86 anime has a bit of an odd pace and structure that will likely make much more sense we can binge the whole season 1 at once. The first cour, is much more focused on Lena's journey, from a well-intentioned but rather misled Handler, to a true advocate for the young 86 soldiers. The second, on the other hand, is all about Shin, who hasn't recovered enough to be fully interested in living
So far, Lena and Shin haven't met, but the chemistry in their dialogue was obvious in the first part of the anime but, as they went their separate ways, the two lost contact and the chance of them meeting seems slim. So, do they ever see each other in person in the manga or light novel, and is there any romance between them?
The 86 anime adapts a light novel of the same name by Asato Asato, which counts 11 volumes as of December 2021. The first season is mostly based on the first volume, whereby Lena and Shin live in very much separate words.
Despite their verbal chemistry when they chatted until late at night, their difference in stations and Lena's many misunderstandings about 86 set them apart. Since childhood, Shin was a hardened warrior who felt he was marked for death. As an Undertaker for his many fallen comrades, he only expected to survive long enough to see them to peace and safety - which he never planned to experience himself.
Lena, on the other hand, started off highly idealistic, believing that Shin and his comrades fought out of bravery, rather than out of necessity. While her wish to help them was genuine, she had to unlearn her own preconceptions and biases first, and risk her life and her station to even come close to understanding them.
When Shin and his friends are adopted by the newly formed Federation, Lena has no way of knowing their fates, thus she believes them dead. At that point, she mostly worries about them as a unit, rather than thinking of Shin as a lost love interest.
Not having met in person, or even seen what each other looks like, it's hard to speak about them being attracted to each other. However, their long chats already hint at a special bond. Lena is unconsciously jealous of other women who are near Shin, as is the case when she realizes that Kurena has fallen asleep leaning on him in one of their catch-ups in Volume 1.
Do Lena and Shin Ever Meet?
Yes! As it turns out, this foreshadowing wasn't for nothing as Lena and Shin survive long enough and get to meet again, this time in person. Never having since each other, not even in photographs, they two are unaware of each other's identities first. Their first encounter ends up being quite confrontational, but, by their second is much more emotional, with Lena holding back tears of relief.
Do Lena and Shin End Up Together?
Yes, eventually. I admit I had to find out about this one, having a soft spot for battle-hardened characters who end up being each other's shelter. Shin comes a long way, from a young man who doesn't expect to survive long, to someone who must find his will to live and dream again.
While he and Lean start off having a professional relationship, and he's insistent on his subordinate position, he eventually realizes he has feelings for her. His confession later in the light novel empowers her to kiss him, but she then flees in shame, confusing him. Their second kiss makes everything clearer, and, eventually, they become an official couple in Volume 9 of the light novel.
Their relationship is very much a slow-burning romance. But in a world riddled with tragedy and endless war, this makes it all the more precious. Season 1 of the anime will likely not cover enough manga and light novel material to properly depict their relationship, but we hope that a future Season will make amends.