Lingalind, a continent completely surrounded by a massive wall. The land is dominated by two nations: The Lutoh Republic, which values intelligence, and The Great Rekka Empire, which values honor. These two nations are in constant conflict with each other over obtaining Rakuho - capsules that are sent from an unknown location once per month and land in predetermined regions of Lingalind, containing provisions and weapons that the people of Lingalind consider gifts from the wall.
The most valued of these treasures are Bind Warpers, metallic armbands that allow one to summon and control a giant mechanical armor known as a Briheight. A Briheight's abilities are tied to one's Conviction, the thing they believe in above all else. The people of Lingalind revere the wall as a god, believing that all of existence is contained within.
One day after a Rakuho is recovered by Rekka forces, a previously unheard-of second Rakuho lands in Edger Village on the outskirts of Lingalind. Inside is an amnesiac young man whose only memory is that he is from "beyond the wall." Taking the name "Back Arrow," he seeks to journey back over the wall to restore his memory, entangling himself in the conflict between the two nations.
Back Arrow (バック・アロウ) is an original Anime series produced by Studio VOLN, directed by Gorō Taniguchi (Code Geass, Planetes, Revisions) and written by Kazuki Nakashima. The series premiered as part of the Winter 2021 Anime season and is available for streaming on Funimation.
The wall enshrouds the land, protecting, nurturing, sustaining and providing the examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The Briheights are rendered in CG while the rest of the show is drawn traditionally. Starting with Episode 16, Arrow's Muga is rendered in 2D animation instead of the usual CGI on a few occasions.
- A Mech by Any Other Name: The mecha in this show are referred to as Briheight.
- And I Must Scream: Anyone who dies ends up immortalized in a rocky tomb in the land beyond the Wall, with the default expression being a pained scream from the victim.
- Armored Coffins: Briheights are this. If one gets destroyed, the pilot gets immediately vaporized, no ifs and buts (except when Arrow is the one who destroys it). One can avoid that by taking off the Bind Warper to make the armor disappear before the final blow, but that just leaves them defenseless.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The first episode's opening features only the characters from Rekka we met in the Batman Cold Open, making the viewer think they're the main protagonists. As it turns out, that was actually an Evolving Ending: after Back Arrow chooses his new name, the actual opening, with focuses on him and his friends from Edger village plays. In subsequent episodes the opening and ending are in their "proper" places.
- The Cake Is a Lie: Edger villagers were promised that, for capturing Arrow, the Iki Territory will grant them a new, fertile land to call home. Most of the villagers quickly jump on the offer, despite that the harsh condition of their village and it's subsequent destruction was due to Iki's government's apathy. They justify it by that the village saw nothing but trouble since Arrow "dropped in", that Iki won't harm Arrow, just hand him over to Lutoh and well, they all homeless right now. Unfortunately, on the way to their new home, the Iki decides to bury the Granedger and everyone on it to tie up all of the loose ends.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Everyone from Edger Village are hit with this. The mere fact that they're onboard the Granedger, a dreadnaught that prophesized to bring the end of the world. And having taken in Arrow, the person similarly prophesized in the same fashon, is more than enough reason to get the death penalty from Rekka.
- Crapsack World: As Edger villagers try to find a replacement for their Doomed Hometown (which would turn into that eventually even without Arrow), it becomes clear that Lingalind's state of Forever War left no place safe. Everyone in Rekka is either a soldier or a slave. The seemingly neutral Iki sells its citizens to Lutoh as soon as they ask for it. The Lutoh nobles perform secret human experiments to strengthen their military and sometimes just for their amusement. Even Lutoh's saving grace, Princess Fine, is practically a Puppet Queen and on top of that has an Ax-Crazy Split Personality that literally invites Rekka's army to Lutoh. No wonder Elsha's grandfather is on a near-constant edge of despair. It gets made even worse when the citizens of Lutoh are convinced into actively killing the villagers because of their connections to Fine, and even manage to take out Sola as he tries to get them out of the town. Realizing this, Atlee speaks out and declares the Granedger as its own country, effectively turning on the kingdom they once thought of as allies when said nobles demand Fine back for execution to appease their angry citizens. It surprisingly works, if only for a short time, as Two months later, they've managed to get Lutoh, Rekka and Iki to get on the same page as them. It's eventually revealed that this is all part of Rudolph's plan to start Lingalind anew as he turns Rekka, Lutoh, and eventually Arrow himself against the Granedger as part of his plan to rid the land of its population.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In Episode 17, Zetsu easily mops the floor with Tae and his new dreadnought.
- Doomed Hometown:
- Edger Village gets destroyed due the fighting against the forces of Iki and Elsha's accidental unearthing of the Granedger. However, unlike most instances of this trope, most if not the entirety of the villagers survived and relocated to the ship so that they can find a new home.
