For the first review in the series, please click here. Otherwise, let the grand catchup continue. When last we left our cast; the two
idiots heroes and Milinda, they had resolved to try and find a way to take down the enemy Object which destroyed Milinda’s Baby Magnum and ignored the subsequent surrender of their unit. Running through various ideas, all of which have rather glaring flaws, then three then realise that, just like them, the enemy Object must have some sort of maintenance facility as well. One staffed by people, who are much easier to deal with than the Water Strider.
Taking refuge in an abandoned building on the outskirts of the enemy base, the trio observe that the Faith Organisation certainly seem to live up to their appellation regarding their defences; rather than traditional measures they instead rely on massed RADAR (yes I still use it as an acronym, fuck you) scanners to detect any large-scale incursion. Such as an Object. Which those three don’t have. Unlike the Legitimacy Kingdom unit (the 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion, incidentally), the Water Strider’s base has no obsolete tanks, no superfluous fighters. It is entirely designed around the ethos that Objects are what fight. So, render the Object unable to fight...
They consider the key to be its method of moving: the four large legs which give it the increased mobility that allowed it to out-position the Baby Magnum. Quenser and Heivia realise that the mechanical elements of the legs much endure an intense amount of wear and stress, which must require regular maintenance. Heivia then contributes that his analyst section determined that the Object seems to return to this base every twelve hours (By contrast, the LN states that the Baby Magnum’s propulsions systems need be replaced only every six months). The conclusion seems obvious, and if the enemy did the sensible thing and replaced the necessary parts before launching their attack, it should be coming back for a refit in the next few hours. Destroy those parts, and the Object won’t be able to chase down anyone who is trying to run away.
All in all a pretty solid plan, and one which takes advantage of one of the greatest flaws in many military strategies: human hubris. Because Objects are what fight, with the opposing Object defeated the Faith Organisation soldiers think they’re effectively already won. The idea of the defeated side infiltrating the base with the aim of sabotaging the Object is inconceivable. Y’know, until someone does it. This sequence also gives another amusing example of the banter between Heivia and Quenser which comes to characterise most of Heavy Object as a series. This is what they do: charge into horrifically dangerous situations (sometimes willingly, sometimes not) bitching and snarking all the way. Occasionally joined by other people who are about as insane. In fact, there are few serious people in the entire setting, and they are some very scary people. We shall perhaps meet them much later.
Reaching the building they consider to be the likely parts storehouse (having left Milinda behind, ostensibly to act as a watch for the returning Object, but in reality as she’s still a priority target for the Faith Organisation and we’ve heard what fate awaits her if she’s captured. Isn’t Quenser nice?), our two
idiots heroes come across exactly what they’re looking for; the electrostatic generators which allow the Object to levitate above the ground. Personally, I found the fact that each of those generators, of which each leg has ten, is rated for double the output of the ones which power the main battery plasma cannons of the Water Strider amusing, but maybe that’s just me...
After examining one of the turbines and noting something which is certain to not be important later, Quenser moves around a corner and discovers an unfortunate hiccup in their plan to destroy the parts the Water Strider needs: there are a fuckton of them. They simply don’t have the explosives to destroy them all, and if they don’t get them all there’s no point to any of it. So, balls. Meanwhile, Milinda’s small-animal-impression practise is interrupted by the return of the Object, whereupon another hitch in the plan is discovered. She is supposed to let out two heroes idiots know via radio when this occurred, yet as previously noted, the entire enemy base is festooned with RADAR antennas. To clarify, the R (and the A) there stands for RAdio. Any transmission she makes from so close a proximity will be detected as interference in the base, and give their presence away. Needing to do something, Milinda once agains falls back on her position as someone who protects others, and goes to again use herself as a distraction. Remember, she too knows what will happen to her if she’s caught. A young teenage girl being prepared to accept that for people she barely knows... this setting has some real darkness to it behind the snark. That’s only going to be increasingly seen.
