Senyoku no Sigrdrifa Episode 1 Review

Title: Senyoku no Sigrdrifa / Warlords of Sigrdrifa
Length: 12 episodes
Genre: Action, comedy
Year of release: 2020

Let’s just box the mythology thing up, because I’m glad that this anime has crossed the tiny hurdle of not making the Valkyries – the coolest part of Norse mythology – basal sex objects (Val x Love was only a year ago and it’s still fresh in my mind). It’s almost ironic seeing Claudia, our main Valkyrie, due to her 99.9% comrade fatality rate, struggle with the inner turmoil of being known as a ‘Grim Reaper’. But, like, girl, your entire myth is that, bringing warriors up to Valhal-

See? Let’s just skip that topic. Senyoku no Sigrdrifa is far from the first anime to struggle with international mythology, and with the pervading popularity of Fate/stay night and its assassination of multiple historical figures and legends, it’s far from being the last.

I expected better research from author Tappei Nagatsuki (of the marvellous Re:Zero’s fame), but I’m not going to dwell on it. Because Senyoku no Sigrdrifa, in its opening double-episode, is a good show. One I really enjoyed. We can hand-wave all that myth-misuse later.

The opening 4 or 5 minutes is a brief setup, showing us the real-time events that lead to the world’s current situation. Alien ‘pillars’ began popping up all over the earth, and human weaponry couldn’t touch it. Despairing world leaders, ready to give up hope, were visited by Odin (who appears as a kid for one reason or another, wibble), and offers humanity the weapons to beat the crisis: his daughters, the Valkyries, piloting planes from various eras.

I’m glad it’s brief, because this is just a setup for somebody on the production team to nerd about planes. We’re not at Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai levels of nerding, no, this show has substance beyond its director playing with CGI plane models – and Sigrdrifa’s planes aren’t even computer generated eyesores.

What gets us quickly into the show is this episode’s character study of Claudia. She’s an excellent pilot, but her high success rate contrasts with her high comrade fatality rate, so she is the European ‘Named’ (one of the top Valkyrie pilots) who is sent to Japan when their top Valkyrie is killed. And she’s sent to the boonies, a place with minimal serious combat, lest she become a burden on the other elite pilots. Ouch.

I’m going to be honest: none of the core character development is that exciting or novel – and when we meet the other main Valkyries of the series, we’re dealing with archetypes – but the way it’s conveyed to the viewer is smart, and done with so much energy. On her transport plane to Japan, a Pillar rises above the sea, and she joins with the three sortieing local valkyries to fight it in an exciting dogfight. The rapport she forms is instantly soldier-like, as she finds her place in the ladder instantly, and forms a strategy by using each of the group’s strengths to her advantage. It’s pretty inspirational watching her, because there’s some definite credibility to her fame as a combatant.

Of course, those girls are from the base she’s being sent to and she doesn’t realise that until later. It’s funny, in its own way. In fact, the show can be hilarious in its oddities – with my favourite scene definitely being her introduction to her new boss, the head-honcho of the base… who is trimming his hairy foot’s toenails and tells her off for being too formal. Quirky is the name of the game, and the usual whistle-stop-tour of the cast is given that same sort of odd energy, with Anzu shown playing football with local kids against her will (because she’s too nice to say no), Miko winning rock-paper-scissors to show her around but making a bee-line for the cafeteria, and the Maintenance Team Leader forgoing names because who needs those?

It’s that quirkiness that I liked so much and drew me into the series. Everybody has a substantial depth; each character’s odd quirks manifest in well-thought-out ways to escape generic cute-girl things and simple gag-moments. Dialogue, too, can find some funnier angles than the usual laugh-at-their-dumbness, with my favourite line being that time that Anzu was trying to demonstrate her tough leadership, but after having a cute moment with Miko – who she’s crushing on – she pouts, saying ‘Ah crap. I lost my venom.’

I really like this show in the downtimes, which finds that slow rural atmosphere to contrast the approaching action scenes. The second action scene is much longer, and I was surprised to see the 2d plane animation continue its exciting display, even if the character model consistency was a little here-or-there; the show is plain (hah!) rather than a real looker, but it makes up for it with kinetics. Planes whoosh their manoeuvres, and the overall strategy of the group is clear to see and really, really fun. Especially when Miko uses her hidden weapon.

But I’ve gotta get back to the mythology – or, rather, the fundamental world-building that goes with it. Why do these girls drive old-timey planes? Are their bullets magical? Are their planes magical? I’m really glad the show’s going for context-over-exposition, but I do definitely have questions and there are definitely holes right now. Not that I mind too much, I had too much fun to care.

Back to Fall 2020

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