The 86 Season 3 anime will continue the story of Spearhead Squadron Undertaker Shin Nouzen and Handler One Vladilena Milize, aka Lena, as they venture out into new lands both underground and to the far north. But when will the 86 Eight-Six Season 3 anime come out?
On March 20, 2022, anime news leaker Sun Wukong claimed that a “86 -EIGHTY SIX- TV anime sequel” was confirmed in some fashion. The leaker used a green checkmark symbol rather than directly saying the third season was greenlit for production.
Being greenlit for production means that a producer has put the project in the pipeline and that actual animation production work at a studio will be scheduled for a later date. To be in production means the beginning of the actual pre-production phase.
This news leak was not corroborated by a leaked image or a source. As such, this info concerning 86 Season 3 should be treated as a rumor, although it’s a believable rumor based on other evidence (please see the release date predictions section below for more details).
The 86 Season 3 release date may be over the horizon, but in the meantime, anime fans were forced to wait on the final two episodes of the 86 Season 2 anime, or 86 Season 2 Episodes 11 and 12, to release in late Winter 2022.
The first seasons of the 86 anime TV series were co-produced by Japanese animation Studio A-1 Pictures and Studio Shirogumi. A-1 Pictures is best known for recent anime such as Sword Art Online, The Seven Deadly Sins (which switched to Studio DEEN starting with Season 3), and the Kaguya-sama: Love is War anime.
Studio Shirogumi handled the 3D CG animations for all of the action sequences between the Legion and the Juggernauts. In recent years, Shirogumi has been known for producing 3D movies like Stand By Me Doraemon and Dragon Quest: Your Story, but they’ve also produced TV series like Netflix’s Revisions anime and the Summer 2021 Night Head 2041 anime.
In 2021, Studio A-1 Pictures also released the Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of the Starless Night movie, the original anime Visual Prison, and three Kaguya-sama: Love is War OVA episodes. For the future, the Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 3 anime TV series is also confirmed to be in production.
The staff for the 86 Season 3 anime has not yet been announced.
For the first season, series director Toshimasa Ishii helmed the project. In the past, he directed Soba e and was the assistant director for ERASED and the Mirai movie. He’s also been an episode director for BEASTARS, Gate, The Seven Deadly Sins, Sword Art Online, and The Promised Neverland Season 1 (not the tragic second season production).
Writer Tohiya Ono (Blue Exorcist, Land of the Lustrous, Shadows House, The Promised Neverland both seasons) handled series composition. Tetsuya Kawakami (Sword Art Online, A Certain Magical Index) was both the chief animation director and the character designer, while I-IV (Aldnoah.Zero, Re:Creators) was the mechanical designer.
Composers Hiroyuki Sawano (Aldnoah.Zero, Blue Exorcist, Guilty Crown, Kill la Kill, Kanaberi of the Iron Fortress, The Seven Deadly Sins, No Guns Life, Promare, Re:Creators, Attack On Titan) and Kohta Yamamoto (Kingdom, The Seven Deadly Sins, Attack On Titan Season 4) created the music.
READ: Hiroyuki Sawano interview: Attack On Titan: The Final Season OST music composer talks future dreams
The 86 Season 3 OP (opening) and ED (ending) theme song music hasn’t been announced yet.
The 86 Season 2 OP “Boundary Lines (Kyoukaisen)” was performed by amazarashi, while the ED “Alchemilla” was performed by Regal Lily. For the first season, the 86 OP was “3-pun 29-byou” by hitorie. Season 1 has had multiple ED songs, including “Avid” and “Hands Up To The Sky,” which were both performed and created by composer/singer SawanoHiroyuki[nZk].
The first season of the 86 anime TV series had 11 episodes. The second season had 12 episodes. All 23 episodes were released as eight Blu-Ray/DVD volumes.
The second season suffered from multiple broadcasting delays caused by “production circumstances”. The 86 Episode 18 release date (86 Season 2 Episode 7 release date) was delayed by a week until November 20, 2021. Instead of Episode 18, the anime series released a special visual commentary on November 13, 2021.
