The World Ends With You: The Animation Review

I remember it feeling random that The World Ends With You was getting an anime adaption but I’m definitely all for it. It’s always fun to see a game get the TV show treatment and maybe soon they’ll do the same for Kingdom Hearts. It’s got an interesting animation style which is supposed to really emulate the video game and I’d say it does a good job of that. It certainly doesn’t look as good as a traditional show due to this but works well enough. It adapts the game well and maybe if we’re lucky a season 2 will come out some day to adapt the sequel game.

The show starts off with Neku waking up in Shibuya with no memory of how he got here. What’s even worse is the fact that nobody can see him. It turns out that he must have died at some point and is now forced to participate in a Reaper Game. Effectively this is a 7 day survival competition where he has to complete a mission each day or face erasure. The situation continues to grow more challenging for Shiki when he finds out that he needs a partner in order to fully use the super powers that are given as part of the game. Neku’s not exactly a people person and his partner is the very happy go lucky Shiki. Can the two heroes make pull this off or are they doomed?

The ole survival competition is always a good way to get some really quick tension. After all if you die while you’re already dead then that probably means you’re gone for good. You’ve also got the mystery of how Neku died since he can’t seem to remember that for some reason. The show is only 12 episodes long so things tend to move at a very quick pace. You may wonder how the 7 days will last for 12 episodes but the show does well with the pacing throughout. As someone who played the game I’d say this is a very faithful adaption that really hits the right notes. There is only a single moment where I feel like the anime had less impact than the game and I’ll get into that later on.

The soundtrack here is a lot of fun with the classic themes from the game showing up. While it’s always good to have new music to spice things up, I’m never opposed to grabbing some tunes from the source material since it’s a good nostalgia boost. The game’s main theme certainly works well as the opening even if that wasn’t the original intent. As for the animation, I would say it’s below average. The colors are striking but when they all start moving then you can see the flaws here. The actual combat isn’t very fast or smooth most of the time. It all looks like video game cutscenes for the most part.

I do like how the combination attacks look though. You can always feel a lot of power behind them. Also, as I mentioned the colors are striking so this works really well for special abilities. You can pause the show at any point and it’ll look good. That’s the strength of this style so if anyone shows you a screenshot at any point it should look good. The show doesn’t bother getting into the mechanics of the abilities here so sometimes you’ll see Neku and friends randomly using new attacks but I think even without the game you can understand what’s going on here. After all they do show the pins briefly here and there with different symbols so you understand that the power comes from them.

A more traditional style certainly could have done wonders for the series and propped it up to the next level but as they say, the animation could have been much worse. The production values probably keep this from being higher than it is but at its core the show is still fundamentally solid on writing and story so it’s not like this score will take a big hit. It’s still a pretty fun show that I would recommend to anyone looking for a quality action/adventure story. Even if you haven’t played the game you should be able to get on board with Neku and the others.

As a main character Neku starts off as a bit of a jerk and gradually gets used to hanging around with people. It’s a classic character arc that is handled well and you should be able to have a lot of fun with him. I tend to enjoy characters who are rather blunt like this and he is trying to survive after all. In this tournament, you lose that which you hold most precious to your heart which exposes his feelings for one of the characters later on. It shows how he’s changed but is also a pretty awkward way for others to start finding out about it. Ultimately the Neku we see at the end of the show is far different from the one who entered it.

Then we have the heroine Shiki who is certainly Neku’s polar opposite at first. She tries her best to see the silver linings in being trapped within a death game but is a bit timid despite her cheerful disposition so this isn’t always easy. She is good in the support role throughout the rounds and is a quality character. With her psychic cat she can certainly deal damage to the villains as well.

Next up is Beat but I didn’t care for him for big chunks of the story. See, I like his character type as he is the classic tough guy. Beat is always willing to pick a fight but deep down he’s a good guy. My issue is that he isn’t very loyal and there’s a part of the story where he doesn’t take some events very well at all and actively tries to put others in harm’s way. Once Beat broke down there really wasn’t a way for him to get back up. While you do get that he’s in a better place now, that was a really rocky moment there.

Rhyme doesn’t get to appear nearly as much but is a nice enough character. There just isn’t a whole lot of time to have any real development there. You could say the same for the other contestants. Technically there are a ton of players in this game after all and we never really get to see most of them as they end up dying off screen. The show is quite light hearted for the most part and doesn’t dwell on them but if you think about it, things get awfully dicey for most of the characters in this world.

