Fafner in the Azure is a 2004 Japanese mecha drama anime series produced by Xebec in collaboration with Starchild Records. It is directed by Nobuyoshi Habara and written by Yasuo Yamabe, Kazuki Yamanobe and Tow Ubukata with character designs from Hisashi Hirai and mecha designs by Naohiro Washio. It aired in TV Tokyo from July 4, 2004 to December 26, 2004 for 26 episodes.
The story focuses on a group of children who pilot the titular Fafners in an escalating war against giant aliens called Festum. The anime is subtitled Dead Aggressor. A television special subtitled RIGHT OF LEFT aired on December 29, 2005, a feature film subtitled HEAVEN AND EARTH had a theatrical release in Japan on December 25, 2010 and a sequel subtitled EXODUS, which aired in MBS and several stations on January 8, 2015. The series heavily borrow elements from Norse Mythology, referencing some of the terminology used.
Fafner in the Azure (2004)
At the beginning of the story, much of the world has been destroyed by the Festum and the remote Japanese island of Tatsumiyajima (竜宮島?, lit. Dragon Palace Island) has only remained unscathed by virtue of an advanced cloaking shield. The island’s young people continue with their daily lives unaware of these events, but after many years of peace a lone Festum discovers Tatsumiya and attacks. The adults activate Tatsumiya’s hidden defense systems and attempt to repel the attacker but to no avail. Many of them are killed by the Festum in a process of assimilation. In desperation, they order the deployment of a mecha called the Fafner Mark Elf, but its pilot is killed en route to the hangar. Left with no further options, they send a young boy named Kazuki Makabe as the replacement pilot assisted by Sōshi Minashiro from within the Siegfried System.
The Festum is destroyed, but with Tatsumiya Island’s whereabouts exposed, the adults choose to relocate the island. Production is accelerated on additional Fafner units and more children are recruited to pilot them. It is also revealed that the cloaking was not meant to conceal Tatsumiya Island from only the Festum, but from the rest of humanity who would seek to use its technology in the greater war against them.
Fafner in the Azure: Right of Left (2005)
A prequel to the first series. Yumi Ikoma and Ryou Masaoka are children who have been selected to take part in a top secret mission, to be the pilots of the first Fafner combat units; the last chance of survival for the human race. The enemy is ruthless, remorseless and is able to read the minds of humans. Therefore, the details of this mission are kept a secret even from the personnel involved. The young pilots must use all their courage and faith in order to survive and complete their mission or the fate of mankind would be compromised.
Fafner in the Azure: Heaven and Earth (2010)
The year is 2148. Two years after the end of the original Fafner in the Azure TV series, Tatsumiya Island and its surviving residents have returned to some semblance of recovery. However, things have become desperate for our hero, Kazuki; nearly blind now, and partially crippled from his battles with the Festum two years earlier, he clings to the promise his fallen friend Sōshi made to him to return to the island and set things right again. Kazuki’s hopes flare when a lifeform is detected within an unmanned submarine that comes floating into Tatsumiya Bay one night, but the person aboard isn’t Sōshi; it is a mysterious “boy” named Misao Kurusu who may not be entirely human, and who claims to have been sent by Sōshi. With Misao’s arrival, hostilities break out anew between the Human Army and the Festum, and the Fafner pilots are thrown into the most desperate battle of their lives – this time, with the fate of TWO races riding on their shoulders.
Fafner in the Azure: Exodus (2015)
2150 A.D. The fight against the Festum, a silicon-based alien lifeform that destroyed much of the world, enters a new phase. The first Azure Operation crushed the Artic Mir, scattering its pieces around the world. Soon those fragments began to act of their own volution. While the majority of the Mir wage war, embracing a hatred for mankind, some of the Festum chose to co-exist with humanity. There were humans who also thought it was possible. Mankind and the Festum, co-existing. The concept questioned the very reason for the war, giving birth to even more hatred. This is no longer simply a fight between humans and the Festum.
Under such circumstances, Tatsumiya Island disappeared from the front lines, going silent. Through the encounter with Misao Kurusu two years ago, the island had a means to converse with the Mir. It gave the island a unique capability. The children of ALVIS, prepared for battle, sought a way to better understand the enemy.
And now, a new chapter is about to begin on the island. A girl who understands the Festum language. A girl the Festum protected. When the two meet, they will open the door to a new world…