of bastards on it, and the East Europan Empire is given some sympathetic characters. In terms of ethnicity, the main villains are ethnic Germans, but so are many of the heroes including the main hero. Basically, it is a very good game and one I would highly recommend playing, even if you aren’t really into strategy RPGs.
Valkyria Chronicles takes place as previously mentioned in an alternate timeline during a period that roughly corresponds to our timeline’s World War 2.The main story of Valkyria Chronicles is that war has broken out between 2 massive factions over control of a vital mineral resource called “ragnite”. The East Europan Empire decides to invade the small, neutral country of Gallia for its resources and because they believe it wouldn’t really be able to fight back. However, Gallia is home to an extremely brilliant tactical commander named Welkin Gunther, whose father was a revered tank commander from the First Europan War. Welkin’s father was also close friends with a Darcsen engineer that built him a revolutionary new tank model called the Edelweiss. After the famous tank engineer was killed in a car accident, the Gunther family adopted his young daughter Isara, who clearly inherited her father’s brilliance for engineering and revolutionary designs. Welkin teams up with his adopted sister Isara along with a local town watch member in order to escape his hometown with the Edelweiss. Since he brought his own tank and was the son of a national hero, Welkin is given command of a small squadron that soon becomes the absolute bane of the Empire’s existence.
The first half of the anime very closely followed the game’s story, but later a number of really head-scratching changes are made. Every time the anime changed a plot point from the game, they came up with something that wasn’t as good. Why bother changing something if you are just going to make it worse, especially when you have all the time and resources on your side?! The game was complete, so they weren’t forced to go their own route. Basically they changed some things for absolutely no reason and ended up making it worse. The anime also decided to censor itself and really tone down the brutality, which badly undercut important elements of the presentation and themes that the game had. The racial ideology of the Empire and their hatred for the “sub-human” Darcsen race is extremely downplayed in the anime. For example, the labor camp that squad 7 tries to liberate is in far more humane condition in the anime and the Empire only fires artillery at the camp when squad 7 refuses to halt an attack after several warnings. In the game, the Darcsen in the labor camp are herded into a building and set on fire regardless of Squad 7’s actions because the Empire absolutely refused to risk the possibility that Squad 7 succeeds in freeing the Darcsen prisoners. The mobile killing squads (einsatzgruppen) that in the game collaborated with the Imperial Army to exterminate Darcsen villages were completely left out of the anime. No explicit mention of genocide is ever even made in the anime! What is most puzzling of all is that the game was only rated T, so it wasn’t as if the anime needed to make changes to avoid a high rating and release to a wider audience. Basically, the anime self-censored in a way that damaged the product for reasons that don’t even make financial sense! Maybe the marketing team for the anime thought that Neo-Nazis would be the core demographic and they needed to avoid offending them?!
The main character is Welkin Gunther, who is an extremely gifted battle strategist, but detests war and actually just wants to be a teacher. He continues to command only to protect the live’s of his squad. He is extremely quirky and socially awkward, but has a very high standard of morality and leadership. Basically just picture Yang Wenli from Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s the same damn character! There is also the shy and brilliant engineer Isara and the fiery love interest Alicia, who has many “tsundere” traits but isn’t constantly punching Welkin for perceived perversion and isn’t extremely obnoxious…unlike most tsundere characters. In the game, Squad 7 has 56 characters that are each given at least 3 paragraphs of backstory, a dozen unique lines of dialogue, and the game actually contains some interesting minor characters. The anime had 26 full episodes and a LOT more time to flesh out the characters, so that’s what they did right? WRONG! The anime actually scraps the vast majority of Squad 7 and decides to focus solely on the main few characters, however it doesn’t even do that well! It would have been at least acceptable if the main 7 characters were given more interesting development and better dialogue, but that doesn’t happen either. In most adaptations like Game of Thrones, there are characters that were more developed and better in the source material (Asha) and characters that were better in the adaptation (Rob Stark). In Valkyria Chronicles, I can’t think of a single character that was better in the anime, despite the massive advantage in time and resources that the anime had over the game. They really fucked up here! There is just no getting around that fact!
The music in the anime is almost entirely music from the game. Why is this a problem? If this was an adaptation of a Final Fantasy game with an amazing soundtrack, it would be perfectly acceptable to use symphonic adaptations of the game’s OST. However, Valkyria Chronicles was NOT a very high quality soundtrack. Although video game soundtracks have come a long way from a 30 second repeating loop being acceptable, an entirely different standard exists for TV shows and movies. What was at least an acceptable soundtrack for an early, sleeper hit PS3 game is a very lackluster soundtrack for a fairly large budget anime. This anime had the money, so why not get better music? You changed the plot and characters for no reason and made them worse, so why bother keeping the 1 thing that could have easily been improved??! Anime director - “Nope, we must keep completely faithful to the original game soundtrack! People love that soundtrack so much that they would never forgive us if we changed it!”
The art is good. If I had to say 1 nice thing about this anime and figure out what the hell happened to all the budget, the answer is the art and animation.
Is Valkyria Chronicles ultimately a bad anime? No. It still has plenty of positive elements and although it is a very watered down adaptation it still manages to be average or slightly better than average compared with the quality of other anime of its year. What frustrates me so much about this anime is that it was a large budget adaptation of an absolutely phenomenal game and SHOULD have been amazing! Instead it was just…meh. So does it fail as an adaptation relative to expectations and budget? You bet your ass it does! I was divided on whether to give it a 6 or a 5 out of 10, but I ultimately went with a very generous 6.
Valkyria Chronicles went down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best strategy-rpg on the PS3 and, having played it, I can't disagree. So when I found this anime (finally) I was pretty revved up.
