Reviews of yesteryear: Senjou no Valkyria: Gallian Chronicles

The Valkyria Chronicles series is a set of tactical RPGs based on the second world war and created by Sega in 2008 for the Playstation 3. I have never played it, not having a PS3 personally. I just wanted to put that out there since there’s an anime adaptation and I’ve been asked to review it. So if they screw up the game’s story, I’m not going to know it. What I’m going to be looking at is whether or not the anime holds up on its own. It should, since it’s an adaptation of the game’s story. Let’s take a look at Valkyria Chronicles the anime and see if it manages.

The story is pretty simple. There’s a war between the Imperial Alliance and the Federation. Naturally, the Enterprise gets called in to… Wait, wrong federation. The story focuses on a small principality called Gallia that gets caught up in the war on the Federation’s side due to its resources. The main focus is on the Gallian Militia’s squad seven as they fight various campaigns and the war advances. There are some issues with the series. The first is the pacing. The beginning is pretty slow, and then they start running out of time towards the end so they run through the material left without giving the audience much time to have a reaction. The second problem is the ending, it’s cheesy and not in a good or endearing way. There’s also a plot element that doesn’t make sense. All I can say without giving away major spoilers is that there’s a character with a power. This character knows they have this power, it is a power that could give their side a huge advantage, but this character doesn’t use it until near the end. There is no reason given for why this is the case. I could speculate, but it would just be guesswork and it really should have been explained within the narrative. There are some good aspects as well. There are some really well done emotional moments. I can’t really talk about them in detail without giving spoilers though. You’ll know them if you’ve seen them. Possibly if you’ve played the game, assuming the plots are the same. The series also manages its tone really well. It blends serious moments with more light-hearted ones without diminishing either.

The characters in this fall into two categories. The developed ones and the ones who are there and have names but you know virtually nothing about except for a few basic details. To use squad seven as an example, the developed characters are Welkin, Alicia, Isara, Rosie and Largo, who don’t even make up half the group. Maybe the game spends more time with everyone else and benefits from it, I don’t know. I’m tempted to call the cast size unwieldy, but they had to have a large cast. A story about a massive armed conflict wouldn’t work if you only saw a dozen or so people. The scope would be screwed up. But this does have the unfortunate effect of making a lot of characters read as stereotypes of one kind or another. Another problem is the romance. A lot of it does not work very organically and comes off as contrived or forced. Still, the developed characters do make for some interesting dynamics and good tension.

The art in this is pretty nicely done. The characters look good and most of the action scenes are effective. The reason I say “most” is that there are some fight scenes towards the end that just look absurd and are kind of difficult to follow.

This has a really good cast. You have Takahiro Sakurai, who seems to appear in a major role in a lot of game-based anime. You also have Kuwashima Houko, Otsuka Akio, Oohara Sayaka, Fukuyama Jun and Inoue Marina, among others. Some of the music is really good and some of it is kind of forgettable.

The yuri factor is a 3/10. There are some scenes that read as kind of homo-erotic. Although they don’t really go anywhere in the end.

And that was Senjou no Valkyria: Gallian Chronicles. When everything is taken into account, it’s a decent anime. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. If you enjoy war stories that aren’t too serious or you’re a fan of tactical RPGs you’ll probably appreciate it. I can’t really speak for fans of the original game, the anime might have gotten something egregiously wrong that infuriates them. Alternatively, they could consider it an excellent supplement. All I can say for certain is that it’s decent as a stand alone work, but not really good.

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