The 86 Episode 19 release date (86 Season 2 Episode 8 release date) was delayed by a week until November December 4, 2021. Instead of Episode 19, the anime series released a special episode called “If it’s worth dying” on November 27, 2021.
The 86 Episode 20 release date was pushed back by special Japanese TV programming to December 18, 2021. Instead of releasing on December 11, 2021, the anime aired a special compilation episode. 86 Episode 21 was released the next week on December 25, 2021.
All those delays meant that the 86 Episode 22 release date was pushed back even further by TV time slot conflicts.
The official account has confirmed that there will be no further broadcasting delays. The second season’s finale, 86 Season 2 Episode 12 (Episode 23), will release in Winter 2022 on March 19, 2022.
This article provides everything that is known about 86 Season 3 (86 Eighty-Six Season 3) and all related news. As such, this article will be updated over time with news, rumors, and analysis. Meanwhile, let’s delve down into what is known for certain.
As of the last update, Kadokawa, Aniplex, Studio A-1 Pictures, Bandai Spirits, or any company related to the production of the anime has not officially confirmed the 86 Season 3 release date. Nor has the production of an 86 sequel been announced.
Once the news is officially confirmed, this article will be updated with the relevant information.
In the meantime, it’s impossible to speculate about when, or if, the 86 Eighty-Six Season 3 release date will occur in the future.
The 86 reviews were very good, scoring higher ratings than most anime in 2021. In fact, when 86 Season 2 Episode 1 premiered in October 2021, the second season had higher scores than the first season. But since the source material for the anime’s second season was also light novel Volumes 2 and 3, it’s likely that scores will fall over time since many fans consider the second and third books to be among the weakest story arcs in the series.
The anime’s first two seasons gave a good boost to 86 light novel sales in Japan. The 86: Eighty-Six book sales ranked #8 on the Oricon charts for May 2021, selling 27,990 copies. By mid-June 2021, the 86 book series was #2 right behind Sword Art Online: Progressive and it’s on track for beating the May numbers.
To put the numbers in perspective, 86 was up there with notables like Tensura: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken), Higehiro, DanMachi, Re:Zero, and even Sword Art Online: Unital Ring. Oddly enough, 86 was still beat by the books for Osamake: Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose, which has relatively low reviews from Western audiences.
In early May 2021, Kadokawa announced that they intended on creating at least 40 anime projects per year by 2023, an increase of 20 percent from 33 titles. 86 reviews from both fans and critics have been good enough to warrant having 86 renewed.
Bandai Spirits helped finance the project due to their involvement with making the 86 Lena figurines and the 86 Juggernaut model kits (both Shin type and long-range cannon type). Mecha collectible fans might find those spider-like mechs interesting, but it’s probably “best girl” Lena that’ll drive the sales numbers.
86 producer Nobuhiro Nakayama is also well known for developing popular anime that are renewed for multiple sequels and often movies.
For example, there is Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? and the DanMachi Season 4 release date is confirmed for 2022. The Misfit of Demon King Academy Season 2 is confirmed for production.
Gate had two seasons. The We Never Learn!: Bokuben anime finished adapting the manga. Strike The Blood Season 4 is already releasing.
A Certain Magical Index anime completed adapting the first book series. Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? Season 2 is reportedly in production, according to anime news leakers.
Given this track record, it would not be surprising at all if 86 Eighty-Six Season 3 (or even an 86 movie) is renewed in the future. But now that the day of the 86 Season 2 Episode 12 release date and the 1st Anniversary Operation has passed when will that blessed day take place?
Assuming that the rumor is true that the series is secretly greenlit for production we shouldn’t expect a public announcement soon. Anime TV productions are scheduled years in advance so the earliest we might expect the 86 Season 3 release date to be is in 2024 or 2025.
VRV and Crunchyroll were streaming the first two seasons of 86 with English subtitles. In April 2021, Crunchyroll’s 86 dub plans were announced.
The anime received an 86 English dub in addition to localization for Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. Here is the English dub cast:
The 86 Season 1 dub release date was on June 19, 2021. 86 Episode 12, the beginning of 86 Season 2, introduced several new voice actors:
The 86 Season 2 dub release date was on December 4, 2021.
