Anime / Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor
aka: Fafner In The Azure

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No, this is not the cast of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny.

Are you there?

Fafner is a 26-episode long anime about a lone island, Tatsumiyajima, in a world where aliens called Festum have invaded and subsequently wrecked much of the human population. Major cities and/or countries are gone (naturally, Japan is included), but Tatsumiyajima is left alone... that is, until the Festum come back once more. There're no worries, however; the show's gigantic machines, the Fafners, are more than adequate to kick some golden butt.

Throughout the series, the Fafners' pilots, which are revealed to be specific children on the island, are introduced to aid the protagonist in combat; some blow up, get scrapped, or become inducted into the team. Then the island accidentally makes contact with the U.N., who more or less blackmails them into joining the big war against the Festum (and mainly because the U.N.'s own machines suck to the nth degree).

Fans of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED might note the similar character designs; after all, they share the same designer in that aspect. The Humongous Mecha of the series, however, are anything but Gundam-like, and are more akin to Evangelion. Indeed, the storyline and all material contained in the series itself can be called as such, although their usage, looks, and overall plot point differ by varying degrees.

It also had a 50-minute TV special made for it. Fafner: Right of Left tells the story of how Tatsumiyajima narrowly avoided all-out war with the Festum even before the series began, by splitting off a section of the island as a decoy (with people left behind to steer it around, no less), arming them with cool-looking prototypes and the prototypes of the kids in the main series (all the widdle children around are like that), and generally telling them that their mission, more or less, is one of duty-bound suicide. Expect less of the main series' bittersweet ending than flat-out slaughter... regrettably, not all of the Festum's fault alone.

A theatrical film, Heaven And Earth, premiered on December 25, 2010 and a second season was confirmed under the name Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor: Exodus taking place two years after Heaven and Earth. Its first half aired in January of 2015, with the second half airing in October of 2015.

A character sheet has been started.
Some tropes include:
  • Ace Custom: Arguably all of the Nothung models, since each one is customised for a particular role and each pilot is assigned to the one they are judged to be a good match for. Subverted in the case of the Megatherion and Babylon, which are not so special when one considers how powerful Fafners are supposed to be.
  • Ace Pilot: Kazuki for Tatsumiya Island, and Michio and Canon for the Neo U.N. Soushi also considered Mamoru the other ace pilot of Tatsumiya Island, considering him the other "trump card" they had at their disposal.
  • Alien Invasion
  • All Love Is Unrequited: This has produced a rather impressive Love Dodecahedron. Out of all the characters in the show, the only ones to have entered a relationship and survived are Kenji and Sakura.
  • Animation Bump: While the first series has average quality, the animation got an upgrade in Right of Left prequel, but it gets really good in Heaven and Earth and Exodus.
    • Exodus has an overall great animation, but the first fifteen minutes of episode one's extended cut is just simply breathtaking, it must be seen to be believed.
  • Anyone Can Die: Starts early and is maintained throughout the TV series with notable exceptions (Kazuki, Fumihiko, and Soushi (who would have been Deader Than Dead in another series) have Contractual Immortality. Soushi's expires in the last episode...kind of.)
    • It is taken to an extreme in Right of Left in which every pilot does indeed die
    • And in The Movie, this is surprisingly subverted. Nobody dies at all, and even more surprisingly, Soushi comes back and Sakura recovers enough to pilot a Fafner again. One could even say Kouyo came back in a way, or at the very least his Fafner did.
    • This trope is in full swing for Exodus.
  • Arc Words: "Are you there?"
    • Kenji-centric arc words. "We haven't finished our fight yet."
  • Artifact of Death: In order to pilot the Nothung model Fafners, the pilots have to be injected with a Psycho Serum made from Festum that will slowly cause them to be assimilated.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: What happens to Tsubaki in the end, integrating with the entirety of the island
  • The Assimilator: The Festum are the obvious example, but the Mark Sein also has the power to assimilate them.
