Nier: Automata Ver1.1a, the anime adaptation of the 2017 action role-playing game Nier: Automata, is on indefinite hiatus as of Jan. 21 due to production problems attributed to COVID-19. If you’re having trouble waiting for the next episode in this reprise of the epic post-apocalyptic story about blindfolded android soldiers dressed in gothic lolita haute couture, not to worry: Nier: Automata’s director Yoko Taro went and made you a puppet show to tide you over in the meantime.
Based on “Antinomy,” which is the ending credits song of Nier: Automata Ver1.1a written and performed by the Japanese rock band Amazarashi, the 15-minute “non-credits” music video depicts a puppet show reenacting the story of Nier: Automata.
However, this is no “Life in Technicolor ii.” Told from the perspective of the game’s antagonists: “machine lifeforms” resembling rudimentary wind-up toys, the play depicts the machines as analogous to child soldiers, placed in a violent struggle beyond their understanding by their mysterious creators “Father” and “Mother,” two original characters created and written by Yoko Taro specifically for the music video.
Eventually, the machines are urged to keep fighting while averting their eyes from the horrors of the war itself, donning blindfolds similar to those worn by 2B and 9S, the protagonists of Nier: Automata. This pattern continues, as the machines are forced to relinquish their ability to hear, to speak, and even feel as they are — as 2B puts it in her opening monologue at the beginning of Nier: Automata — perpetually trapped in a never-ending spiral of life and death.
Eventually, the machines turn on their creators, killing them in a flurry of gunfire before breaking the fourth wall to reveal that not only is this not the first time that this has happened, but the machines have been recreating their creators hundreds of times in order to take revenge on behalf of their past abuse and neglect. The scene then pulls out to reveal a room of dead, blindfolded bodies and toppled folding chairs situated in the depths of an industrial landfill.
It’s a fascinating (and quite disturbing) music video, especially for those already familiar with the lore of Nier: Automata’s universe. Produced and written by Yoko Taro, the video is the second time Taro has collaborated with Amazarashi, having previously released the 2017 music video “Deserving of Life” in celebration of Nier: Automata’s release.
In an article published last Friday on the Japanese website Game Watch, Taro shares that the motif of the music video’s script is inspired by the works of Kenji Miyazawa, the famous Japanese author known for such novels as “Night on the Galactic Railroad” and “Gauche the Cellist,” and that the characters of “Father” and “Mother” are intended as analogs for “unscrupulous capitalists.”
“I think “Antinomy” is a song of hope,” Taro says in the article. “It’s a story that continues. It depicts a kind of sense of loss in a world without parents. The theme of this puppet show is how to deal with that feeling of insecurity, and from there it leads to Mr. Akita’s light of hope. We aimed for content that would only come true when the music continued after the puppet show.”
Nier: Automata Ver1.1a is available to stream on Crunchyroll.