First Squad

What's this? A title logo in Cyrillic and Japanese Katakana? There are some interesting films and filmmakers coming out of Russia these days (a future post), but a collaboration of a Russian story with Japanese animated storytelling would have sounded too wild and speculative 10 years ago. First Squad seems to be the perfect vehicle of this inaugural union, combining the unique and fascinating history of Russia with the visual acumen a top animation studio such as Studio 4C can bring to the project. Set in World War 2 Russia, the plot makes use of the wartime situation and local folklore to create a story that fuses contemporary warfare dramatics with fact-based fantasy. The result is both visually arresting and at the same time, an interesting perspective on Russia's struggles in the second World War.

Here's the official synopsis:
It is 1942. The Red Army is putting up a violent and effective resistance against the German invaders. 14 year-old Nadya is a medium. In a deadly air raid the girl is shell-shocked. Recovering from her concussion, Nadya discovers her new gift – the ability to foresee the “Moments of Truth” - the most critical moments of future combat encounters, in which one person’s actions will decide the outcome one way or the other.
Nadya’s ability is indispensable for the classified 6th Division of the Russian Military Intelligence, which is waging a secret war against the “Ahnenerbe” – an occult order within the SS. The Ahnenerbe summons from the realm of the dead the powerful prince of darkness, Baron von Wolff. With him on their side they hope to change the course of history and achieve world domination. To oppose the Baron, Nadya decides to enlist the support of her old friends from the beyond – the Pioneers of the First Squad.

The folks over at Twitch Film scored an interview with the creators in which they talk about the source material, mainly a popular series of illustrated books in the 1980s that were, according to them, "the closest Soviet propaganda ever came to making comics and satisfying the huge demand for action heroism among the young." With this rich source material, I think it is safe to say that this will be a unique entry in animated feature films. Post-production is progressing with the filmmakers targeting a winter release. View the trailer and other goodies at the very stylish Official Homepage.

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