In Qualidea Code, young super-powered boys and girls from the Japanese prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Tokyo–acting as Army, Navy, and Air Force, respectively–protect Japan from an unknown invading force. The system the organization commanding the three prefectures has set up involves a ranking where the performance of each member is ranked based on who has contributed the most to the war effort. But as the series slyly shows, this is an incorrect measuring system.
Note: This article contains spoilers for Qualidea Code.
The ranking system itself is not a hugely important overarching plot point. It is introduced to inform the viewer that the characters’ contribution is being measured, but mainly to establish certain characters’ standing within the defense force. Chief among them are the main characters, almost all of whom are in the single digits. This makes sense as the main characters are the leaders and sub-leaders of their respective prefectures and have the most powerful abilities.
The ranking system places importance on the number of individual kills in the battle field and obviously the characters with the more powerful abilities are ranked higher, but this is one of the games Qualidea Code plays, among other games.
One of the distinctions Qualidea Code pays attention to is the difference between strategic and tactical. Take for example, the main character, Ichiya Suzaku. Ranked number three, Suzaku has the ability to manipulate gravity. He’s a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield and is a one-man powerhouse. There are few enemies he can’t defeat, making his high rank understandable. Now take Suzaku’s partner, Canaria Utara. Ranked number ten, she is a support character with the ability to heal and power up the abilities of allies through the power of her singing. As a fighter, she is far weaker than Suzaku, unable to really defeat enemies or protect herself. Thus, her lower ranking. On a simple one-on-one, strategic level, she’s weaker, but on a battlefield-scale tactical level, she blows him out of the water. The ranking puts more weight on her strategic usefulness than her tactical potential. If that wasn’t the case, she probably would be ranked in first or second place.
The same is true with the character of Kasumi Chigusa. The representative of Chiba, Kasumi is a sniper, and a damn good one. Still, as a sniper, he is only useful fighting at a long range and can only take out a single enemy at a time, unless they are lined up just right. As a result, his rank is below 200. And yet, his ability to use echolocation to determine his surroundings coupled with his own intellect make him a key tactical asset on almost every battlefield. By commanding his troops and controlling the flow of battle, his more strategically useful sister can move about freely, doing damage where it’s needed.
In this way, the most useful characters overall are ranked lower, but the series shows you how flawed that system is by offering up just how important the more tactically significant characters are. The only outlier in this equation is the character of Maihime Tenkawa whose sheer overwhelming firepower allows her to completely level a battlefield, making her both strategically and tactically the most powerful character in the series.
While it’s not the main focus of Qualidea Code, the story does pay attention to this distinction between strategic and tactical. It’s the old adage of “winning the battle but losing the war,” or vice versa, depending on the circumstances. While characters have individual hurdles and goals, the series often reminds you that there is a larger picture and bigger things at stake. It’s smart and engaging, which is what made me enjoy watching Qualidea Code‘s latest season.