ISLAND – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser July 1, 20180 Comments
Setsuna sitting on a purple-filtered beach looking at a girl in a hoodie and captain's hat

What’s it about? Setsuna washes up on Urashima Island with no idea who he is and only a few memories: that he’s a time traveler from the future, that he needs to save a girl, and that “Setsuna” must die. He meets another girl, Rinne, who also appeared on the island five years before, and seems to share his fate.

Content Warning: NSFW screenshots

There are definitely good anime based on dating sims. We’ve even had the good fortune to review a few of them here on AniFem. So it feels cruel to knock Island simply for originally being a Visual Novel—let us say instead that this premiere comes off as a very lazily adapted, and go from there.

Karen faceplanted directly on top of an unconscious Setsuna's crotch

Island is ostensibly a mystery story: Setsuna gets assaulted by flashbacks that are mostly just still shots with a muddy filter placed over them, serious conversations are had about mysterious destinies and fateful connections, and a close shot of blood is treated with ominous importance.

The problem is that the show just doesn’t sell it well. Muddy flashbacks aside, the majority of the episode is Setsuna insisting that he’s definitely a time traveler with nothing to back it up, framed in such a mundane setup that it seems more like he’s delusional than that there’s a mystery at work. The two Obviously Ominous scenes (when pint-sized miko Sara questions him and when he stumbles upon a set of books practically earmarked with plot points) feel less like proof of sinister goings-on than a sharp swerve into a completely different story. The inspiration is baldly Higurashi: When They Cry, but it proves a pale imitation.

A naked whitehaired girl looking down at someone. caption: I might break

Not helping the tonal issues are the “route introduction” scenes obviously pulled from the source material, giving Setsuna a chance to get up close and personal and show the audience a full-body shot of their future 2D girlfriend. Karen, Rinne, and Sara all display little in the way of personality beyond the basic archetypes, and Setsuna is a product of the tired and tiresome “accidental pervert” model.

The fact that Setsuna is stated to be “roughly 20” and all three girls look like they’re 12 (and are definitely underage at any rate) adds a coat of sleaze to the whole affair. The episode’s very first scene, taking place in the supposed future, features a naked just-as-young-looking Rinne in the middle of sex.

But if there’s one scene that encapsulates the whole “clean but dirty-feeling” sense of the whole premiere, it has to be the moment where Sara, initially accusing Setsuna of sexual harassment for pointing out that she has small boobs, changes her tune upon hearing that he’s into flat chests. Yes, men. Sexual harassment charges definitely only exist because women are mad you won’t sleep with them. You’ve solved it.

close-up of Sara blushing. caption: do you mean the flower of your love has bloomed upon our first meeting?

As a mystery show, it’s the pale imitation of its better peers, and as a fanservice show it’s low-key but unpleasant. Not much to recommend here.

(Oh, and if the VN Database’s “spoil me” section is to be believed, there may be time travel paradox incest involved in there somewhere, so. Just a heads-up on that front.)

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