Joshua is my favorite player in the game and 2nd favorite character in the show as a whole. He has a lot of confidence and is easily the smartest member. While the show has to cut down on a lot of the dialogues to save time, I always enjoyed his back and forth conversations with Minamiimoto. Joshua was the only guy who could ever keep up with the guy’s number phrases and insults. Joshua is also quite powerful and plays a big role in the mysteries of Shibuya. Whenever he appears, Joshua tends to steal the show.

Hanekoma is a mysterious cafe owner who seems to know a whole lot about the rules of the game and what’s going on. You can always count on him to give the heroes a pep talk while wondering what else he is doing. Sometimes you learn a lot by just staying back and observing which could be what he is doing. He’s decent enough but for a character like this I always question why they don’t do more. In a sense Hanekoma also loses points for not getting in on the action.

Uzuki and Kariya are both reapers within the game. Their job is to mess with the players and sometimes destroy them via the Noise. (Monsters) They aren’t allowed to attack players directly but that happens a lot anyway. I’m not a big fan of either one and they are completely overshadowed by the main villains. They’re not as ineffective as Team Rocket or anything but you never really feel like they are a threat. You get the feeling that the heroes could take them out if they got serious.

Additionally, both of them fall for traps very easily. Kariya is supposed to be the smart one and even he doesn’t do very well here. They talk a really good game but ultimately don’t really do much to enhance the story here. Now if you want a great villain, look no further than Minamiimoto. This guy’s just great whenever he shows up. He’s got extreme ambitions and has the power to back them up. I like his boundless confidence and his gimmick about always using numerical terms is a lot of fun. How can you not like a character like this right? His role is big here and you only wish he could have lasted longer.

Then you have Konishi who is another one of the big villain members here. She is also quite ambitious but tends to be quieter than Minamiimoto. She can also fight well when it’s time to do so and is also a good villain. She contrasts with Minamiimoto’s style well and ends up being memorable. In comparison, the final villain Kitaniji isn’t as memorable. You get the feeling that he is very powerful and all but it took a while for him to do anything. He does get a bit of a backstory by the end though which gives him more character.

The World Ends With You is a title that has a lot of twists and turns so I think it’s fair to call this part mystery. I’ve made sure to avoid those elements so you can have fun discovering them for yourself. They all have satisfying conclusions to them which help to enhance the show. Now I did mention that there’s one scene that the show just didn’t adapt very well in my opinion. Well, it’s a scene near the climax so I can’t give too much context away but Neku’s in a pinch against a very difficult opponent. Then just as things are getting hopeless, a glimmer of hope appears and the music jumps up as the whole situation is turned upside down. This was an amazing moment in the game and the music came at the right moment.

In the show the moment isn’t really treated like a big deal though. You don’t have the music climaxing at the right time, the big inner monologue before it and so it doesn’t feel nearly as powerful. The fast pacing may have worked against the show there as it had to move quickly. That was the only point where I felt the adaption wasn’t on point though, the rest of it hit all the right notes and got things moving. The pacing is quite fast and it needs to be to adapt a whole RPG into a quick 1 season show. The game had a ton of gameplay and missions that would slow things down though so the show was able to easily navigate around that and kept in what I would consider to be all of the important moments.

The review feels a bit short but it’s because there isn’t a ton to talk about here. The plot is very straight forward and while there are a lot of twists, I’m not really going into those here. Depending on the title I sometimes jump in if the twist didn’t make sense or I had something to say about it, but it all works really naturally here. By the time the show ends you don’t have any lingering questions of anything like that. So as a result when you finish the show there aren’t any big plot threads that you’re thinking about either. It’s a very open and shut case. You had your fun watching it and then you go on. For that reason maybe it should have had a stinger for the sequel but I’m not sure if that would have made a lot of sense anyway. Of course I’m always up for a little cliffhanger so I’d be game.

Overall, The World Ends With You is a pretty solid show. It’s a good all around title that has your fight scenes, adventure, and mystery angles all thrown in. The animation style may not always work for the fight scenes but it is a very distinct and colorful style that is easy to look at so that’s still important. I wouldn’t say the show ever made any big mistakes either. So perhaps it isn’t the next all star but it’s just an easy anime to recommend and have a good time with. I’d say the replay value is good here too. It’d be great if they could adapt the sequel into a show someday too. There’s a whole lot you could do with that and of course it would just be a lot of fun to see the characters back in action. I assume it’s a longshot but you can always hope.

Overall 7/10

4 thoughts on “The World Ends With You: The Animation Review

  1. I’m looking forward to finally watching this when it’s released on Blu-ray, and while it was expected, it’s still disappointed the English voice cast isn’t the same as the game.

    • It definitely would have been cool if they had managed to get everyone. Still a good show that you should have fun with, while the animation style may not have been ideal for me, I thought it did a great job of emulating how the game looks

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