86 Season 2
Episode 15

by Callum May,

How would you rate episode 15 of
86 (TV 2) ?

My immediate thought after finishing 86's 15th episode was, "This was very well-directed, but clearly the production struggled to keep up with its ambition at times."

The "very well-directed" part of that was validated when Tomohiko Ito's name flashed in the credits. This is the third episode he's storyboarded for 86 thus far, but it is kind of surprising to see him working on an episode without all that much drama. Ito previously handled episodes 7 and 9, which were turning points for the show, filled with plenty of visual symbolism and conflict. This time, the 86 have been called back from the front lines and are preparing for an incoming onslaught.

While the events of the episode itself are generally pretty calm, we see plenty of images of crows perching, clearly signaling the death and destruction to come. We only got a small glimpse of Lena again this week, with the first half of the episode focusing on the team's reunion, while the second half introduces Kiriya Nouzen in more detail. Unlike his work in the first cour, Ito hasn't been given much to work with here, but he's clearly making the most of it. This is most evident during Frederica and Shinei's conversation in his dormitory.

Ultimately, it's a long conversation between two people about events that can't be shown visually, so the camera instead explores the room for visual stimulation. Shin pours a coffee, the air conditioner spins, a red light fills the room, a moth is caught in a spiderweb. The constant flashes of different kinds of imagery within this one setpiece made what could've been the most boring scenes into the most interesting of the episode.

That said, I feel 86 is best seen marathoned. There is very little to come away from here, and with the exception of the one-room chat with Frederica, Episode 15 is weaker compared to the rest of the show. One of the clearest issues is in its animation. There was clearly an attempt to have the characters feel more alive by having them move a lot during conversations, but the movements themselves ended up feeling pretty rough. 86 has always been ambitious, but its second cour has struggled to keep up with the first's impressive highs.

Ultimately, it's not like most people will care all that much though. Episode 15 won't be one that people will refer back to in the future. The scene where Frederica walks around in just an oversized shirt isn't exactly what people are here for, and the meetings with the Federacy top brass only emphasize how unprepared they really are.

Basically, my guess is that the episode we'll be raving about in the future is Episode 16.

Rating:

86 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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