I’ve already stated my opinion that the Valkyria Chronicles PS3 game was an entirely decent anime if you just watch through the plot sequences in order. The visuals feel 100% “anime”, it’s flat-out gorgeous, the story is engaging, and the characterization is decent. I did not realize when making that statement that there is an actual anime series now. So, the question to me immediately became “How do you make anime of something that is, for all practical purposes, already done, and done well?”
Having watched the first couple episodes I’m reserving judgement, but thus far I’m optimistic about the handling. My fear was that they were going to screw up what was already an enjoyable and filled-out story; after all, plot, characterization, character designs, mechanical designs, even the music were all already finished, so there seems to be nowhere to go but down.
The tack thus far seems to be to remain true to the characters and the basic flow of the plot while rearranging things such that the action isn’t just clips of the strategy portion of the game, plus some added tertiary characters for a better sense of depth. The intro theme is tragically generic pop and the outro equally inappropriate perky… something, but other than that everything else is changed just enough to work, never so much it hurts. In something of a testament to the quality of the game’s score, the background music is taken directly from it, and sounds both good and scene-appropriate. The action sequences involve some remarkably punchy tank combat (a lot of emphasis on speed, which is actually pretty cool; makes the tank that was so central to the gameplay more than… well, just a big, tough tank). The shooting feels realistic enough that the player who just went through literally hours of combat isn’t getting annoyed, while also “movie” enough that it works on its own. Hopefully both of those features continue.
The art is interesting; it would have been possible to take the character models from the game and just do one extended, fully animated cutscene with them, and have the show turn out visually striking. Instead they’ve chosen to go with faithful 2D, hand-drawn art, although in a nod to the colored-pencil-style shader the game used there is an overlay to give some of the same texture to flat areas of color. That doesn’t work particularly well, but it’s not annoying, either, and overall the look is appealing and familiar without looking like it’s trying too hard to copy the original. A few very pretty scenery images round out the picture; hopefully it keeps those coming.
I haven’t seen enough yet to comment on the characterization or plot, other than that Welkin and Alicia are both entirely recognizable and likable—Welkin’s vaguely spacey one-track nature-geek mind is fully intact. The extended take on Alicia’s suspicion of Welkin being a spy was fun and also worked well.
Final note, it’s funny to see some settings (downtown Bruhl) that, after playing through skirmishes there a dozen times, I know like the back of my hand—”Hey, I know what’s around that corner!” Oh, and the exposed Ragnite cooling radiators on all machinery is still present, even if the art has been a little inconsistent with having them glow blue whenever they’re active. Having just finished the “Edy Detachment” downloadable add-on to the game and noting that all the characters from it appear to be in the anime (based on the credits), I’m left wondering if they’re in the anime because of the add-on, or if they were selected for the add-on because they’re in the anime. Probably the former, although if Jane doesn’t show up I’m going to be cheesed off.
Here’s hoping it can keep the good stuff coming.