Show: Valkyria Chronicles 3 OP
Title: Moshimo Kimi Ga Negau No Nara
Welcome to Day Three of our latest activity, and my first choice: the opening movie to Valkyria Chronicles 3. VC3 is the latest, and arguably the best, game of the franchise so far and takes a much different tone than the previous two (Note: Whilst it has never been released overseas, a fan-made translation patch is available here, and once I finally finish playing it I intend to review what has so far been an incredibly worthwhile experience). Whilst the first followed regular people (for a given value of “regular”) as they went to war, fell in love and changed the world, and the second follows cadets putting down a religious uprising with genocidal ambitions and getting back in time to finish their homework, the third gives us the members of Squad 422 (likely after the 442nd Regimental Combat Team), termed The Nameless: criminals in action or accusation who have each had their existence stricken from records for plausible deniability and are sent on suicidal or morally questionable missions that cannot be officially sanctioned. Whilst some truly deserve such a sentence, many of the other members are simply people who crossed the wrong superior, were in the wrong place at the wrong time or otherwise were deemed too troublesome to deal with and thus got thrown in the expendable dumping ground for problems that need to simply Go Away, with the three main individuals featuring in both the game and the OP being Reila, a Valkyria-descendant who gained the reputation as a jinx after being the only survivor of several squads otherwise wiped out to a man even as she appeared uninjured, Imca, a Darcsen seeking revenge on the Valkyria who burned her village and murdered her family, and Kurt, a straight-laced military prodigy who became accused of treason after unknowingly coming too close to the machinations of a treacherous superior, and whose personality makes him difficult to like (I’m fairly certain he has Aspergers actually, but that’s for another article) and with an attitude that initially distances him from the other members of the squad who are fully aware they’re in the Nameless to die.
The beginning of the intro sets up the bleak feeling of the game brilliantly; the dischordancy of the tones, the harshness of the winter landscapes and visuals of wounded soldiers. Reila is an empty shell of a person bullied for her appearance as a child then shunned as an adult due to her reputation, coming to believe in the curse attributed to her, whilst Imca effectively has no personality other than a desire to avenge her lost. The other members of the squad are likewise disaffected or fatalistic, and it is only the arrival of Kurt that changes things (seriously, look at that manly motherfucker striding towards the camera at 0:38, that light behind him is the poorly-suppressed desire of all the girls of the world) with the change in tonality being reinforced by the visual of the sun breaking through the clouds and the squad charging into combat, fighting for their lives both literally and metaphorically. This sequence coincides with a more upbeat but determined melody, and the lyrics proclaiming the idea of continuing to have hope even when things are at their bleakest, with Reila singing the final three words of this middle section being particularly powerful given her attitude towards Kurt and his role of drawing her out of her depression.
We also see the antagonists at the end of this middle sequence before the focus shifts to the three lead characters almost exclusively, giving hints as to the trials they are going to face through the game (including Reila embracing her heritage and looking incredibly badass) backed by a more powerful and determined refrain, before a shot of Kurt looking into the sun as the camera zooms forward over his shoulder, through the different environments the game will have you fight through and up to the two main girls who turn joyfully before reacting in their respective typical fashion (Imca is a hilarious tsundere when she actually starts emoting) as the final two words of the song are held before a fade-to-white.
I consider this a beautiful song, and I’m really having to restrain myself of gushing further about it. The sequencing of the visuals to the lyrics is superb and the whole thing gains even more import after you’ve played the game and can pick up on deeper symbolism. A brilliant example of the interplay of music, vocals and imagery to create a powerful experience beyond the sum of its elements. For those just wishing the song though, and more of it, I will round off with an alternate, longer, version with May’n singing live.