Originally airing its two seasons in 2006, The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye is post-apocalyptic, slice-of-life, western, adventure story with the occasional giant robot battle. In a distant future, after a high-tech war devastates the environment and kill off most of humanity, self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades Honoka roves the desert in a tank doing odd jobs. The show doesn’t quite have a single overarching story, instead offering a series of smaller story arcs, as well as recurring characters and plot threads that remain relevant beyond their original arcs. Another quirk of the show is that makes substantial use of an omniscient third-person narrator.
A teenage girl already famed as “the Sword Dancer,” Honoka will take extermination, investigation, escort, and whatever other jobs she can find. Her only rule is that she won’t kill people. In a rarity for anime characters, she wields both sword and gun with aplomb. Also, she periodically breaks out in poetry. Her partner is Bogie, a snarky AI who operates Honoka’s desert tank and tries to serve as a mature adult figure for Honoka. His efforts to be the voice of reason don’t always bear fruit, as seen in a running gag where he criticizes Honoka for constantly splurging on new guns.
I’m pretty sure only Honoka and Bogie appear in every episode, but there are a number of major recurring characters. The most significant is Iks, a mysterious and possibly extraterrestrial young (?) man. Paif is an ex-assassin who now works as a school nurse, and she sees Iks as a romantic rival for Honoka’s attention. Zankan is an experienced engineer who works on Honoka’s tank, while Joey is an up-and-coming engineer. Zankan’s young daughter Milly also appears regularly, and her connection with Honoka is the show’s most developed relationship.
“The Third” isn’t just part of the show’s title, it refers to the mutant, three-eyed technocrats who control the world in the wake of civilization’s collapse. The red eye in the middle of their foreheads allows them to psychically interface with technology. The self-appointed caretakers of ordinary humans, the Third seek to prevent a repeat of the great war that destroyed the world. To this end, they use combat robots to enforce the “Technos Taboo,” a set of rules regulating technological development. The show offers a surprisingly nuanced portrayal of the Third. Sometimes they are cruel authoritarians. However, they have a legitimate and understandable goal and show signs of learning from their mistakes, undermining any chance viewing them as straightforward villains. The most prominent member of the the Third seen in-story is Joganki, with Fila and Rona being two other notable ones.
On the aural front, I quite enjoyed the soundtrack and consider it to be a highlight of The Third. The first time I saw this show, it was with subtitles, so for this review, I ventured into unknown territory and watched the dub instead. I should note here that I rarely view dubbed anime, so I don’t have the best frame of reference for evaluating the English voice acting. That said, I found the acting perfectly satisfying, though once in while a line would sound stilted and forced. To me, the highlight of the English voice acting was Jamieson Price as Bogie (I’ve heard his voice before as Sojiro in the video game Persona 5 Royal). Looking up the voice actors, I was amused to see how many of them also have credits in the mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes. For example, Joganki shares the voice of David Patrick Seitz with FEH’s Hector, Steve Canden voices Iks and also FEH’s Lewyn, and Joey’s VA Sam Regal also voices Donnel and Stahl in FEH.
This is a fifteen-year-old anime. Unsurprisingly, the visuals are noticeably dated. That said, the art is still pretty and effectively conveys both gorgeous desert landscapes and frenetic combat scenes. This DVD set comes with all 24 episodes of the show, spread across six disks. All the episodes are available in Japanese with English subtitles, and also dubbed with English voice acting. The only meaningful bonuses are subtitled interviews with the Japanese seiyuu for Honoka and Iks, plus some galleries with character art. I like The Third, something I can’t often say about pre-2010 anime, and I encourage you to try it if you haven’t.