REVIEW: ‘Wonder Egg Priority,’ Episode 3 – “A Bare Knife”

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Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3

Content Warning: Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 features cutting and non-sexual teacher-student relationships.

Wonder Egg Priority 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 with no prior manga or other forms of media. That being said, this intense, thoughtful series about bullying, suicidality, dreams, and friendship has made its mark and is steadily on its way to being a contender for one of this season’s strongest anime.

Wonder Egg Priority Episode 2 tackled a lot of hard topics within Ai’s surreal dreamscape realm. Particularly, it dealt with school abuse, a topic not at all unfamiliar to Ai. While a brutal episode, it was also quite poignant, resolving in Ai once more helping a girl move through her trauma. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding where exactly this anime will go, especially for Ai. Her own trauma has been largely shown in snapshots and flashbacks. One can only imagine that eventually, we’ll have to confront Ai’s own demons in the dreamscape. For now, there’s still the eggs and the girls tucked inside them. 

Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3, “A Bare Knife” continues to delve into the realm of dreams. However, it initially opens with Ai encountering Kawai Rika, a tomboyish girl whose mood changes on a dime. Immediately, one trait stands out about her: Rika does what she wants without any regard for others. In a realm as dangerous as those of the dreams, that trait seems awfully risky. Yet viewers get an immediate sense that that’s just how Rika rolls. This continues as Rika barges into Ai’s world and invites herself to visit Neiru. It’s fitting, seeing as they’re all three egg-users. However, that’s not enough to bond Rika and Neiru together. If anything, Neiru immediately finds Rika incredibly off-putting. Still, it looks like both Ai and Neiru are stuck with Rika, for better…or for worse. To unpack this episode I need to touch on spoilers beyond this point.

Post-hospital visit, Ai comes back home to find her mother and school counselor speaking together. The scene is… uneasy, despite Rika’s upbeat attitude. It only gets worse when Rika mistakes the school counselor for Ai’s father. Rika even calls him “hot”, a snippet that is just the most discomforting. It feels like Rika almost says it on purpose, just to rile Ai up.

In regards to Rika, she’s… almost deliberately unlikable. She’s judgemental, fatphobic, and quite the mean girl. Really, she’s mean the way that only teenagers can be. Yet… Rika is also an intensely relatable character, especially in the one quiet moment Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 offers viewers. 

Rika self-harms via cutting. In fact, we see evidence of her recent wounds on her arm, even in the dream world. She puts on a pleasant facade and is clearly faking it ‘til she makes it. She obscures her pain with cheeky smiles and sharp barbs. Suddenly, the box cutters Rika wields in the dreamscape become much more upsetting tools of destruction. Thankfully, Ai is smart enough to catch onto this, and once they’re in a shared dreamscape, confronts her about it. At first, Rika pushes back, but so does Ai, forcing her to relent.

All of the girls in Wonder Egg Priority have someone they’re fighting for. For Ai, it’s Koito, for Con Neiru, it’s her sister. For Rika, it’s a girl named Chiemi. Chiemi wasn’t Rika’s sister or friend. Instead, Chiemi was a plus-sized fan of Rika back when she was an idol. She routinely came to Rika’s handshake events and spent every bit of money on going to events to see Rika. 

Then one day, Rika saw Chiemi shoplifting and reselling the stolen goods to fund her habit even more. Rike quite callously rejects Chiemi afterward, telling her to never come to see her again. The implication is that, as a major fan, Chiemi took that quite seriously. Then… Chiemi dies.

The nature of her death isn’t revealed. However, what Rika keys in on is Chiemi’s body in the casket. Instead of being plus-sized, her body is skin and bones. The dissonance is jarring, and while Rika’s hateful remarks about Chiemi’s body can’t be dismissed, it’s also grimly understandable why she’d be shocked to see Chiemi so thin. This would be earnest moment gets interrupted when more Seeno Evils appear, swarming the room that Ai and Rika had previously holed up in. Still, the story is enough to rattle Ai, sending her into an emotional spiral. 

Finally, Ai starts to confront the nasty side to her own pain and trauma: her anger. It comes out in an all too achingly realistic burst of rage. Ai loved Koito. Ai still loves Koito. I don’t think she’d be fighting as hard as she is to figure out a way to save her friend if she didn’t.

But Ai is also intensely angry at Koito. She feels abandoned by Koito. She’s hurt by her friend who didn’t tell her what was happening. Ai’s hurt by not being able to helpThat rage utterly transforms Ai from a shy, cute girl to a young woman filled with rage. It’s the first, genuine-time that viewers witness Ai being unabashedly mad and it is hauntingly powerful. Truth be told, Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 left me with very mixed feelings. Rika stands to still be an intensely unlikable character, though she’s also a deeply vulnerable character. I truly think she’s actually a good kid at heart. I’m just not sure when I’ll come to like her, if ever.

Also, Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 is our first episode to end on a cliffhanger. It leaves a lot of loose plot threads, but in a good way. In fact, it gives room for Ai to work through her feelings in a more thorough, developed manner. It’ll be interesting to see how Wonder Egg Priority weaves all those plot elements together in the next episode or two.

It’s still a bit hard to tell where this show aims to go with its plot. Wonder Egg Priority doesn’t show its hand quite easily. Still, that’s part of what makes this series, and Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3, so engaging. If you’re like me, you want to see these girls make it. You want to see them move through their pain and heal. Hopefully, that’s what will start to happen next episode.  For now, Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 has given viewers a lot of food for thought to tide them over until next week.

Wonder Egg Priority is streaming now on Funimation.

Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 - “A Bare Knife”
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    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

It’s still a bit hard to tell where this show aims to go with its plot. Wonder Egg Priority doesn’t show its hand quite easily. Still, that’s part of what makes this series, and Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3, so engaging. If you’re like me, you want to see these girls make it. You want to see them move through their pain and heal. Hopefully, that’s what will start to happen next episode.  For now, Wonder Egg Priority Episode 3 has given viewers a lot of food for thought to tide them over until next week.