Back to our intrepid duo, still trying to figure out a way to render the turbines unusable with the tools available to them. The VA work really sells the emotions of the cast, the despair of Quenser (who knows how fucked they are) contrasting with the optimism of Heivia coming up with ideas, which gives way to panic as he hears the Object returning with no warning from Milinda. Quenser by this point has run off, hoping to come across anything that might be something he can work with, and happens to across a maintenance manual for the Water Strider (identifiable because it has “Maintenance Manual” on the cover). Bing. Though really, it’s not too much of a Deus ex Machina given they are in its maintenance facility. As he leafs through it even as Heivia is pointing out the decreasing viability of their situation, Quenser seems to have a realisation which prompts him to search for something specific in the schematics, and then take off at a run into the stacks of parts. Finding a specific turbine (of course they’re labelled, how else would you keep track of them?), Quenser starts doing frantic work on the interior as Heivia continues to helpfully point out that they are already at “Fucked” and moving ever closer to “Proper Fucked” the longer they hang around.
Looking outside and seeing base personnel converge on the building to prepare for servicing the Object, Heivia momentarily considers the situation hopeless just as Quenser runs up, having finished whatever he was doing. Legging it out just as other entrances open, the two make it to the relative safety of some shipping containers still without having their presence detected, whereupon Heivia suggests scattering small amounts of whatever C4 Quenser has left to act as a diversion if needed. Doing so as they move through the base, it seems that this whole escapade could work out well after all. Until Quenser notices that Milinda has been captured. Again. And this time, she’s already in the enemy base, and the Object is right there. Even so, Quenser is unwilling to give up on saving her, pointing out that doing so is the reason that both he and Heivia came out here in the first place. Though, there is such a thing as the Sunk Cost Fallacy y’know guys...
Once again led down the merry path of recklessness by Quenser, Heivia provides another example of his own technical competence, jury-rigging the infra-red laser of his portable AT missile into a transmitter which could be detected and relayed by their satellite network, but only until the boosted laser burns out and only one-way. Quenser will have a short amount of time to try and convince Froleytia to send those outdated conventional forces back to assault the enemy base, including the Object they are trying to escape from. Quenser’s assertion that he’ll “do something about the Object” is the equivalent of someone saying they’ll take on Godzilla with a teaspoon, and to make matters worse, no sooner has he set such achievable goals for the pair than they get captured themselves. (This scene in the manga is particularly amusing, as is the manga adaptation in general. I may well do a quick coverage of it before moving on to the next arc; it’s a markedly different adaptation of these events).
So, everything seemingly gone terribly wrong, Quenser and Heivia are reunited with Milinda in the worst possible way whereupon they are taunted by the commander of the Faith Organisation facility, who has a face designed to make you hate him. Possibly literally. (Interestingly, given how closely the anime has adhered to the LN thus far, the character design for the base commander here is exactly the same as the manga as opposed to the illustration from the novels). Yon commander entirely lives down to his appearance as he tells the three how they are going to die, with special detail given to Milinda’s fate, until he’s interrupted first by Heivia mouthing off in response and then by Quenser suddenly lunging for him and and tackling him to the ground. The viewer, much like the assaulted commander, might wonder exactly what good this will do and may consider that Quenser simply has nothing left to lose as he is easily thrown off... until the commander notices his radio is missing. Quickly adjusting the frequency, Quenser yells a warning before triggering an explosion in one of the legs of the Water Strider looming over them: the explanation of what he was doing with that turbine earlier.
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty fucking anemic explosion, and no-one is impressed. It seems Quenser’s ultimate gambit has failed him as the commander chambers a round in the grand tradition of Theatrical Villainy and monologues about how the superiority of Objects is unchallengeable. To which Quenser only smirks, and begins to elucidate as to why engineers are consummate badasses who should never be fucked with (my having trained as an engineer in no way making me either partisan or biased in this opinion); providing yet more exposition which brings all the hinting through the previous episodes together to reveal how a single man took on a war machine of the type that reordered the world, and won.
Pop. Seriously though, that’s a pretty impressive detonation. I would totally get that kill mark as a tattoo if I were Quenser.
The Object going up devastates a significant portion of the Faith Organisation base, covering our trio in debris though all three come out of it unharmed. Unfortunately, so do many of the enemy soldiers, who are understandably quite pissed and start shooting. Quenser demonstrates again that nothing is ever so broken an engineer can’t fuck it up some more, setting off those little bits of C4 he and Heivia scattered earlier for just this sort of eventuality (and scaring the crap out of Heivia too as it happens). Before Quenser can make it over to where Heivia and Milinda are taking cover, yon commander make a reappearance looking a bit the worse for wear, screaming about Quenser being a Devil (Faith Organisation) for his having taken down an Object, taking aim with his sidearm and the camera cuts away as a shot rings out...
