Girls Beyond the Wasteland – Review
Girls Beyond the Wasteland:
Original Air Dates: Jan 7th, 2016 – March 24th, 2016
Synopsis: Buntarou is a classic, young high school teen who just doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. However this changes when one of his classmates, Sayuki, asks him out on a date. But the date turns out to be nothing more than a test, pretext to see if Buntarou has the understanding, and writing talent, to become a part of her team in developing a Visual Novel. Buntarou, along with his other friends, band together to begin constructing their first Visual Novel as part of their club activities. But do they even have the talent to pull everything together? Does the game even have a chance at success within this live or die industry? Buntarou and Co. won’t know unless they give it their all and step into the Wasteland that is the Visual Novel industry.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Girls Beyond the Wasteland is a muted show, and this is evident from its animation and character designs right off the bat. Each character looks like they’ve been copied off a generic manga tutorial. That’s not a complaint, it’s just an observation of the general aesthetics of the show and while it isn’t terrible, it is clear that the show won’t be winning fans for its animation.
Tom: The art itself is actually, for the most, fairly pretty. Maybe not mind-blowing beautiful, but pleasurable enough on the eyes. But it lacks a visual flair, perhaps in part due to a mutated color scheme. The show lacks vibrant colors, leaving Girls Beyond with a washed out look. In addition to its muted look, Girls never has any scenes that stand out and give a visual pop, making its visuals forgettable in the swarm of anime launching every season. As if to mimic its visual trappings, the characters themselves start the series just as dull as the color palette. Buntaro, our hero of the story, is generic and uninteresting. He’s the classic high school student who doesn’t know where to go in life, but more than that he lacks a stand out personality. It’s the same with everyone else in the cast, save for Yuka, the boistrous member of the initial trio, who’s written so poorly she screams random jumbles of syllables, rather than colorful dialogue to attach us to her character. Put simply: Girls Beyond has a really sour start.
Linny: The characters develop more personality and flavour as the show proceeds but it’s a slow start and could potentially be too long a wait for some viewers. For the patient, there are some genuinely hilarious, if a bit exaggerated, episodes just waiting somewhere along the midpoint. However, all this added humour and drama comes at a price. The need to create some extra sparkle means that every now and then, the characters act in a manner that seem out of character (pardon the pun) just for the sake of plot development or gag factor.
Tom: No matter what, the characters do improve even if that means deviating from established personas. Yuka becomes tolerable as the series goes, and actually gets real bombastic dialogue than smashed together syllables. But even so, the cast never manages to become lovable. I don’t find myself writing this, like I wrote the Konosuba Review, wishing I could see another episode of their struggles. Buntaro is generic as generic Main Characters get, aimless and full of untapped potential. But I also understand that I’m not the audience for Buntaro, here’s there for younger, budding audience members to identify with and perhaps even inspire. He speaks to those unsure of their own talent and draw from that well of teenage youth. Then there’s Sayuki, the girl who ropes everyone into creating a Visual Novel game in the first place. She’s a classic “emotionless” heroine, but Sayuki takes that trope too far. Often she lacks anything resembling passion, forging a disconnect between her drive to put effort towards completing the visual novel and her generally subdued apathetic attitude.
Linny: As the characters develop personalities and flavour, so does the story and the drama. Their interactions become more animated, entertaining, and the show starts to grow on you. However, Girls severely suffers from the “missing parent syndrome” that anime is notorious for. In this context of school students working together to make a game, there are certain dramatic tensions that arise that could very easily be solved by a parent being around. The complete absence of any parental involvement starts to feel more questionable and forced, especially for a show that deals with ordinary students. As a friendly heads up to those who pick this show up to learn about the game making process and industry in Japan, prepare to be disappointed. This show is no Shirobako, nor even a Sore Ga Seiyuu.
Tom: The comparison to Shirobako or Sore Ga Seiyuu is understandable, as the show marketed itself on students making a video game, but it fails to truly portray that struggle with any significant realism. The cast often accomplish their goals with ease early on in the first half, and while the struggle does indeed pick up as the series continues, there’s this latent understanding that they’re all borderline genius characters where things come easier to them than normally would. All they need to do is put in the smallest of effort and things begin to click. In fact, it can even get confusing at points as to how far they’ve progressed. At times it seems Buntaro has completed a significant goal, but at others it feels like he’s barely written anything for the game. There’s a constant level of inconsistency and lacking details that make it difficult to follow. Beyond that some potential obstacles are even completed for them, in between episodes, such as the Visual Novel’s music track.
Linny: This show is pure and simple, a story about teenagers bonding with each other and their personal development while they happen to be making a game. None of the game making steps are really explored in depth with the focus being more on the emotions of the characters and their personal drama that just happens to be vaguely connected to the current process rather than the actual ins and outs of game development. It does that decently, and will most likely resound with teenagers or people struggling with similar issues but it is bound to disappoint anyone who expected it to be more educational or informative.
Tom: Despite early impressions, romance takes a significant backseat here through much of the show’s proceedings. It’s a bit surprising, as Girls Beyond is based upon a soon to be released Visual Novel game that is listed as a Drama/Romance. It does eventually deal a little with romance, however, mid-way through at the tail end of Girls’ self-aware fan service/beach episode. But otherwise, Girls’ refrains from delivering on the very thing most Visual Novels are about: Love.
Linny: Even at its most shocking point, Girls starts to crumble the second you give the revelation any thought. It doesn’t help that almost all throughout the show, whenever the group faces a ‘major’ obstacle, it seems to be almost immediately and easily fixed. So when we have the ‘highpoint’ of the show, we still get a simple ‘fix’ to the situation. And the problem is only a problem in the sense that it involves betrayal of trust. A huge issue in itself of course, but nothing to do with the actual game production process itself. What I’m trying to say is that this show is all about feelings, and sometimes, those feelings seem very forced.
Tom: The big twist is quite awesome, and will probably catch you off guard, but the further we get away from its reveal, the more forced it feels, a desperate attempt to inject some last minute drama in the shows final two episodes. It’s great shock value, but lacks a lasting powerful impact that could’ve left a positive impression.
Linny: This show starts off a little misleading. There’s not much exposition or exploration regarding actual game making, there is near zero romance despite its first episode, and even with only having Girls in the title, it does heavily feature at least one boy (Okay, I’m just being silly with that last part). Girls is a show you can pick up if you are in the mood for a light teenage drama to marathon while multitasking. If watched back to back, the slow buildup might not feel as frustrating as having to wait an entire week like we did. There’s some enjoyment to be had from the show, but once again, there’s no need to rush it to the top of your list.
Tom: Girls takes forever to get to the meat of its story, meandering and wasting a large chunk of the first episode. As the series progresses there’s no doubt that the quality improves and, on rare occasions, even impresses. The anime is based off a yet to be released Visual Novel game (same characters, same setting) that actually launches the day after Girls finished airing. It’s also received a Manga adaptation back in Feb, so Girls represents the newest Multi-media franchise spanning every Otaku interest imaginable. But despite being labelled as a romance in every other iteration, the anime just doesn’t do that aspect justice, and the few scenes that even address it could be plucked from the show and it wouldn’t change a thing. Girls isn’t a great show, and there are better teen dramas out there, but if you’re struggling for content to hold you from boredom, you could do worse than Girls Beyond the Wasteland.