After the honeymoon phase.
This is my first journey through the “100 Days of Anime” Challenge, an ambitious project that I’ll be taking. For the full list of prompts, click here.
“Recommend one anime that most people may not have seen.”
Way back in the challenge, I made a post boldly declaring SukaSuka or WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? as one of my favorite animes of all time (despite the absurdly long name). It was a claim that at the time I made with confidence. Despite loving the show, it generated relatively little buzz-drowned out by Eromanga-sensei and the other popular shows of the season. I was surprised and more than a little disheartened. Months have now passed, with SukaSuka sitting on MAL’s popularity chart at #567. The honeymoon phase is over, and with that I wanted to ask myself this question. Was it really that good?
The answer is no. And here’s why.
Stripping the show down to its core, WorldEnd is a tragic romance. Cliched and almost predictable – like a screening of Romeo and Juliet, the show is made with one purpose in mind. To toy with your emotions. Will the girls be safe? What about Ctholly’s predicament? How will she overcome that? The nuances of the show are simple. We don’t have to do much searching to find tragedy because it’s sitting right in front of us, like a blinking sign that lights up with “PROBLEM HERE.”
Will Romeo save Juliet? Will Juliet convince her father to let her see Romeo? These two questions have something fundamentally in common. They can both be answered yes or no. Yes is good. No is bad. Once the viewer realizes this, the show becomes two-dimensional; predictable or worse, disappointing. So how do we fix that?
Introduce a third element.
Spice & Wolf’s pairing pulls this off by giving us well-written characters with different motives. Holo yearns to return to the north. Lawrence wants enough money to open a shop. But there’s a third element to it. We want them to do it together. The issue is if they should, as Holo questions whether these good times will be worth the pain at the end of their journey. WorldEnd’s pairing only have one desire. A peaceful life together. There isn’t anything beyond that.
But in the end, does any of that matter?
Because despite these glaring problems, I was completely enamored the whole way through. Beautiful backdrops of a post-apocalyptic world, with a plot that kept me immersed in said world; even if a little shallow. The first episode was beautifully directed, with a soundtrack that left me in awe. There were moments of tension, moments of badassery, and moments of heartaches. There’s a cute cast of lovable characters. A subplot that further draws you into the world with bits of history here and there. And a romance that fits into it all just so naturally.
And who doesn’t love a good romance?
No, the show wasn’t as perfect as I thought initially. But it was enjoyable regardless. WorldEnd doesn’t rely on interesting side characters, or even the ever looming threat of whatever destroyed the world. This is the story of one man’s troubled past; a story of one girl’s search for happiness, and their journey together.
Can you fall in love at the end of the world?