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Anime / First Squad

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First Squad is a Russo-Japanese anime film, focusing on Nadya, the last surviving member of an elite squad of Child Soldiers with Psychic Powers, who gets (re)drafted to fight the invading Nazis in 1942. It only gets stranger from there.

Features examples of the following tropes:

  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: An old (presumably) Russian Orthodox monk demonstrates great skill with a staff when confronted by Nazi assassins.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The only man who isn't dead in Nadya's vision is the commander who in another vision is decapitated by Baron von Wolff.
  • Child Soldiers: The titular First Squad are all young teenagers recruited and trained when they were much younger.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Nadya's parents are dead.
    • Possibly subverted for historical reality—you're a child in the western Soviet Union at this time, there's a not unreasonable chance that your parents are missing or dead. Her parents are shown as being very much alive before the war.
  • Cool Airship: Reconnaissance airships are scattered here and there.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: A squad of teenage Russian psychics vs a Nazi sorcerer with an army of the undead.
  • Determinator: While Nadya may be a Faux Action Girl (see below) she does deserve credit for soldering on traveling probably over a hundred miles in the Russian Winter wearing nothing more than pajamas and an overcoat, handling assassinate attempts, the cold, amnesia, the death of her friends and family, the cold, air raids, visions of every third person she meets dying horrific deaths from the war, the cold, probably underfed and malnourished from rations.
  • Downer Ending: The entire events of the movie could be interpreted as Nadya simply hallucinating while improperly dosed sedatives tied up in a medical ward.
  • Empathic Weapon: Sputnik-01 is guided by the pilot's mind, and so they end up in a familiar place.
  • Faux Action Girl: Nadya is the embodiment of this trope. She's ostensibly an elite soldier, but not once in the movie does she defeat or even harm a foe by her own power. Contrast this with the number of times she runs from danger or is rescued by a male comrade. Not even death itself can prevent her squadmates from doing her job for her.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Baron von Wolf is a bloodthirsty knight who carries out campaigns of murder because... he's evil. The movie explains next to nothing about his character, just that he's some guy leading an army of undead warriors resurrected by Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Ghostapo—but don't worry, the Soviets have their own, too.
  • Homage: The climactic scene is one big homage to the Battle on the Ice from Sergei Eisenstein's film Alexander Nevsky.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Although an attempt is made to justify it.
  • Magitek: The astro-radar, among others.
  • The Masquerade: Twice. The Red Army is trying to hide its own paranormal program, headed by Below, and the SS is trying to hide its infiltrators in the Red Army.
  • Mockumentary: Interspersed, and it gets more bizarre as the film goes on.
  • Sibling Team: The two Nazi assassins after Nadya, who are never named.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: At least compared to the trailer the movie is downright realistic, mundane and lowkey with the supernatural presented in a way that one could convincingly argue that all of the events of the film from Nadya's perspective are really just her hallucinating from shell shock in a medical ward.
  • Sole Survivor: Nadya is the only living member of First Squad by the time she gets to the front.
  • The Teutonic Knights: Given the allusions to Alexander Nevsky, the ghostly knights would appear to be a reference to this.
  • Traintop Battle: Averted; Nadya needs to get on a different train and can't stop to do battle. Doesn't stop her pursuers from firing at her, however.
  • Unflinching Walk: General Below is described as doing this.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Von Wolff escapes with his sword.
  • Waif Prophet: Nadya's main power is precognition that grants her brief visions of important events. She is also a very small teenage girl.