Having survived their battle with The Songstress, 2B and 9S continue their mission to gather information about the machine life forms. But when the duo is sent to a peaceful machine village at the request of Lilly they will find things that will challenge how they understand their world to be in NieR: Automata Episode 5.
This week’s episode is the first in this series that will hit decidedly differently depending on how familiar you are with the show’s source material. While there is still lots to learn and appreciate if you are new to the NieR franchise, NieR: Automata Episode 5 has lots of cameos and references hidden within its laid-back moments that call back to side missions in the game, as well as other entries in the series that long time fans will be thrilled to see.
NieR: Automata Episode 5 opens with the androids hauling supplies for delivery. While transporting their cargo the duo talk about the future and what it might hold. This conversation can feel like a small thing but works wonderfully into larger themes that the show will dig into. Plus, it is here that we get to see 9S make a request for his partner that will bring a smile to many faces.
The bulk of this episode explores a unique village of machines lead by a life form named Pascal. The machines in this village have cut themselves off from the Machine Network and live in peace as individuals. Unheard of by 2B and 9S, the duo explores and interacts with several members of the community to learn about how this community works. Several charming interactions take place that cleverly loops in characters and interactions that were elements of side quests in the original game. It is an excellent example of how to work elements into a show while removing the game portion of its source material.
This village, and Pascal in particular, provide a wonderfully quirky, yet intellectually stimulating moment for our androids. Their behaviors and personality are fun, and always bring something unexpected to the scene.
The highlight of NieR: Automata Episode 5 takes place when the pair are drawn to an underground space where they discover a unique life form they have never seen before. Consisting of an orb with a large, smiling face on it, the creature stands out in the world. When 9S tries to hack the being, he discovers something truly unexpected.
This sequence is a massive deviation from the source material that functions amazingly. How it explores the new character is a wonderful love letter to NieR. At the same time, new viewers won’t fully appreciate the sequence, the beauty of both the visuals and the accompanying music more than conveys the emotion of the moment.
Alongside the leading pair’s exploration of the town, we also get a couple of brief interludes back to the recently birthed machine lifeforms, Adam and Eve. These moments explore how the duo has continued their evolutions since their fight with the androids. They have certainly grown a lot as they mimic and explore human behavior. These interludes further build upon the concept of machines adapting while androids cannot which was introduced in the last episode.
My one significant complaint with this episode sadly comes from an area I had hoped I would never need to speak ill of for this series. That’s the music. While NieR: Automata Episode 5 continues to deliver classic tracks from the game’s world, this episode tries to deliver far too many, far too fast. The frequently changing audio comes to feel jarring at a couple of points, changing before a piece of music could truly get going. I appreciate the desire to keep themes in spaces where they originally appear or will feel natural, but the rapid movement between musical pieces comes to ultimately detract from the fluid delivery of the story. Sometimes, less is more.
Nevertheless, NieR: Automata Episode 5 delivers a fantastic episode that showcases the characters and world of the game. It crafts an engine narrative despite the lack of anything exciting to action-oriented. While it will hit much better for long-time fans, there is still plenty to discover for the newly arrived as well.
NieR: Automata Episode 5 is streaming on Crunchyroll.
NieR: Automata Ver. 1.1a Episode 5 — "mave[R]ick"
- Rating - 9/109/10
NieR: Automata Episode 5 delivers a fantastic episode that showcases the characters and world of the game. It crafts an engine narrative despite the lack of anything exciting to action-oriented. While it will hit much better for long-time fans, there is still plenty to discover for the newly arrived as well.