I just finished watching the seventh episode on Crunchyroll and it is now my favorite new anime of 2021. Based on the Manga of the same name, 86 is the story of a country in the near future at war with rogue autonomous drones trying to invade the country’s far eastern boarder. The government and military boast it is a bloodless war since they claim to also use autonmous drones but the truth is much darker: In reality, the drones used by the country are piloted by people not considered human because they are not the “chosen race”. Since they are not considered human, they don’t exist as far as the government is concerned and so their deaths are never officially reported or acknowledged.
This goes there and it doesn’t try to shy away or gloss over the obvious moral controversy. In fact, that is the story.
Of course, the general public is ignorant of the truth and to an extent is complicit due to the racism. Only those with silver hair and blue eyes are considered “human” while everyone else is not as far as the country is concerned. The anime is called 86 because those not considered human are confined to the county’s 86th Region on the edge of the country. These people are referred to collectively as The 86 or simply 86. They have no human or civil rights and live far from the eyes and thoughts of the rest of the Albins, which is the name of the “chosen race”.
Due to the government and media propaganda boasting “zero human casualties” in the war, officially their deaths in combat are not reported or recorded. The fact the 86 are not considered human and the battlefront is far away makes it very easy to cover up what would easily be considered human rights violations of the worst kind. Since they are not recognized as human, there is no reason or need to acknowledge their deaths as far as the government is concerned.
On that note. Episode 5 confirms what viewers were probably thinking to that point: The real plan for the country is for them to use the war to kill off all the 86. Since they are not considered human, there is no reason or need to acknowledge their involvement in the war to the public. As is revealed, 86 staying in concentration camps are basically pressed into military service with the empty promise of freedom and full citizenship if they survive 5 years of meaningless fighting. Of course, they are well aware that they are being lied to from the start and the sole purpose is for them to be killed off.
This is, of course to say nothing of the severe PTSD the 86 suffer throughout. More so knowing their death can come at any time and no one would know or care. As a reminder, the general population doesn’t know the truth and for the most part wouldn’t care about the truth if it were known. Again, since the 86 are not considered people their deaths are never officially acknowledged or counted beyond the codename “Processors”. As a reminder, the public are told unmanned drones do the fighting and so there will always be zero human casualties so…yeah.
…Sorry to veer into politics with this but some countries have a long, dark history of exploiting minority populations for military purposes since ancient times. Sometimes when a kindgom annexes another kingdom, instead of their own people they will press the people of the conquered territory into forced military service. More recently, when ISIS carved up the Middle East 10 years ago they didn’t slaughter everyone. They gave the men a choice: “Fight for us or die”. So, the plot for this anime is right out of the pages of history to say the least.
With everything going on in the world right now, it’s not hard to imagine scenarios like this happening again. I look at the U.S., Russia, China, The Philippines, Nigeria, India and Brazil being just a few countries that are more than capable of doing something like this in the near future. That’s based on what I’ve seen in all those countries. Is it a violation of human rights? Of course. Would the public give a damn at tthe end of the day? Of course not.
I’ll put it like this: Today, 13 U.S. Troops were killed in Afghanistan but dozens if not hundreds of Afghan civilians were also killed in the same attack. The media has almost entirely been on the American soldiers killed while the Afghan victims are basically footnotes in comparison. I’ll take it a step further. No one in the U.S. outside the military and their families give a damn about the U.S. Troops killed and injured today. I’ll just put it like that. As far as most laypeople are concerned, “Soldiers know they could die when deployed to dangerous parts of the world.” Why else do you think all the keyboard warriors are sounding off and have been since the crisis in Afghanistan blew up last week?
All that said and moving back to 86. The world has rightfully become very concerned by the U.S. government starting to rely on unmanned drones for both surveilance and combat missions more and more. Don’t get the wrong idea, no one objects to the idea of not having to needlessly risk human casualties for these things. The concerns lie in governments and by extension the people of countries that use military drones becoming desensitized to the often wanton destruction their military’s drones remotely inflict on human populations in distant lands.
It’s not really a secret the U.S., Russia and China all have Cyber Corps Divisions. Their primary purpose is defense but in the case of Russia and China in particular, they also engage in offense at the discretion of their commanders and high-ranking government officials. It’s not a stretch to assume some military bases in all three countries have computer terminals from which these cyber soldiers remotely operate drones deployed to other countries (so far).
I do know in regars to the U.S., Military Drones are replacing manned military jets for recon missions and in more cases bombing missions. No longer does the U.S. Air Force have to wait until the cover of night to do bombing runs. They can simply deploy a drone as the advance force to devastate targets on the ground, then send in soldiers to clean up afterward. No longer are fighter pilots risking being shot down in enemy territory.
So far, countries that have military drones have only been using them for either surveilance or in counterterrorism operations. You’d be a fool to not know it’s only a matter of time before two countries with military drone go to war with each other. If a country with military drones goes to war with a country without drones, it goes without saying the country with drones would be at a huge advantage. They could penetrate deep behind enemy lines and even when shot down, the attacking forces have still suffered–wait for it–no human casualties.
…You get the real world connection with 86 now?
While the drones used IRL are being remotely controlled by people, that still doesn’t take away the moral concerns with using them in an actual war. The prospect alone has been quite the derrent for the world’s military superpowers to fight each other so far but it’s anyone’s guess how long that can be maintained.
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