Fantastic Fest – First Squad

First Squad was interesting, it was written by Russians but animated by the Japanese  Studio 4°C, which did Animatrix and some other stuff, so the art is very high quality.  It’s about a girl named Nadya who is part of  the Russians’ own paranormal intelligence effort to combat the Nazis’.  Her cadre, the rest of the “First Squad,” is killed in training, but when the Nazis summon the ghost of a dead knight to turn the tide of the Eastern Front, she has to journey to the land of the dead to get them to help.

The interesting thing I thought was that it was done in the style of a documentary; the action would break and you’d go to a (real, not animated) crusty old Russian talking about their war experience or war history or whatnot.  Some of the events in the film, notably the starting and ending battles, were based on historical events so this added a very pleasing “beneath the skin of history” layer to it.

Other than that, the plot and action were kinda “standard” anime, though more coherent that some.  I liked it, though wouldn’t rave about it.   It’s probably the most concise thing I’ve seen out of the Russians ever, however, which makes it notable.

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