  • Barrier Warrior: Mamoru's Fafner was designed specifically for defense, and yet he repeatedly is shown to be the best fighter of the trio of him, Sakura, and Kenji.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shouko. She goes berserk before her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Big Bad: Idun, especially after he gets the Mark Nicht.
  • Bishonen Line: The Master-type Festum normally take human form. Big Bad Idun is a blonde, spiky-haired young man; Mjolnia takes the appearance of Kazuki's Missing Mom Akane, and Kouyo eventually becomes one that would presumably look like him.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The series, arguably. While we are told that those who are assimilated may one day return we do not quite get to see that happening.
    • Also, after the final battle, Kazuki is left blind.
    • The movie, as well. Soushi and Kazuki are finally reunited and Kazuki is no longer blind, but the assimilation phenomenon is still affecting him to the point where he doesn't have long to live.
    • For Exodus the show ends on the most bittersweet note in the franchise, Soushi is Killed Off for Real this time, Tatsumiya island is submerged with Orihime and Kiyome sacrificing themselves to do so, Seri being put into a Deep Sleep, Yumiko and Emery were Dead All Along and fade away right in front of Miwa, and all the Perseus members of the Neo UN are dead. However despite all that there is more hope than ever before for festum and humans to coexist with Miwa being able to communicate with them, as well as all the azazel types being killed off, Soushi may be dead but a 2nd Soushi is born and raised by Kazuki, and one day they will be able to return to the submerged Tatsumiya island.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Festum aren't evil. They're just a hive mind species that don't understand the concept of individuality and thus they think something is broken about us and they're trying to fix us so that we exist "correctly". The problem is they don't realize the assimilation process is something humans don't survive, because they don't understand the concept of death either. The conflict is so dangerous because they're very concerned about our well-being and thus very determined to "help" us. Subverted with the Festum named Idun, who is evil and wants to destroy us, but only because he learned the concepts of hatred and destruction from assimilating us.
  • Bookends: Exodus begins with Soushi talking about how "by the time you listen to this, I will no longer be in this world." halfway through the penultimate episode of Exodus, just before the Fourth Azure Sky Plan, he records the message.
  • Break the Cutie: Pretty much everyone but especially Shouko and Kouyo, arguably Soushi as well.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The more you pilot a Fafner, the closer you get to being assimilated. Kazuki takes this trope Up to Eleven and he isn't stopping.
  • Character Exaggeration: A rather strange example. When Sakura, Kenji and Mamoru first pilot their Fafners, they didn't have time to undergo the necessary mental conditioning so they became exaggerated versions of themselves when behind the controls.
  • Cold Sniper: When Maya gets in a Fafner, she gets very quiet, very focused, and very, very good at killing.
  • Colon Cancer: The full title of Heaven and Earth is Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor: Heaven and Earth. Same with Exodus (which is officially written as -EXODUS-).
  • Creepy Child: Tsubaki, who as Tatsumiyajima's Core has complete control of the island and knows everything that happens on it. She's also a Festum, and her good intentions often appear doubtful.
    • Before Tsubaki there was Idun, the core of another Island who, unlike Tsubaki, IS evil and kills several soldiers in his first appearance.
    • Orihime, Tsubaki's self-proclaimed "daughter", who is the new core of the island. She's less nice than Tsubaki was, and it's implied she's extremely pissed off that the inhabitants of the island used her to get more power.
  • Death Is Cheap: Surprisingly for such a Tear Jerker anime, but when the Mir core decides to go all-out, death seems to mean nothing to them. Seri was pretty convincingly killed in episode 7 of Exodus, but is up and running right in the next one. Then Yumiko gets crushed by a building in episode 8, with just her hand sticking out from the rubble and Miwa desperately trying to reach for it… and then she's right in the next scene like this never happened.
    • That said, it's debatable that if Seri and Yumiko are humans anymore after they got revived.
