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Automata contains secret codes because Duh

An image shows puppets of 2B and 9S reading a question sent to them from Yoko Taro.

A message from ‘Taro Yoko’, huh?
Image: A-1 Images / Square Enix / Crunchyroll / Kotaku

We’re just two episodes deep into A-1 Pictures’ anime adaptation Nier: Automata and it has already made viewers think and deciphered secret encrypted messages.

Since the anime adaptation of Kidney automatons, Nier: Automata Ver 1.1a, aired this month, it has opened old wounds for fans of blindfolded robots with a penchant for nihilism, and many viewers have theorized about how creator Yoko Taro will differentiate the anime from its source material. In September, Taro revealed that the anime’s addition “ver 1.1a” would pertain to the show’s storyline diverging from that of the 2017 video game. Apparently, Taro is a man of his word, as the anime’s story combines that of the game route a and route bfeatures a new story about a botanic machine, and each episode ends with a quirky puppet show where 9S and 2B explain the game’s multiple endings.

Cruchyroll collection

Read more: The Nier: Automata The hunt for secret doors is over, in the wildest way possible

While some fans theorize that the Kidney anime has gone so far as to refer to the fan-made secret church door mod in the copied city in the opening sequence, it turns out that the anime really has been sending viewers secret messages in the most unlikely place: the anime’s attention is striking.

A eye-catcher is a short animation that plays before and after a show’s commercial break. Think of the illustrations and music that play in between Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes to indicate that the show is about to start again. However, if you pause NieR: Automata Ver1.1aattention falls at just the right moment, you see lines of code hidden in the glitchy effects of the title card.

A screenshot of Nier's eyecatch code message.

Computer: improve!
Screenshot: A-1 Images / Square Enix / Crunchyroll / Kotaku

MyAnimeList user exloseur, their friend tyrelipinpon, and r/Kidney subredditor Lifedealer999 managed to decipher the messages hidden in the eye-catchers of the first two episodes by converting the lines of code into text using a hexadecimal converter. After converting the text, the internet sleuths had to translate the results from Japanese to English. Below are the posts in Japanese and English, which we update with each new episode:

Episode 1: Or Not [B]e


An android is a creature that repeats life and legend.


An android is a creature that repeats life and death.


Will the chain of reincarnation bring salvation or collapse?


Will the chain of reincarnation bring salvation or collapse?



Episode 2: City e[S]cape

How does it differ from human intelligence?

“What is the difference with human intelligence?


The secret code in the Kidney anime is akin to the prose in the game codexes or the philosophical conversation between them Pod 042 and Pod 153 at the end of the game. The common thread between the anime’s secret messages is that they question the YoRHa units’ mission to protect humanity, who, as far as they know, live on the moon while they have to clean up the mess on Earth. While it’s way too early to say where these hidden messages will go as the anime progresses, I think they could be a device that highlights the thematic concerns of both the game and the series, by sending messages to the show’s viewers about what it means to be human.

As the series progresses, I expect these messages to increasingly break the fourth wall and clearly engage the viewer. I’m counting this on the fact that in the opening we see real-world locations like the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku, so Taro clearly wants viewers to have the haunting realization that the show’s post-apocalyptic world is the same world we live in today. That or Taro is going to be”a trickand delete users’ Crunchyroll accounts once the anime ends.

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