Episode 23 – 86 Season 2

How would you rate episode 23 of
86 (TV 2) ? Community score: 4.8

Short episode this week! Only nine minutes long. I saw that there was some big post-credits thing, but didn’t bother watching it—just kidding! One of my biggest issues with adaptations is the absence of finality. When it comes to light novels and manga—the two largest sources of anime—they’re usually created with the goal of perpetual publication. But it’s rare that any anime seeks to actually offer a full adaptation.

That said, Episode 23 is the ending 86 deserved all along. I’ll admit, I previously said that I was very satisfied with the ending of the first cour. The idea that Spearhead Squadron had all been wiped out on their suicide mission and that Lena would work with a new group of 86 to overthrow the current system was narratively appealing, though not at all a feel-good ending like the one that was broadcasting today.

This finale, on the other hand, was the perfect send-off for the cast, and we can imagine what sort of lives they’ll be living henceforth. While the second cour began with the cast trying out different hobbies and then abandoning them for the battlefield, we see now that they’ve worked out a balance. It no longer seems like they’re fighting just for the sake of fighting, but have finally found lives that they want to protect. It’s incredibly sweet. And immediately off the back of finding absolution for his mercy killings, we discover that Nina didn’t actually blame Shin for her brother’s death, after all. It’s a particularly wholesome scene.

Meanwhile, after the first credit roll, we check in on Lena properly for the first time in a while. The institutional discrimination against the 86 within San Magnolia is gone, largely due to there being no more institution. Who knew a robot zombie attack could cure racism? Of course, there’s lingering bitterness among the white (haired) refugees, who now have to accept the aid of people of color(ed hair). It’s been a long time since cour 1, so I’d forgotten how silly the hair racism looked.

Episode 23 wasn’t the mind-blowing spectacle that the previous episode was, but one short sequence at the very end will stick with me for a while. Whoever first suggested Fido-cam is a storytelling genius. Anime is constantly looking for new ways to get viewers to feel closer to the characters, and the home movie style through Fido’s lens is a particularly warm and fitting way to convey the cast’s final thoughts.

Honestly, the whole finale is unbearably cheesy, but that’s exactly what we all deserve. The reunion almost brought me to tears. We’ve been waiting all this time for Lena and the members of Spearhead to stand within the same frame together, and we got exactly that. Sure, it was absolutely ridiculous that Lena and Shin hold out their hands to each other to form the number “86”, but that’s how a fluffy finale should feel.

Of course, the story will continue in some form. The eleventh light novel released in Japan last month, and I’ve been informed that there are some great stories to come. Not so sure about the implied Shin/Lena romance, though. Yen Press has the license to the series and the tenth English volume will be released in May. At the same time, I’d also strongly recommend getting your hands on the 86 Bandai model kits. They’re not too difficult to build and they end up looking really similar to the ones in the anime.

On my end, I’ll be saying goodbye to 86 here. It’s been the highlight of 2021 (and now 2022, I guess) and absolutely deserved its Best New Anime award at Anime Trending. I reckon I’ll be looking back fondly at the show for a while. Though, of course, if they do end up making more of this wonderful anime adaptation, I’ll be right back here alongside you all.

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86 Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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.

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