Genre(s): Reverse Isekai, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Action, Mecha
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Violence, profanity, suggestive themes)
Platforms: Amazon Prime
Episodes: 22 (1 recap episode)
TheAwersome Rating: 8.5 / 10 (A great time)
Premise: Sota Mizushino is a young high school student and anime fan who dreams of writing his own light novel. While watching an anime to look for inspiration, the tablet he’s watching it on sputters and drags him into the anime’s world, where he witnesses a battle between the anime’s character Selesia and a mysterious girl wearing a military uniform. After being returned to his own world with Selesia in tow, Sota discovers that other characters from different stories and forms of media were also brought to the real world. Some of them aligned with the military uniform princess, who promised them the ways to end the strife in their worlds and a way back home by forcing their creators’ hands, unaware of her true intentions. Sota and Selesia agree to find the other characters before the military uniform princess brings untold destruction to every world that exists.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: This was a really fun and interesting meta ride that exceeded my expectations. While the general plot of “Let’s take characters from all kinds of stories and throw them together a la ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’” fails more than it succeeds, this one was done very well. What carries this series is the copious amounts of rich dialogue and ensemble vibe to it, so I wasn’t surprised that it had the same director of Fate/Zero. I loved seeing the various characters and worldviews interact; from a cutesy Magical Girl who’s never seen blood, to the battle-hardened paladin who’s seen nearly everyone she’s cared about meet a gruesome death. How do each react to knowing they’re a creation of someone else, and grapple with their concepts of agency and autonomy?
TLDR: A less brutal Fate/Zero that takes a hard meta route, ample with rich dialogue.
The music for this is by the illustrious Hiroyuki Sawano who brought us the intense blood-pumping soundtracks for shows like Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill, 7 Deadly Sins, Blue Exorcist, and others. As such, it greatly enhances the already intensely animated action sequences to keep you engrossed.
Design: Something I specifically wanted to touch on that Harbour wouldn’t hear me shut up about is the character design in this show is very deliberate. Because many of the characters in this come from various stories, be it manga, anime, novels, and games all made by different people, you can see subtle but distinct differences in not only their design, but also their animation. The Magical Girl Mamika has a lot of soft pastels, round edges in her hair design, etc. Contrast that with Blitz Talker, a cyber-noir bounty hunter of the hard-boiled genre who has very realistic proportions (no overly large anime eyes), hard detail in his face lines and hair, and much more muted colors. Then there’s Magane Chikujoin, who exudes a very Soul Eater / Monogatari flavored design and animation with her sharp edges, dramatic poses, and constant philosophizing.
And yet despite having all these clearly differently designed characters in the same show, it doesn’t look jarringly out of place like you’d expect in Roger Rabbit or some such. The differences were distinct enough to be clear and noticeable, but subtle to not distract.
Dialogue: What truly sold me on this series though was the rich, interesting, philosophical dialogue. I feel too often in media when the concept of a creator or God is brought up (for those bold enough to address it at all), the discussion revolves around “Do they or do they not exist?” Here, we get to see a myriad of different characters come face to face with their creators, the forgers of their destiny, and then grapple with “Why did you make me the way I am? Why did you specifically allow or plan certain disasters? If you created me and my personality, how much control do I actually have over my life? Do I even respect you?” This was so refreshing to see, because when it comes to religious beliefs, the bland Hallmark movie question is always “well gee, maybe there is a God?” and leaves it at that. It almost never takes the questions and dilemmas of those who firmly believe there is one, yet still greatly struggle and don’t seem to ever see any benefit from it. (This was what redeemed the last two seasons of Stargate SG-1 for me: rich dialogue about even if your god truly does exist and has undeniable power, are they worthy of your devotion and worship? How does that change who you are and how you act? Is that Good?)
Because these issues are brought up and addressed with everyone with different moral codes, life histories, and worldviews, that there isn’t a very clear “right” way to address the issues, giving us those delicious moral gray situations. Especially for characters who are so set in their mindset of “How the world works” to see how it’s completely different for others. How then, do you change your own stance?
Creator Perspective: Yet ANOTHER thing I really liked about this show (hey guys, I liked this one, wasn’t sure if you could tell) was how much we got to see things from a creator’s perspective, and the varying situations and lifestyles therein. For those who are contractually obligated to churn out new issues and episodes in a timely manner, how much of their soul do they really get to put into their works? What does the creative process look like for those who create completely at their own pace vs. those faced with a deadline? What dramas creep up when being forced to collaborate with those with drastically different views of what makes a story good? How far can we push or change a story and maintain audience acceptance? What makes something truly canon to a character? How do you approach integrating derivative fan-made works that have gained steam? I was reminded of the early days of trying to figure out what was the “true” Slenderman lore when it flooded the internet back in the early 2010s. The end result is that there isn’t any true source, because so many different creators contributed to the idea that there is no single source of truth.
We really get to see some behind-the-scenes as the creators of these various stories are main characters themselves, so it’s interesting to see them grapple with these questions and decisions.
The ride is fantastic, entertaining, and enthralling, so it’s worth your time to check out for sure.