When The World Ends With You The Animation first aired, I was suitably excited. As a big, big fan of the TWEWY franchise, I’d dreamed about an anime since playing the title back in 2008. Safe to say that thirteen years later, with the news of a new sequel and an anime, I was stoked. However, what I found over the past few weeks was a complicated trek back through a beloved franchise.
The World Ends With You The Animation follows Neku Sakuraba, a misanthropic teenager living in Tokyo. He frequents Shibuya, one of the multiple wards of Japan’s biggest city, prowling the hip, mean streets… until fate decides that he’s going to play a game. The Reapers’ Game, specifically, which is where viewers find Neku in the premier. But Neku’s not in the true Shibuya. No, he plays in the Underground, or UG, Shibuya, battling monstrous Noise -technicolor beasties- while trying to figure out how to win the game he’s been forced into.
Just like the game, The World Ends With You The Animation follows Neku across a series of weeks, showing his growth from a humanity-hating teen who doesn’t need anybody to a more fleshed out character with a genuine heart of gold. It’s actually quite lovely to see him and the characters of this world on the digital big screen. This is, in large part, due to the slick 2.5D-esque animation, which makes all of the characters look cell shaded. It’s a kind of timeless design choice, and a happy medium compared to the pixel art roots of the series.
That said, as good as The World Ends With You The Animation is, there are definitely some hiccups. One major one is the music, which is… solid, but not excellent, especially compared to the cult classic soundtrack. While the OP, “Twister,” does call back to the original in-game theme song, that’s where the comparisons end. I frequently found myself craving the hip-hop/EDM/rock soundtrack, especially during action sequences.
Additionally, one of the most glaring issues with The World Ends With You The Animation is how much gets cut out. I think this can be felt whether or not you’ve played the game. For the most part, the show covers this through small changes and a fast pace. But… there’s definitely times where you can feel a vague emptiness in the plot, no matter how small. Thankfully, it gets less and less jarring once you think of this as an AU (alternate universe) series telling a slightly different version of the same story.
Of course, you could also argue that it’s necessary. The World Ends With You The Animation is a twelve-episode cour, with each episode running for twenty-four minutes from OP to ED. You can’t stuff an entire RPG into that length of show, not without it needing at least two cours. And certainly not without the pacing suffering. This is most evident in the first three episodes of The World Ends With You Anime, which is where the show’s missteps, cuts, and weaknesses are most evident.
That said, I actually quite like the tweaks and adjustments. However, that might be because I already knew what was going to happen. I know this story backwards and forwards. I pretty much knew the ending from episode 1. From an “anime-only” perspective, I think the tweaks still work, giving viewers enough of a taste of TWEWY to go pick up the game on DS or Switch. I think it’s enough table-setting to get fans ready for the upcoming sequel, though I’d definitely suggest playing the definitive edition of the game to get the full story.
All in all, I really enjoyed The World Ends With You The Animation. It’s one of the strongest video game adaptations I’ve seen, capturing all the flair and fun of the original 2008 title. While there’s definitely a lot left out, there’s also a heck of a lot stuffed into each episode. Once the show picks up around episode 4, things get really, really good. This continues through the finale, which is satisfying enough that fans on all levels should close their browser with a smile.
My suggestion? Watch The World Ends With You The Animation, then pick up the Switch version of the game, uncomfortable controls and all. Better: pick up a stylus, set your Switch or Switch Lite to be more sensitive to it, and then play TWEWY on your Switch. It’ll flesh out the anime, adding in details, battles, and world building that will only heighten your appreciation of this series. Then, once you’re done? Rewatch the series and get hyped for NEO TWEWY, which launches in July 2021!
The World Ends With You The Animation is now streaming on Funimation.
The World Ends With You the Animation
- Rating - 8/108/10
All in all, I really enjoyed The World Ends With You Anime. It’s one of the strongest video game adaptations I’ve seen, capturing all the flair and fun of the original 2008 title. While there’s definitely a lot left out, there’s also a heck of a lot stuffed into each episode. Once the show picks up around episode 4, things get really, really good. This continues through the finale, which is satisfying enough that fans on all levels should close their browser with a smile.