A new generation of adventurers takes flight.
How will they fare?
Usually I’m a big fan of Anime Network On Demand, except for times when they stop airing a series with only five episodes left! What the hell, Anime Network?!? I kept hoping it was just some minor screw-up that would get fixed soon, but the weeks kept rolling by and no new episodes of Allison & Lillia were available. I was quite interested in this series, especially the second part, so I was pretty irked. Though it wasn’t my ideal way to watch anime, this morning I finally gave up on On Demand and turned to those crummy “watch anime for free!” sites. (You know them, the ones with muddled subtitled translations of phrases, horrible pixelation when you try to watch episodes full screen, and more often than not they boot you off if you don’t “upgrade” after so long.) However, it was worth it to finally see how this anime ends.
If you’re not familiar with this series and/or you haven’t read my review of Allison & Lillia: Generation One, now might be a good time to do so since the rest of this review won’t make much sense otherwise. Allison & Lillia: Generation Two has the same setting as before, the nations of Roxche and Sou Beil. It’s still vaguely WWI-era, but now we’ve flashed forward fifteen years. Whereas the first half of this series centers around Allison and Wil (and to a slightly lesser extent their friends Benedict and Fiona) the second half is really all about the second generation: their kids. Lillia is the daughter of Allison and Wil; Treize is the son of Fiona and Benedict. They’ve been childhood friends and there’s romance in the air, but this time the roles are reversed: Treize is the one with the burning crush, and Lillia is the clueless recipient of those feelings. (In Generation One it was Allison with the crush and Wil who was clueless.)
Just as before, the only central theme is the slowly simmering love between the two main characters. Everything else is a series of adventures, some being related, others completely new. The second half of the series opens with Lillia and Treize going on vacation together. (That’s some pretty progressive parenting to allow two teenagers to vacation together unsupervised!) Treize has a secret about who he really is that he needs to tell Lillia, but somehow he can never bring himself to do it. And just when he summons enough courage, all hell breaks loose. There’s kidnapping and political plots in every inch of this anime, and Lillia and Treize always happen to be in the middle of it all.
I have to say, I really liked the second half of this series, possibly even better than the first, though I surely wouldn’t have appreciated one without the other. There was something heartwarming about watching the stories of two generations of families unfold. (On some of my more emotional days the opening to Generation Two even caused me to tear up.) I liked that Lillia was a true combination of her parents, with Wil’s features and cluelessness in love and Allison’s headstrong and brazen sense of adventure. I loved Treize for his devotion to Lillia and the quiet way that he would take care of any business that arose. True, the pair could be very stereotypical with Treize as the strong “manly” character taking charge of any situation and keeping frantic Lillia calm, but at least neither of them ever came off as a-holes. It was also great to keep up with all of the main characters from Generation One. Allison is a rockin’ mom, and Fiona and Benedict are… well, truth be told I thought that they seemed a little nonchalant when it came to their offspring, but at least they were devoted in their love for each other, which was nice to see.
Events seemed to flow better in the second half of the series, in my opinion, but perhaps that was because I was slightly more invested in Lillia and Treize from the beginning than I was with Allison and Wil. The new adventures didn’t feel as disjointed as they did in the first half, I’m sure in no small part due to Treize’s secret that he carried with him from episode to episode. (The only “secret” in the first half was pretty obvious from episode one, that Allison had a crush on Wil.) In each Generation there’s a long drawn-out conflict on a train that takes several episodes to complete, and I found those to be the least interesting. I think that someone on the animation team really likes computer-generated trains! Speaking of which, those train shots were cool, I’ll give them that, but sometimes I found myself wishing that they’d spent the extra time and money on character animation instead of backgrounds. At times it felt like the characters were just drawn as basically as possible in order to forward the story along and get to the “good” stuff, like trains and planes and things exploding. But perhaps that’s par for the course in action anime, and this is a true action anime, no matter how much you might read about the romances beneath the surface.
I stay with my original conclusion about this series from Generation One: this is a great all-ages anime. The fan service was practically nonexistent, which was a delightful change from the norm, and the action doesn’t overpower the romance or vice versa. The story and characters weren’t particularly deep, but the bond between the two generations was touching and gave the second half some much-needed emotional caliber. I’m still not certain about the rewatch value for me personally, but I could see rediscovering this series several years down the road and being charmed by it all over again.
Rating: ★★★★ An enjoyable anime for all generations.