What’s it about ?
An original horror/mystery series about people going to the titular village to start their life anew. Yeah, like that ever goes well…
I’m not going to run down all the characters in the show, because there’s literally a bus-full of them, and some of them are obviously one-note jokes and/or cannon fodder for whatever comes next. Basically, those are 28 people who “won” some sort of ARG and got offered a trip to the mysterious Nanaki village, which doesn’t exist on any map and has been fodder for tons of (often contradictory) urban legends.
If you add in the guide (clearly out of his depth) on loan from the company sponsoring this, the folklore college student who actually found the place (and is more than a bit creepy herself), and the bus driver who’s progressively getting angry at those arrogant youth, that’s 31 characters.
“Mitsumune” (everybody here uses aliases, leading to a nice joke where three people happen to use the same one and fight over it) is our de-facto point-of-view character ; he’s a runaway high-school kid who keeps for himself the reasons why he wants to start over. Why he seems to be nice enough on a surface level, there’s obviously quite a lot he keeps bottled in.
“Speedstar”… okay, even he can’t bother and lets his seat neighbour Mitsumune call him “Hayato” (which may or may not be his real name). While some others have decent reasons for wanting to start over (don’t invest into the FOReing currency EXchange market, kids !), he’s among those who think the whole thing is a scam, and wants to investigate it.
“Masaki” is a fragile girl who’s so adorably vulnerable (immediately attracting Mitsumune’s attention) that you can’t help but thing there’s something else going on there.
“Lion” is a taciturn hooded girl who keeps to herself and definitely won’t tell her deal to Mitsumune. She can see right through him, though.
And so on ; I presume that other characters will get the spotlight when necessary, and/or get weeded out.
They still haven’t actually gotten to the village yet by the end of the first episode, by the way.
Quite good ; the show manages to nail its atmosphere, a mixture of foreboding and quirky characters quickly getting onto each other’s nerves. It’s also already getting some interesting dream sequences in.
What did I think of it ?
A shadow loomed over this project : Another, director Tsutomu Mizushima’s main previous attempt at a horror series. (Let’s also politely forget about Blood-C.) Those two shows worked against his strengths as a director, forcing him into a straitjacket of deadpan seriousness that he couldn’t help but make look ridiculous. Here he seems much more at ease, especially paired with an experienced writer who’s smart enough to play to his strengths.
Remember the one very good scene from Another, that hilarious daydream sequence ? This is exactly what Mizushima is channelling here, with his impeccable comedic timing and surreal tone are put to very good effect. The impressive “introductions” sequence where the whole cast are sketched out in less than four minutes is quite impressive indeed, in particular. I’m quite fond of the way the huge cast is juggled throughout, with some character beats echoing smoothly from one scene to another.
This is promising in may ways that the aforementioned two shows weren’t ; third time’s the charm ? I definitely plan on sticking with it to find out, at least.