REVIEW: ‘Wonder Egg Priority,’ Episode 1 – “The Domain of Children”

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Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1

Content Warning: Wonder Egg Priority features  themes of bullying, suicide, body horror

Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1 is a brand new anime debuting in the second week of the Winter 2021 anime season. Unlike a lot of titles this season, Wonder Egg Priority is an anime-only series. It’s not drawing inspiration from any manga or other form of media. In many ways, that makes this a curious title as viewers globally will be diving into it with no prior knowledge.

Wonder Egg Priority is being produced by CloverWorks, a studio that needs no introduction for anime fans. CloverWorks has loads of titles under its belt, including Darling in the Franxx, Persona 5 the Animation, The Promised Neverland season 1 and season 2, and Racal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai.

Additionally, Wonder Egg Priority is being directed by Wakabayashi Shin (ACCA: 13, Eromanga Sensei), with scriptwriting by Nojima Shinji, who also penned the original story. Takahashi Saki (Her Blue Sky) will serve as the animation director and character designer, with Fujita Akiko (22/7, Kakegurui) serving as the sound direction. The list goes on, but it’s safe to say there’s a lot of really excellent people working on Wonder Egg Priority’s overall production.

The premise goes like this: Ai Ohto gets an item called a “Wonder Egg” from a gachapon machine at a deserted arcade. However, when she falls asleep and wakes up in a dreamscape, she finds that reality and dreams collide. Her confusion grows when, suddenly, a mysterious girl emerges from the egg. The question is… why? Well, let’s find our answer in Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1, “The Domain of Children.”

Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1 kicks off with Ai Ohto, a seemingly charming -if not slightly lonely- girl with heterochromia and a vested interest in bugs. The bug she happens to find is dead, but that doesn’t bother Ai. In fact, she kindly buries it in a park.  However, Ai’s kind act sparks a strange incident as the bug comes to life and begins speaking to Ai only to reveal that she’s dreaming. Yet as soon as the reveal happens, viewers are thrust back into reality.

In the real world, she’s somewhat of a shut-in, avoiding school and spending most of her day inside her home. This has been going on for a while, especially since her teacher has begun doing home visits. The reasons are numerous and all too relatable. It’s easy to understand why Ai would rather stay inside.

That very next night, Ai heads back outside carrying the titular “wonder egg” with her. Once more, reality and dreams blend, only this time, they’re not as sweet as the intro. The liminal space Ai lands in is her school, though there’s a distinct edge of uncanny horror as she wanders the halls. Lilies decorate a desk. Students draw the kanji for “die” on someone’s belongings. Gossip stings her ears. It’s gut-punch after gut-punch up until Ai comes across the reason why and is forced back into a living nightmare. Where that will go… well, I suspect that’s still in development. 

Thus begins Wonder Egg Priority, a series that’s really, really good at blending discomforting dreamscapes with realistic, everyday horrors. The series isn’t afraid to play with horror either, morphing the dreamscapes Ai goes into bloody, uneasy hellscapes that she has to survive. In many ways, those particular sequences reminded me of Otherside Picnic, another Winter 2021 anime that debuted at the beginning of January. 

Honestly, that’s what makes this series quite interesting. It’s nightmarish in an almost realistic way. Through her isolation and bullying, the pain Ai experiences feel achingly familiar, as does Ai’s desire for friends and acceptance. Thankfully, by the end of Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1, it seems Ai is well on her way to finding a new friend, even if she’s still got her real life to cope with.

The music for Wonder Egg Priority is downright lovely. The score is playful: at times, it’s downright dreamy and hypnotic. I love it when anime go whole-hog on the score: it only serves to make Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1 a strong premiere. Additionally, the sounds in this series are quite atmospheric as well. They build on each other in such a sonically pleasing way. The tracks are often incredibly minimal. At this level, viewers can hear the creak of a door or drip of a faucet peek through. Those instances are exceptional and add to the tension of the series.

Additionally, the animation style is lovely, though lovely is selling it short. Everything looks so transient at times, especially when Ai is dreaming. High tension moments distort the world as the dreamscape becomes bloodier and the dreams more horrific and terrifying for Ai and her newfound companion. It’s all really, really lush, down to Ai’s body language and the simplest of movements. There’s a lot of care and attention to depicting her emotions in every motion.

As I said above, the show definitely comes with a few content warnings. Further, based on Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1’s impression, the show will most likely delve into darker topics and themes as the cour continues. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the more brutal, gory aspects of the show will probably become more intense. I say this because bullying, suicide, and suicidality are major themes in the premiere. Since they deeply affect Ai’s life, it is safe to say that the show will continue to explore them.

Overall, Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1 is a strong premiere that drops viewers directly into a topsy-turvey with little explanation in a way that feels so, so good, haunting as it is. Ai is a compelling lead, and the task of protecting victims of the dream world she’s slowly melding into is a solid throughline. The show is admittedly bizarre, but honestly, I’m here for it, especially as a companion to Otherside Picnic.

If you’re in a safe place to watch, or if this sounds even at all interesting to you, I highly suggest checking out this series. l also suggest adding it to your already full Winter 2021 watchlist, if there’s a little bit of space. Something tells me Wonder Egg Priority will be an extraordinary series and potentially one of Winter 2021’s finest.

Wonder Egg Priority is streaming now on Funimation.


Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1
  • 9.5/10
    Rating - 9.5/10
9.5/10

TL;DR

Overall, Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1 is a strong premiere that drops viewers directly into a topsy-turvey with little explanation in a way that feels so, so good, haunting as it is. Ai is a compelling lead, and the task of protecting victims of the dream world she’s slowly melding into is a solid throughline. The show is admittedly bizarre, but honestly, I’m here for it, especially as a companion to Otherside Picnic