Watch 'Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV' Anime Episode 3: How Gladio's Unbelievably Annoying Baby Sister Brought Him And Noctis Together

Final Fantasy XV, episode 3, "Sword and Shield."
Final Fantasy XV, episode 3, "Sword and Shield." (c) Square-Enix

Episode 3 of Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, the short prequel anime series announced in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV release date event, is now available to watch on Youtube here. Check out “Sword And Shield” below:

Episode 3 of Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV continues the anime’s mission of explaining how everyone in the group is tied to Prince Noctis, whom they are escorting on his mission to meet his fiancée. Final Fantasy XV’s emotional punch relies on the player’s investment in the relationship between Noctis, Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis, so Brotherhood is pulling out all the stops to make you feel for each character and understand their loyalty to the prince.

If you’re watching Brotherhood for sheer quality of animation, look elsewhere: episode 3 continues the Final Fantasy XV anime’s underwhelming streak of low production quality, with more still shots and awkward animation frames than you can shake an unnecessarily large and wildly-embellished Final Fantasy-style stick at. Sound quality is similarly underwhelming. I can only assume all sound effects were recorded by one man sitting alone in the bottom of a well, using whatever was at hand.

The story of episode 3 centers around Gladiolus, Noctis’ loyal bodyguard. He wasn’t always so loyal, it turns out. Framed by a random encounter against giant mammoth/buffalo things and a surprise attack from the enemy kingdom, “Sword And Shield” takes us into Gladio’s past, where we see young Noctis through the bodyguard’s then-callow eyes.

Gladio is not only responsible for guarding Noctis’ person, he must also teach the prince how to fight, but the young noble gets cranky when he’s being beaten in training and doesn’t care to stick around for more. Gladio considers the prince little more than a spoiled brat, a point of view that becomes unintentionally hilarious when we meet Gladio’s little sister, Iris. White as driven snow against Gladio’s swarthy complexion, she is classic Anime Little Sister: loud, trying desperately hard to be adorable and lovable, annoying and an idiot in equal and ample measure, and ultimately forgettable. Unless we’re going to meet Iris in Final Fantasy XV, I’m not sure why she was made such a central character in episode 3.

Anyway, Iris lends an ear to Gladio’s ranting about the spoiled prince he has to guard, only to show up the next day at Gladio’s job and demand to meet the prince in person. Then she throws a full-on, fist-waving, screaming temper tantrum until a sagely butler-type offers to see if the prince will accommodate her request for a meeting.

None of that makes sense to me at all. A lone kid made it past all the guards? She doesn’t have any parents to stop her? She has zero respect for Gladio’s job? The temper tantrum actually worked? That butler really thought it was appropriate to bother the Crown Prince over some bodyguard’s bratty sister? Anyway.

Iris waits on a couch outside, but because she’s not an intelligent kid, she runs off after a kitten. Adorable, lovable shenanigans, right? She chases it all the way through the palace, through a garden, through a maintenance tunnel and into a nearby park, where it starts to rain. She falls down the world’s tiniest, most gentle incline and starts crying because she’s lost. Jesus Christ.

Noctis, who for some reason has followed her, brings her back home to the palace safely. Gladio, as might be expected, completely blows his top at his sister’s irresponsibility. Then Noctis steps in: it was totally his fault, he invited her to play with him and they ran off at his behest. While Gladio steams, Noctis’ dad gives his son a calm but devastating scolding and grounds him.

Later, at home, Iris confesses to Gladio that Noctis lied to cover for her idiotic behavior. This gives Gladio a whole new perspective on the prince. The next day, he takes Noctis to the training ground, since it technically doesn’t break Noctis’ punishment. While at the training ground, he tells Noctis that Iris told him what really happened and thanks him for it. They have a fraternal fist-bump before returning to training.

The episode wraps up in the present day, where Noctis and Gladio have tied for number of enemies destroyed. Noctis sighs that he can’t win, to which Gladio replies that he’ll never make it easy for him. They fist-bump and get ready for some steak. End of episode.

While this episode at least makes a modicum more sense on paper than episode 2, or How Prompto Learned That Fat People Don’t Deserve Love, Gladio’s little sister is so irritating in action that I’d rather watch Prompto jogging for 13 minutes than relive a single temper tantrum or idiotic screech. Iris is just present to be a kind of Empathy MacGuffin, a morality pet and a lazy way for Gladio to overcome his irritation regarding the prince. There have to have been less annoying ways to achieve this. At least we got to see young Gladiolus, who’s quite a hunk of prime beef. I'm ready for steak too, y'all.

How did you feel about Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV episode 3? Are you excited to see what’s next and whose past is revealed in episode 4? Feel free to discuss in our comments section below.

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