That’s Lieutenant Pham, and I picked this screenshot because I want her to be my ‘nee-san.
Schwarzesmarken is a spin-off from the Muv-Luv franchise, somehow related specifically to Muv-Luv Alternative. I did attempt to suss out just how, but bailed pretty quickly as it seems Muv-Luv is a property where things get complicated fast. Anyway, Schwarzesmarken is about an elite mech squad lead by Captain Irisdina Bernhard, the 666th TSF (a.k.a…. Scwarzesmarken), in East Germany in 1983. The world is under attack by an alien lifeform known as BETA, and our pilots are at the forefront of the defense. However, even as they struggle against a genocidal menace, the 666th finds itself under the threat of the Stasi, who wish to dominate East Germany. Into this unpleasant situation plummets West German Katia Waldheim, who declares a desire to defect to the East even as she espouses a belief in a united Germany.
It’s a neat setting, and it’s that specifically that pulled me in – I have no familiarity whatsoever with the larger Muv-Luv franchise, nor have I ever had a desire to become familiar with it (something, too, which I’ll note didn’t cause any issue for my ability to watch this show). But while Schwarzesmarken isn’t bad, it never quite manages to live up to the potential of such a fraught setting. There’s a lot of politicking and back-stabbing going on, and there’s a hell of a lot of people getting eaten, shot in the head, or ripped apart, but most of the characters are never developed quite enough to give it weight. Admittedly, too, maybe the fact that I didn’t find the BETA to be all that alarming to begin with made it difficult for me to find their savagery against people of much impact; it’s a little hard to take an enemy seriously when you keep seeing them burst into fountains of CG blood like so many punch bowls.
Of relation to this, one of the characters who does get some fleshing out is also one of the weakest characters in the whole show, in that she’s So Anime It Hurts. She is so much so that I swear if you transferred her into, say, a Hollywood movie, she’d instantly self-combust, as she couldn’t possibly ever exist in anything other than an anime. There’s a “plot twist” which involves her, but calling it such is brutally stretching the definition; I cannot imagine anyone couldn’t have figured out what she was going to ultimately do within five minutes of her surfacing in the show.
As I said, though, the show isn’t bad. Even if not used as effectively as I would’ve liked, the setting is solid and is enough to set this apart from blander kin. The male lead does genuinely change and mature over the course of the show, and doesn’t spend a huge amount of time being a little shit at the start, something which remains sadly uncommon. And did I mention just how many ii desu ne babes there are in this show? Because, yeah, there are some totemo ii desu ne babes in this show. The aforementioned Captain Bernhard? I burn hard for her, aww yeahhh.
If I were a better person, I would probably end this review right now and ban myself from the internet for six months.
Anyway, all in all, Schwarzesmarken is a perfectly decent mech show with a bit of political machination going on. If you have a complete aversion to imouto-type characters, its probably best to skip, but if you’re in search of a relatively short mech anime and don’t mind if it’s a bit flawed, this should fit the bill. It’s also all on CR (for at least N. America and much of Europe, and in at least English, Spanish, and German), and at this point you can watch it all free if you don’t have a Premium membership, which does make it easy to get your hands on.
I’ll cap this off with a series of screenshots that make not even slightly more sense in-context: