Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series
Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series is an animated series adapted from the novel of the same name by Eric Nylund. The series was created by Sequence in conjunction with 343 Industries. Comprising three acts, the series is featured in the Limited Edition and Limited Collector's Edition of Halo 5: Guardians. It was made available in its entirety upon the game's release (as opposed to having weekly airing dates like Halo: Nightfall).
The film begins with Blue Team visiting the glassed remnants of Reach, where they recall their friendship with deceased Spartan Samuel-034. The scene then shifts to Jacob Keyes and Catherine Halsey traveling through slipspace to Eridanus II to search for candidates viable for a new super soldier program known as the SPARTAN-II program. They soon find one of the candidates, John, the future Master Chief. John is playing king of the hill, dominating several other boys. Halsey approaches John and shows him a coin, telling him he can keep it if he correctly guesses which side it will land on, which he does. John is subsequently kidnapped by ONI operatives and replaced with a flash clone. This process is repeated with all the other cadets. The parents of Kelly-087, Frederic-104, and Linda-058 try to wake the unresponsive flash clones of their children. Halsey's narration expresses regret that she couldn't have just used the flash clones, but they would not stay alive long enough. Halsey debriefs the children and explains that they have begun their new lives as soldiers in the UNSC.
John has nightmares about his mother before being rudely awoken by an instructor. Multiple instructors go about waking all the cadets. One rudely wakes up Jorge-052, pronouncing his name "Hor-hay". Jorge tries to tell the instructor that his name is pronounced "George", but the instructor hits him with a Humbler stun device for "back-talking". Their trainer, Franklin Mendez, leads them in physical exercises. One day, he tells them it is time to do a training exercise called Ring the Bell. When John asks what the prize is for winning, Mendez says that the losing team will go without dinner. John and races ahead to the bell, not stopping to help his teammates, Sam, Kelly, and Fred, much to their anger. Mendez explains that although John reached the bell first, his team came in last, and so they will not eat. In the mess hall, John apologizes to his teammates and offers them some crackers which he stole several days before, further cementing their bond.
Two years later, Chief Petty Officer Mendez and all of the cadets are aboard an Albatross dropship. Mendez tells them that they will all be dropped off in different areas of the Reach Military Wilderness Training Preserve. Their objective is to find each other, and then find another Albatross dropship to extract. Each cadet will receive a small piece of the map needed to find the dropship; the last cadet on the dropship will be left behind and have to walk back.
John is deployed first, and quickly reunites with the rest of his team, using a river they had spotted from the dropship as a rallying point. John carves Blue Team's insignia on a tree as a memento. Soon, all the cadets converge, and they determine the location of the dropship. When they reach the dropship, however, they see two UNSC soldiers waiting near it. As they are not in uniform, the SPARTAN-II cadets identify the hostiles, lure them into a trap and knock them out with rocks. All of the cadets return in the dropship. John is debriefed by Mendez and Halsey. Though he initially expects to be punished for stealing the Albatross and refusing to leave anyone behind, they instead promote him to squad leader.
Six years later, all the Spartan-II candidates undergo their augmentations. While observing the operations, Catherine Halsey receives a message from Admiral Ysionris Jeromi, expressing his reservations about testing the procedures on apes due the high fatality rate, while subtly implying that he is aware that intends to use them on humans. At that same moment, a girl dies from the augmentations, with several of her orifices bleeding. Twenty-seven of the Spartans, thirty-six percent of the candidates, die.
After recovery, the surviving Spartan-IIs attend a funeral service for their fallen comrades, onboard the UNSC Atlas. After the ceremony, John notices several of the Spartan-IIs being wheeled off on wheelchairs, and asks Mendez what will happen to them. Mendez says that they will be taken care of an put to work in other less-physical duties. Mendez explains that a leader like John must be willing to send soldiers to their deaths. Sam invites John to visit the shooting range with him. John declines and heads to the gym. While working out in the gym, John engages in a brawl with several ODST's, beating them easily and severely injuring them.
Later that year, John, Sam, Kelly, Fred, and Linda are sent on a mission to kidnap Robert Watts, a leader of the insurrection in the Eridanus system whose hideout is located in an asteroid belt. They infiltrate the base by stowing away on a freighter, the Laden, which is delivering supplies to the hideout. Sam finds out that there is a supply crate filled with cigars, steaks, and chocolates, correctly deducing that the crate of luxury items is for Robert Watts, and tracks it. The Spartans fight their way to Robert Watts's office, then force him into a crate before escaping. During the fight, John knocks Sam out of an insurrectionist's field of fire, taking the bullet himself. Kelly is able to seal the wound with Biofoam.
After completing their mission, the Spartans are summoned aboard the UNSC Pioneer. There they are greeted by Vice Admiral Michael Stanforth, who debriefs them on a new alien threat called the Covenant.
Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series was created and directed by Sequence, along with 343 Industries. The hour-long adaptation was released on October 27, 2015, with the Limited Edition and Limited Collector's Edition of Halo 5: Guardians, though was later made available on Netflix and Blu-Ray. The series is intended to serve as a way for fans to learn the origins of John-117, Blue Team, and the SPARTAN-II program. One of the goals of the project was to bring new life to the backstory of the Master Chief and his Spartan brethren. Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series features audio, sound, and visual effects from the Halo series. 343 Industries' Franchise Development Director Frank O'Connor has stated that the series carefully aligns itself with the novel, but takes artistic liberties with certain design choices—such as choice of Covenant ships or weapons. The series has been said to tightly adhere to the novel with some additions to help "fill in gaps or smooth over previous errors". One of the main challenges of the adaptation was the decision to drop characters' inner monologues from the novel, while fitting the novel's contents into an hour also proved difficult. As a result, the animated series only encompasses the first half of the novel (Sections I and II), with the battles of Sigma Octanus IV and Reach being omitted entirely. The most significant changes from the novel are listed here.
The series features minor connections to Halo 5: Guardians, which O'Connor claims are "a subtle nod only book readers will even notice". Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series shares artistic similarities with other works created by Sequence, such as the Terminals for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 4, and Halo 2: Anniversary. However, the scale and fidelity of the animation is noted to be more ambitious, fully animated, and largely 3D, unlike Sequence's previous Halo projects. A trailer for the series was released on July 10, 2015. The series' development time was six months.
Release and reception
Differences in adaptation
The animated film was not a direct adaptation of the full book, adapting the first two-thirds and ending with the death of Samuel-034. The most notable omission is the titular Fall of Reach; the film ends with the Battle of Chi Ceti and only flashes to the glassed Reach in the bookend scenes.
Greater emphasis is placed on the Blue Team that comprises John-117's team in Guardians, therefore increasing the roles of Frederic-104 and Linda-058. Fred and Linda join Kelly-087, Sam and John in their initial teamwork training session. In the Battle of Chi Ceti, rather than all of the Spartans launching and only Kelly, Sam, and John making it, only Blue Team launches and all five make it aboard the Covenant ship.
In the gym confrontation, the attacking group is made up of three ODSTs instead of four, the Sergeant never appears and John is only interrupted when Mendez orders him at ease. John is clearly bothered with having to injure and kill fellow soldiers while defending himself for a test, saying that the men were "wasted, not spent", and it's stated that he continued to be bothered by the incident even though it was accidental. In the novel, John has 'an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach', and felt 'strangely sorry' for the men he had killed. However, after reflecting on being told that his priorities were to follow orders and keep himself and his team safe, he concluded that he knew his duty and it's all he had to focus on, and so did not give the incident another thought.
During the Battle of Chi Ceti, the Spartans use a HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon taken from one of the UNSC Commonwealth's Pelicans to destroy the Unrelenting. In the novel, they use warheads from Anvil II missiles while the Pelicans did not carry nuclear weapons. Additionally, the Unrelenting is depicted as a CCS-class battlecruiser while the novel shows it as being around the size of the Commonwealth, a Paris-class heavy frigate. As well, the Commonwealth itself is depicted as a Charon-class light frigate instead of the canonical Paris class.
The tree-carving scene does not take place in the book, rather the children head directly to a single rendezvous together.
For a full list of changes, see here.
The winners of Hunt the Signal got their likeness put in the animation.