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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a Season 2

How would you rate episode 13 of
NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.2



What is this?

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With the machine lifeforms Adam and Eve defeated, the android forces can finally go on the offensive in the unending war to reclaim Earth for humanity. Yet, things are far from what they seem. A new adventure awaits 2B, 9S, and A2—an adventure that may just change how they view not only the world but each other as well.

NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a Season 2 is based on the popular NieR:Automata video game by Platinum Games and freelance developer Yokō Tarō and published by Square Enix. The anime series streams on Crunchyroll on Fridays.


How was the first episode?

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Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

I appreciate a season premiere that's not afraid to confuse the ever-loving crap out of its viewers. While the cold opening looks to be a continuation of the season finale, the rest of the episode does not. Rather, it feels like a flashback to one of 2B and 9S' earlier adventures—which it is, though not in the way you'd originally think. There are more than a few hints that build an excellent scene of incongruity. If this is an earlier adventure, why does 2B call 9S “Nines”—something she was so set against throughout the first season? And, at the same time, why does 9S act like he has never been to the city ruins before?

The trick here is that the 9S we're seeing here is not the 9S we know. This is an earlier copy of 9S—one who, much like our own 9S, has stumbled upon secrets he wasn't supposed to know about. Adding another wrinkle to the whole thing, this 9S has also learned about the existence of Type E androids, designed to infiltrate and get close to units who know too much—who could potentially undermine YoRHa. And as 9S has been hacking the main Bunker server… well, his number is up.

Revealing 2B to be 2E is a heartbreaking twist. However, it has implications far beyond her killing a single 9S. This reveal not only redefines her as a character but also forces us to reinterpret the majority of her actions in the first season. Rather than fighting the machines, 2B's real job is to monitor 9S and kill him over and over every time he learns too much—and she has done so many times. However, each time takes a toll on her. This is why she can't call him “Nines” for much of the first season—she's trying to create some kind of emotional distance to protect herself. Yet, even after she worked so hard to keep him safe (and ignorant), she still ends up having to kill him in the season finale—and this time at his own request. All this is why she breaks down in tears after strangling him—not just because she's had to kill him but also because she is unable to escape the cycle of doing so.

Moreover, with this new context, we can see that her hatred of the machines is not due to what they've done to humanity or what they've done to the androids. It's for making a situation where she is forced to kill the one she loves again and again. And as she can't lash out at the other androids or the humans for their parts in the whole ordeal, she vents her rage in the only place she's allowed to.

However, as the commander notes while looking over the data of every time 2B killed 9S in the past, this time, things turned out differently. While 2B killed 9S' body, he was able to survive. His soul, personality, and memories are intact. The cycle has been broken—and now, for the first time, 2B has hope. And that is something that could change everything.


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Kevin Cormack
Rating:

Well, NieR:Automata's certainly back with a bang! After the first season's big battle finale culminating in the sort-of-death of male YoRHa android 9S, casual viewers might wonder what the hell is going on in this second season opener. (I suspect generalized confusion is par for the course for casual viewers with every episode of this series, mind you.) We find 9S and his female colleague 2B going about their business as if nothing has changed, but it's clear something isn't quite right when what seems like a simple videogame-esque fetch quest goes quite wrong…

I did not expect this second season of the anime adaptation of Yokō Tarō's deranged gaming masterpiece to come out swinging this early with such brutal, narrative-defining spoilers. 9S doesn't normally discover 2B's true identity as 2E—Execution Class android—until much later, which should clue us into the fact that once again, Yokō Tarō is adapting ancillary material, not merely limiting himself to the game. This episode adapts the short prequel story Memory Cage, which sees 2B and a previous version of 9S investigate the Barren Temple, a location from the original NieR Gestalt/Replicant game. It works as more fanservice for loyal fans but also clues viewers into 2B's true tragedy.

This version of 2B, for all her admonitions to 9S that emotions are forbidden, allows herself a little smile when he suggests offering her a gift. She calls him “Nines” as if they are friends. She hasn't yet closed her heart off to him. It's her repeated mission to be paired with 9S models and destroy them when they ask too many questions or uncover too many secrets. Essentially killing her best friend over and over and over again tortures her fragile android soul.

The memory-damaged red-cloaked android we meet early on provides a vision of the suicidal despair that could gnaw away at 2B, should her cruel masters at The Bunker keep pushing her. Existential angst has always been Yokō Tarō's bread and butter and this version of NieR:Automata doesn't hold back. I am confident that Ver1.1a will continue to be one of the best videogame-to-anime transitions of all time.

It's not all doom and gloom, thankfully. 9S and his crush on 2B is adorable, disembodied head Emil finally makes his proper debut, the “camera” finds a blatant opportunity to focus on 2B's shapely metal ass, as no doubt Yokō Tarō himself demanded, and fans of the severe yet attractive YoRHa commander get their moment of fanservice. The episode ends with what looks to be the beginning of the game's third route, which players know culminates in heart-rending despair, so that's something to look forward to! In the meantime, those wonderful puppets are back to re-enact the rest of the game's non-canon, insane endings. Welcome back, NieR:Automata Ver.1.1a, I missed you!


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James Beckett
Rating:

The long-awaited second season of NieR:Automata Ver1.1a is finally here, and we can only pray that the production doesn't suffer the terrible scheduling delays that maligned the first season. To be honest, the long gap between episodes and seasons is probably going to be the most difficult challenge for returning viewers who have not brushed up on the events of the first half of the series recently (especially if you don't already have a lot of background knowledge from playing the original game or reading the supplements). This premiere, titled “reckless bra[V]ery”, kind of takes place in between the ending of the game's Route B and the beginning of Route C, which marks roughly the halfway point of the story. I say “kind of” because the episode's story is comprised of a major side quest from the first half of the game, some major reveals that are pulled from a short story, and a cut chunk of the Route A campaign that introduces everyone's favorite adorable severed head, Emil. Even if you dove into this episode immediately after finishing the first season, I reckon it would feel pretty disjointed.

That said, I'm familiar enough with the game's plot that such major adjustments and addition to the narrative are very easy to spot, and I'm always curious if they make the events of NieR:Automata more digestible for anime-only fans, or less so. Either way, even if this isn't the strongest standalone episode of the anime so far, it has some excellent story beats and action sequences, which make it very entertaining to watch. The animation on display here is on par with the best of the first season, and some of the CGI integration has even improved, at least to my eye. Watching our android heroes 2B and 9S kick robot ass and uncover the dark secrets of their war-ruined Earth is a blast as always. When you factor in those especially juicy twists regarding 2B and 9S' relationship, not to mention that all of the action and drama is set to Studio monaca's lovely arrangements of Keiichi Okabe's score, you have a show that still very much captures the best aspects of the NieR:Automata experience.

The puppet show after-credits skits are back, too, and I still believe that this entire production would have been worth it just to get more of those lovely slices of the DrakeNieR games' bizarre sense of humor. I'm still not convinced that this is the best version of NieR:Automata, but not everyone has the time or patience to dig through multiple 40+ hour RPGs and a mountain of supplementary books, manga, and stage shows. If this anime continues to be good enough to get new fans sucked into the franchise, then I will count my blessings and be thankful that NieR:Automata Ver1.1a is back.


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