One of my favorite toy lines on J-List is Girl’s Frontline — known inside Japan as Dolls’ Frontline, due to another company already owning that name — which is a high-quality line of “military moe” figures of sexy girls which are based on a mobile game. The toys are all amazing, with the highest quality sculpts and level of painting, and J-List customers love snapping them up. Which is why I feel sad that I dropped the Girls’ Frontline anime after four episodes.
The year is 2062, and World War III has ravaged the world so terribly that warfare has been reduced to being fought with female AI called “tactical dolls” (T-Dolls). When an AI organization known as Sangvis Ferri rebels against humanity, a private military force is tasked with defeating their insurrection. We follow these characters as the “military procedural” story unfolds.
Why I Can’t Get Into the Girls’ Frontline Anime
The Curse of Mobage Anime. First, there’s the usual difficulty connecting with any property that started out as a gacha mobile game, since I don’t play those. The general pattern is that a game like Princess Connect or Uma Musume or the granddaddy of them all, Fate/Grand Order, will make a pile of money by building a successful base of players. It will then use that money to make an anime to a) thank its existing core fans for their support, b) possibly bring in a wave of new players, and c) create expenses that lower the company’s tax bill. This approach might be great for a lot of people, but it can can make the story of the anime somewhat distant for new fans, who don’t know the lore or characters from the mobage (mobile game).
No Sexy Fanservice For U. I saw some fans complaining that the Girls’ Frontline anime was “just a fanservice show” because the characters are wearing flamboyant Gothic Lolita outfits while fighting battles. Personally, that’s not the kind of “fanservice” I would have liked to see. While I didn’t approach Girls’ Frontline with the expectation of Strike Witches level pantyshots, the complete lack of any eye candy at all made me sad. I guess that’s to be expected, given the money the game rakes in and its connection with the conservative Chinese market. Still, not having a single bit of character-based dopamine or “yuri-shipping” made it hard for me to feel connected to the show.
No Involvement by Japanese famous Japanese Artists. If there’s a single rule to making a successful “military moe” IP, it seems to be that you have to get famous Japanese artists involved, especially Shimada Fumikane, who single-handedly invented the mecha musume genre. Virtually every “cute girls doing military things” anime and game has made sure to have Shimada-sensei on board as a character designer and consultant to make sure they got the balance of character and mecha right, except this one.
Five “Military Moe” Shows That Are Better Than Girls’ Frontline
One of my all-time favorite anime, it takes real heroes of WWII and remixes them into cute girls wearing pantsu, because why not? The long-awaited third season, Road to Berlin, continued the story in smart and dramatic ways while giving us the hilarious camera angles we want.
Based on a popular browser game that had its popularity eaten by Azur Lane in part due to its reliance on Flash, which to me is the most Japanese thing ever. I’m super happy to see that season 2 of KanColle will be coming in Fall 2022.
Girls und Panzer
Proof that an anime can have charming characters fans can care about, while also having zero visual fanservice. It’s all about the tank battles and the cute girls.
If anthropomorphized guns are your jam, Upotte! is a charming and fun anime in which the characters themselves were military assault weapons, each with the same personalities as the weapons they’re based on.
High School Fleet
A cute and charming show that’s also based on a mobile game, HaiFuri didn’t attain the popularity it deserved, which was a shame because it was really top quality.
Will You Be Watching Girls’ Frontline?
Thanks for reading my blog post on the Girls’ Frontline anime! Are you a fan of the game, and want to take me to task for not warming to the anime? Did I miss something important about the anime and its characters? Post your response below, or reply to us on Twitter!
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