Thursday, June 29, 2017

WorldEnd/SukaSuka Complete Series Anime Review

You have made me the happiest girl in the world.

What They Say:
Five hundred years have passed since the humans went extinct at the hands of the fearsome and mysterious 'Beasts.' The surviving races now make their homes up on floating islands in the sky, out of reach of all but the most mobile of Beasts.

Only a small group of young girls, the Leprechauns, can wield the ancient weapons needed to fend off invasions from these creatures. Into the girls' unstable and fleeting lives, where a call to certain death could come at any moment, enters an unlikely character: a young man who lost everything in his final battle five hundred years ago, the last living human awakened from a long, icy slumber.

Unable to fight any longer, Willem becomes the father that the girls never had, caring for and nurturing them even as he struggles to come to terms with his new life, in which he feels the pain of helplessly waiting for his loved ones to return home from battle that his 'Daughter' once felt for him so long ago. Together, Willem and the girls gradually come to understand what family means and what is truly worth protecting.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review will contain spoilers)
I typed up probably seven different openers for this review before realizing that nothing I say can possibly prepare you for what's to come. This introduction, or lack thereof, actually goes on to mimic the underlying themes of this series in more ways than one. WorldEnd (Which also goes by the incredibly long title of 'What Are You Doing At The End Of The World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?') is more than just the hyperdramatic adaptation of a light novel going by the same name, it's a story about never being prepared; it's a story about how everything in life comes and goes far too quickly for us to comprehend. But, at the same time, so much of the beauty in life can only be leeched from it due to its apparent absence in the first place.

WorldEnd is a series that can, by no means, be nailed down to one general concept. The scope of its meaning is as vast as the world it takes place in -- a world in which humanity has all but vanished. The remaining life forms have taken to the skies, building civilizations upon floating islands and relying on creatures known as 'Leprechauns' to fight in a never-ending war. The leprechauns in WorldEnd, however, are not your typical Irish, fun-loving drunkards. Instead, they are girls born from children who died before having anything to live for, and the main leprechaun who we follow throughout WorldEnd goes by the name Ctholly Nota Seniorious.

Ctholly initially comes off as a sort of aloof, curious girl, struggling to fit in with a world full of disfeatured humanoids. The irony in this, however, is that those without extreme physical deformities (Or those who appear human) are actually the ones known as the 'disfeatured' in WorldEnd. Partway through the pilot, we are also introduced to the second protagonist, Willem Kmetsch, as he encounters Ctholly for the first time. After showing her around the island for a bit, Ctholly departs and Willem is left on his own. Having recently fallen on hard times, he reluctantly takes on a job as the caretaker for a nearby military facility. Of course, he doesn't really understand what he's getting himself into until he shows up and it's less of a warehouse and more of an orphanage full of young girls. And while this seems like a pain to him at first, his attitude takes a dramatic shift when he realizes that these girls are the only weapons civilization has left.

This is the first sign of tragedy out of many. Yes, the idea of young girls being used as weapons is rather unfortunate and incredibly sad. But throughout the next eleven episodes, the series begins to steamroll down a path in which we grow attached to every single one of them only to have those relationships severed and beaten by the end of the series. The most dramatic of all of these relationships, however, is the budding romance that slowly begins to flourish between Ctholly and Willem.

Without giving away everything, something happens to Ctholly that begins to drain her sanity. Slowly but surely, her memories begin to fade and her hair begins to change colors, turning into a violent shade of red instead of her normal, subtle blue. The shift in hair colors is not just a shift in appearance, however. This physical change mimics the drastic mental change that is occurring within her at the same time. Ctholly is bombarded with confusing images and the voice of tortured young girl, speaking in eerie metaphors. And while none of what this voice is saying makes sense to us, the sheer manner in which they are said is enough to signify the deterioration of her psyche. The worst part of this is that Ctholly knows what's happening to her.

Day after day, Ctholly remembers less of herself and clings tightly to the one thing she knows for sure -- that she's in love. She tosses aside her slightly-tsun outlook from earlier in the series and simply adopts the fact that she loves Willem, making it known to him every chance she gets. And while he spends a decent amount of time avoiding the subject, it's clear that Willem feels the same way. The steamrolling tragedy that we all know is coming screeches to a halt and, for just the slightest moment, everything is perfect. 

But then it's not.

Willem takes Ctholly to a nearby military ship after catching wind of a weapon that could help her fading consciousness. When tuning one of the other leprechauns weapons, however, he discovers something that stays with him for the rest of the series. The monsters that these girls have been fighting have actually been humans the entire time. And while exactly how that happened remains open to interpretation for us viewers, it's crystal clear to Willem. His vision and outlook become distorted and he begins to lose his grip on reality in a way both incredibly similar and incredibly different to Ctholly. 

The final episode is like lighting -- it comes and it goes quicker than we're able to comprehend. Ctholly loses her grip on reality as battle breaks loose and slips into a coma. Willem, incapable of coping with the thought that this might be the end for her, erupts into a hate-fueled rage, slaughtering any monster he comes across as the rest of the army and several of the other leprechauns fight for their lives. One of the girls, Nephren, has a particularly harsh time with this, ultimately sacrificing herself so that a few others might live. Just as she collapses, however, Willem finds her. And, in a last-stitch effort so save something, he dives after her as she falls off of the airship.

The following five minutes go on to create one of the most heartbreaking and tear-inducing scenes I have ever seen. Ctholly manages to persuade the girl inhabiting her mind to let her come back to reality one last time -- all so she could save Willem. Then, as she stands surrounded by corpses on the edge of the airship, her last strands of blue hair change to red and she dives. Freefalling thousands of feet in the air, Scarborough Fair and the endless barrage of strange, psychological metaphors from Elq assault our ears and our hearts as we watch this girl we've fallen in love with trade away her sanity for someone else's happiness. A dual-monologue between Willem and Ctholly breaks out as she reappears out of thin air and desperately attacks the monsters surrounding him. As the monologue loses steam, Ctholly does as well. Her attacks slow as she is impaled by countless tendrils and lifted high up into the same sky she descended from just minutes ago.

The battle comes to a close and everything we have grown to love over the past three months is stripped from us quicker than it was given. The few scenes that follow only make it harder.

In Summary:
What an incredibly heartfelt and gorgeous series this was. The amount of love put into this project is palpable on all accounts and, thanks to one of the most well-written female characters in years, the mark that WorldEnd leaves will be a lasting one. The harmonious blend of intimate Celtic music meshed with tragic fight scenes and flawless acting creates something much more immersive than you would normally find in any visual medium. For a few seconds, it even feels like we're there. Something that important is hard to put into words, but if I had to limit my description of this series to one, it would be 'beautiful'. Please, set aside a night and watch this all in one go. You won't possibly regret it.

Grade: A

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

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