Assuming that the third season is greenlit for production, an 86 Season 3 English dub will presumably be announced in the future.
Some anime fans might be objecting and say to themselves, “I thought there was only a single season of 86 so why is this article referring to the third season already?” Yes, it’s true that the first season of the 86 anime was originally announced as a split cour anime season.
What’s a “cour,” you might ask? For those unfamiliar with the lingo, a “cour” is a three-month block of TV broadcasting based on the physical seasons, usually composed of 10 to 13 episodes.
A “split-cour” is where a single anime season takes a multi-month break before resuming TV broadcasting.
86 Episode 11 finished the first cour on June 19, 2021. On that same day, the Twitter account stated, “Please look forward to the second cour broadcast!”
However, a week later, the official website and Twitter account began referring to the second cour as 86 Season 2 for marketing purposes. As did Crunchyroll. As such, Monsters and Critics also began referring to the second cour as being the second season.
The story for the 86 anime TV series is based on the 86 light novels by author Asato Asato and illustrator Shirabii. Asato began writing in middle school based on ideas she came up with in elementary school.
The first volume of 86 won the grand prize in the 23rd Dengeki Novel Prize in 2016. In an interview, the author said she used to write for a Kadokawa light novel label for young girls before she realized that 86 was very male-oriented. She didn’t think 86 would be suitable for Dengeki Bunko’s contest but entered anyway to see what would happen.
By June 2021, the main book series was already up to 86 Volume 10. Asato says she already has the ending of the story planned out, but she won’t reveal how many books are left in the series.
“The general series of events and the story’s ending is more or less decided,” she said. “The chief editor has already seen the brief synopsis for each volume (just a few sentences each) until the end of the story. So while I have a clear idea of how much of the story is complete, I’d like to keep that a secret.”
In addition to the main books, there are a collection of 86 side stories. Some of these stories ended up being adapted by the anime. The biggest exception was Magical Girl Regina☆ Lena… which wasn’t included for obvious reasons.
In December 2021, a Dengeki Bunko revealed that the light novel series will get its first 86 spin-off. Rather than being published traditionally, it’ll be serialized starting in Spring 2022 on the Novecomi app.
Asato isn’t writing the new 86 story. Instead, it’ll be created by writer SOW and illustrator Kuroganeya. The story will feature new characters and vehicles in the Federal Republic of Giad.
Asato also teamed up with artist Motoki Yoshihara to create the 86 manga adaptation. Serialized in Square Enix’s Young Gangan magazine since 2018, it’s up to Volume 3 as of June 10, 2021.
“For the manga, I approved the manuscripts and character designs and answered any questions the artist had about the story and settings,” Asato said. “Pretty much every time, I just said, ‘Wow, these are great!’ and had no suggestions for improvement. The artist (Motoki Yoshihara) and staff did such a wonderful job, and I’m very thankful.”
There are multiple manga spin-offs. Suzume Somemiya started creating the 86: Operation High School manga in 2020, which is a “what-if” alternate-universe in which the Eighty-Six live a peaceful life as students. In late April 2021, an 86 prequel manga series called 86 -Fragmental Neoteny- was launched by artist Shirabi.
North American publisher Yen Press is releasing the official English translation for both the light novels and the main manga series (the manga spin-offs do not have an English version). As of March 2021, the English 86 manga was caught up with Volume 2. The English 86 books are up to Volume 8 as of August 2021, with Volume 9 scheduled for January 18, 2022.
The 86 Volume 11 release date is scheduled for February 2022. Originally, it was scheduled for December 2021 but the book was delayed due to Asato’s health problems.
The title for 86: Eighty-Six Volume 11 is Dies Passionis, which translates as Day of the Passion. It’s typically a Latin reference to the Christian holiday Good Friday but it probably takes on a different meaning in the book’s context.
“Cute is justice! Girls in pilot suits is justice!” – Asato Asato.
Themes of politics and racism are at the center of 86’s story. While Americans may argue over whether or not systemic racism currently exists in their modern government institutions, in the Republic of San Magnolia, it’s definitely a cruel present reality.
