As I've said before, I was a fan of the Valkyria Chronicles series from the moment I first saw its debut trailer. Not only was it beautiful but also it got me, a man who never liked strategy games growing up, to spend countless hours on them. I love the series (though VC2 has more than its share of problems) and picked up Valkyria Chronicles 3 the first day it came out in Japan -- not for work, but for pleasure.
I spent not only a hundred hours plus beating it but also stuck around for the extra and DLC missions. Since then I have been one of the game's most vocal supporters and have been as disappointed as anyone at the game's lack of an international release.
Yet somehow, despite all this, I completely missed that there was an anime based on the series.
So after a quick run to Akihabara, I sat down last weekend with the two-part OVA Valkyria Chronicles 3: For Whom Do You Fight? Long story short, it was pretty much the perfect anime tie-in.
From the ground up, For Whom Do You Fight? is designed to appeal not only to fans of Valkyria 3 but also to fans of the franchise in general. All the voice actors from the game return for this anime, which is a must for a tie-in like this. This even includes cameos by the cast of the original Valkyria Chronicles as well.
The characters themselves are written identically to their in-game counterparts as well -- friendships, unique traits, and personality handicaps all on display. And despite the anime's sizable cast, everyone gets one or two moments to shine.
The plot, on the other hand, is completely original and is set around the mid-point of Valkyria Chronicles 3. While only an hour in total, the anime is constructed similarly to the game, showing a series of episodic side missions leading up to a final climactic battle. Amazingly, the tone of the story manages to capture the feeling of both the game's lightest and darkest moments despite its short running time.
The biggest surprise of the anime was seeing that the strategies used in the anime mirror many of the best strategies from actual gameplay. When the characters need to cross an open area, they use the tank as a mobile shield. When they attack a target, they separate into carefully chosen teams. And when in dire straits, they use the carefully hoarded special abilities of the main three characters to game changing effect.
Perhaps the only downside I found in the OVA is that there are spoilers from the game. While it does not ever show events from the game directly, some of the characters' hardships in the anime stem from the game's early plot twists.
As much as I enjoyed the anime, I don't think it would be a good introduction to the franchise. It is an OVA built on the assumption that you are already familiar with the world and plot of the original Valkyria Chronicles, if not Valkyria 3 specifically. The uninitiated would be better off playing the original game or watching its own 26-episode anime adaptation.
However, fans of Valkyria Chronicles 3 -- or fans of the first two games who don't mind a few spoilers -- will see a great cross section of what Valkyria Chronicles 3 is at its core. Because, in the end, Valkyria Chronicles 3: For Whom Do You Fight? matches the tone and feel of the game so perfectly, you'll forget that you're not actually playing the game yourself.
Valkyria Chronicles 3: For Whom Do You Fight? was released on June 29, 2011, in Japan. There are currently no plans for an international release.