If you’re a fan of science-fiction war stories with a philosophical bent, you’ll enjoy the Nier: Automata anime series. Let’s review the world of NieR: Automata Ver1.1a.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: From Game to Anime
  2. Basics
  3. Plot Details
  4. Setting, Artwork, and Voice Acting
  5. Puppets
  6. Music
  7. Final Verdict

Introduction: From Game to Anime

Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

Since Nier: Automata is based on a game, we should mention that video games can be tricky to adapt. For example, the Nier: Automata game has multiple endings, unlike most anime.

I’ll admit that I haven’t played the Nier: Automata game, so my knowledge of how well the anime adapts it is based on play throughs and second-hand accounts.

But, I can say that the Nier: Automata anime can be enjoyed without knowing much about the game.


Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

Nier: Automata started with the 2017 video game, which was created by the mysterious game director/ writer Yoko Taro

Taro is known for creating dark, bleak, and gothic stuff, and Nier: Automata is no exception. And yet, the 2023 anime does have a hopeful, even playful side to it.

The series takes place after an alien invasion. The aliens’ main weapons are “machine lifeforms” — essentially robots. The robots wiped out almost all of humanity, except for a few survivors on the moon. 

The humans fought back by using androids, which are so human that you’ll forget that they’re not. (Data on Star Trek is less human than these guys.)

At the beginning of the series, the situation is pretty desperate. Fortunately, there are some signs that maybe humans might be able to regain control — or at least work out a ceasefire. For one thing, some of the machines are starting to act weird.

The main heroine of the series is 2B, the lovely advanced android who fights alongside her partner, 9S. The series follows these two as they investigate the situation. 

Plot Details

Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

The series starts off strong, if somewhat misleadingly, with an aerial battle. 

While piloting a mecha, 2B does the classic anime sword slash thing, where she slices an enemy as she flies past. She then looks away as it explodes in mid-air.

In all seriousness, a lot of the battle scenes are wonderfully choreographed. However, the battles aren’t really the point.

The real introduction comes in episode 2, when 2B and 9S are assigned to a resistance group on Earth.

Immediately, the audience gets some clues that everything is not as it seems. The local robots, who are actually sort of cute and adorable, have been learning. One even convinces his allies to plant a flower garden. 

However, the android soldiers remain suspicious. For one thing, there are still a lot of violent robots.

As the series progresses, it really pulls you into the mystery of the oddly-behaving robots. It’s a brilliant, philosophical quandary with no easy answers. 

Are the robots evolving? Are they simply copying random bits of humanity? What about the robots who are still attacking? Can there be peace between the factions?  

Just when you think you understand the answers, the series introduces new elements, such as the radical hardliner android A2; or the strange humanoid machine lifeforms, Adam and Eve.

Setting, Artwork, and Voice Acting

Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

Most of the action takes place in the ruins of Earth. The setting can be beautiful, but also unsettling. 

It all fits with the complex philosophy of the series. The robots seem to care for areas abandoned by the humans. One episode takes place in a creepy Alice In Wonderland–themed, robot-filled amusement park, which feels symbolic of the underlying mystery of the series.

Naturally, the series uses a lot of CGI artwork. Since the show is based on a game, it makes sense that the art would resemble game art.

The main voices for the anime are the same as in the game —  Yui Ishikawa (Mikasa in Attack on Titan) is the voice actor for 2B, while Natsuki Hanae (Tanjiro in Demon Slayer) is 9S. Both are quite good. But Hanae really does a good job of sounding like a nice and cheerful guy one minute, and then making some cold, jerkish decision the next.


Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

I can’t say enough about the puppets at the end of  each episode. 

Since the series can get very melancholy, this comic relief really helps. It’s also clever, similar to the Taisho Secrets from Demon Slayer.

These silly and hilarious puppet plays are cute, but also contain bits of exposition. 

The puppets are also clever metaphors for the characters’ roles in the war.


Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

The Nier: Automata video game soundtrack is quite good, so naturally the anime has good music. Game composer Keiichi Okabe returned to do a lot of the music for the anime.

However, the anime also includes new music, such as the opening theme, Escalate by Aimer. Aimer’s song fits in quite well with the rest of the music. 

Nier: Automata Anime Review, Final Verdict: 9/10

Nier: Automata at Crunchyroll - Square Enix, Jinrui Kaigi

Like a lot of science-fiction, the Nier Automata anime series features a nice combination of action and philosophy. It makes you think, even as it provides you with plenty of striking visuals.  And it’s fun to watch, too.

If you want to watch the series, you can stream it at Netflix (in Singapore), or at Crunchyroll. A good VPN, such as NordVPN, can help.  

How to Watch Nier: Automata on Netflix Anywhere in the World

This method works on both desktop PCs and mobile phones or tablets.

  1. Purchase (or start a free trial) of a VPN. I can confirm that NordVPN works for this purpose.
  2. In the settings, choose Singapore as your location.
  3. Fire up the VPN and wait for it to do its magic
  4. Once you’re connected, navigate to Netflix (browser or app)
  5. Search “Nier: Automata” in the Netflix search bar and you should see the anime pop up.

NordVPN banner (Nord VPN)

Enjoy! Please note that if your Netflix library doesn’t update to reflect the country you selected in your VPN, you may have to clear the Netflix cache first and try again.

To do this on mobile, go to settings -> apps -> Netflix -> clear cache. To do this on PC, you have to clear the cache in your web browser.

I’ve had no trouble using this method and I still use NordVPN to watch anime from various Netflix country libraries daily.

If you’re a science-fiction fan, and you haven’t seen Nier: Automata yet, I recommend it. 

However, if you’ve already seen it, we have some good news. A second cour was announced in July 2023. If the second one is as good as the first, it should be worth watching as well.

One thought on “Nier: Automata Anime Review – Science Fiction Done Right

Leave a Reply