"Schwarzesmarken," the German word for "Black Marks." Set in the 1980s in an alternate timeline version of East Germany, Schwarzesmarken follows the East German Army's 666th TSF Squadron, also known as the "Black Marks." This special unit specializes in unconventional tactics using advanced technology. Their enemy? Beings of extraterrestrial origin, or the BETA, a fearsome and sometimes unpredictable enemy that seem dead set on destroying the human forces and taking the planet Earth for themselves and ripping it clean of its natural resources. Because the BETA come in all shapes and sizes, carrying any number of advanced alien technologies, the Black Marks must use the latest and most deadly weapons humanity can devise to drive them back.
Irisdina Bernhard is the commanding officer of the Black Marks. As a war hero, she has earned the respect of her country. However, her cold exterior and personality make her extremely hard to work under, especially for one of the most talented members of the squadron, Theodor Eberbach. Only time will tell if the many battles fought together will bring peace to the earth, and between the many combating personalities in the 666th TSF Squadron.
If you're interested, you can check out my previous thread that was reviewed up to episode 8. This review will encapsulate the entirety of the anime and what I think of it overall, but you can see how I felt about it as I reached episode 8.
There are few anime that I could actually call underrated, and as I might've stated in my previous thread, this is one of them. This political action-drama anime ensures that it settles a ground to contextualize the conflict before getting into the story. It acts a little differently from Code Geass where they just jump right to the point: high school kid wants to fix the world to save his sister by essentially signing a contract to some worldly creature for a super power. Schwarzesmarken takes the steps slow and steady before introducing the real conflict.
At first we have the common goal which is the ridding of the Beta. There are two different sides to the story which are made clear early on: the Stasi- the people who are in control of both West and East Germany, and those who are against them, namely our protagonists where their opposition towards them are also made clear. Very clear.
The interesting foreplay that ensues from this meta-conflict is the fact that both those who oppose the Stasi and the Stasi have working ways to defeat the Beta but clash against each other in a fight for humanity. The Stasi argue that the only way humanity can hope to survive the Beta attacks is to capture complete control over both Germany's by keeping track of every citizen; their whereabouts, family, friends, and infrastructure. Doing so will allow them to recruit and force a fight against the Beta as well as trade information for supplies or reinforcements from other countries to assist in fending off the Beta. The collateral of the Stasi's methods is that it invites suspicion within each citizen due to the heavy punishments and interrogation techniques the Stasi implement should they suspect you a traitor. The opposite side is much more simpler: rid of the Stasi and reunite Germany. The problem with this is it's hard to find who you can trust with the Stasi being around, spies everywhere.
That fold of conflict is drilled into our minds as the episodes move on. They gradually let us know the conflict isn't just the Beta, and that the Beta are actually really easy to fight so long as you have the man power and teamwork. The real issue is the Stasi vs Revolutionists, and that's how political play gets really deep.
The problem with most action anime is that none of the main characters are truly in danger. In other words, many anime (ahem, Aldnoah.Zero) are unrealistic in the amount of deaths that would actually ensue in heavy wartime situations. I won't go into much detail, but I'll just say that Schwarzesmarken is faithful to how the Muv-Luv series handles their characters, and I'm not talking about the "big boobs" thing. While Irisdina hits most of the marks perfectly (dem blonde hair-blue eyes and DD batteries), you can't deny this waifu material
Frankly, I cannot say much more without spoiling some things, but the animation has definitely picked up in its fighting scenes in the last episodes and the drama has increased ten-fold. I suggest looking at my previous thread (linked at the top of the review) for the rest. Whatever hasn't been mentioned here has for the most part remained the same.
Story: 9/10 -- It does what it's meant to do and more. It has the pace it needs to keep me interested without rushing the plot, although the beginning may seem like a waste of time.
Characters: 7/10 -- Some characters are explained well; others, not so much, resulting in a lack of connection to those characters.
Art/Animation: 8/10 -- For what this anime is meant to be it's better than most.
Music: 8/10 -- The music does well to enhance the tone the animation is presenting, but sometimes can feel out of place.
SFX: 6/10 -- It's a bit generic, and you can tell which sounds are being reused. But it's not terrible.
VA: 9/10 -- The VA enhances the art and animation splendidly, and each character feels more alive that way.
Originality: 8/10 -- While a spin-off a series, I've never seen an anime take this particular route before that shows how the conflict of government can cost many.
Do you like mecha?
Do you not need good and heavily indepth action sequences?
Do you not mind darker/bland color schemes (for military/action genre)?
Do you need a good story?
Do you like Code Geass's style of story telling?
Do you want a realistic anime (humanly realistic)?
If you said yes to half or more of these things, I'd say it's worth the shot.