Movie Reviews

NieR: Automata Channels the Best of Alita & Gundam With Its Battles

Warning: SPOILERS for Episode #1 of Nier: Automata Ver1.1a.

The new NieR: Automata anime channels the best of Gundam and Alita in its exciting, fast-paced battles. The androids that are the protagonists of NieR: Automata Ver1.1a are superb fighters like Alita, who can take on hordes of enemies in close combat, but they also pilot single-seat aircraft that can shift form from a powerful fighter craft to a bipedal mech similar to those seen in the Gundam franchise.

A major part of every action shonen anime is how its characters fight. In Sci-Fi settings, technology plays a big part in battles, and this happens usually in two main ways. Either the characters have some sort of technological augmentation to their bodies (from integrated implants like in Cyberpunk: Edgerunners or by being artificial beings like androids or robots), or they use highly advanced weapons, including mobile suits of battle armor. NieR: Automata Ver1.1a takes the best of both, as the protagonists of the anime are powerful android soldiers that can also pilot impressive battle suits.

Related: Nier: Automata’s Biggest Problem Adapting Into An Anime TV Show

Episode #1 of NieR: Automata Ver1.1a opens with a squad of YoRHu androids, including the protagonist 2B, deployed on Earth to destroy the latest weapon developed by the enemies of humanity, the Machines. The androids are approaching the target using their Flight Units, which are used for the insertion of troops and heavier combat due to their speed and powerful weapons. However, 2B’s squad gets annihilated in the sky by an ambush of the Machines, so she shifts her Flight Unit into its bipedal mech form, which is more suited to close combat, and destroys her enemy. Later, when 2B lands in the Machines’ factory, she leaves her Flight Unit behind because it’s unfit for small spaces, and fights the Machines in close combat, using her high-tech sword and the support of her Pod unit (a small, hovering robot with ranged weapons).

The fighting style of 2B is very reminding of Alita, the main character of the iconic Sci-Fi manga Battle Angel Alita, who is a cyborg that fights using martial arts. Alita‘s awesome fights style has inspired a lot of following Sci-Fi works with female protagonists, and Nier: Automata is no exception. The Flight Units, however, are a unique mix between Transformers and Gundam. The ability to shift from a vehicle to a bipedal form is a signature of Hasbro’s iconic franchise, but the look of the Flight Unit in its mech form, and its use in battle, are straight out of Mobile Suit Gundam, another legendary franchise that is a milestone of Japanese animation and is currently updating its legacy for the new generations with Gundam: The Witch From Mercury.

It’s interesting to note that Flight Units have a marginal role in the Nier: Automata video game that inspired the anime, where they only appear as a rare enemy. In the anime, instead, they are used often by the protagonists, making the battles between the androids and the Machines a lot more variegated. Fight sequences are an important part of any action shonen, and Nier: Automata Ver1.1a is channeling the best of Alita and Gundam to make its battles as exciting and diversified as possible.

More: New Gundam Light Novel Details Backstory of Latest Anime

Nier: Automata Ver1.1a is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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