Anime: Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor
aka: Soukyuu No Fafner
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 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: Exodus
taking place two years after Heaven and Earth
. It began airing in January 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
- Anyone Can Die: Starts early and is maintained throughout the TV series, but taken to an extreme in Right of Left in which every pilot does indeed die
- Not quite in Dead Aggressor, Kazuki, Fumihiko, and Soushi (who would have been Deader Than Dead in another series) have Contractual Immortality. Soushi's expires in the last episode... maybe.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Break the Cutie: Pretty much everyone but especially Shouko and Kouyo, arguably Soushi as well.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Falling into the Cockpit: Kazuki in the first episode
- Festival Episode: A Bon festival, even. Needless to say everyone gets to wear yukatas.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Hot-Blooded legacy live on.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Super Robot Wars: Appears in SRW K. One of the more complex secrets in this game is making sure everyone in this series lives.
- 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.
- 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 possibly 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.
- 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.
- You Will Be Assimilated: The Festum are the obvious example, but the Mark Sein also has the power to assimilate them.