Notably, the Republic of San Magnolia is cast as the first modern democracy in this fictional world. Similar to how America once upheld slavery despite its Constitution ostensibly providing liberty and justice for all, the five-colored flag of the Republic is intended to stand for freedom, equality, brotherhood, justice, and nobility despite the majority Alba implementing institutionalized discrimination against the Colorata ethnic groups who immigrated to the country.
“No country would ever consider it an act of evil to deny a pig human rights. Therefore, if you were to define someone speaking a different tongue, someone of a different color, someone of a different heritage as a pig in human form, any oppression, persecution, or atrocity you might inflict upon them would never be regarded as cruel or inhumane.”
86 creator Asato Asato stated in interviews that she started writing the story around 2014. Her initial inspiration for the story came from watching the 2007 movie The Mist. The film takes place in a supermarket, but she wondered, “What if it wasn’t confined to just a supermarket, but covered an entire country?”
It turns out that Asato changed the setting for the story three times. First, she scrapped “a fortressed city surrounded by mist” and then rejected a near-future city surrounded by a fog of nanomachines. At one point, she was even considering making it so that Lena’s and Shin’s perspectives were based in different points in time, which would have been a plot twist similar to the So I’m a Spider, So What? light novel series.
(86 Season 3 will adapt Volume 4: Under Pressure, which features a labyrinth-like subway terminal. In the Volume 4 Afterword, Asato said she based this setting on her dislike for the actual subway stations in Tokyo.)
Asato also drew inspiration from American politics. The idea of the Handlers being like drone operators came from watching news coverage of former U.S. President Obama’s drone strikes in the Middle East. Asato decided to write a light novel series about the ethics of drone warfare and how soldiers would work in the battlefield.
In the book, Executive Order 6609 declares the Colorata as enemies of the Republic, strips them of their humanity by declaring them unevolved humanoid pigs, and confines them to concentration camps. This order is a reference to real-life Presidential Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1942, the USA incarcerated Japanese, German, and Italian Americans in internment camps during World War 2 since these groups were deemed a threat to national security.
Another reference is that Republic’s namesake is the magnolia. This flower is the state flower of Louisiana and Mississippi, and it’s also the national flower for North Korea, so the name of the country itself references authoritarian governments and American South with its history of slavery.
In an interview with Yen Press editorial assistant Payton Campbell (the book translator is Roman Lempert), he said that what most surprised him most about the book series “was how honest and unreserved the writing was when it came to the horrors of genocide, particularly in the areas of racism, hatred, and persecution.”
“This is a book about war, and one unfortunate truth about war is that far too often, hatred is used as a tool to achieve one’s goals. In this case, the goal was to dehumanize a massive chunk of the population so that no one would bat an eyelash as they died by the millions fighting an impossible war,” Campbell said.
“86—Eighty-Six is a very emotional book and Asato Asato-Sensei wants you to feel every ounce of hatred that the Eighty-Six have for the Alba with the same intensity that you process the Alba’s apathy towards their struggle.”
The author’s childhood also influenced the direction of the plot. Asato says she grew up in a family that likes mecha anime. She watched some of the Gundam movies multiple times as a child and Knights of Sidonia is one of her favorites.
While video games like Final Fantasy Tactics are also an influence, she says the designs of the mecha in 86 were more influenced by horror movies based on Stephen King’s Mist and Philip K Dick’s Second Variety.
The Legion mecha, in particular, is modeled after the horrific military action in the Mist books. She researched how tanks work by reading several primary sources.
As for why she chose a four-legged design instead of a realistic tank or a Sci-Fi style bipedal mech?
“I just think they’re cool. That’s all!” said the absolutely based creator.
When Asato was about a particularly weak tank, she talked about how awesome it was and opined, “Isn’t it romantic?”
Asato loves military culture. She writes her books to the tune of Black Hawk Down’s OST and her pen name is a reference to the “Acth Acth” German flak gun.
Payton also spoke about the technology in the books.