- Lingalind as a whole becomes this by the end of the series thanks to Rudolph reawakening Arrow's Person of Mass Destruction abilities, causing the complete destruction of Lutoh's forces and most of the land outside of Rekka.
- Elective Monarchy: Lutoh operates on a version of this. Their leader is from the royal bloodline, but is chosen by Supreme Rudolph. Meaning who came first has no bearing. Hence how Fine, the 40th in line, got the throne.
- Evolving Credits: Both the opening and the ending add characters to them as they appear in the show. Most notable with the latter, with involves all of the important characters running through a field, with more appearing in subsequent episodes.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The countries of Lingalind bear similarities to real world cultures:
- The Great Rekka Empire is based on Ancient China.
- The Lutoh Republic resembles medieval Europe.
- The Iki Territory is the United States during the Wild West era.
- Fantastic Measurement System: The people of Lingalind use gents as measurement of height, with 1 gent being roughly 1 meter.
- Fem Bot: Briheights formed by female users will posses feminine characteristics. Justified, since they are formed from their Conviction.
- God Is Evil: And incredibly genocidal at that, having sent Arrow to rid Lingaland of all life. Arrow forgets any of this until he and his friends make it past the wall, when his powers are regained and he starts unwillingly laying waste to everything around him. It is later revealed that he also serves as Arrow's Evil Counterpart, as the two look almost identical except for Arrow's lack of facial hair.
- Hover Bike: Called Iron Steeds, they're utilized by all the major powers, serving as the main form of transport for their soldiers.
- Humongous Mecha: Briheights, giant armors made out of Conviction.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episodes are called "Backs" and the title of each one forms a question relating to the plot of that "Back".
- Instant Armor: All one needs to manifest a Briheight is Conviction and a Bind Warper, with the armor manifesting in seconds.
- Naked First Impression: When he jumps out of the Rakuho, both the entirety of Edger village and the onlooking Bi and Ran get see Arrow in his birthday suit.
- No Blood for Phlebotinum: Rekka and Lutoh regularly fight over the Rakuho, the supposed gifts from the wall. Each of them contain a pile of Bind Warpers. Since they can turn ordinary soldiers into Super Soldiers via transforming them into Briheights, this is more than justified.
- No Body Left Behind: The fate of Briheight users that got their Bind Warpers destroyed in combat. This is one of the main reasons why the major powers of Lingalind are so interested in Arrow: when he destroys a Briheight, their users do not disappear.
- Personality Powers: Each Briheight is formed from their users Conviction, the thing they believe in the most, which dictates what sort of powers and abilities it will have.
- Powers in the First Episode: While Briheights were always present in the setting, Arrow's use of one without Conviction and being able to defeat other Briheights without killing their users marks him as highly unique.
- Protagonist Title: The show is named after its main protagonist.
- Ramming Always Works: Defied. Elsha attempts to "smush" Kai with the Granedger. Key word here being "attempt", since he proceeds to ground the ship with a single attack from Gigan.
- Selective Magnetism: A network of liquid metal rivers flows throughout Lingalind. These rivers have the power to repel certain metals, and vehicles utilize that to float and move.
- Sequel Hook: At the end of the finale, Arrow and the others head toward their next destination: Earth.
- Super Robot Genre: The show definitely fits the bill. Humongous Mecha are fueled by an energy source known as Conviction and they gain super powers and abilities to fight with. The setting is also set in a fantasy world with Mix-and-Match Critters roaming in the wilds.
- Time Skip: Two months pass between the end of Episode 15 and the start of Episode 16, with the Granedger now an established power negotiating a peace deal with the other kingdoms.
- Transformation Trinket: The Bind Warpers, bracelets that allow their users to create Briheights. Since there are no specific requirements other than having Conviction to access it, anyone can use the Bind Warpers to create a Briheight and it has gone so far as to being weaponized in large armies, essentially creating mass-produced Briheights piloted by thousands of foot soldiers.
- The Wall Around the World: The entire continent of Lingalind is surrounded by a wall so massive, you can't see its top - it just blends into the sky. Bi postulates that it is at least 10 000 gents high note It's revered as God by the inhabitants and they believe that beyond it there's nothing but void. It's made quite explicit that saying otherwise is heresy and could get you killed. This belief is challenged by the title character, who insistently claims to have come from beyond the wall.
- Witch Hunt: Once Fine's Superpowered Evil Side is revealed to the citizens of Lutoh during the battle against Rekka, and after a nasty case of Friendly Fire in particular while claiming it's out of love, they demand her both removal from the throne and her subsequent death. Thanks to Rudolph's manipulation, he also has them turn against both the other royals and the refugees of Edger by sending Dissonanza to kill the mob's leader as Arrow's Muga, then convince the crowd to kill them with the princess as a peasant.