No Longer Allowed in Another World – Episode 1

By: Chiaki Hirai July 9, 20240 Comments
A pale man eats something while a golden haired elf stands to the side on a field


Content Warning: Depictions, ideation and idolation of suicide; fan service (tentacles); male power fantasy harem

What’s it about? A great — but severely depressed — author has died, but thanks to good ol’ Truck-Kun, he gets his second chance in another world to pursue ecstatic success. At least, that’s what Annette, his guide, is instructed to tell him when he first arrives in Zauberberg, a European fantasy world with dragons and catgirls. Sensei, however, wants none of it. His only passion is to find his dear Sacchan and commit to the double suicide he set out to do.

Dazai Osamu has been lionized by Japanese and international audiences alike. His melodramatic loquacious protagonists are usually deeply troubled and on their way to death, but the beauty of his words and the sentimentality of his prose proves him to be one of the greatest writers in Japan. And compared to everyone else’s poster child of Japanese literature, he didn’t fucking suck.

Thus he inspired future generations of writers, much like how Edgar Allan Poe inspired so many high school goths to buy themselves a skull and wish to befriend crows. Dazai inspires people to pursue death for the vibes (God, remember when Shaft was good?).

And I, too, felt attracted to him.

Sensei, a pale man with a mess of short black hair dressed in dark traditional Japanese garb. He lies on the ground and stares blankly up.
This is the ideal male body. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.

I love Japanese literature; or at least, I love the concept of it. And in my college years, I had the opportunity to study it under a professor who was similarly enamored with modern Japanese literature (although, my professor said his favorite writer was Mishima). Introduced to Dazai’s works, along with other contemporaries of pre- and post-war writers who helped put into words the Kafkaesque state of Japanese society in the 20th century, I was shaped by them, as well as the airing of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. And through this, I was given an opportunity to be the worst kind of elitist nerd around: the kind who joined a competing anime club that was “smarter” than the regular anime club where we watched STUDIO4℃ films rather than Bleach. The kind who would wear a corduroy coat to school and hang out with philosophy graduate students while bumming a cigarette or two off of them on occasion.

And suicidality had been a latent part of my life since as far back as I can remember. Bullied in elementary school, and nearly killed for it in middle school, by the time I reached high school I was a sociopathic mess. Dying sounded like a brilliant release, and my friends were kind enough to indulge in that fantasy with me as I embarked on becoming a writer. Coming out as trans by my junior year, I said I’d probably be dead by 30 and led a life meant to be fun, not long.

Sensei hangs by the neck and causally looks over: Well, nice to meet you.

But human beings are more resilient than you think, and with age comes wisdom. I realized some time in my late-20s, perhaps my early 30s, that deadline I set for myself isn’t going to really do it. Moreover, I needed to actually come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m worth something more than leaving a beautiful blood splatter on my way out.

This year, I am 36. Dazai died just before his 39th birthday. And I wonder. With all this romanticization of death and depression, how did he actually feel about dying? When I was 19 and looking to be self-destructive, I looked to Dazai and said to myself, “I want to be this motherfucker as a writer and person.” And, for better or worse, I may just have managed to pull it off.

But that betrays a big question to me. Thirty-six years into this accursed life of being despised and hurt and maligned by society, I’ve come to realize there are people, individuals who want me around and cherish me, and those were the people who kept me going all along. And I ask the man I looked up to all those years ago, “is this how you felt?”

Sensei looks over annoyed as healing energies detoxify him: You’re bothering me. Stop that.
Sorry Sensei, I’m just a bit of a fan.

This is all to say, Sensei in No Longer Allowed in Another World is so determined to die. He nibbles on sleeping pills as a snack, he relishes getting hung on a tree. He is determined to reach the afterlife so that he may finally be together with his one-true love, Sacchan. And all of this bothers me, because this entire series may have been couched on a lie.

We romanticize death, and the thought of dying never leaves me, even today. The harshness of life and a brain permanently wired to swing into bouts of depression keeps that latent suicidality hanging over me like a cloud. In that sense, I want to say I kinda get Dazai. And I wonder, as he wound up in the river with Yamazaki Tomie, a woman he signed a pact to die with, was that really his intention? 

That question alone sours me on this fool-hardy attempt to commercialize and celebrate a man’s death. Much like how I cannot travel back in time to ask if Dazai was just as flippant and latently suicidal as I am now, nor can the authors of No Longer Allowed in Another World confirm that Dazai was indeed this comically suicidal.

An old truck barrels towards Sensei and Sacchan in a black and white scene in the rain
Truck-kun (circa 1948) is here to interject.

The joke of the series is simply thus: what if we took a man who really doesn’t want to live anymore and made  him go on an adventure to find the one person he promised to die with in a European fantasy world of swords and magic? And we assume Sensei is up to the task of being strangely resilient against dying so that women can fall over on him with their tits hanging out.

It’s at least self aware, since Annette is tired of all the other reincarnated men who pass through, and Sensei’s demeanor is so different, she’s charmed by the break in monotony. But when Isekai tropes have become so routine and tired, this show, too, becomes what it is parodying at this point because everything that needs to be said has already been said, and we only add “and this guy wants to die” as the punchline at the end over and over.

Sensei’s stats suck actually, and he just wants to be afflicted by poison all the time.

Truck-kun is real and will transport you to another world, and Sensei actually didn’t want that after all.

Swords, dragons, catgirls! Don’t care, this guy is too jaded to bother.

A catgirl with a lot of cleavage teases an elf
Meet my girlfriends/psychiatric team. They tell me not to kill myself for some reason and they want to have sex with me.

And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the catgirl. She has no name, but she does have a debt of life to repay Sensei after he somehow saves her from a tentacle monster the show depicts lovingly caressing every nook and cranny of her body. The tonal dissonance from the nonstop comedy depression with Sensei seems abrupt. 

I’ll give the show credit where it’s due, however. The animation quality was superb. I can tell this is where everyone focused their energies on this season, and understandably so. The manga is pretty popular, and  it’s got appeal and marketability by premise alone.

But I’m not here to tell you if this show is worth watching because it’s pretty enough or not, and if this review has shown anything, it’s: 動画失格 (No Longer Animation).

Hmm, rather tortured to make that joke work in English, much like the Japanese title. We’re trapped calling this No Longer Human, but really the title works in Japanese because it means more like “Unworthy of Humanity”, thus “Unworthy of Another World,” and thus my little joke, “Unworthy of being an anime.”

And if you’re so inclined to watch an anime about a moody man surrounded by girls, may I suggest a little classic?

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