‘Ark: The Animated Series’ Ending Explained & Series Recap: Is John Dead?

People might not even admit that Ark: The Animated Series is an Isekai. Mostly because people are ashamed of Isekai’s association with the anime fandom. For those who do not know what it means, isekai is a genre typically found in anime that shows the story of a character who gets magically transported to another world. This other world usually comprises medieval themes, mythical creatures, and magic. Although this series is based on the survival video game Ark: Survival Evolved, I think watching this adaptation is quite a trip. I haven’t played this game yet, but I have played Conan Exiles, and again, I can’t help but draw parallels between the two worlds. But again, for me at least, Isekai is a guilty pleasure. 


Spoilers Ahead

What Is The Story About?

Helena Walker wakes up underwater and finds herself on a mysterious island as she swims to the surface. She has no clue where she is, but is in for a surprise when she finds herself a dodo, a species of bird that went extinct in the 17th century. Hunting for the dodo, she runs into a man named Bob, who claims to have been in Europe fighting the Nazis. He suddenly got teleported to this island in the same manner as Helena. Bob assumes that Helena is new to the island, decides to help her, and introduces her to this strange world. As it turns out, this island is home to all sorts of species that have gone extinct, living alongside different factions of humans. These humans have themselves been anachronistically pulled into this world the way Helena was. 


What Is Helena’s Story?

During her life on Earth, Helena Walker was a paleontologist in Australia. She is of Australian Aboriginal ethnicity and is the daughter of a outgoing Aboriginal rights activist. During her childhood, she would often accompany her mother to these marches to protest against the encroachment of the white population on lands that should be protected for the indigenous people. Because of her exposure to such causes because of her mother, she grew up to become a pacifist. She cherishes the liberal moralities of the 21st century and prefers to adhere to them. However, as the story progresses, she finds herself more at odds with the laws that govern this new world. 

Helena’s 21st-century Earth had been plagued by terrible losses. When she was still a student at university, her mother developed cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. Instead of resting, her mom would still indulge in activism, which further deteriorated her health, and eventually she passed away. After her mother’s death, Helena was grieving at a bar, drowning herself in alcohol, when she met Victoria. Victoria came into her life like a beacon of hope and eventually became Helena’s wife. Together, Victoria and Helena had been on several adventures throughout the world, which contributed to Helena’s doctoral thesis, proving pathways of evolution other than natural selection. Like Helena’s mother, Victoria too was an activist, which again got her killed while trying to help refugees in a war-torn country. Following Victoria’s death, Helena fell into the depths of depression. On New Year’s Eve, Helena overdosed on sleeping pills and took her own life. The next thing she knew, she woke up a few feet underwater on a mysterious island. 


Who Is Nerva? How Does Helena End Up At Nerva’s Camp? 

Helena embarks on a journey to know more about the island with Bob and helps pull an arrow out of a wounded parasaurolophus, naming it Scary, but suddenly, Bob is fatally shot by an arrow by a raptor-riding hunter. Helena makes a run for it but is eventually captured and knocked out by one of the hunters. She wakes up in a tent and meets Edmund Rockwell, a scientist from Victorian England who has an unhealthy obsession with the mysteries of the island. Rockwell informs her that she is at General Gaius Marcellus Nerva’s camp. 

Nerva is a centurion from the time of the Roman Empire. Nerva was apparently leading a rebellion when he died, as he hated the corrupt officials who ran the empire. He does have a deep-rooted disdain for anything that’s weak. This can be seen in how he treats Rockwell, who is a weakling in his eyes. Nerva is indeed the chief antagonist of the drama and quite obviously shows his antagonistic personality through his actions. His obsession with the Roman lifestyle makes him want to conquer the island and even the world where Helena comes from. 


Helena is imprisoned at Nerva’s camp for defying Rockwell’s wishes. However, to teach her a lesson, Rockwell commands a huge man-eating dinosaur to devour a teenager in front of her. Later in the evening, she is summoned by Nerva to meet in his tent. Nerva is an intellectual even for his era, and since Helena speaks Latin, Nerva spares her life. During their conversation, Nerva reveals to Helena the artifacts that he is trying to collect. He already possesses one of the artifacts but cannot seem to fathom what it is. Nerva believes that this artifact, when combined with the other two, might open a portal to another world. Nerva wishes to use the artifacts to go back to Rome and purge the empire of the corrupt aristocrats.  Helena poisons Nerva’s wine glass with the slime of a highly venomous snail, paralyzing him for some time. 

Using this opportunity, Helena steals the artifact and releases the hungry dinosaurs in their captivity to attack Nerva’s men and other slaves that Nerva’s forces have taken. Nerva regains control of his body and pursues Helena, but then her pet dinosaur, Scary, shows up and helps Helena outrun her pursuers. 

What Is The Artifact? 

