Content Warning: mass suicide, cults, hanging, sexual harassment as humor, binge-drinking/alcoholism
What’s it about? Urabe Yukito’s short life has been pretty miserable thanks to being raised in his father’s cult, and the capper on the whole affair is getting tied up and tossed in the ocean as part of a ritual to the cult’s god, Mitama. He wakes up in a new world, and while it doesn’t seem to have the overpowered perks of most isekai, at least it doesn’t have religion.
Every AniFem staffer has their own little preferences and peccadillos when it comes to reviewing anime, and one of my own convictions is this: if a show can be what-the-blue-bugfuck weird enough to register—whether in gutsy premise or bizarre execution—after almost 30 years watching anime, I will watch a second episode no questions asked.
This, readers, is one of those shows. While it’s far too soon to say if this will be the kind of intriguing mess of a KADO: The Right Answer or Anime-Gataris or the melty trainwreck intriguing of a Gibiate or Ex-Arm, or if it will just be another sad but ultimately boring disaster that comes of studios being overworked and underpaid, I kind of want you to stop reading this and go look at it sight unseen. Just, really drink it in. Savor the too-rare experience of densely escalating fuckery. It deserves it.
If weirdness for its own sake isn’t your bag, that’s alright. We’ll continue from here, and I’ll attempt to relate, cosmic horror-like, what I have experienced.
After the opening sequence of Yukito’s death at the hands of his father’s extremely beefy adherents, most of the episode is a mild parody of the wish-fulfillment isekai boom. It doesn’t have the bite of something like The Executioner and Her Way of Life, but I got a few Sensible Chuckles out of things like Yukito excitedly receiving a knife for a “quest”…and then being asked to help harvest grapes with it.
Actually, wait. One note. The mild isekai jokes happen after Yukito’s arrival in this other world, where a random young woman (the presumable love interest and generally nice girl Alural) sees an unconscious man in the woods and decides that the most sensible way to try and rouse him is by jerking him off. They move on without mentioning this again, as shall we.
Despite his disappointment at the lack of menu screens and world-ending powers, Yukito gets pretty comfortable in his new life. He even teaches them how to make their vineyard a winery, encouraging heretofore unplumbed depths of community alcohol abuse. It turns out that there are monsters—er, “strange beasts”—in this world after all, and they are horrifying! Not for the reasons you might think, but horrifying nonetheless! But unfortunately, there’s no magic to fight them with. And sure, there are some Higurashi-like asides that something is A Bit Off about his new village home, but the people are lovely. And nobody’s even heard of gods, let alone worshipping them.
Then Yukito heads to the capitol with two of his newfound friends because they’d heard tell of a bookstore with shocking, mind-blowing sex stuff, where he learns about the local culture. Fun facts, like the fact that the nation holds a daily end-of-life ceremony wherein a certain allotment of citizens stab themselves without question. As a lapsed catholic who holds deep contempt for John Lennon’s “Imagine,” I may have done a little clap. It’s a little cheesy but the show is also doing its best to impart an unsettling edge, with deep shadows and saturated sunset colors.
And because we are now, in the last eight minutes, in a Dark Show, it’s revealed that Yukito’s new home is where societal defects and deviants are sent until the day they’re snatched and killed by force. Yukito rushes to save Alurel and her kindly sister, only to arrive to a bloodbath. It is a bleak, hopeless scene.
Until a tiny ambiguously gendered child with a character design from a completely different show descends from the heavens and devours the city guard into a pocket dimension of unending nightmares before healing Our Heroes. This is the god Mitama, and they do exist after all! In fact, Yukito is their very favorite. Roll credits.
It’s interesting to see the slow uptick in cult-related Japanese media lately as current events like the Happy Science cult and uncovered ties between the Unification Church and the Liberal Democratic Party, and someone who is not me could probably get a lot out of how this show appears to be setting up a critique of failing to fear death as failing to value life and the nation’s cultural history with suicide. At the same time, there are wacky gags between Alurel and Yukito that border on “comedy sexual assault is okay because a lady is doing it,” with the meager difference between “overeager thirsty lady” and “rapist” being that she stops both times; there are multiple noticeable instances of stiff and reused animation in addition to the nightmarish is-it-AI-or-just-bad-CGI monstrosities that are the show’s wildlife; tone is a bystander left bleeding on the side of the road; and the ending credits are just reused episode footage, which I always consider a noteworthy flag of production woes to come. It is fascinating.
It is well possible that episode 2 will just devolve into wacky gags where Alurel and Mitama bicker over Yukito’s attention, and it’s all but impossible to keep up this level of escalation for a whole series (just ask the Vatican Bros). But I am a simple soul, and this episode briefly rekindled my sense of wonder at human existence. For this miracle, three episodes. Unless they start pulling anything funny with God. I already did the Catholicism thing.