Ok, I know! We can flank them! They’ll never see it coming!
Well, its negativity week here at GAR GAR Stegosaurus, apparently. We could also call this ‘Day Gives in to Her Self-Destructive Urges Week’, as I, for reasons I cannot quite fathom, decided to attempt shows which I’d either failed to finish before or tore my hair out over the previous installments of. I also continued watching shows which are too stupid to be alive (Yosuga no Sora), and shows which have been grating on my nerves more and more (sadly, Yumeiro Patissiere SP Professional; I truly hope that Johnny and Maize both die in a horrible baking accident… or motorcycling accident, since apparently EVERYONE in America has a motorcycle license!). Meanwhile, shows I do like were on break (Shiki – again!, Kuragehime), or the subs have been slow to appear (…Togainu no Chi). Soooooo I’ve been watching a lot of crap.
Wait. Let me clarify slightly, because I do adore some crap beyond all reason (Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora!). Crap that I don’t enjoy. The kind of crap which makes me wail and gnash my teeth while crying bitter tears of blood. That type of crap.
All of which brings me to Valkyria Chronicles, which I have deemed to be even dumber than Kuroshitsuji II managed to be. After all, K-II was short enough that the miniscule amounts of decent stuff was enough to keep me watching. It also helped that one of the twin leads was a total psychopath who was only reliable insofar as you could expect him to do something utterly outlandish whenever he appeared on screen. Valkyria Chronicles, on the other hand, couldn’t even grant a few small crumbs to its audience; when its characters behave in outlandish ways, it wants us to believe that they could, for instance, not see a flanking maneuver coming despite being a decorated general. When Alois licks someone’s ear, it is wholly fitting with his behavior thus far; when a general acts utterly shocked by such a basic movement, it absolutely does not work since everyone has been acting like this man is a fine military mind.
This is the essential problem with Valkyria Chronicles. Many of these things taken alone we could manage – the underwater tank, the flanking maneuver, the silly uniforms… if only one or two of them existed, we could definitely manage to accept it as an audience and move along. But Valkyria Chronicles packs so many stupidities in that our willingness to believe in it all falters, stumbles, and finally falls flat on its face. Because, no I can’t accept that combat uniforms would be bright blue and include short skirts for the women, that a tank could solve everyone’s problems, and that a group of soldiers could stand around in enemy territory for upwards of six hours and not all get shot in the face.
The aforementioned not-shot-in-the-face group of soldiers was the final straw for me. Dumb stuff had already happened in episode twelve – Alicia and Welkin go on a recon mission while in enemy territory, because obviously you always send BOTH of your leaders on a forward mission. They traipse around in their stupid blue uniforms, strolling along like they are on a nature walk since there is clearly no reason at all that they should be moving quickly and quietly, nor is there any reason that they should be moving low to the ground and utilizing the tree line for cover and concealment. The weather looks shitty, but they don’t bother to turn back. Nope, instead they decide to go curl up by the fire in some little abandoned cottage. They don’t clear the place before entering, and once inside they put their weapons down about ten feet from where they get all cozy. Welkin, an officer, thinks nothing of more or less cuddling with his sergeant.
All this alone is pretty bad. Then an enemy soldier comes along and it manages to get worse. He has a grenade, oh noes! And he’s pulled the pin on it and it’ll go off if he lets go since then the spoon’ll fall off. So better obey him! Y’know, instead of a million other things like shooting him in the head since rigor mortis will basically take care of the whole ‘drop the grenade, everyone dies’ thing. And, even if that fails, if both characters make a run for the door, they could easily get out of grenade range by going outside and around the corner within the five second fuse time. But he does just end of croaking while sitting there… so they bury him outside. Ok, guess the ground somehow isn’t frozen! And that one enemy could never be an indication that more of them aren’t advancing on you, either. But he said he was a deserter! Everyone knows you can believe an enemy soldier!
And then the whole episode goes screaming off a cliff, as Alicia and Welkin return to their comrades… who are all standing around waiting, and have ignored Welkin’s order that they retreat if he and Alicia fail to return in a set amount of time. Ignoring orders is fun and not at all grounds for discipline! Also: in enemy territory, when you are going to be in one position for a while, there is absolutely no reason that you should set up a defensive position. No, you should all bunch as closely together as possible, fail to have 360 degree security, and remain standing up straight. You should also have loud conversations. Did I mention the blue uniforms?
One or two of these elements alone – maybe Welkin and Alicia’s meeting of an enemy deserter and their comrades not leaving when they fail to return on time – that could be accepted by an audience. But Valkyria Chronicles is a royal clusterfuck of these elements, rolled together into a failure of a show. All of which is too bad considering that the show does a decent job of world building, and that the main characters of the enemy side themselves are both solid and engaging.
Stick to the games; at least you know that you couldn’t possibly exceed the stupidity in this thing. They’re also prettier.