The World Ends With You the Animation (hereafter The World Ends With You) is a Domerica and Shin-Ei Animation production. The former is also working on SEVEN KNIGHTS REVOLUTION: Hero Successor this season. The latter has done pretty much every Doraemon property, including the movies, known to man. For newcomers to the series, The World Ends With You the Animation is based off the cult classic DS game of the same title. Set in modern-day (at the time, 2007) Shibya, a ward and shopping district in Tokyo, the story followed Sakuraba neku, a boy caught up in a vicious game of fate. That same game is now being translated into a cour during Spring 2021.
Before I kick off this review, I have to admit that I’m a big, big fan of The World Ends With You. I have it in Japanese and English on both my DS and my Switch. The first time I went to Tokyo, I went specifically to visit Shibuya so I could walk around with my 100%’d file and see all the plays Neku went in game. Safe to say I was really, really thrilled about this anime finally dropping. So, let’s see how things go in The World Ends With You Episode 1, “The Reaper’s Game.”
The World Ends With You Episode 1 starts off with Sakuraba Neku, an amnesiatic, headphones-wearing teenager who ends up in a stream realm where suddenly, he doesn’t exist. Then again, that’s not quite right. Rather, Neku’s a player in the UG, or the Underground, a realm separate from the RG, or the Realground, of Tokyo’s iconic Shibuya. Of course, since they’re two separate realms, Neku and Shiki can’t interact with folks who aren’t in the UG. They’re stuck with each other, though they can read the minds of people in the RG.
Things quickly get real: frog-like monsters appear and attach Neku and Shiki, and it’s only through their newly formed pact that they succeed. However, post-battle, Neku quickly realizes that there’s a high cost to this game: his life. In fact, that’s the cost that all players face in The World Ends With You Episode 1, which gives viewers new and old the stakes for this video game adaptation.
The World Ends With You Episode 1 is gorgeous from the moment it loads on Funimation’s video player. Not only does it capture the original DS title’s iconic style, it upgrades it with slick animation and solid voice acting. Paired with atmospheric sound design, ambient noise, and superb voice acting, I found TWEWY Episode 1 to be a real treat from minute 1. I found this surprisingly because I’m not a huge fan of CGI, which TWEWY the Animation Episode 1 uses a lot for the more dynamic scenes. However, because of the cell-shaded design, it looks really good, especially when a lot of the art style’s iconic black shadows get used.
Additionally, I found that a lot of the game’s mechanics translated really well to anime. If you’ve played the game, you know that TWEWY (the video game) utilizes a pin system for attacks. While they can’t show a split UI in the anime, I found that showing the pin’s emblem before an attack was just as informative as in the game. It’ll be neat to see how they capitalize on this design choice in later episodes.
There’s loads of slick aspects of the game that pop up in The World Ends With You Episode 1. Anytime the characters went to a different part of Shibuya, there’s a snazzy title card that’ll pop up with a design taken directly from the game. It’s nice to see all these little touchs
Fans of the game expecting a 1-to-1 adaptation should come in with an open mind. This isn’t a 1-to-1 adaptation, and honestly… that’s for the best. The series would be too bloated if it did a straight adaptation, especially since a lot of the gameplay is hunting down side quests items, playing minigames and just exploring Shibuya. I’m actually quite excited about the direction the show looks to be going, and can’t wait to spend an entire season with it.
I really can’t find a single thing bad about this premiere. I absolutely loved The World Ends With You Episode 1, and think it’s easily going to be one of my favorite video game adaptations. All in all, I’m hyped to return to Shibuya with Neku, Shiki, and all the characters I love from The World Ends With You. Hopefully, you will be too, whether you’re a new viewer or an old fan.
The World Ends With You the Animation is now streaming on Funimation.
The World Ends With You The Animation Episode 1 - “The Reaper’s Game”
All in all, I’m hyped to return to Shibuya with Neku, Shiki, and all the characters I love from The World Ends With You. Hopefully, you will be too, whether you’re a new viewer or an old fan.