Yakitori Soldiers of Misfortune Season 1 Finale: Does Unit K321 Leave Barka?

Based on the Japanese light novel series of the same name written by Carlo Zen and illustrated by so-bin ‘Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune’ is a Netflix science-fiction war ONA. The action anime revolves around a group of human soldiers fighting for the Trade Federation against the population of the planet of Barka. The story is divided into two timelines. If one follows the current events in Barka, the other is told through flashbacks that depict the recruitment and training of these soldiers. If you are curious about the ending of ‘Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune’ season 1, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune Season 1 Recap

A few decades before the current timeline, the Pan-Star System Trade Federation, or the Trade Federation for short, an interstellar civilization made up of several different anthropomorphic alien species, arrived on Earth. They quickly proved how superior their technology and military were compared to humanity with a brief but violent demonstration. Unable to stand up against the might of the Trade Federation, humankind lost its freedom in an event that would be forever known as “The Great Collapse.” The arrival of the aliens eradicated the existing social structure, turning Earth into one big third-world country whose biggest exports were humans as food and soldiers.

The story begins on Barka, as the natives mount an assault on a Trade Federation camp. The perspective shifts from the rat and mouse attackers to the human defenders. The Trade Federation calls human soldiers Yakitori, the Japanese phrase for grilled chicken, generally served on a skewer. Originally, the term for humans was Turkeys, as most soldiers were Americans, and Thanksgiving was a major celebration in the US. Every year, one turkey used to be pardoned by the US president. The soldiers called themselves that to make a point. The turkeys were given mercy and then sent to slaughter. The human soldiers thought their situation was similar. One time, injured orbital foot soldiers were burned from the atmosphere while returning to the surface. Someone called the charred bodies Yakitori, and the name stuck. It later got adapted into Srilankan, the lingua franca of the Trade Federation.

The Yakitori soldiers are part of the Instant squads, who are effectively mercenaries generally used as decoys and considered not part of the real military of the Trade Federation. Akira Ihotsu is a troubled Japanese youth who Vasha Pupkin recruits alongside American Tyrone Baxter, Swedish Erland Martonen, English Amalia Schulz, and Chinese Zihan Yan to be part of Unit K321. The narrative shifts back and forth between the group‘s training on Mars in the past and the devolving situation they face on Barka in the present.

After arriving on the alien planet, Akira and his team instantly notice that there is a severe lack of defense fortification, which they chalk up as overconfidence. They can tell the natives hate the Trade Federation and correctly guess that a proverbial storm is brewing. Pupkin, who they call the Cook, assumed the same and sent them with weapons, while the other Instants arrived on the planet in ceremonial gear.

Different species seem to be responsible for different aspects of the Trade Federation. For instance, the dogs are in charge of the military, while the cats are of diplomacy and perhaps even politics. The special envoy of the Trade Federation has been sent to Barka to negotiate a new deal with the planet’s government. Like all other planets under the Trade Federation, Barka heavily relies on the interstellar civilization’s technology. The new deal will enforce stipulations like if the interest reaches seven percent and the Barkans can no longer afford the payment or the money is somehow delayed, the natives lose their freedom, and the Trade Federation sends its Credit Repossession Fleet.

Understandably, the natives don’t want their government to accept such a horrible deal, and hence there is brewing unrest among them. That night when the attack begins, Unit K321 and other Trade Federation military operatives discover that their enemies were fellow Trade Federation soldiers until earlier that day. In the season finale, despite performing admirably on the battlefield, Unit K321 faces trial for genocide, prompting Pupkin to find an innovative way to protect his soldiers.

Yakitori: Soldiers of Misfortune Season 1 Ending: Does Unit K321 Leave Barka?

Although Akira and his four teammates are the protagonists of this show, they aren’t necessarily the forces of good. They effectively fight for a capitalist civilization with imperial ambition — a science fiction version of the East India Company. If anything, the native Barkans, fighting for freedom and future generations, represent the good. But then, the Yakitori soldiers are considered nothing more than military equipment by the Trade Federation and they are used as such. They belong to a defeated people. Ultimately, despite some of their actions, Akira and the others are victims themselves.

Helped by Admin AI, a battle assistance artificial intelligence, Unit K321 proves itself in the battle, earning the respect of the Marine Commander, Officer Rimel. Facing an overwhelming number of enemies, they request Orbital bombardment, stunning Rimel. When Rimel questions this decision, Akira asserts that his unit is within its right to request assistance, prompting Rimel to reluctantly give the order. Hellfire subsequently rains down from the sky as the Trade Federation attacks Barka from orbit, leaving it in utter ruin. Although Rimel and his Marines later rescue Unit K321 from the remnants of the Barkan forces, they hand the humans over to the cats once they reach the fleet in orbit.

Why Does Unit K321 Face Trial? Are They Found Guilty?

After Akira and his teammates are handed over to the cats for trial for committing genocide on the Barkans, the humans feel betrayed. They were sent to the planet with little warning and had to take care of a mess that the Trade Federation created. Only when they faced overwhelming odds, Unit K321 called for the orbital bombardment. Even though they didn’t foresee the death and devastation it would cause, they didn’t really have any other choice.

When Pupkin appears as a witness for the prosecution, Akira thinks that their recruiter will betray them as well. In reality, Pupkin earlier made a deal with the Marines and the Trade Federation Barkan District, and Unit K321 is represented by a private attorney, who demonstrates that the Yakitori soldiers are as equipment, underscoring the notion that a piece of equipment can’t be blamed for any atrocities it was used to commit. The entire point of the trial was to shift the blame of what happened on Barka on the shoulders of Unit K321 members. Using the aforementioned line of defense, the attorney of Unit K321 shifts the blame back to the higher-ups of the Trade Federation, particularly the foreign affairs clan, and they have no choice but to release the Yakitori soldiers.

What is Program Mariana?

Program Mariana relates to the training that Unit K321 receives on Mars. The human casualties in the Trade Federation wars have been significantly higher than other species. Pupkin concluded that this was due to the training they were receiving through implants. While it may work for other species, it was increasingly proven that humans are ill-suited for that technology. Pupkin came up with the idea of training humans through techniques that have been used on Earth for thousands of years, and Akira and the other four were the first test subjects. They were put through traditional military training under the watchful eyes of the drill instructor John Do.

For their final test, members of Unit K321 are put in a simulation that makes them believe they are being dropped from the orbit in enemy territory. Even though they are told that the other members of the team died, they refuse to accept it, demonstrating exemplary trust in their teammates, passing the test with flying colors, and becoming the only survivors of the Program Mariana.

The only implant they received was for Srilankan. This also helps them beat the charges during the trial as they never underwent any training on the Trade Federation Military rules of engagement. After they are freed, Unit K321 is sent back to Mars to complete the said training so they can officially be part of the Trade Federation military. As the series ends, Unit K321 returns to Barka to rescue an ambassador and her family.

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