“From the historical perspective, this book shares quite a few parallels with World War II. From the technical perspective, although the Juggernauts and the unmanned drones of the Legion are fictional robots, their various weapons and attachments were designed with real-world technology in mind,” he said.
“For example, having an understanding of how an EMP works made it easy to understand the Eintagsfliege: the mayfly robots that travel in swarms and have the ability to electronically disrupt the processes of enemy units.”
As for whether Asato incorporated aspects of her own personality into a character she said that she shared one trait with Shin.
“Like Shin, I tend to be a bit lazy or careless when I’m cooking,” she explained. “Not quite as bad as him, though, since I season properly and remove the eggshells…”
Studio A-1 Pictures has been extremely faithful to the heart of the books. They’ve created an anime masterpiece of action and characterization that arguably improves on the source material in many respects.
That’s not to say that every single important detail was somehow crammed into 23 episodes. Considering the limitations of the TV episodic format, it was unavoidable that certain details will be condensed or omitted.
“With anime, there’s limited time to work with, so you can’t be as liberal with descriptions or dialogue as you can be with novels,” explained 86 creator Asato. “You have to convey information through dialogue that can’t be explained through imagery (such as the history and circumstances of a country) and you have to do it in fewer words than in a novel format. I found that particularly difficult.”
Light novel Volume 1 was very character-driven rather than action-heavy, with most of the battles not being described in-depth with the exception of the final fight. This gave the anime producers plenty of room for expanding on the premise by adding a lot of anime original action scenes.
The books adapted by 86 Season 2, Volumes 2 and 3, were more focused on battle. With the necessity to finish two books and with so much action happening, the number of anime-original scenes dropped… and many details from the books hit the cutting room floor.
Still, the anime’s second season remained faithful largely due to the direct involvement of the creator herself in the production process.
“I attended the scriptwriting meetings, approved character designs and visuals, and answered questions about the story,” Asato said. “There were a lot of questions about the characters, mecha, various items/objects, and so on. Answering them all was a bit tough…”
Asato even joined the director, producer, editor, and other staff for the auditions of each major character, and commented on whether she felt the person auditioning fit her mental image of the character.
The second season’s first episode included little moments of foreshadowing that called back to the first episode of Season 1. Even as the Albas of the Republic of San Magnolia believe their own propaganda, the false peace is showing cracks, including a crack in the fountain dedicated to Saint Magnolia that pointed to the fall of the Grand Mur.
The biggest notable change is that the first season finished with a cliffhanger ending by adapting part of Volume 1: Epilogue 1 and Volume 2: Chapter 1. Then the second season presented the story events in chronological order by having Season 2 Episode 1 skip the Volume 1 Epilogue 2, which was important since it contained a scene that’s set at the end of Volume 3 chronologically.
It was also important that the first season’s ending skip Lena’s action in Volume 1: Epilogue 1 since it briefly depicted the fall of the Grand Mur and Lena’s ramshackle defense. Epilogue 1 even revealed the liberation by the Federacy and what happened to Lena’s forces, so skipping the majority of this epilogue was necessary in order to preserve the anime’s chronological adaptation.
Season 2 Episode 1 also didn’t fully explain how Spearhead were rescued. Instead, the anime merely alluded to Shin’s brother Rei acting as a white knight who then asked his younger brother to let him go but don’t completely forget him. The anime also showed a grief-stricken Shin receiving a metal shard with Rei’s name on it but didn’t explain where it came from.
The books revealed that after Shin defeated Rei as a Legion Shepherd that Rei began following the Spearhead Squadron after transferring into a backup unit (the Dinosauria shown in the anime). The unstable data transfer caused Rei to recover his senses, but the data corruption also meant his unit would shut down soon.
Thus, Rei spent his last remaining days before perishing following his younger brother. When Shin ran into trouble, Rei came to the rescue by firing on the other Legion. Rei even carried Shin and the four others of Spearhead to safety only to be destroyed by the patrols of the Federal Republic of Giad.