I looked for this anime a while ago but I could never find it, either because it hadn't been released or I simply didn't look hard enough. The fact that it has been adapted from a game shouldn't bother the ones who have played the game because it's a pretty faithful adaptation. The emphasis has simply shifted slightly, from the more war-oriented action game to a more character-driven story.
Yeah like I said the story and its basics are carried over from the game. If you know the game, you'll know how this ends up. If you haven't played the game, think of WWII, with the Imperials representing Germany (Does anybody else notice how disturbingly Aryan they all are? Gregor and Maximillian in particular), the Federation representing the Allies and France, the poor country representing Gallia, caught between the two. Unlike Hitler who seemed to start World War 2 just because he could, the Imperials decide to start a war over the mineral Ragnite, the lifeblood of that world. The story follows the exploits of Lieutenant Welkin Gunther and his Merry Men, Women and a Winged Pig, as they fight to protect the homeland from the Imperials. Expect plenty of action and drama, comedy and the the odd love triangle.
Art - 10
Definitely can't decide if it's a step up or a step down from the game. However it's still quite beautiful to watch, because it almost literally is art. You can see where the pencil strokes have fallen. It won't be to everyone's tastes but I like it.
Sound - 9
Both Intro and End themes are charming enough and the recycling of the game's soundtrack will be a pleasant addition for the gamers who watch this and even if you haven't played the game, you'll learn soon enough what each piece of music foretells.
Characters - 8
The characters are plain awesome, from the romanticist Faldio, to Marina the Lone Wolf, to Selvaria the busty general of the Imps. Not all of them are prominent but they all feel unique, unlike your generic run-of-the-mill anime crowds.
Why do I only give them an 8? I miss their English voicings. I know, I know but Welkin's "SQUAD 7! MOVE OUT!" and Largo's battle cry of "ARGH VEGETABLES!" became almost iconic to me and my friends, so it's disappointing I don't get to hear them in the anime.
Enjoyment - 10
Oh yes! To see the epic war for Gallia's survival without having to suffer through annoyances such as ridiculously agile enemy soldiers and my Edelweiss exploding for no apparent reason satisfied me to no end.
Overall - 10
This is the first 10 I've given to an anime. Maybe I'm slightly biased, I don't know (I probably am), but I genuinely can't ever remember enjoying a cross-media adaptation of something more. If you're a fan of the game WATCH THIS! It gives more insight into Squad 7 and it may or may not enhance your gaming experience. If you haven't played the game WATCH THIS! It's an enjoyable romp with a band of weirdo's and a tank that could probably do the donut.
What would make you go to war? Everyone has some line that can't be crossed. Weather it is your home being taken away, your family and friends are in danger, or your lover is also going to war. In “Valkyria Chronicles” a small country is pushed into a war that they most likely will not win. Now the people of that country need to ask themselves that very question.
When the show starts out the thing is a mess. The story was slowly paced and had filler episode thrown in so it took forever to tell anything. Slow pacing I could have dealt with
but it felt like it didn't even know what it wanted to do. The story felt disconnected and it jumped from trying to push focus on the story to the characters and back again. Trying to develop characters and a story is great but the way it was done the whole thing felt unnatural and forced. On top of that I couldn't tell what kind of mood the show was trying for. Sometimes it felt easy-going and comical well other times it felt dark and dramatic. Maybe the show was trying to blend the two or it was purposely going back and forth. Whatever the case, it didn't work.
Despite all these problem somewhere along the way the show managed to pull itself together. First the show decided it wanted to be a drama. A joke will pop-up now and then, but the show firmly places itself on the dramatic side of the line. The balance between characters and story development is also solved. Storyline elements help develop characters now and the show no longer has to forcibly insert some small story element just to get a little character development for someone. This also made the story feel much stronger and flow more nicely. By the time the show ends almost every problem I had at the beginning is fixed.
The story takes an interesting mix a fantasy and WWII-ish fighting. Never relying too much on one over the other. The weapons of war are along the lines of rifles and tanks, but at the same time almost everything in the world is power by a material called “Ragnite”. This material also ties in with the legend of the Valkyrian, and I bet you can guess that the Valkyrian ends up making an appearance by the end. Changing the setting from the usual futuristic or sword and sorcery gives the show a different feel them many others.
The show manages to create and develop a terrific cast on both sides of the war. Each person has his/her reasons for entering the war and a great back story that goes along with that reason. In some cases these reasons lead to strong social issues that are not easy to overcome for the character even when they know they are in the wrong. “Valkyria Chronicles” really strives to make you care about these characters and by the end it really pays off. The show pulls off some truly emotional moments between these characters; weather it be between characters on the same or apposing side, friends or lovers.
Beyond the main cast there is a bunch of soldiers under the various commanders. Really they are all just there to fill the void of the squad. However everyone of these characters is pulled from the video game. Like the video game each has their own distinct name and personality. This is good because it gives the squad more personality then just a bunch of nameless faceless soldiers. This is not so good because they are all just glorified extras. By giving them a personality it kind of feels like the show is going to do something with them. They don't really get any development and the only part they play in the story is that you can't win a battle with one person you need a whole squad. The show also through in a few inside jokes between the squad members that only people who have played the game will get. These are never important enough that someone who hasn't play the game will not get the full experience but it is a nice little extra for those who have. All and all I think this is preferable to a bunch of nameless soldier just don't expect too much from them.
The art style has something of a pencil drawn look to it (for lack of any better way of explaining it). This is an attempt to try to copy the art style of the video game. Personally I think it fails in this respect but none the less I like it. It manages to keep a traditional anime look and at the same time can stand out in a crowd.
I have a lot of bad things to say about the beginning and a lot of good things to say about the end. If you can make it through the not so good beginning, you will have a great story and cast waiting for you. However part of me cannot forgive the show for taking so long to get there.