Many anime bloggers are writing seasonal anime reviews episode-by-episode as they air. I decided to try to a variation of this myself and see if I enjoy it. I’ve waited for the first 3 episodes of seasonal anime to air so I can conduct reviews of the first fourth of Spring 2019.
I had been anticipating Shoumetsu Toshi eagerly, because I love the concept of disappearing towns or cities. It’s always been a mysterious and fun fantasy concept for me. Shoumetsu Toshi means Vanished City, but for some reason, everyone is calling the show “Afterlost.” (???) Animated by studio Madhouse, the currently airing anime was based on a game. I’ve never played said game, and I know that people generally don’t like game adaptation animes because they are often hard to understand or don’t do justice to the game. Still, I was optimistic about Vanished City.
Story: 5/10 Average
The starting story concept is clear and good. After her city vanishes, Yuki is placed in confinement by an unknown organization. Takuya (main character) rescues Yuki and the two head toward the vanished city. This, after recieving a message from Yuki’s father. They’re bound to encounter danger and drama on their way, including Tama-shi, the feelings of the missing people in ghostly, humanoid forms. In addition, there’s the mysterious organization that confined Yuki.
The problem is the exceution of the story. It’s all wrong. The writing and script are pretty bad. Since I’m not interested in the characters, the plot seemed uninteresting to me, too. It’s full of tropes and predictable plot devices and character actions. The chase scenes with the motorcyle just aren’t exciting to me. Nothing feels original. Things aren’t explained well, so audiences have to make assumptions, but I don’t really mind that. I like how the series isn’t afraid of character death, but they only killed a character we knew for one episode, so it wasn’t powerful.
There’s no clear sense of structure in these episodes, which is something that annoys me easily depending on the anime. Episode 1 resorted to a cheap cliffhanger because there was nothing else to capture the audience’s attention. Episode 2 is supposed to be about world-building and main-character development, but instead it focused on more action/chase scenes, and killed an interesting character they had been building (Kouta). But then, in Episode 3, Kouta and Yumiko are still alive, which is so absurd it made me start treating this show as a comedy. It’s so badly messed up that I can’t thnk it’s anything but funny.
I don’t know what was even supposed to be happening in episode 3– something about getting stuck in a mini-world of memories– but it didn’t meet my expectations. How are we supposed to take it seriously when the plot of an episode is Geek’s attachment to an idol group? If the big reveal was supposed to be that the people of Lost are lost in a world of the past in time loops, then well, alright, but it was revealed in such a way as to make it seem trivial. Then it turns out that was just a tease and the real truth is that the whole illusion was a Tama-shi, the feelings of those caught up in Lost, the vanished city.
When the idol group was singing their song near the close of episode 3, I was thinking that this show was neither exciting nor informative. But then there was the after credits scene that changed everything and saved just a little of my respect for this laughably average show. When provoked by the Tama-shi of her brother tormenting Takuya, Yuki screams and goes berserk, only to cause an explosion so big it took out a huge chunk of city and left a crater. This leaves the audience excited for more, and full of questions. Was Yuki herself the cause of the vanishing city? Though the ending of ep 3 turned out interesting, the story is still pretty average.
Art: 4/10 Poor
I like the colors used, and the background are decent, but the character designs are boring. There is way too much CGI used in this anime. It’s clear from very early on the first episode. The vehicles, the background people, the special effects, the backgrounds when there are characters in motion… all CGI. Besides the repulsive and cheap CGI elements, something seems “off” somehow about the art and animation, and I can’t put my finger on why because I’m not very knowledgable about animation. I guess it’s the linework for the characters… it almost looks like it all could have been done on Paint. That’s it– it’s because none of the lines or people look drawn by hand.
The animation of the characters running in episode 2 was so bad it made me laugh. Beautiful colors were used and some pretty decent backgrounds, but that doesn’t make up for terrible animation. In episode 3, the truck scene with Geek driving and the others in the back was painful to watch. On some parts, the characters are all 3d— and very cheap. On other parts, they just look like bad images from someone’s fancy version of MS Paint. One scene, characters are literally cut and pasted into the scene.
Sound: 7/10 Good
Opening song “Kotae” by Mao Abe is just fine, but there isn’t much to separate it from other metal rock songs sung by female vocalists. Though it conveyed all the emotion or the right atmosphere needed for each scene, the instrumental music was just boring. It sounded like about 10 other soundtracks I know. However, well into episode 2, I started to enjoy the OST and by episode 3 I thought it was a good fit for the anime. As for the ending song, “With Your Breath,” by SPR5, the lead singer is Kana Hanazawa herself! She sounds amazing and soothing, as usual.
I sometimes get a little tired of hearing Sugita Tomokazu and Hanazawa Kana just because I’ve heard them in so many hundreds of episodes of different anime series. The feeling never lasts long, however. Sugita and Hanazawa are true talents in the seiyuu world and hearing them always turns out to be a blast. Sugita plays Takuya and Hanazawa plays Yuki. I also thought the acting of Yumiko’s seiyuu, Nakae Mitsuki, was near perfect in some scenes. I don’t recognize very many of the other seiyuu, and their performance is decent.
Characters: 5/10 Average
Much to my disappointment, the characters seem boring as hell– I guess I’ve seen their types before in too many anime series. Yuki has no personality. Despite Kana Hanazawa putting on a terrific performance for her emotional outburst at the end of episode 1, Yuki still doesn’t seem like she has much personality. Everything about the way she talks and reacts is predictable and I’ve seen it so many times. We don’t get to hear her express her feelings very often in her own words, and that hinders her development and relatability. Even in episode 2 when she decides to go with Takuya because she wants to, all the power in the scene came from the music, not the character.
It’s basically the same for Takuya, but he might be even worse, because his expressions are not, well, expressive. The way he keeps saying “It’s all part of the contract,” makes him sound like a robot. The music does much more communication of what the characters might be going through than the characters themselves, and Takuya is no exception. Also, there’s nothing interesting about his past so far and it’s already episode 3. He’s seriously such a drag. Geek is just a good friend and an idol otaku without anything more to his character.
The supporting character Yumiko (the redhead) was more interesting and better developed than the two main leads! When the side characters completely trump the main ones in complexity, expression, and sympathetic elements, there’s not much hope for things getting any better.
Enjoyment and Overall Score
My enjoyment of this series so far has been much lower than I expected and hoped for. I’d put it at 5/10 average. Considering all at once the story, art, sound, characters, and my personal enjoyment, this series gets an overall score of 5.4 Average. Quality-wise it’s the worst I’ve seen so far of 2019 anime– winter and spring. Thus, I’m dropping Shoumetsu Toshi for the time being. I may pick it up again later just because I’m a completionist, and there’s a chance I might connect to the characters if they have any significant development down the line. I don’t recommend Shoumetsu Toshi — there are better fantasy/mysery/action series this season, like Bungou Stray Dogs 3.