The Lost Village – Review
The Lost Village:
Original Air Dates: April 1st, 2016 – June 17th, 2016
Synopsis: Thirty young men and women, from all walks of life, have come together on a shady bus tour that promises to take them to a hidden village thought to be no more than an urban legend: Nanakimura. It’s said that within Nanakimura one can begin a new life and lead a perfect existence without any interference from the life they’re running from. But is that really what awaits them at the village?
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The Lost Village sold itself on its huge cast of characters (easily twenty plus). By the end we only ever explored half its cast. Meaning half the lengthy introductions each character gave in the series’ opener were ultimately pointless. In fact, that episode sets up false expectations for what to expect going forward. You’re not in it for this huge cast of characters, that’s not what the series was ever actually about. Rather The Lost Village, for better or worse, is about a handful of characters exploring their own internal issues and everyone else is, essentially, just along for the ride. Besides these false expectations, The Lost Village itself doesn’t know how to properly execute this story. The time spent on the lesser characters, who should be little more than subplots, is poorly utilized. Various scenes are pointless, or lack any meaningful progression to move things forward. It’s not unusual for episodes of this series to go by with the cast doing little more than talking amongst themselves in a big circle with zero progress to show for it.
Linny: A lot of this huge cast comes off as one note thanks to the lack of focus and airtime for each of them. It’s not surprising that this happened given its large cast but having seen the show all the way to the end, and seeing how a lot of the cast came off as inconsequential, it might have been better to have a more limited cast from the start. A number do get some exposition explaining what caused them to seek out the lost village and it helps give them some depth but the actual impact it will have on you will vary as not all of the characters have the most convincing or well told back stories.
Tom: This might not have been a problem if the show had ever had an interest in trimming down the cast, making pointless conversations, or vague character development instead feel like red herrings that keep the audience guessing as to who survives by the end. But that isn’t what the Lost Village wants to do. This means we’re stuck with a bloated cast that is often so poorly utilized that by the end of its twelve episode run we still don’t feel like we really know any of these characters all that well. That said, a few characters, such as Mitsumune, a young man who wants people to accept him as he is, get plenty of exploration and begin, just before the series concludes, to feel like real characters you could actually find yourself investing in. But even then their backstories are so hammy, so poorly realized that they become comically bad, characters you laugh at rather than sympathize with. For a drama about trauma, running away, facing your fears The Lost Village does a poor job of sucking the audience into any of that content, but instead keeps you as a distant outsider looking in, unable to see the details that would make the story feel more personal, more powerful and more relatable.
Linny: Due to their large numbers and lack of proper exposition, it would bloat up this review to examine and critique them individually. Like Tom said, Mitsumune is one of the main characters who gets most of the exposition and focus so if you’re thinking of checking out this show, think of it as the Mitsumune show and ignore or focus less on the rest of the cast otherwise you might end up feeling gypped when they don’t get decent airtime. Even as a main character with a lot of airtime, Mitsumune might not be the most well developed or impressive character. For example, a lot of his motivation and obsession throughout the series is fixated on this one girl, and up until the last episode, it feels like a juvenile crush as he fawns over her after noticing her timid nature and seems to care about her intensely after exchanging only a handful of lines with her.
Tom: In an effort to sell the mystery and thriller nature, attempting to keep you on the edge of your seat, much of The Lost Village comes across instead as melodramatic. Often when delving into various characters’ psychological traumas, things become bordering on silly and hammy. A number of characters suffer from trauma that is ill-defined, ill-explored, and in a few cases utterly absurd. This makes it difficult to take The Lost Village seriously, especially during the sequences that it really wants to be. In other cases the ideas are there, but the execution that explores the dark past of these characters is lacking, revealed and explored in such hamfisted manners that these sequences lose any punch, becoming instead bland “oh so that’s what’s happening” moments. The entire series feels undercooked, as if the script needed one more draft before they rushed it into production.
Linny: Most characters lack basic logic and common sense, while one was mentally unbalanced to the point where you might wonder how they even managed to crack the super secret method that helped win them a ticket on the lost village tour in the first place. Of course, on the other hand, thanks to how the show tries to be supernatural and mysterious, one could assume that said mentally unbalanced person managed to get a seat on the tour simply because they were destined to be there thanks to their traumatic past. You know what they say, nature finds a way.
