What is there to say about an episode of a show that exists purely as a transition between creating the setting and putting the main story into action? What can I possibly elaborate on beyond the fact that science apparently went bonkers a long while after non-psychic civilization collapsed, and this long-lost knowledge is interpreted as a sort of ill omen? Well, the cold opening looked pretty fucking cool, for one, relying on starker colors and a cartoonier format than the episode itself, making me hope that each proceeding episode will try a new visual direction in the first few minutes. It thankfully ditched the dreadful blurrycam in favor of more dynamic animation that didn’t make me think my glasses broke, and that’s easily a step in the right direction.
Oh wait, there is more than that. Watching this episode should have brought to mind other anime series, and indeed it did. The setup of Dennou Coil, where kids discover a dark secret related with technology that’s long fallen into disuse, and the ever-grimdark atmosphere of Another, create a dark setting that grows more compelling the longer that the series goes on. It’s hardly original, but it’s doing a fantastic job at the horror aesthetic that the latter series couldn’t hope to match in a thousand years. What this episode did best was use the format of the last two weeks and twist it around, so one kid actually didn’t disappear after either behaving like a total dickwit or being wholly incompetent at psychic stuff. I for one was expecting one of the kids to disappear to craft false tension, but nothing of the sort happened. In that regard, it’s certainly doing a much better job at maintaining and building an oppressive atmosphere than Another horror anime of note.
I wish I could say more, but this is basically Stand By Me with an expository device in the form of a glowing hypnotism horse library thing rather than a dead body, and with approximately 95% less of your daily dosage of murderous teenagers. The characters remain indistinct A-1 Pictures clones, the phantom cat subplot’s kind of languished in favor of deeper content, and again, that cold opening was pretty fucking cool. It’s a slow boil that will likely stay slow for a number of episodes, but I’m cool with that since it seems to have some semblance of direction. Here’s hoping the next episode has meatier content and even less blurrycam, so I actually have something to fucking say that isn’t “Ooo, the colors!”