What’s it about ?
Remember the parable about God creating the world in six days, and resting on Sunday ? Well, here he finished the job in five days, rested on Saturday, and just left on Sunday. As a result, people don’t really die anymore, unless those special people called Gravediggers bury them and give them eternal rest.
Ai, our protagonist, is the cutest little Gravedigger ever : loved by her whole village and her adoptive parents. Sure, she had to bury her own mother and her father is a mystery, but she’s happy, right ? And nobody’d ever lie to her about being a Gravedigger, right ?
“Humpnie Humbert”, who readily admits this is a bullshit pseudonym (taken from some fairy tale). Unfortunately, this is also the name Ai’s mother gave as the father’s (which should ring alarm bells to anyone with a lick of sense), which causes a lot of confusion. But not among the villagers, as he’s already killed them all. Well, shot them until they became zombies, given how the world is now. Why ? He doesn’t say. He much prefers deriding the cruel joke the townfolk inflicted on Ai : Gravediggers don’t have parents, they come from nowhere when they’re needed. Ai’s mother must just have been deluded.
The sad thing is that I can’t tell whether this asshole is right ; there are some hints that Ai does have Gravedigger powers… or maybe not.
I watched a preview streamed from NicoNico (the show is set to have proper airings starting Saturday), so this means no OP/ED sequences, and eyebleed-o-vision quality. It’s still very distinctive artistically, with oversaturated colours all the time (making it seem like all the scenes are shot at dawn or dusk) and a love for Dutch angles. It certainly contributes to the surreality of the whole piece.
Well, the least I can say is that this is a show that makes an impression. There’s a contrast between the bleak premise and Ai’s cheerfulness (Aki Toyosaki in full squeaky mode) that makes it way more depressing than if it was just played straight. It’s not just yet another zombie show, as it quickly builds up a very distinctive atmosphere.
It doesn’t entirely work, though. There are bits where the banter between Ai and the mysterious stranger goes a bit too much comedic to really mesh with the oppressive mood, making the tone of the episode vary quite a bit more than it needs to be really effective. It’s a bit too much all over the place.
There are some bits that do work, though. The progressive reveal of that one villager’s head wound, that’s somehow always out of sight from the camera until he pulls on his hood and you can plainly see that his skull’s shape is just horribly wrong, is a very nicely paced sequence. As is the scene where Ai has cheerfully dug up graves for the whole village in advance, and wonders out loud what she’s going to do now. Great moments, but the show doesn’t quite find its groove yet.
But I’m intrigued enough to give it at least another episode to see where this is going.