Episode 22 – 86 Season 2

How would you rate episode 22 of
86 (TV 2) ? Community score: 4.8

Once upon a time, there was an anime with a silly title. Back in the time of antiquity—April 2021—it had the strongest debut of any seasonal show. But in its second half, it struggled to keep up its momentum, both in regards to its production and narrative pacing. But given time, we always knew that it could return to that gilded state. Now, lifetimes later—about three months—86 has returned to prove its mettle.

I’m being dramatic, but it really has felt like a long time since I’ve tapped out a review here. All I remember is giving the first half of the show a load of 5-star reviews, and then being disappointed that not only did the second half spend so much time in that goddamned cafeteria but also that each episode would come out fortnightly. My impressions ended up improving a lot after they finally returned to the battlefield and we were greeted with plenty of well-polished mecha action, even if the 2D production was still struggling.

If anything, the 3-month gap between Episodes 21 and 22 has proven how much can be achieved with that extra time to think. Aside from a couple of animation errors, series director Toshimasa Ishii has delivered one of his best episodes yet, finally awarding Shin his absolution. Simply titled “Shin”, the episode largely takes place within the protagonist’s cockpit, with the majority of the first half taking place within his own mind. Shin’s guilt has crippled him emotionally for the entire show’s runtime, and although he’d managed to beat off the final boss, he still had his own demons to contend with.

I was worried at the start that the entire 20 minutes would be a depression-themed Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, but the moment fades before any of its impact is lost. Shin knows that he saved his comrades from a tortured mechanical existence, but it’s another thing entirely for him to believe it.

In the end, like most things, it’s something that he can’t achieve alone, and so Lena makes her much-anticipated entrance to both emotionally and visually save her charge. It’s cheesy, but it works. The episode had been playing around with the letterboxing for a while, personifying them as Shin’s own tortured self that even slices through his outstretched arm at one point. Respectfully, I love that shit. And when Lena finally introduces herself, the letterbox shines a blinding white. There’s no need to tell us how much she means to him, the medium of film is doing that better than any dialogue could.

Of course, there’s a little narrative tomfoolery. Shin’s speakers are broken, so he doesn’t know who she is until she introduces herself. At the same time, his microphone is crackly, so she never recognizes him. Add in a cockpit can only open its doors extremely slowly, and it’s enough to make you start throwing stuff at the screen. But even if Lena leaves thinking the squadron is still dead, it’s heartwarming to see how happy Shin is to see that she’s okay.

86 marks Toshimasa Ishii‘s TV directorial debut, and with the likely absence of a second season, this episode is more than proof that he deserves to helm his own original series. If he’s this accomplished at delivering other people’s stories to screen, imagine how well he’d be able to deliver his own.

Next week’s episode is titled “Handler One”, so all those who have been picketing for more Lena appearances will likely be in luck.

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Callum is the host and creator of the YouTube channel The Canipa Effect where he explores topics within the anime industry. You can also find him talking nonsense on Twitter.


86 Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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