What’s it about? Asuka and her friends have been coming to the same spot and performing an internet ritual they hope will take them to another world. They’re shocked when it actually works, sending them to a strange digital desert with monsters and a strange swordfighter who looks just like Asuka.
The Girl in Twilight has the feel of a throwback in more ways than one. The story itself seems to take place in the 90s, as the teenage characters are extremely attached to a portable tape player; the aesthetic, meanwhile, has the vibe of a late-era PS2 game a la .hack// or Digital Devil Saga, with its maybe-computerized monsters and cyberpunk combat gear.
The effect is a somewhat disorienting but still reasonably engaging sci-fantasy series that I’m willing to give a few more episodes to hook me.
It helps that, while no one here is going to get points for terrifically realistic writing, Asuka and her friends are all likable enough and (more importantly) seem to like each other. While some of the premiere’s attempts at comedy can get a bit shrill and Anime™ (oh how hilarious! They get out of trouble by offering food to their teacher, cause he’s faaaaaaat, are you laughing? it hopes you’re laughing), their interactions with one another feel laidback and fairly natural, and it smooths things over until the isekai element kicks in.
While the girls get a nasty shock that the otherworld they’ve been daydreaming about is dangerous and full of monsters, there’s not a sense that it’s punishing them for dreaming of escapism or generally being teenagers—which is honestly something of a relief from the recent spate of dark fantasy shows that have genre-savvy protagonists meet horrible fates for wanting magic powers.
A big chunk of the episode is dedicated to a combat sequence, with somewhat mixed results: the CG used is evident but doesn’t clash thanks to the garish (and unfortunate) yellow snow that coats the otherworld, but the direction expects much more awe from the viewer than it’s actually earned by that point—characters cry out in shock for this stranger they’ve just met and there’s a BIG. SWEEPING. INSERT SONG, just in case you weren’t certain how Very Serious this was. Whether that turns out to be a one-off stumble or indicative of things to come (like last season’s HANEBADO!) remains to be seen.
It’s actually somewhat unclear how much traveling between worlds will even be a plot point. The other Asuka is clearly the product of an alternate timeline, and the premiere hangs its mystery less on what this mysterious place is and more on how things got so bad for the parallel versions of our heroines. Strangely enough, the relationship that seems most important for Ominous Goings on, between Asuka and the studious Yu, isn’t developed at all here. Still, the stakes are there to develop in future.
There is some minor fanservice, including a butt shot during a transformation sequence, some very shiny bath nudity, and weirdly sexual expressions during an attack of fluffy bunny monsters, but otherwise this has promise as a dark-but-not-hopeless show about female friendship.