Season 2 Episode 2 gave Lena a lot of original scenes in order to keep her active in the story. Her absence for most of Volumes 2 and 3 is one of the low points of the series. While the anime gave Lena more love, it still didn’t explain the meaning behind Lena’s red strand of hair and how she accepts the nickname Bloody Reina since she knows she’s trampling the lives of others in order to meet her goals.
It was also quite notable how Frederica was added to more scenes, including having her meet Eugene and Nina. Later episodes then reinforced this chance meeting and how it related to Frederica becoming involved in others’ lives… and deaths. Frederica continued to be added into many scenes throughout the second season, including the reveal of the Nachzehrer hangar.
Season 2 Episode 3 expanded on the academy training by showing Shin’s dangerous jump maneuver that earned him a zero. The light novel only mentioned it in passing.
The anime didn’t explain that Eugene is poor since his family members were nobles from the old Empire of Giad. When the revolution happened and the Federacy took control many of these noble families lost everything. The nobles that were spared owned industries that were useful to the ongoing war effort.
Eugene’s death scene was excellently handled. They left his injuries up to the imagination, but it was striking imagery when Eugene asked Shin for his picture locket and Shin had to walk several meters to reach Eugene’s hand.
Season 2 Episode 5 adapted the ending of light novel Volume 2. The anime changed the scene where Shin received the letter from Eugene’s sister so he was in his Reginleif cockpit rather than his room. The moment when Morpho’s railgun attack struck the base was changed from Shin encountering Frederica in an otherwise empty hallway.
This episode’s credits actually revealed a huge spoiler for the overall series by listing Japanese voice actor Masaki Terasoma as the voice for No Face. The reason this is an issue is that the actor was previously listed as voicing another human character in Season 1 Episode 4, effectively ruining the surprise of No Face’s identity for anyone who looks up this 86 voice cast detail.
Even light novel readers don’t know No Face’s real name yet, although foreshadowing has caused fans to suspect a certain someone. This article won’t spoil the surprise, but it’s always possible that fans are being massively trolled by playing to fan theories concerning No Face.
Season 2 Episode 6 had a great scene where Shin’s dead comrades are shown transforming into their tags. Rather than relying on a monologue, the anime artfully depicted Shin’s mindset at the moment. Shin’s facial reaction to when the Federacy officers decided to refer to the suicide squad mission as spearhead was especially chilling.
Unfortunately, the anime did skip Dustin’s speech but that was expected due to time constraints.
The flashbacks showing Kiriya with Frederica in Season 2 Episode 8 were anime-original.
Season 2 Episode 9 omitted a cameo appearance of two new characters, Prince Vika and Lerche, who will become important in 86 Season 3. While these two characters weren’t formally introduced and named until Volume 5, it was clear based on the description in Volume 3 that this was the first appearance in the light novels.
All in all, it’s predicted that the finale episode of 86 Season 2, 86 Episode 23, will correspond to the ending of Volume 3 and Volume 1: Epilogues 1 and 2.
It’s the best stopping point since Volumes 2 and 3 comprise a single story arc (Run Through the Battlefront) that brings together Lena and the survivors of Spearhead.
The good news is that there are plenty of books available for making 86 Season 3 with multiple cours. Better yet, English-only light novel readers can jump straight to 86 Volume 4: Under Pressure and 86 Volume 5: Death, Be Not Proud, if they wish to read ahead of the anime.
The only question is if the anime’s third season will retain the pacing of adapting two books per season or if the TV series will return to the pacing of the first season. While the next story arcs do have action, the overall narrative of Volumes 4 through 7 (which will likely be adapted by 86 Seasons 3 and 4) returns to focusing on character development, with the romance plot becoming naturally more prominent as the story progresses. And then Volume 8 starts the current, unfinished story arc that will likely be adapted by 86 Season 5.
The bad news is that 86 manga readers will have to wait for years before the manga catches up with even the first season of the anime TV series, never mind 86 Season 3.
Note: This news story was originally published before the 86 Eight-Six Season 2 Episode 12 release date and will be updated over time. These spoilers assume that 86 Eighty-Six Season 3 will pick up the story in light novel Volume 4.
Lena and Shin are finally reunited!
