If you watched the Promotional Video for Deep Insanity: The Lost Child you could be forgiven for thinking that the first episode is something completely different. While the promotional video is kind of minimalist and builds up a sense of mystery and wonder around this giant hole and the base built around it, the first episode of the anime kind of… well…
It isn’t a lost cause but Deep Insanity: The Lost Child is going to have an uphill battle.
This first episode does almost everything possible to make viewers who watched the promotional video hate it. Instead of building up to a reveal, the episode starts with us dumped straight into the action with a group of armed soldiers finding a fallen comrade who promptly turns into a hideous monster (hideous both because it is an ugly monster and also because of the visuals here) and kills one of them in a shower of blood as a severed head goes flying.
Subtle it is not.
You could kind of overlook this less than thrilling opening act by Deep Insanity, despite their clear efforts to start with some kind of a bang, except that we then transition into a basic look at a world being struck by an illness (very reminiscent of the current pandemic situation) before being subjected to a really cheesy advertising campaign trying to recruit people.
We also follow two characters walking down the street (who in true anime form are wearing outfits that make them clearly stand out and shout: “I am an important character!”) having a conversation that is both exposition and thinly veiled commentary on a number of issues. We don’t know who these two are, there’s little in the scene that makes us care, and realistically this is a hard dump into a world that potentially could have been fascinating if we’d been introduced to it in a totally different manner.
Deep Insanity then shifts us again and we see a character being interviewed for recruitment. He’s your average, brown haired anime protagonist who doubles down on the image by being completely naive in his interview stating he wants to become a hero.
We all get the trope of the young idealist entering into a military organisation with the dream of saving something or someone and learning the reality of war or the conflict or the darker side of human nature or whatever. We’ve seen this a lot.
Here though they spend almost no effort as they introduce Daniel Kai Shigure clearly expecting our understanding of this type of character to fill in the gaps and maybe this could have been a nice audience ‘in’ as he got some kind of explanation about what is happening or what is going on.
Instead, Daniel has a prank pulled on him and faints so misses any kind of orientation. The XO in his unit is the long haired guy we met earlier giving us commentary and he starts to explain some incredibly vague rules that don’t really explain anything but also uses the throw away lines of ‘it’s better to experience it yourself’ and ‘I’ll tell you if you don’t get killed’.
I hate both of these things. There’s no good reason to leave a character who you depend on for your own survival in the dark. There’s no reason why any organisation would send someone without any actual training or knowledge of what they were doing into a place so incredibly dangerous. Its a contrived way to stretch out the lack of information the audience has and it doesn’t add to the mystery, it just makes it all seem kind of dumb.
I kind of want the story I felt was being promised by the promotional trailer but instead I’ll have to settle for whatever this ends up being. It isn’t as though the intriguing elements present in the PV for Deep Insanity aren’t actually present.
There are some real mysteries here.
I’m also curious about the virus and I don’t mind the parallel to the current world climate. Depending on how the story unfolds and how they explore the idea of a virus spreading through the population it could be quite interesting and topical.
Or it could end up being completely tone deaf and just be trying to capitalise on current affairs without anything really to contribute to the greater conversation.
I’ll be an optimist at episode 1 and hope it ends up being the former and not the latter.
Deep Insanity is an episode that probably would have been better to go into without any expectations of what the anime would be. A lot of the reason this fell flat was because I had imagined a very different story and a very different approach to telling that story.
However, even without those false expectations the monsters in Deep Insanity are truly hideous, almost on the Arifureta level of terrible, and so far not one character has really left an impression.
I only remember Daniel’s name because he introduced himself twice. Otherwise we’ve got weird kid with mismatched eyes and a confetti gun, cute mascot girl who apparently supports from the base, silent girl who shoots things, leader girl who probably doesn’t like the way things are going in the organisation, and long haired XO who exists to fill in the silence and provide non-answers to questions.
While I was really looking forward to Deep Insanity and kept anxiously checking to see if it was coming out on a service I used and in my region, I’m now much less keen on it.
Now this first episode wasn’t terrible enough to make me drop the show, I’ll definitely expect less.
Images from: Deep Insanity: The Lost Child. Dir. S. Oonuma. Silver Link. 2021
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