One Piece is a massive anime and manga franchise that has been topping popularity polls since it first started in 1997. So, whenever a series beats it in a popularity chart, anime fans sit up and listen, as it usually means the series is going great places.
According to MyAnimeList‘s list of currently airing anime, 86 is the third most popular series, with One Piece sitting in position 4.
86 started as a series of light novels written by Asato Asato and illustrated by Shirabii. Since their first publication in 2017, these novels have proved popular thanks to their mix of science-fiction, action, and drama. The books proved popular enough to get a manga adaptation which was serialized in the pages of Young Gangan. This manga was so popular it even had its own spin-off series.
Then in 2020, it was announced that A-1 Pictures would be creating an anime adaptation of the novels. While it suffered several production delays, it eventually premiered in April 2021. The anime follows the split-cour format meaning the series is divided into two parts. The first part ran from April to June, and the second half began on October 3rd of this year. Crunchyroll brought the rights to the series in America and is currently running it as a simulcast, allowing American audiences to get the series within hours of the Japanese broadcast.
86 is set in the Republic of San Magnolia. This country has been at war with the Empire of Giad for 9 years. At first, Giad had the upper hand due to its army of autonomous mechanized war machines. However, San Magonolia has developed its own robotic troops called Juggernauts, which are remotely directed by a handler. Or at least, that is what the press tells people. In reality, the Juggernauts are mechs, piloted by the 86, the name given to the Colorata minority who have had their rights stripped away by the Alba-supremacist government.
Major Vladilena “Lena” Milizé is an Alba noble who is against the oppression of the Colorata minority. Despite being shunned, she becomes the handler for the Spearhead Squadron, an elite Juggernaught squad made up of veterans who have survived previous battles. However, the squadron is infamous as its handlers all die in mysterious circumstances. However, soon Lena and her squad learn that the war is covering a very dark secret.
It isn’t hard to see why 86 is shooting up the anime charts as it presents a thrilling drama full of suspense and biting real-world social commentary that has fans waiting for the next episode with bated breath. Expect to see 86 continuing to top charts as the second half continues in the coming weeks.