AMAIM Warrior at the Borderline
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 13 of
AMAIM Warrior at the Borderline ?
Community score: 3.8
It's probably apparent by now, but I've struggled to find a whole lot to talk about with AMAIM across this season. When it comes to narrative fiction, I tend to gravitate towards aspects like character arcs or overarching themes; stuff where you can get into the characters' heads and peek into their humanity, or where the cast are used to explore particular ideas that the creators find interesting. And that just isn't what AMAIM is about – its characters are surface level and have only ever gotten minor development beyond their initial personalities. The early episodes and their hamfisted portrayal of the villains seemed poised to at least have something to say in a political sense, even if it was stupid as hell, but the show has since either lost the will or time to actually say anything on that front.
So all that's really left is its plot and its action. The latter has generally been solid – not amazing, but well-executed and directed despite some clear production shortcomings keeping movement to a minimum for a long stretch. The story has been...well “inoffensive” isn't quite right, but its main selling point is that it hasn't faceplanted so far. There have been some bad episodes, mostly thanks to terrible villains, but on the whole the base story's biggest sin is that it's totally unsurprising. Just about every plot beat has gone exactly how you'd expect, save for the village rebuilding episodes where for once there wasn't a big fight to close out the episode, and when the characters are basically the same as they were 10+ episodes before, there's just not much left to break down and analyze. I'd say this was written like a kids' show with added blood, but I have seen plenty of toy commercial anime with stronger character arcs than this.
That, more than anything, is my problem with AMAIM. It's not bad, but it lacks an identity, and that makes its technically competent writing just feel bland. That's especially apparent in this mid-season climax, as the show finally delivers on that ominous floating shoe in the ED and has Amou heroically sacrifice himself to take down Ghost once and for all. The fight preceding that moment is an overall solid affair – it's tense and fast-paced, and the final brawl with Ghost feels suitably desperate as our heroes pull out all the stops for a single chance at taking this behemoth down. But it's all ultimately building up to this big, tragic moment as Amou faces down his own death in order to protect others. It's meant to be the culmination of the journey he's been on, transforming from a timid gearhead who ran from battle into somebody willing to stake everything on the chance to protect others. But it doesn't land.
I don't dislike Amou, or anything – I'm just not attached to him as a person. It's sad that he dies in the respect that it's sad to see anybody lose their life, especially someone so young. But as an emotional crescendo meant to punctuate this half of AMAIM's journey, his death just doesn't have any impact. There was never enough time spent fleshing out his personality, or building a sense of friendship between him and the other kids. His biggest change was choosing to return to combat in episode five, but since then he's been your typical Mecha Anime Protagonist, with nothing distinguishing or memorable about him. I can buy that the other characters are upset by his death, but I cannot feel that sadness alongside them, and that's a sign a show has come up short.
Other than that there's just not a lot to comment on, unfortunately. It's nice that the foreign military characters get the barest bit of humanity by helping the Resistance fight Ghost for a second, I guess. It turns out I was giving Captain Brad too much credit, as his plan was just to let the Resistance fight Ghost instead of teaming up with them, and then scavenge parts from whichever side got annihilated. That's not a bad plan on paper, but you can bet dredging up the ghost of, uh, Ghost is not going to end well for him. But overall this episode and this whole storyline rest entirely on how much you're invested in Amou as a person, and it just never managed to make me care about him.
It's unclear what's going on with AMAIM's schedule going forward – some sites had it listed at 13 episodes, suggesting it would be suddenly split-cour, but the episode previews don't suggest any break in airing. For now I'm operating on the assumption that it'll be running through winter, and assuming it makes the cut for continuing episode reviews my hope is that this can be a turning point. We now have a genuinely tragic plot point to build our remaining characters on, and one would think that would be the perfect chance to start developing the cast, letting them grow or display more complex emotions. I don't exactly have faith that'll happen, but it sure would be nice.
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