Seems Froleytia is a good shot, having heeded Quenser’s plea earlier even without waiting to see if he could follow through with his insane promise, otherwise she’d never have arrived so fast. (Though the gun she uses looks similar to a Barret, an anti-materiel rifle. That commander’s head wouldn’t have spurted blood so much as evaporated). The Faith Organisation, bereft of their Object, are unable to withstand the conventional forces of the 37th C.M.B. and thus the day is saved. Viewing the situation, Froleytia speculates that everything could change from now on, now Objects have been shown to be surmountable after all, and Milinda muses that the three of them could have seemed as abominable as Objects themselves in their own way, going against what people consider the Natural Order. The lie of a “Clean War” has been learned by our two
idiots heroes, but as the last scene in the snow fades, at least they reckon they’ve done enough to leave it all behind them.
The locations then moves far away from any battlefield (well, unless you count societal gatherings as such, which I do) to a party being held in honour of our two
idiots heroes, who, true to form, look insufferably smug and keep insulting each other. Having gained fame and acclaim for their actions, both have plans on what they’re going to do next: Heivia will inherit his estate whilst Quenser has been granted access to the Legitimacy Kingdom’s Object design database, providing him with an invaluable resource to study as he works towards becoming an Object designer himself. Also, Froleytia appears practically falling out of a kimono, much to the appreciation of our two heroes idiots (they say this to her face. They are idiots), and pulls Milinda out from behind a corner to overwhelm the world with Adorable. Our four main characters share a bonding moment before they head their separate ways (Milinda has had a new Baby Magnum constructed for her as it turns out) and the end credits roll as Heivia and Quenser walk to be awarded with their commendations. Job well done.
Yeah, and there’s a typical punishment for good work. To their dismay and no-one else’s surprise, our two heroes idiots have been assigned to Froleytia’s command once again, something she obviously knew when she was talking to them earlier. Sucks to be you, boys! Off to the next war, in the next arc.
So, at the end of Episode 3, the end of the first arc, and the first chapter of the Light Novels, how is the series shaping up? We have a deceptively appalling world to base our adventures within, a main cast of child soldiers who deal with the world with snark and irreverence, and a lot of technical exposition. I think these three episodes do a good job establishing how the series is going to run; rather than the action-heavy grand battles between Objects people might have been expecting prior to watching, such things are going to be incidental to the primarily character-driven story of people trying to make their way in a world that’s inherently unstable; run by people whose only shared interest is maintaining the status quo that benefits them by spending the worth of others. Though when those battles do occur, they promise to be impressive.
That said, I do think the pacing is a bit rushed. Rather than flowing smoothly, it seems to skip from significant scene to significant scene a little stutteringly. The animation is solid: neither outstanding nor atrocious, though some of the visuals of the destroyed Water Strider were a bit soft on detail. The immense scale of the Objects is conveyed well though, and the character designs are personable (though sometimes I feel they make Milinda feel closer to 9 years old than 14). In that vein, the vocal work is highly impressive, moving across a significant range of emotion sometimes in very short order. The sound elements otherwise present themselves in such a way that I’d neither praise or condemn them; the background music remains in the background for the most part, and even the OP grows on you.
The exposition can be heavy for some people to engage with, but overall I think the anime is doing a good job working it into the narrative rather than breaking immersion, even if they’re skipping elements I would consider important to do so. Ultimately, everyone has different criteria for their preferences, and sometimes something just won’t work for a person even without overwhelming objective flaws. The oddly-inserted fanservice elements are probably the biggest detriment to the show, both due to their tonal breaks and the fact that they are completely gratuitous even regarding the source material.
All in all, I will retain my classification of “Continental Siege Unit” on the Bolo Scale, but a couple of Mks below my previous rating for Episode 1. Also, it’s apparent that I have failed in my goal of not being “so fucking wordy...” Oh well.
Heavy Object can be viewed on Funimation.