The last time we watched the 86 anime, the Gran Mur had been destroyed by the railgun type Legion the Morpho, which was controlled by the neural network ghost of Shin’s dead brother, the Shepherd Kiriya Nouzen who used to be Augusta Frederica’s caretaker. Against all odds, Shin and Spearhead Squadron defeat Morpho and liberated the surviving Republic citizens.
Processors from both the Republic’s Eighty-Sixth Sector and the Federacy’s Vargus Nordlicht Squadron have been combined into the Eighty-Sixth Strike Package. Now part of the Federal Republic of Giad’s army, Lena is in charge, which means she’s fulfilled her promise of catching up with Shin and his comrades.
Lena’s hope is to train the Eighty-Sixers and rehabilitate them into a more normal way of living. But racism is still rearing its ugly head.
Lena feels responsible for the Eighty-Six who died under her command and feels frustrated by her inability to prevent more deaths. Shin assures her that it wasn’t her fault as they work together for the good of the unit.
Lena has been bringing out Shin’s softer side of his personality gradually. Now, Lena tries to ensure that Shin feels that he has a place to return home so he won’t throw his life away in battle.
Their next mission will take them to an abandoned subway tunnel in the city of Charite. Known as the Charite Underground Labyrinth, the site has become host to an underground Legion production base.
Barely surviving that dangerous mission, Lena is frustrated with Shin’s reckless actions and how quick he is to put his own life at risk. She can’t understand their way of thinking, believing that he’s taking unnecessary risks, and these angry disagreements introduce awkwardness to their relationship.
Based on what they find in the Legion base, the Eighty-Sixth Strike Package is tracking down Legion developer Zelene Birkenbaum. The trail takes them to the frozen northern world of the United Kingdom of Roa Gracia.
There, the 86 and Lena meet Prince Viktor “Vika” Idinarohk and his personal guard, a woman named Lerche who is a pilot of an Alkonost, a semiautonomous mecha designed for combat on snowy fields. Shin quickly realizes that something isn’t quite right with Lerche.
It turns out Lerche is one of many humanoid robots called the Sirins, a reflection of the 86 embodied in machines. Similar to the Legion, the Sirins (or Artificial Fairies) are robots except that they house structural copies of the human brain!
Shin struggles to accept these creepy new machine comrades, who he believes are no different than the Eighty-Sixers that were used by the Republic of San Magnolia. The Sirins are being made to fight someone else’s battles as an expendable force, which essentially makes them the other side of the same coin as the 86’ers.
These machines have personalities, so what makes them different from humanity? Rather than being forcibly conscripted, the Sirins themselves volunteered to have their brain structure copied. In order to prevent the brain structure from collapsing, their base personalities and memories were deleted and a pseudo-personality is installed.
Even when their mechanical bodies are destroyed, their backups are redeployed to fight once again. Due to this ability to endlessly respawn, the Sirins tend to use reckless fighting tactics and their Handler commanders can give orders that would normally be considered inhuman war crimes.
The Sirins’ goal is to prevent biological humans from dying and ending up like them. They’re perfectly willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of humankind.
Lerche understands why Shin is reckless but feels almost insulted by how human soldiers could throw away their lives in a war where technology has surpassed human ability. Lerche tries to teach the 86’er to value his life since humans can try again when they fail, which the dead cannot do.
But Shin struggles with finding something to live for since all he’s known since a child was the fight against the Legion. He also has trouble forgiving himself for some of the deeds he’s done in battle.
Meanwhile, Princess Viktor is able to help Lena comprehend how both the Sirins and the Eight-Sixers think. In this manner, Lena matures both as a person and as a Handler by understanding the horrors they’ve faced. By trying hard to see Shin’s point of view, Lena begins to close the distance that had grown between them.
While the characters are busy growing emotionally, the Legion is busy concocting plans for their demise. Lena, Prince Viktor, and the commanders find themselves trapped inside a fortress citadel under siege by the Legion!
The sights they see on this battlefield will haunt them forever.
Unfortunately, anime fans will have to wait until the 86 Season 2 release date to watch what happens next. Stay tuned!