NieR: Automata had several endings, and the anime is adapting them in hilariously cute ways involving puppetry, comedy and even riding boars.
The following contains spoilers for NieR: Automata Ver1.1a Episode 3, “break ti[M]e,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.
NieR: Automata Ver1.1a has become notable for its intensive fidelity to the video game, though there’s one element of the source material that was always going to be problematic. The game has numerous endings, and though only a few of these are canon, even that presents a problem in adapting it into an anime series. This has seen the show take a hilariously cute turn in bringing every bit of the story to life.
Ver1.1a uses its ending sequences to highlight alternate paths of the story, doing so with puppetry instead of animation. These scenes are not only funny but also a way to bring in elements that might not fit in the scope of the normal episode. This presents a unique way for video game adaptations to utilize every element of the source material, even if it threatens to break the narrative.
NieR: Automata Ver1.1a Episode 3 Features a Boarish Ending
The “after-credits sequence” for the third episode of the NieR: Automata anime has 2B and 9S utilizing a somewhat small aspect of the source material’s gameplay: riding boars. These wild pigs (and other animals such as moose) can be found in different spots of the game, and using certain bait allows players to ride them as sweat gland-lacking steeds. The show hasn’t featured such elements in the main narrative of the anime, but it does show up in the ending “puppet show.” 9S and 2B have a go at riding on porcine puppets, though the result is the former crashing violently into other YoRHa androids. From there, the credits of the game are scrolled through, with on-screen text noting that the machines took over Earth with the protagonists’ seeming death.
Such a ridiculous and over-the-top scene is par for the course with NieR: Automata Ver1.1a, with the puppet shows being completely humorous. It helps to keep things a bit light, especially considering how serious and dark the main story is. It could even be attributed to the “Tachikomatic Days” shorts, which were attached to the end of each episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. While it’s all played for laughs, it does show the potential for video game adaptations to streamline the more disparate elements of what they’re based on.
Why NieR: Automata Ver1.1a Is One of the Best Video Game Adaptations
As mentioned, it’s easy for anime based on video games to overlook certain elements from the source, especially when it comes to anime adaptations of RPGs that have multiple sprawling paths and several side quests. Even when something more straightforward can be salvaged from this, it runs the risk of leaving out key elements that certain sections of the fanbase loved. Given that even the most minute details of NieR: Automata are being used, however, it seems that A-1 Pictures is taking advantage of the opportunity to put as much in each 22-minute set as possible.
Riding animals is a fairly small and inconsequential portion of the game, but it can still be utilized in the show in some capacity (even if merely as a joke). In fact, its use as a post-credits gag only highlights how irrelevant it was to the gameplay in NieR: Automata. Still, it seems that no stone is going unturned, especially with the numerous endings being playfully used in each episode. Add in that so much of the story from the game has been covered already, and there’s a good chance that a large portion of Ver1.1a will include elements that even diehard fans won’t recognize.
This can be compared to the various anime adaptations of Final Fantasy, which either merely add side stories to the games or are almost completely divorced from them. It leaves fans with little in way of recognizable material and newcomers with a false image of the franchise. Even the Persona anime adaptations somewhat gloss over different elements of the game, with Persona 5 in particular being criticized for the lack of much development for the Phantom Thieves. That game didn’t have nearly the amount of alternate endings as NieR: Automata, making its lack of adapting all the material even more suspect. Needless to say, Ver1.1a sets a new standard in how much of a game’s story can be brought to life on the small screen.