  • Designer Babies: It is eventually revealed that all the children were conceived through artificial means, and probably all had their genome tuned for the express purpose of piloting Fafners. Part of the reason why the adults are so focused on still giving them a family and a sense of peace and normalcy is so they can deal with this burden and have something to fight for.
  • Double Agent
  • Downer Ending: The OVA. The TV series has more of a Bittersweet Ending.
    • Exodus does this as well, with Emery disappearing into Ashoka, Miwa finally accepting her mother's death, and Seri entering a kind of suspended animation along with Altair and Alvis. Orihime also reincarnates, along with Soushi. Really, the only good thing to come out of it is the rebellion of a few elements of the Neo U.N. and the fact that Altair isn't currently hostile to humanity.
  • Emotionless Girl: More like emotionless woman in the case of the Master Festum Mjolnia. Canon was like this for awhile, or at least she hid her emotions very, very well.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Variant of this. It was only after Kouyo's parents attempted to take him off life support that Fumihiko threw them off the island, denouncing them as unworthy parents because of this. This coming from a man who threw Ill Girl Shouko to the winds to kill a Festum only a few episodes before.
    • Kinda dubious since Shouko wasn't likely to die from piloting a Fafner, and only did die because she didn't wait the two minutes until backup arrived.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone on the island knows that Fumihiko and Chizuru have a thing for each other. In Heaven and Earth, Kazuki pretty much tells his father to propose to her already.
  • Evolving Credits: The second ending of Exodus. While the first time it appears there's only Kazuki and Soushi, sporting BadassLongcoats, by the next episode, following his return, Kouyo is with them. Of course, he gets a coat too.
    • In the following episode, the second opening is updated: the shot of the Nicht in between the shot of the Dreizehn and the dual shot of the Sein and Nicht is replaced by a shot of the Einherjar-model Mark Vier.
    • And in episode 8 Misao joins the Badass Longcoat crew, fitting right in with the other three.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: Kazuki in the first episode
  • Festival Episode: A Bon festival, even. Needless to say everyone gets to wear yukatas.
  • Fridge Brilliance: The room that holds Vagrant's core being named Prometheus' Cave may seem strange, as Prometheus was "humanity's greatest benefactor" and the Festum are most definitely not that, but then you realise that in the official timeline a theory was put forward that the Seto Inland Sea Mir spurred Humanity's evolution onwards. As a creator of Humanity as it currently is, that would make the Seto Inland Sea Mir, and by extension Vagrant, equivalent to Prometheus.
  • Foreshadowing: Despite all the talk of her data saying she has physical defects to the point where Ill Girl Shouko is a better pilot candidate than her, Maya is shown to be extremely physically fit, going rock climbing at one point. Because her data was tampered with to keep her from piloting and she's actually one of the best pilot candidates out of all the kids.
  • Genius Loci: Tatsumiya Island has a highly evolved Mir that regulates environment inside the Welle Shields. It causes all the flowers and trees on the island to bloom when it learns about life, and would have killed everyone when it learned about death, if not for Tsubaki.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: The adults on the island try their best to let their children, especially those have to fight, be as happy as possible.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Soushi has a scar on his left eye. Which is actually plot relevant when they were both children his best friend Kazuki had to claw at said eye to keep Soushi from being assimilated by the Festum. As a result there is a lot of bad blood between the two since Soushi cannot pilot Fafner due to the injury and Kazuki is in a state of self denial mixed with guilt over the whole issue.
  • Gratuitous German: Perhaps not completely gratuitous given that "Fafner" is a concept taken from Germanic mythology but it is somewhat odd that the units themselves should have German numerals (Elf, Zwei, etc. Not to mention "Mark Sein").
    • The way "Mark Sein" is spelled can even lead to a small translation joke since it sounds a lot like the german phrase "mag sein" which means "could be".
