First Impression: Girls’ Frontline

A stunning opening sequence follows on the heels of a weak, info-dumpy opening scene that’s there to let us know that in 2045 WWIII began and was fought exclusively by android Tactical Dolls that are indistinguishable from young human women. Seventeen years later, the T-dolls are still duking it out, Griffin (good guys) vs Sangvis (baddies). Our girls, four Griffins who are not like the others, are infiltrating enemy territory to retrieve some data off an old-fashioned piece of technological hardware known as a desktop computer. They must foil the enemy’s traps along the way, and then use their keen tactical abilities to outmaneuver a superior force that lays siege to them as they transfer the data with painstaking slowness — must be USB 2.0. The enemy sends in a High-End Agent model whose sinister personality and considerable brute force factor are clearly conveyed by her maid outfit. Successfully surviving the siege, the team is fleeing Sangvis territory when they stop at a church where the entire congregation has died, judging by the density of gravestones in the front yard. Here, they are set upon by not one, but two enemy maids! This is a dire situation because—sorry for not saying this before—beneath their skirts, the maids sport not one, not two, not even just three, but four machine guns. That’s eight machine guns. Our girls are doomed! Except that they have superior tactical skills (did I mention that?) and enough experience working together that they do not rely on the matrix, er, the Zener Protocol system that I think links their thoughts but can be (and was) hacked. Woot! Take that, machine gun maids! Now the girls must split up in order to complete their mission. Death flags??? 

That’s what I said.

This was a hoot and a half! The marketing visuals for this series, an adaptation of a mobile game, caught my eye months ago, and although the actual episode is not up to those standards, there were some pretty striking backgrounds here and there, and the OP animation style popped. There’s quite a lot of gobbledegook dialogue, throwing around complex serial code-like designations, lots of munitions details and so on, though it still remains comprehensible. Think Gun Gale Online, but with futuristic semi-fantasy weapons. In fact, think Gun Gale Online for the focus on tactics and strategy too—though so far the girls on the frontline are not quite up to Llenn’s standards. The costuming is probably the most intriguing part of the world-building to me though, as we can see a clear hierarchy reflected in the clothing worn by the different groups of AIs. Your basic model baddie sports a high leg black swimsuit with cutout, because who doesn’t want to always be prepared to make a quick water getaway in the heat of battle and still look sexy while doing it? The basic level good guys wear more clothing, uniforms to be exact: school uniforms, nurses outfits, and military cadet wear, albeit in their short-skirted anime iterations. The more autonomous bots, like the Agents and our girls, are more fully clothed, while the good guys even lose the uniform element, each of the four having her own distinctive mc-worthy outfit to go along with their diverse hairstyles, eye color and weaponry. Are they perhaps the closest of all the AI to being human? It certainly seems so, as they emote in a variety of ways, experiencing doubt, hesitation, compassion, and so forth. Though they are all named after makes of gun, so they’ll need to get some real names at some point. Anyhow, I’m interested enough to give this series the standard 3-episode trial to prove itself to be more than just a marketing ploy for the game. Also, the ending credit song is super fun. 

Don’t they know you never split up at the end of an episode?! Not good.

Girls’ Frontline can be streamed on Funimation.

10 thoughts on “First Impression: Girls’ Frontline

  1. On one hand, the GFL mobile game has a very dense and detailed storyline.

    On the other hand, my eyes sometimes glaze over during the game’s drawn out VN-style story segments, which often drown in technobabble and could usually be shortened to “We have to blow up the evil doohicky.” If the adaptation can condense and streamline the story effectively, great. If not, well, I can at least hold out hope for cameos by my favorite “raifus”.

  2. So are they fully machines, like robots? Do they have any free will? It seems weird for them to be good or evil if they can only follow orders.

    1. Great questions! They are fully machines, Tactical Mechanical units.

      Whether or not they have free will is a question I think (I hope!) the series may explore. So far, the basic units on both sides of the conflict simply follow orders and have such tunnel vision on that point that they won’t notice key things about their surroundings unless they are relevant to the task at hand, so the basic model Griffins don’t see our group of 4 mcs, even though they’re friendlies, until the mcs hack them and give them new orders–and act which may or may not indicate a degree of free will on the part of the mcs? Or at least, a considerable degree of latitude in thinking creatively and acting independently while fulfilling a mission. The Agent maid models, meanwhile, show personality, but it seems to be shared across all the models rather than the individual characters we get with the 4 mcs, who each display unique emotional responses to various situations. They could simply be programmed to have distinctive personalities for some reason, or (and I think this is more likely) they have evolved over time and are closer to sentience than all the other robots. Time will tell!

      And yeah, that was just me being hyperbolic calling them good guys and bad guys. They’re simply on opposing sides of a war and because we are following the 4 Griffins, Griffins = good guys. 😉 Plus the Agent maid models are pretty darned sinister! (yandere vibes for sure)

  3. I also was puzzled by their degree of self-awareness and autonomy. I’m not sure if the show was even consistent about this or if there was some nuance I missed.

    Overall I am intrigued by the show enough to watch more! And I can’t even really explain why. Claire hit the highs and lows pretty well for me too.

    I had to laugh at how corny it was for the girls to be named after guns. It’s like the game-makers thought, “well, 2B is the most popular android in game history and is just a letter and a number so let’s go with that too, but make it guns.” In fact I was expecting a NieR Automata vibe to this one (game-based, post-human, androids fighting one another, etc.) but that’s not really it. We shall see where it goes!

    Oh, another laugh. I imagined a conversation during development where someone complained that the skirts on the maid outfits were too long, how were they ever going to find an excuse to get a camera shot up there? To which someone said “hold my sake, I have an idea.” Freud would have a field day with this metaphor of girls lifting their skirts to expose implements of destruction and demise.

    1. Haha! Great observations!

      Re: the self-awareness and autonomy of the 4 leads: there is a single, seemingly throwaway line that I’m sure will end up being pivotal to the series, when the first Agent maid has “come to deliver death” (hilarious catchphrase) and is hoisting one of them up in a stranglehold, where she observes something along the lines of “There really is something different in your eyes.” I’m sure that’s a clue to what I think will prove to be their unique evolution…

      It’s funny, because this is such a silly show and yet, here I am parsing every detail, spinning theories and thoroughly enjoying it. Girls’ Frontline, you win. Not sure what, but something!

  4. I really hope the maids are evil or being controlled by someone, because right now it just seems like the Sangvis T-Dolls are fighting to be free from humanity.

    1. I didn’t catch this the first time, but there’s a recap at the beginning of ep 2 that clarifies that their creator, Sangvis Ferri, rebelled against humanity and took them with (presumably) him, so I would guess they’re either controlled by him or at least following orders (depending on how much autonomy they have — in ep 2 they claim to be more evolved than the Griffins, so…). I must say, this series continues to be intriguing to a surprising extent…

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