Name of Anime: Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
Streaming Site Used: Funimation
Episodes Previously Seen: 2
Editor’s note: this blog contains NSFW material. You have been warned.
Sometimes when RNGesus assigns you a show (or as your editor alleges, you cheat and pick it by exploiting your fast reflexes and the Funimation app’s improved PS4 buffer), you end with something that is almost immune to normal criticism.
Here’s what Valkyrie Drive is about: you could buy PVC figures of the main characters that will arrive at your door before the first episode has aired. One of the implicit ideas behind Nothing But Trash is that anime could be better (and very possibly used to be better), but certain tendencies in terms of plotting, aesthetics, and other elements have been allowed to run rampant because of the sweet, sweet waifu money.
When we last left Valkrie Drive…
…Soldier-chan saved Virgin-chan by kissing her and transforming her into a “consent rocket,” which they both used to escape this hellish all-girls-no-consent hell. Oh yeah, and both Soldier-chan and Virgin-chan have some weird virus that allows them to kiss and for Virgin-chan to turn into a sword.
So the cold open of episode 3 is Villain-sama torturing the ‘Team Rocket’ mooks from the last episode.
Really, I feel like the image speaks for itself.
I wish the idea of powers as puberty and school as a prison was at least unique (despite being, for lack of any other term, fucking terrible), but after Freezing and Cross Ange, these are not new ideas. At least Cross Ange had a strange Gundam Seed parody sex scene.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we:
Final verdict: is Valkryie Drive trash?
No. Trash implies a lot of things, but this is not trash. Valkryie Drive take the Nextwave approach to bad anime: all of the things that I call trash, Valkyrie Drive thinks are essential to the medium. Their goal is to shove as many of those things as possible into something that could plausibly called a “story.”
Anyway, let’s keep going:
This is the girl torturing the mooks in the previous screencap. This shot is held for over 3 seconds, because this is, without a doubt, the most important thing going on the story at that moment. This shot sells Rope-chan body pillows. Do you want one? I’d add a link, but I have no fucking idea what Rope-chan’s real name is. And “Rope-chan body pillow” is a google search that leads to dark, terrifying places.
Then there’s some exposition about how the leader of this school is the only male on the island (despite being voiced by a woman, and looking like a Utena style tomboy), and how all of the mooks in the school believe that the weak should serve the strong.
The episode proper begins with Virgin-chan waking up in her bride dress.
A naked Soldier-chan is feeding her fish:
I have to admit though, this is pretty impressive: most shows are advertisements for merchandise. This show is one long ad for its own uncensored Blu-ray. Not least because a lot of Valkyrie Drive is almost literally unwatchable in the broadcast release because you can’t tell what’s going on:
I’d try to caption any of these, but what’s the fucking point?
So anyway, Virgin-chan and Soldier-chan meet Cowboy-chan:
Cowboy-chan takes them to a refugee colony free from the tyranny of the prison school they just escaped from.
Also, there’s a long segment about how Soldier-chan is 15, despite having bigger breasts than the 16-year-old characters.
This is super important to the characters, and the show’s creators, and it should be to you. Because why shouldn’t plot be about “plot”?
Once they arrive at the society of girls who escaped from oppressive prison school rule, what do they find? Strong, battled-hardened survivors, living Rambo-style and fighting a guerilla campaign against the system?
Don’t worry, your waifus in training know that looking pretty is much more important than weapons, survival skills or agency.
This is probably the worst writing decision the show tries to get away with: it’s a genuinely new idea, a refugee colony of girls (all of whom have been abducted from their homes around puberty) trying to survive under the constant threat of discovery by the evil, fascist school and the open question of whether life might not be better for the girls if they rejoined the school–a colony that, for all its flaws, is a complete and functional civil society. There’s a potential metaphor here for the way Japan’s society and economy, with its “winners survive, losers get fucked” philosophy, does not know how to grapple with the current “lost generation” of NEETs and hikikomoris. But Valkryie Drive is not that show, and has absolutely no intention of actually exploring any of these ideas, because they don’t sell figures.
Soon enough, the peaceful colony is discovered by the evil school in what is the most realistic moment of the episode:
Villian-sama has put a tracker in all of the stolen food. And yes, she stores the remote in between her breasts, because her uniform doesn’t have any pockets. I’ll call that realism…
Oh, we meet Glasses-chan and learn that she is secretly working with Cowboy-chan to steal food for the refugees.
And then the inevitable fight scene happens when the school’s military invades.
The evil prison school APC arrives:
And since the prison school has its own military, why wouldn’t it have tanks?
Virgin-chan wonders why the evil prison school is going to oppress the innocent refuge girls. What possible reason might they have? Besides, you know, being evil.
So, yeah: inside the armored cars are orgies, because the girls have to be aroused to turn into weapons… That makes perfect sense, and justifies everything.
Faced with this thread, Soldier-chan nobly tries to sacrifice herself and Virgin-chan tries to stop her:
But Rope-chan from earlier binds Soldier-chan!
But don’t worry, ropes are no match for the power of Soldier-chan and Virgin-chan’s true waifu love:
So Villian-sama with her harem of weapons decides that her rape power is stronger than Virgin-chan’s consent sword:
That goes exactly as well as you’d expect:
But then, in what passes for a surprise on this show, Glasses-chan steps in and starts kicking ass.
She kicks so hard that she tears her own clothing, if that’s what you’re into…
And her stocking-tearing kick is stronger then Soldier-chan:
And then suddenly two of the minor characters from episode 2 show up, Utena-style, with one of them being a goddam motorcycle:
And that’s the end of the episode.
The reason this article devolved in a list of plot points is that Valkyrie Drive is essentially immune to analysis. It is the epitome of, “Don’t mud-wrestle a pig. You’ll get filthy, and the pig likes it.”
Valkryie Drive is self aware. At some level it knows what it is, and complaining that it’s puerile, sexist, or thinly-veiled erotica is missing the point. Of course it is all of those things. It wants to be those things. It thinks that you want this. It thinks that this is what sells the pvc figures and body pillows. It thinks that this is what anime is.
I’m beginning to suspect that Valkyrie Drive is right…