The Ones Within – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Akatsuki Iride is a popular live streamer for the game The Ones Within –Genome. But what was once fantasy quickly becomes reality when he and seven others are transported against their will into the game world. View count matters more than ever as millions watch them put their lives on the line to complete various high-risk challenges. Only the best will survive in the land that’s always live! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The Ones Within doesn’t have the most original concept and its first few minutes do very little to negate that. But once we get to the meat of the plot, things start to get really bizarre with oversized animals, alpaca mask wearing hosts and an energetic mix of comedy and action. However, thanks to a cast packed with familiar archetypes and stereotypes, the episode struggles to feel all that unique and even its bizarre elements do little to alleviate how pedestrian its characters are. It then doesn’t help that a lot of the situations play out exactly as one would assume based on the personalities of the characters involved once you have a grasp of the tropes each one contains and represents.
Tom: The Ones Within is tonally inconsistent. One minute it wants to be creepy, the next dark, then a comedy, and perhaps at times emotionally profound. The series can’t seem to decide what it truly wants to be. The basic concept makes it seem like The Ones Within would fall into the ‘survival’ game subgenre, where a group of otherwise innocent people are forced to play increasingly deadly games. The synopsis might immediately make viewers think of King’s Game, or Real Account, but this series is anything but. Furthering its inability to settle on tone is the cast of quirky and bizarre characters we’re introduced to. None of the personalities really mesh together, making the cast feel like a mishmash of characters thrown together. That might work if it felt like there were actual stakes, or the characters would gradually change as individuals via their increasingly deadly experiences, but right now that doesn’t seem the case at all.
Linny: It’s ridiculous how tonally inconsistent and uneven this episode was. The later part of the episode includes a lot of overwhelming, loud and overbearing musical cues and sequences that completely clash with whats happening on the screen, making you wonder what exactly you’re supposed to be feeling. Are we worried for these characters? Are we supposed to be laughing? Crying? The tone shifts also happen so suddenly and quickly that it makes it hard to set a steady and engrossing mood.
Tom: My biggest complaint with The Ones Within is that it feels like there’s zero stakes. Despite the warnings of this being a deadly death game, with real life consequences, the cast feels too whimsical, and the tone too inconsistent to instill any kind of fear for who lives or dies. While The Ones Within isn’t billed as a horror it feels like it would be unfair to judge it as one. But right now The Ones Within isn’t doing a lot to solidify itself as a worthwhile moving drama. It’s also tagged as a “Game’ Anime, but even if we allow for that the games offered are so nebulous in concept and execution that it hardly feels like a worthwhile component. The Ones Within is weird, plain and simple and unless it better defines what it wants to be later on, this feels like another easy pass for the Summer.
Linny: For a story that involves gaming and live-streaming gamers, a lot of the events that happen once the players are abducted(?) to this new location feel very supernatural and fantastical eg; giant rats, pandas the size of skyscrapers and even literal ghosts. This makes for a confusing setting and makes you wonder why these gamers were chosen for these somewhat violent(?) games, given that one of them is someone who is famous for playing farming and life simulation games and thus seems completely at odds with what’s happening. Given how bizarre the story gets as it continues, throwing in so many insane and strange components and events, it’s likely some people will be hooked out of sheer curiosity. However, given the tonal whiplash and clashing music, it’s hard to recommend this series on a positive note. Try it if you’re starved for mysteries this season but otherwise, consider this an easy skip.
The Ones Within is available for streaming via Funimation.com