Tom: The Lost Village takes a long time to reveal anything to the audience, content to keep its viewers in complete darkness for nearly half of its run. Couple that with an unwillingness to cut down the cast, an inability to properly utilize what screen time it has, the entire thing feels very empty up until its sixth episode. Even then characters, when they’re not standing around talking in circles, tend to run around aimlessly. By the time the series feels the need to start answering questions, we’re nearly at the end of the season and said explanations are ultimately underwhelming if not outright disappointing. The Lost Village wants to be poignant, prepared to deliver a message about facing your fears, learning to live with your trauma and coming to accept the pain that’s part of who you are, but this underlying idea is ultimately so simplistic and so poorly realized that I found myself literally uttering “that’s it?” as The Lost Village finally revealed its big mystery.
Linny: For all of its expositions and speeches, the one that stood out to me the most was that uttered by the bus driver about how all the people on the bus abandoning their current lives seemed like a bunch of kids drowning themselves in self pity and running away rather than facing their problems in life. Yes, there are most definitely some of them who have had truly disturbing pasts that justifies their desire to start over but others seem to fit that assumption to a T. While some viewers will find characters to bond with or sympathize with through their life experiences, other viewers who’ve gone through worse in real life might find the traumas of the cast laughably insulting. There have been some claims that the director of this series purposely hammed up the melodramatic parts for comedic purposes, that this was all meant to be a ‘so bad, it’s good’ kind of show. If that is true, and you like B grade style horror, you might end up loving this series because some of its crazy characters and monsters will have you shaking your head in disbelief.
Tom: The Lost Village starts big, toying with all of its characters before it gradually simplifies itself down into a character study for Mitsumune in the final few episodes. But it’s too late, as the revelations surrounding Mitsumune don’t have time to flourish. The series really needed to start exploring its characters much sooner, dropping hints and clues as to their traumatic pasts before revealing to the audience the sick and twisted truths. But instead The Lost Village is content to drop all that information on the viewer in one go, placed so late into the series that it hardly feels worth knowing by this point.
Linny: That dedication to remain mysterious for as long as possible hampers the story as the audience is left in the dark for far too long with no clear resolutions or proper answers. Adding to the feeling of dissatisfaction is how the back story of every single character is played to be as dramatic and traumatic as possible but not all of them feel equal in severity and there’s a high chance that at least one of their stories will seem downright silly compared to the rest. For a show about the deep psychological scars that people suffer, a select few of our cast seem more like spoiled brats wanting an easy way out of the mess they got themselves into.
Tom: Capping everything off, The Lost Village’s conclusion is sudden, abrupt, and leaves a lot under explained. There’s complicated internal mechanics at work with how Nanaki Village exists and what it’s capable of and how one might escape from it, but the series makes no effort to help the audience to understand any of it. Meaning the final episodes often seem to contradict each other on how things work. Any amount of thought by the viewer put into trying to understand The Lost Village is ultimately met with a headache. It’s frustrating and further hammer homes the one solid truth about The Lost Village: It needed another draft before production.
Linny: The show utilizes a lot of CGI, especially in depicting its supernatural elements so those who dislike CGI might not enjoy sequences that are more monster heavy. They really do stick out especially against the more traditional animation but that could be an intentional move so as to sell the unnatural feel of the creatures. Also, despite the large cast, the show does a good job of making a lot of them distinctive in design. There are of course a handful of male and female characters that get very little screen time and thus become interchangeable and forgettable but for the most part, the show did a good job designing the look of its characters.
Tom: The Lost Village is a mess. There’s no two ways about it. It’s characters remain either under utilized or poorly realized. The story takes forever to get anywhere meaningful and when it does the revelations are entirely underwhelming. I can’t see The Lost Village as anything but a train wreck and for people who enjoy highly flawed anime maybe there’s some enjoyment to be had that way. Otherwise you’ll need to be the kind of viewer who is able to connect with characters based on very little development, who’s okay with episode after episode of zero story progression, and won’t feel cheated when the mysteries get answered and the revelations feel weak and unearned. The Lost Village is a tough show to enjoy and that’s why I won’t be recommending it.
Linny: For those seeking a show with deep psychological themes and tragic pasts, The Lost Village could potentially be a worthwhile watch. However, you have to go into it knowing that the show explain little until its final episodes and despite its dark tone, there isn’t any real gore or extremely graphic violence. A lot of the big explanations and reveals are done in the last episode itself making it feel rushed and unsatisfactory. In fact, the more you think about it after the show, the more questions and flaws arise. You could justify the lack of proper explanation as part of the mystery vibe but there’s also a very obvious lack of logic as the show contradicts itself. If you enjoy peculiar characters, equally peculiar demons and explanations featuring extremely heavy handed drama, The Lost Village might be your jam but it’s hard to recommend thanks to its unsatisfactory execution and ending.
The Lost Village is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com