    • Same could be said about "Mark Nicht" which sounds a lot like "mag nicht", the way a child would say "don't wanna". Considering Mark Nicht is basically sentient and extremely moody and bratty to boot its actually a bit of a Stealth Pun.
  • Heroic BSOD: Goes into full swing once Sakura burns out and Mamoru's body is crushed. It especially effects Mamoru's father who can't find the strength to make any more manga, to say nothing about Kenji.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Plenty of them.
    • Subverted when Michio detaches a portion of the island and plans to self-destruct to destroy the Mark Nicht. He ejects and you think he's going to escape, only to have it double-subverted when the Mark Nicht catches his cockpit and smashes it against his Fafner just as it explodes.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Interestingly, played in reverse. The more the Festum come in contact with humans, the more they become like us and create a sense of self and become individuals. The "monster" section comes from the fact that now that some of the Festum can think for themselves, they've gone from Blue and Orange Morality aliens to having a faction that is outright malevolent and destructive towards humanity, going so far as to strongarm less violent Festum into fighting on their side against humans. So in essence it's a form of Humans Are Bastards when the ones looking at us end up adopting only our negative traits.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Tatsumiyajima
  • Hive Mind: The Festum. A single unit which absorbed Akane Makabe develops a distinct personality and rebels near the end of the series, bringing a host of information.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: To the Festum, we actually are.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Fafner, naturally.
  • I Am Spartacus: Most of the main cast confessing to tampering with Maya's data
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The drama created by the show's Love Dodecahedron is balanced out by most characters taking this attitude. No less than three girls (Shouko, Maya, and Canon) have felt some form of this trope towards Kazuki, and every member of the Kazuki/Maya/Soushi Power Trio can be said to feel some form of this towards the other two (though which feelings are romantic and which are platonic is a matter of personal interpretation).
  • Ill Girl: Shouko is a classical example of this. She suffers from a disease that keeps her from attending school regularly and is often seen in bed.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: The N.U.N.'s last resort when they are losing a battle against Festum is to nuke the entire battlefield, human soldiers and civilians included. That way, even if the Festum manage to survive the explosion, at least there's nobody left for them to assimilate.
  • Japanese Sibling Terminology: Sakura is addressed as "anego" by her friends/henchmen
  • Karmic Death: Yukie was painfully assimilated by Idun and Maya's dad was then crushed by the Mark Nicht.
  • Kill Them All: One of the possible futures Canon visited was this and Exodus is gearing up to make it true.
  • Latex Space Suit with a few twists: The suits that the pilots wear are remarkably tight and serve to avoid some of the pain that linking with the Fafner units entails. Another twist is the fact that upon linking the suits are ripped in some parts as the connection takes place, a process that is quite painful. Kazuki has no time to put on a suit upon piloting for the time and the pain he undergoes is substantial.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Akira likes Maya, who has a thing for Kazuki, who is also liked by Shouko and Canon. Shouko herself is Kouyo's object of admiration. Meanwhile, Kazuki doesn't seem too interested in having a romantic relationship with any of the girls and is suspiciously focused on his best friend Soushi.
  • Meaningful Name: "Sein" and "Nicht" are supposed to be the words for existence and nothingness in Gratuitous German.
    • Similarly, Shouko's name means to fly in the sky, Sakura's references the cherry blossoms, and Mamorou's means protecting everyone. Shouko dies after her Fafner has soared into the air, Sakura mentally crashes as the blossoms fall around her, and Mamorou dies protecting everyone.
  • Mega Manning: The Mark Sein can pick up any weapon and turn it into an instrument of finely tuned Festum death.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Kazuki's Mark Sein.
    • After Sakura mentally crashes, Canon uses a modified version of her Mark Drei.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Alvis is one, being a fifty-kilometer long ship that carries the island on it.
  • Mind Rape: The Festum tend to do this.
  • Missing Mom: Akane, Kazuki's mom.
