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NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a
Episode 7

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 7 of
NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a ?
Community score: 4.2


“[Q]uestionable actions” is another “normal” feeling episode of NieR:Automata Ver1.1a after a couple of weeks that have focused more on flashbacks and mood building. What I mean by that is that the story contains the most traditionally plot-focused structure that we've seen since the fight against the Songstress in “a mountain too [H]igh”, with the Androids being given a clear mission with a beginning, middle, and end-stage for the episode to work through, all of which leads us to the introduction of a new(ish) character and a mystery to look forward to solving in the coming weeks.

Well, to say that 2B and 9S are “given” the mission is maybe a bit of an overstatement, since the quest to rescue the pink-ribboned robot named “Big Sister” is essentially forced upon our two heroes after a most theatrical display of grief and longing from Pascal and Big Sister's little sibling. It's quite funny, and also a great way to inject some of the humor and pathos that makes Pascal and the Robot Pacifists such loveable characters in the game (even as they constantly ask to engage in all manner of fetch quests and collect-a-thons). It's also an appropriate development for the anime's larger story. Last week, we saw how the terrible consequences of the Android/Robot war could leave survivors like Lily feeling traumatized forever after—to say nothing of a certain robot-murder machine that we get properly introduced to at the end of the episode—while “[Q]uestionable actions” shows us what can happen when Androids like 2B and 9S are willing to take the Robot's burgeoning identities and emotions seriously, to the point where the death of a Robot can feel like enough of a tragedy to get 2B to draw her blade against a literal mirror image of herself.

You might argue that Yokō Tarō is playing dirty by making said victim of roboticide a literal infant in a crib, complete with a robo-pacifier, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree with you, but that's sort of the point in stories like NieR. In order for characters to be shocked out of their preconceived notions and harmful biases, they have to be confronted with the most extreme version of where their prejudices can end up, and there's not much that's more extreme than A2 to conclude her total annihilation of the robotic Forest Kingdom by descending from the sky like some angel of death and skewering the tiny “Forest King” with her blade.

The glimpses we get into the Forest Kingdom's past make the tragic story even more complicated by showing us how the robots' tried to emulate what they saw to be the best of humanity's traits, such as their ability to form relationships and build communities, only to fall prey to the isolationism and self-inhibiting tribalism that is the source of so much human suffering. We don't know that the Forest Kingdom was especially evil, but they certainly seem to be all the worse for the ways that they shunned outside influence and clung to their doomed belief in the Forest King's ability to be reborn and protect them from harm. It is maybe telling that the one Forest Robot that survives A2's massacre is the one who finds love in Big Sister, someone who lives outside of his community's narrow way of thinking.

It all makes for interesting thematic conflict, in any case, which is good, since the more material conflict of the episode is maybe the one underwhelming thing about this chapter of the anime. The first encounter with A2 was an epic little fight in the game, if my memory serves, and I couldn't help but feel like the extremely brief skirmish we get here is just a little anticlimactic. Still, the story of NieR:Automata is moving along nicely now that we (hopefully) won't have to go nearly a month in between episodes anymore, and I'm eager to see all of the ways that 2B and 9S' perspectives get challenged and twisted in the future.


Extraneous Code

• This week's puppet show gives us a cute, puppety A2. 'Nuff said.

Grimoire of Lore

This is where you'll find my more spoilery observations, so you might want to avoid these bits unless you're already familiar with the NieR games!

• Not too much to say here this week, as all of the really good talking points about A2 and her place in the story will doubtless be more relevant in future episodes, and not much about her depiction or actions has changed from the game, so far as I can tell. The one detail I'm pretty darned certain is new to the anime is Little Sister getting engaged to the Forest Bot. I didn't have time to go back and check, so correct me if I'm wrong, but this is another detail that is both significant enough and yet also arbitrary enough that I feel like it has to serve a greater long-term purpose. On the other hand, maybe Taro is just looking for a way to make a certain decision of Pascal's have even more impact, if/when we finally get to it.

• Also, are y'all in agreement with me that there is no way that we get through this adaptation in less than 24 episodes? Even when you factor in all of the side content that will end up cut for time, I don't know if we'd be able to get much further than the ends of the A/B route if this were only a single-cour production…

NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.

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