In her attempt to flee from Nerva’s camp, Helena is impaled by a spear thrown by Nerva. As soon as she outruns the centurion, she gathers her courage to remove that spear. Due to exhaustion and her injuries, Helena passes out, but before she can be captured by Nerva’s  soldiers, Meiyin, a Chinese warrior from the Han Dynasty, saves her and takes her to safety. After waking up, Meiyin and Helena end up exploring a cave, where they stumble upon a chamber. The artifact turns out to be a key to this chamber. As Meiyin and Helena enter these dungeons, they come across spiders and spider bosses, which they strategically fight and win. In the RPG games which Isekai is typically based off of, a loot drop always awaits at the end of a boss fight, which for Meiyin and Helena is a high-tech laser-operated rifle. 

Who Is John? 

John is a native American warrior leading his own tribe on this island. He lived on Earth during the colonization era of the New World and was convinced to join the war against the settlers by his fellow tribesmen. The result of the war was indeed brutal for John, as he lost not only his life but his wife, son, and the entire village. 


Similar to Meiyin, John has been living on the island for a long time now. Along with Meiyin and Koh, John and his scouts were fed up with the unnecessary bloodshed that Nerva had committed. Thus, they joined forces and led a rebellion against the tyrant, General Nerva. They could’ve even won the war, but they were betrayed by someone Meiyin trusted, leading to the massacre of their allied forces.

Following the failed military campaign for years, there had been a major rift between Meiyin and John. Perhaps John blamed Meiyin’s own conquest for revenge for the loss they had faced all those years. However, there’s a reconciliation between the two after Helena and Meiyin help save John’s village by finding the cure for swamp fever, a mysterious disease spreading through the village. After coming to this world, John found another daughter in Alasie. Alasie wasn’t John’s biological daughter, but he practically raised her as his own. 


Why Do Helena And Meiyin Attack Nerva’s Mines? 

Helena spends her time at John’s village trying to learn the ways of this new world. Meiyin and John even teach her archery; however, Helena still grapples with the thought of having to take a life. In the meantime, Meiyin has been trying to convince John to restart the preparation for a war against Nerva, but John prefers his council to take a unified decision instead. One fateful day, Helena runs into a woman on the run from one of Nerva’s soldiers. The woman turns out to be a Finnish woman whom Helena met while enslaved in Nerva’s camp. This woman even offered Helena some berries when she was famished. However, seeing this woman take her last breath in her arms moves Helena. When John tells Helena that this woman might’ve escaped from one of Nerva’s mines nearby, Helena becomes eager to free the slaves who are being subjected to forced labor at the mine. 

John, Meiyin, and Alasie, sharing the same sentiments about the slaves in Nerva’s mines, decide to accompany Helena. The camp is run by Gladiatrix, a ruthless woman as bloodthirsty as Nerva. Regardless, Helena and her friends hatch a plan to infiltrate the fortress. Even though their plan initially fails as Helena and Alasie are captured by Gladiatrix, they manage to break out of their cell, freeing all the slaves to lead an organized rebellion. 


In the meantime, in the chaos of the rebellion, Meiyin and John attack the fortress. In the fight that follows, Meiyin skillfully kills Gladiatrix. In the aftermath of the battle, John lets all the prisoners go. In the chaos, Helena’s morals are tested, however. In a moment of dilemma, she comes across a soldier and aims her arrow at him, as he begs for her mercy, but as soon as she lowers her guard, he attacks her and escapes. 

How Was Meiyin Captured By Nerva? 

Nerva had always been a step ahead of Meiyin and her partners. Nerva had already sent out his scouts to map the location, suspecting that it was indeed John’s camp. Likewise, when he was proven right, Nerva led a full-scale assault on the village, killing several people. Meiyin and John had never expected the assault, as it caught them by surprise, which made them retreat to defensive positions. It is during Nerva’s invasion that Meiyin and Nerva have one-on-one combat. In fact, Nerva seems to be on the losing end, but before Meiyin can finish him, Rockwell finds a tranquiliser in the rubble and shoots a dart at her, knocking her out. Nerva sees this as an opportunity to get some information, which is why he captures Meiyin. 


Does John Die? 

Helena, being the person she is, prioritizes Meiyin’s rescue before any other mission against Nerva’s forces. He seeks help from Henry, who has developed a new kind of volatile explosive which packs a bigger punch. Meanwhile, Meiyin is being tortured by Nerva in an effort to gain her loyalty and get her to reveal Helena’s location. It is also revealed that Rockwell was the one who was close to Meiyin but betrayed her in the end. 

Helena, John, and Henry head to Nerva’s palace, but little do they know that Nerva already expects Helena to come rescue Meiyin. Regardless, Meiyin is seen tortured and crucified, but as Helena proceeds to unite her friends, Nerva and his men show up, surrounding Helena, asking her to surrender. However, Helena reveals that it is he who needs to surrender as Henry detonates the series of explosives thrusting the palace into chaos. As Helena and Meiyin escape, John stays behind to fight Nerva face-to-face. However, John is overpowered by Nerva, even though with great difficulty. Thereafter, Nerva deals the final blow, killing John. But even in his last breath, he shoots one last bag of explosives, engulfing the palace, including Nerva’s dinosaur. 


What Can We Expect In Season 2?

With John dead, Alacie has a lot of responsibilities on her own. Meanwhile, Helena must learn to fight as well. Meiyin, too, learns a thing or two about emotions and vulnerabilities as a person. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one who felt some tension between the two. 

Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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