  • The Mole: Several of the island's residents have passed on information to the Neo U.N. before defecting and bringing specialised Fafner knowledge to the outside. Notable examples are Maya's dad, Michio and his dad, and Yukie Kariya. This is also used as an excuse to throw Kouyo's parents off the island.
  • Nemesis Weapon: The hero pilots the white Mark Sein (German for "to be"), while the Big Bad pilots the black Mark Nicht (German for "not").
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Exodus is becoming less and less mecha and more magical tricks now. Well, to quote Orihime, The power you wished for. A power that exists for your sakes. That's not saying they can use them without any harm though, and this being Fafner, their price are jarring to say the least; and it turns out each machine will only have one special power.
  • No Periods, Period: Subverted in a discreet way and made plot relevant. Yumiko alludes to the fact that her period is late, which turns out to be very important as she is carrying the first child to be naturally conceived on the island for the last 30 years.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Exodus reveals that the previously thought to be harmless Gremory-Type Festum are fully capable of assimilating people and acting as a spy, with it being implied that the Gremorys are the ones helping the villainous Festum that serve the Azazel-Types. In the end, they were part of the Sea Mir which is just pretending to help New U.N. for spying on others, while waiting chances for revenge.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mizoguchi adopts an (even more) easygoing persona when investigating Yukie's treachery.
  • One-Woman Wail: Tsubaki, to lure out the Festum.
  • Otaku: Mamoru is something of a mecha/manga otaku. When in a Fafner, he is GOUBAIN!!!. When he dies, Hiroto lets his [1] legacy live on. And in Exodus, Mimika gains the Goubain moniker.
  • Prequel: The special Right Of Left covers events that take place previous to the series.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Mainly Canon and Michio.
  • Psychic Powers: The Festum have the power to read minds, which is why the humans are having such a hard time fighting them.
    • Turns out to not be very helpful early on though. Since the idea of minds that aren't psychically linked is alien to the Festum, they have no idea what they hell we're saying half of the time we they read our minds, so they just used it to dodge attacks and locate us. Later on in the series the constant exposure to our minds continuously makes them smarter, and by the time of the movie they understand the idea of tactics and how to properly fight a war. In essence, they learned from us because of their powers.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kazuki has three such relationships in the series. With Soushi, he is the Red Oni. With Kouyo and later Kenji, however, he's the Blue Oni.
  • Replacement Goldfish: While Mamoru dies in the story, his Fafner, repeatedly stated to be quite potent, is left unused afterwards. However, in The Movie, Hiroto (the kid he gave the Gobain mask to) ends up piloting it, even going so far as to constantly wear the mask as well.
  • Rescue Arc: Kazuki and co. go on one in the end of the series to save Soushi, who was abducted by Festum.
  • Scenery Porn: Most of the backgrounds look absolutely gorgeous, even more so in Heaven & Earth and Exodus.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Exodus shows a shrine dedicated to everyone who has lost their life; the walls are lined with pictures of the deceased.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: Separation by angela is the ending theme. Doubly so when the piano version plays after a character death.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Near the end of Dead Aggressor. Shortly after Michio is killed in combat, his wife discovers that she's pregnant. A bit downplayed since she had been suspecting it for a while, and they were already considering baby names just in case she got a positive test result.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Shouko's death resulted in some of the islanders desecrating the grave to the horror of friends who saw her make a Heroic Sacrifice for them.
    • Turns out in a CD Drama that it was actually Soushi to really drive the point home that Heroic Sacrifices are not an option. Since pilots don't exactly grow on trees, this is actually justified. A somewhat dick move, but justified.
  • Sphere of Destruction: The Festum spontaneously generate these by using black holes as weapons, as well setting off a larger one when they are destroyed. The Fenrir system also uses one of these to destroy the Fafner it is equipped on.
  • Sterility Plague: The Festum did this to Japan, prompting the Alvis project which gave rise to artificial reproduction, and, by the same token, genetically engineered supersoldiers (i.e. our heroes) born to fight the Festum.
