I’m not usually one to bother with such knowingly cute anime, but for whatever reason, I today found myself taking in the first three episodes of The Third. Of course, it turned out to be (much) better than expected.
In a world torn apart by war, our saviour would appear to be a talented young swords-woman called Honoka. There is nothing new to her personality that we haven’t seen before in countless other shows; she is an emotionally underdeveloped, uptight tomboy who is more befuddled by her emerging romantic feelings than the ugly hordes of giant insects it is her job to exterminate. Honoka makes for a likable lead character, who for all her fearsome sword wielding skills, is actually as unsure and vulnerable as any 17 year old girl. She also shares a fun relationship with her tank- yes; Honoka has a talking, thinking and sarcastic tank.
If I’m honest there is very little true originality to be found in The Third; it is simply teenaged pop-corn entertainment, highly polished yet set in a complex world of environmental devastation and social upheaval. The Third themselves are a race of people similar to what The Guild are to Last Exile; an over-looking and technologically advanced branch of man (or possibly aliens, we don’t know much about them yet) who appear beautiful and want to control everything and anything.
It’s the setting that engrosses me in this series; it is interesting and mysterious, dotted with just enough minor detail to really capture my imagination. It helps that it looks great too. The animation by Xebec shows some fierce potential for action and has some beautiful, nostalgic star gazing. The landscapes- the majority of which are parched deserts- are vast, desolate and dangerous; often teaming with giant ants and disgusting spiders.
For pure escapist entertainment, The Third was a pleasant surprise. It won’t impress those looking for sophistication, but its combination of attractive characters and far-reaching fantasy is nothing less than fun.