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NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4: Favorites

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NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4 – Quick Summary

In NieR:Automata Ver 1.1a Episode 4, “a mountain too [H]igh,” 2B and 9S survived their initial encounter with the machine lifeforms Adam and Eve. But they still had no idea just what Adam and Eve were, or what they meant for the future of the conflict. Now, they received orders to investigate one of the brethren who had disappeared – but whose black box still sent a signal. What happened to that soldier? Can they follow the signal to its source? And will Jackass ever stop trying to disassemble 9S?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4: Jackass doesn't understand personal space

I’m not convinced that it was just water. Though I don’t know if androids can even get drunk… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

2B and 9S had returned to the resistance base. Jackass clearly wanted to celebrate, so she offered glasses of Terran water to the two soldiers. Now, based on her flushed face, I’m not sure it’s pure water, or if it’s more like pure vodka. But whichever, she was clearly in a celebratory mood.

2B declined without emotion. Jackass wasn’t sure if she should be insulted or not, so 9S explained that his body, like 2B’s body, didn’t need to drink water. They had internal tanks.

“I see,” Jackass said (02:58). “You guys have really convenient bodies.”

She then proceeded to grope 9S. She insinuated she was looking for his tanks.

Jackass clearly has issues respecting personal boundaries.

Favorite Moment from NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4: 9S advocated for less hesitation and more death

9S wanted to keep his focus on the mission. 2B wasn’t sure that was the right thing to do. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: Crime and Punishment in the World of Machines

This series continues to use the game’s soundtrack in an emotionally resonate way. I’m pretty sure I heard A Beautiful Song as 2B and 9S fought the mutated machine lifeform in the theater. The music strikes a perfect balance between beautiful, haunting, and driving. Just what I’d expect from a highly-skilled composer.

I have got to play NieR-Automata. 

Do machine lifeforms have a soul? Do YoRHa soldiers? Would the word “sentient” be more appropriate? I’m not sure. But this show is dramatizing the question in an effective way. And by “effective,” I mean it’s making me uncomfortable to watch it.

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4: Can a machine lifeform beg for its life? Does it even have a life?

This scene was uncomfortable to watch. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Which rather seemed to be the point.

2B and 9S had just defeated the floor boss. Two yellow-eyed machine lifeforms entered the theater. One carried flowers, presumably to give to the performers – who had already blown up. They begged for their lives.

“Play,” one of them said (20:24), dropping the bouquet of flowers. “We just came to watch the play. Please.”

Delivery: Do Machine Lifeforms Dream of Electric Sheep?

9S strode forward, his boot crushing the flowers. He decapitated the one begging for its life. He drove his sword into the heart of the one cowering behind. The one the first had identified as its daughter.

2B, a soldier who has killed innumerable machine lifeforms in combat, stared in horror. As a dramatically convenient (though physically implausible) breeze blew the crushed flower’s pedals towards 2B, 9S stood and said (21:03), “You can’t hesitate, 2B.”

Was 9S right to defeat an enemy? Was 9S guilty of murdering a non-combatant? Is either party capable of being held guilty or innocent of anything – in other words, is either side sentient? The narrative didn’t try to force me down one path or another. Rather, it did something both clever and emotionally powerful.

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4: 2B wasn't sure about killing the machine lifeforms who had surrendered

I love this shot’s composition. It drives home 2B’s indecision. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

It wants me to decide.

Well, it wants you to decide, too. But the point is, we have the wrestle with the core concepts. I have to ask myself why I felt uncomfortable seeing 9S strike down a machine lifeform that had surrendered – or ask why I didn’t, as the case may be. That’s more powerful stuff than I expected from a video game adaptation. But that’s my fault, isn’t it? Because I know well how powerful a video game’s narrative can be. 

What did you think of the screaming captive androids? What were your favorite moments in this episode? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Episode 4: Favorites

  1. I don’t know much about Nier Automata, so I have a pretty fresh perspective on the meaning of the story as it unfolds in the anime. I have to admit, when we first saw the eyes turning yellow instead of red, and doing things like watering flowers and reading books, it was fascinating, and could have indicated that there was more to the machine life forms than was previously thought, something which could be benign.

    But in this episode, we saw them perform a play where one of them was seriously damaged or perhaps destroyed, and they applauded the show even while a captive, crucified android screamed. We saw one of them had adorned itself with all sorts of unsettling things, including the bodies of androids whose bodies still had power running through them, so it would look prettier. And we saw the one at the end who was surrendering and begging for its daughter to be spared.

    Basically, these are machine life forms who have gone insane, so to speak. They’re malfunctioning and are imitating various human behaviors without any human restraint. They are acting in mimicry of human emotions, but that is not the same as actually having those emotions, and the attempt at having them seems to take the general “kill all humans” directive and replaces it with a horrifying madness which is every bit as dangerous and even more unsettling than outright genocide, as those androids who were used as decorations were experiencing something even worse than simple, straight-up death.

    So the machine life forms are out to destroy humanity, and the malfunctioning ones could well be even worse.

    I have to agree with 9S on this one. They can’t show mercy to these just because they can imitate a man begging for his daughter’s life. It’s sad, even sadder than outright battle, but these things are clearly every bit as dangerous as the rest of their kind.

    1. That’s a good analysis!

      The screaming androids were particularly haunting, by the way!

      This show has dramatized its concepts so well! You mentioned that the machine lifeforms had gone insane (and you said “so to speak,” so I’m interpreting that as you’re using “insane” to indicate a deviation from rational decisions). I wonder if the show is suggesting more than that?

      Sanity is a difficult concept. The harder one tries to pin it down, the more elusive it becomes. It’s a lot like sentience. From my perspective, some of the machine lifeforms take actions in a way that appears completely disassociated from any social context. Applauding as their brethren get blown up; mimicking human reproductive behavior in a way that is literally fruitless.

      The show seems to be saying something beyond the obvious “these machine lifeforms are enemy.”

      I wonder if it’s suggesting that many of our behaviors are likewise disassociated from any productive context? Many of our behaviors are hard-wired to keep us alive in a very different environment than what we’re in now. Many motivations, like jealousy or getting angry if someone cuts us off on the highway, thus encroaching on our territory, seem likewise insane, if we take a step back and look at them. Only because they are so common do we not give them a second thought.

      Is 9S right? I’m still not sure. Are the machine lifeforms dangerous? Oh, heavens yes! Very dangerous. And so is 2B, and 9S, and Jackass…

      This show is playing with perspective, and I love it!

Please let me know what you think!

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