Please, Be Lost
Afterlost, or Shometsu Toshi, had an intriguing premise, came from Madhouse so had a credible studio behind it, and was an anime I was quite looking forward to when the Spring 2019 season started. While some viewers saw the writing on the wall in episode one, I kind of found the opening episode intriguing as they threw us straight into the action with a chase scene through the city and a desperate goal of reaching the centre of some mysterious disaster. However, just one episode later and that plot will screech to a halt and Afterlost then spent the majority of its run time introducing additional characters and complexities to a mystery that it just didn’t need and ultimately didn’t add anything, before it finally returned to its own main point in the final few episodes.
Needless to say, it was not a satisfying watch.
Actually, it was barely watchable by the mid-way point and the ending doesn’t do anywhere near enough to salvage it.
Where the first episode intrigued me with its relatively simple set-up of courier gets hired to take girl to centre of former catastrophe, lots of people chasing her, the story didn’t have a lot more to offer. The villains, such as they were, did have a motive for their actions, but by and large it felt like they took an unnecessarily convoluted path to achieve it and in the grand tradition of villains being villains, they seemed to do each other in more than the ‘heroes’ ever took action.
Along the way we meet a whole lot of people including a guy who makes a living as a magician, learn about the fate of an idol group that disappeared during the ‘lost’ event and others however none of them have any bearing on the main story by the time we learn what has been going on so largely they are filler, and none of it is interesting enough to be good filler. The one character whose story we learn that is both interesting and relevant is Yuki’s (the blue haired girl) father. However that comes at episode 9 and I’m just not sure a gap of eight episodes between set up and interesting development is what one could consider worthwhile viewing.
The problems don’t end at just the plot being overly bloated and poorly paced. None of the characters ever really make the leap to feeling like a real person or being someone that felt like you could have a connection with them. Yuki spends most of the series in a bewildered state, going through multiple emotional shocks. Takuya, our courier, is always cool and calm, except when he isn’t, but never feels like an actually real person. Geek and the other supporting cast members all seem to have their one trait and that is more of less all there is is to them so by the time they start dying or just become irrelevant to the main plot there’s little reason to care. For instance, if we removed Geek, other than Takuya needing someone else to fix his bike, and no one caring about the missing idol group, practically nothing would have changed.
When we throw in how Yuki’s brother, Souma, is used by the plot to establish that the villains really do suck and to drive just one more bit of emotional trauma into Yuki, ultimately you realise that Afterlost is an anime that has ideas but no real grasp on how to execute them. It is weird to say that a story that deals with experimentation on children with special powers manages to make that one of the least interesting plot points and yet Afterlost manages it. Which also makes the backstory about Takuya’s time working as a detective and infiltrating an orphanage more or less pointless and dull.
Which means we should probably actually address the ‘powers’ being thrown around in this story.
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Like… no. So Yuki can sort of glow and she at times summons Akira, who was some kind of bodyguard who died or disappeared during the lost, to defend her and he has like a lot of guns. Only when he gets hurt it seems like Yuki does as well so not sure if he is protecting her or not. Other times there are explosions or objects moving around but it is difficult to know exactly what her power, her brother’s power, or any of the characters that use powers do. It isn’t just that they aren’t explained. I’d actually happily take an anime that just shows us how power works rather than explaining it in minutia anyway. The difficulty here is that it seems inconsistent, or not that spectacular.
The end result is some characters glow pretty colours and stuff happens. Not always the same stuff. Also, toward the climax expect lots of stuff to happen and most of it won’t make sense or seem to have any purpose but it looks weird and so must be cool.
Ultimately, the character designs are nice, if you watched the first episode, skipped to like episode nine while reading a basic outline of the main events prior to that (it won’t take long) and then finished the series the story would make more sense. Courier takes girl to centre of Lost. Stuff happens. Which is a much better story than courier starts taking girl to centre, decides to not do that right now and they go a bunch of other places and do stuff and meet people who do stuff, and then they go to centre and stuff happens.
For me there ended up being little that was really appealing about this anime. The fact that I finished it was more out of stubbornness than any enjoyment by the mid-point. So no, I do not recommend it. And given it actually only has a 5.53 score on MAL, I’m clearly not alone in that regard. Still, there are some viewers who enjoyed it and I guess if you find the characters a little bit interesting then there is more to enjoy. I just wish it hadn’t wasted so much time and had actually just focused in on its core story rather than filling time with pointless characters and plot threads that went nowhere.
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