  • Super Prototype: The Mark Sein, as well as the Zero Fafner. The Titan models are a subversion: their weaponry is FAR outclassed, and worst of all they cause the pilots to assimilate VERY quickly.
  • Synchronization: Taken to the extreme, not only do the pilots synchronize with their Fafner units, but they are also linked with Soushi via the Siegfried system, which allows him to guide them while forcing him to feel all the pain they feel. Furthermore, in the final episode all pilots enter a state of synchronization in which the death of one would result in the destruction of all.
    • That is a bit misleading. The system's two drawbacks are that any pain is felt is shared and the system itself can't work with less than the four pilots all alive.
  • Taking You with Me: The Fenrir is a last-resort self-destruction that more often than not is used to take down a Festum when there's no other way.
  • Teach Him Anger: Played horrifically straight in the case of Idun's faction of Festum.
  • Theme Naming: According to the scenario writer, Tow Ubukata, animation production is a process that involves many people so he names characters according to their personalities or purpose to make it easier for everybody.
    • "Kazu" means ONE and "Sou" means ALL.
    • "Ken" in Kenji means sword. A sword that protects the princess called Sakura and the shield (Mamoru means protect).
    • Kouyou's last name "Kasugai" means clamp because he serves to connect characters and emotions.
    • Shouko "Hazama" (to be in between) is positioned between various characters.
  • There Are No Therapists: Played straight, but surprising considering the nature of the plot most of the characters are in good mental health and have only minor mental problems, if any at all. Kazuki's the only one that has it bad here, as he is shown to be very dependent on Soushi, but even then that only leads to him being a little bit unhinged if something happens to him.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: No, Shouko, don't go into the light!
  • Took a Level in Badass: Maya spends the first two thirds of the series on the sidelines, finally gets her chance to pilot, and turns out to be an awesome sniper
    • This is deconstructed. Maya was already a top-level pilot whose data was flubbed by her mom and sister so she wouldn't have to fight. For that, Maya's mother and sister get into a lot of hot water.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: when they aren't piloting giant robots and fighting shiny alien, our heroes and heroines are really really good kids enjoying their normal school life.
  • Wartime Wedding: Sakura and Kenji get married in Exodus.
  • Wham Episode: The franchise eat this trope like breakfast, but the most prominent one is Episode 6 of the original, where Shouko sacrificed herself to protect Tatsumiyajima to show that, yes, this is NOT a light-hearted Mecha Anime. And things just escalated from there.
    • The first episode of Exodus Second Season ended in the most brutal way possible. No one expected Hiroto died in the first episode, let alone by Unfriendly Fire.
    • The eighth episode of Exodus Second Season takes this even further. It starts very light hearted with Kazuki's birthday and everyone being happy for the first time in a while and concludes with most of the refugees dying of cold and starvation or assimilation in case of pilots because the blockers ran out, the human army and Crawler showing up out of nowhere, Mitsuhiro shooting Ai under the influence of assimilation, Walter pulling an Heroic Sacrifice to save Akira, Kazuki losing an arm, and Soushi starting to get assimilated again. Fan reactions boiled down to "What the fuck just happened!"
    • Exodus S 2 E 9 is this in its pure form. It begins with Kurusu, his Mir and the Eurus-type Festum reappearing, but ends with Jonathan's mind being erased, Maya captured by the Neo U.N., Jonathan becomeing a Festum not unlike Idun etc.
      • Actually, the real Wham for this episode is that it revealed that New U.N. is controlling one of the original Mir, which explains a lot of things along the line.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Festum have no concept of emotions so they learn by assimilating humans. Idun learned how to hate and represents the will of the Festum to destroy humanity. Mjolnia learned through Akane's desire to co-exist with Festum and so works to achieve that. On a smaller scale, Tsubaki teaches them about the nature of life and death.

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