AMAIM: Warrior at the Borderline (Season 2): Anime Review

AMAIM is a show where the first half of the series had some questionable issues, but ended on a really strong note that left me coming back for the second season. The second cour of the series, while it does have some strong concepts, has some significant problems with the finale that makes it not quite work.

Where AMAIM Season 1 wrapped, our heroes – Amou, Gashin, and Shion had taken on the AI-controlled mech “Ghost”, and had barely managed to defeat it by the skin of their teeth, with Amou seemingly having been killed, but with the North American Coalition (not-America & Canada) having retrieved Ghost’s core. Season 2 starts with the Yatagarasu resistance group being on the back foot against the now villainous NAC, who has tipped the balance of power against the other factions through the use of drone mechs using cores based on Ghost’s technology. Thankfully, Amou turns out to be Not-That-Dead, and he returns with a rebuilt mech, along with Gai (his AI).

The rest of the season basically has the success of the NAC causing the other factions – the Confederation of Oceania (Not-Australia), the Asian Free Trade Entente (Not-China, with a side of Not-Korea), and the Federal Army of Eurasia (Not-Russia), realizing that they’re in a tight spot, and deciding to ally with each other in recognizing Yatagarasu and providing military aid, as the AI cores for Amou, Gashin, and Shion’s mechs (Gai, Kai, and Nayuta, respectively), are the only ones who have demonstrated that they can win against the NAC mechs.

However, to add an added wrinkle, not only does the NAC have Ghost, but Yatagarasu’s former supplier, Brenson Group, is now assisting them under the table, and is conspiring with members of their command in Japan to use the conflict as a testing ground for Ghost Powered mechs. They still have the help of TRYVECTA, the group that designed Ghost, Gai, Kai, and Nayuta, but Brenson and one of their executives – German Gobert – have been hunting them down over the time skip since last season.

So, the ways this gets problematic in ways that partly they couldn’t have foreseen, and in other ways that carried over from last season. For example, having one of the groups at the forefront anti-NAC alliance be Russia left me shifting uncomfortably when that came up, as they started their invasion of Ukraine as the show was airing. However, Sunrise couldn’t have foreseen that. On the other hand, though, shifting the remaining faction – US/Canada Analog to also being scenery-chewing evil isn’t great, while shifting the other groups away from it purely on the merits of “we’re getting our asses kicked now” with no other narrative justification doesn’t help much either. At the very least, the Eurasian faction’s representative commanders at least had the plot motivation of “we’re looking for a good fight”, instead of the level of cruelty we saw from representatives from Oceania and the AFTE in the first half.

To the show’s credit, they do show that there are members of the Eurasian Faction who had been helping the resistance off-camera.

It’s frustrating because season 1 came out contemporaneously with Rumble Garandoll, which had the explicit message in its conclusion of love of anime being a unifying factor that brought people literally from across the world together to fight to protect Japan from invaders from another world. Season 2 of AMAIM, on the other hand, has the thrust in the back half of the series of “We are bringing these disparate groups from various nations together to fight for Japan’s sovereignty because… they’re sick of getting their asses kicked by this fourth group I guess?”

This leads to the fights that make up the back half of the series. The fights are generally okay. The one-on-one fights have some real stakes, like the fight between Amou and the piloted version of Ghost that makes up the final showdown of the series, but the fights between fleets of drones… just doesn’t. There are piloted units in the area, as well as a few control stations, and this does lead to some casualties of named characters, but there isn’t quite the same level of tension.

This actually leads to AMAIM undermining its own points somewhat here – the occupation forces in the first half, because of their use of drone mechs, felt cold, distant, impersonal, and uncaring to the risks to the lives of the civilians caught in the combat zone – it’s like Gundam Wing and the Mobile Dolls, with the added knowledge of years of drone warfare through the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan to further inform that part of the plot. All of that, on the other hand, is out the window here, and that makes it frustrating.

I don’t mind having finished watching the show, but I have no intention of picking up a physical copy of this in the future.

Both seasons of AMAIM: Warrior at the Borderline are available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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