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They are back!

Eighty-Six finally returns with a brand new episode. And what a masterfully done episode! The long wait is definitely worth it.

Continuing from where the previous episode left off, episode 22 begins with a really depressing atmosphere. Shin has prevailed against the Morpho, even after its self-destruction, but the cost was great. Everyone was apparently dead, leaving him once again as the, supposedly, only survivor.

His mental state is very much clear at this point, symbolize by a montage of his experiences. It’s really sad that up to this point, Shin has only been fighting just to die, but a combination of skills, luck, and perhaps even destiny, kept him alive while seeing all his comrades die around him. The scene of his dead comrades showing their gratitude while Shin hears their accusing tone and mockery further emphasizes his extreme survivor’s guilt. But more than that, Shin still keeps a metal piece of Shourei’s Dinosauria in him, showing that he truly has not let go of the past.

It is no surprise, then, that Shin has a mental breakdown when a stray Legion approaches to attack him, and all he could do is to beg for death. Indeed, he has already lost his will to live at this point. But like every dark tunnel, there will always be light at the end.

That light comes in the form of a beloved character we’ve all been waiting for to see again: Lena. And it is here that A-1 Pictures shows how much they put into crafting this episode. The symbolism and music blend really well with the reunion of Handler One and Undertaker, making it a truly tearjerker scene.

Lena has changed the last time we saw her. Her resolve is stronger than ever, tempered by her experiences in defending her country. However, what truly shines the most is her dedication to keep the memory of the Spearhead Squadron alive by moving forward and fighting until the very end.

Her reunion with Shin is an emotional one. Both of them didn’t recognize each other at first—Shin because he couldn’t hear Lena’s voice, while Lena could hear him but his voice is distorted by the Reginsleif’s damaged speakers. And yet their interactions are so natural, it’s as if they have never been separated at all.

The most heartwarming part about this scene is how Lena imparts into a Shin an advice that finally washes away his guilt and regrets—to be proud of surviving a difficult battle and ensuring that he carries the wishes of all those who died before him. It is a masterful scene, emphasize by a single moment in which the metal piece of Shourei’s Dinosauria falls down from its place, symbolizing that Shin is finally letting go of his guilt and past. And for the first time ever, we see Shin crying tears of joy.

The best part about this is how everyone actually survived the battle, including Frederica who was saved by Kiriya in his final moments. Unfortunately, they couldn’t reunite with their former Handler as there are still Legions afoot. However, the Federacy has finally arrived, and they are beginning to coordinate with Lena and the remnants of the Republic.

Overall, episode 22 can be summed up in one word: PERFECTION. The scenes are so good, and the moments between Shin and Lena are truly well-crafted.

Episode score: 10/10.

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