My knowledge of The World Ends With You begins and ends with knowing that it’s a popular series people were excited to see would become an anime. Going into a show (or even game) with so little information always leaves me a bit apprehensive. Is the hype worth it? Am I going to be the one person to rain on everyone’s TWEWY parade? It’s a lot of pressure for just three episodes of an anime. But I did it. I watched the premiere episodes of TWEWY The Animation, and I can confidently say I had an interesting time with the anime.
For those unfamiliar with the story like I was, here is the basic rundown. Neku, a teenage boy with a rather serious side, wakes up without his memories in Shibuya, Tokyo, but it isn’t Shibuya, it’s the Underground. The Underground is a somewhat fantastical world that exists within but separate from reality, and the people in it can’t interact with real world people directly. From there he has to defeat monsters (the Noise) with his partner, Shiki, in a specific time frame to beat the bad guys game. Oh, and the bad guys are called Reapers. It’s a lot of jargon and writing it all out leads me to my first point.
The TWEWY anime does not start off feeling as though it’s actually for newcomers. Explaining the basic premise feels as convoluted as the show does. It’s not that the anime is incapable of explaining its “mechanics,” it’s just a lot to take in.
The premiere episodes available are very much the “let’s explain everything” episodes. They’re lore-heavy and text-heavy as they fill in the gaps. Frankly, I don’t have an issue with that, especially when an anime is picking up an already defined and robust narrative. Lore dumps refresh old fans’ memories while bridging the gap for new watchers. Unfortunately the TWEWY the Animation episodes feel too much like a spark notes page. Info is given quickly and explained in such a way that new watchers wouldn’t really understand the full story.On top of it all, the way the anime breezes through exposition makes some of the early emotional moments fall just a bit flat. By the third episode of the anime, TWEWY finds its stride and manages to merge all its different components. New viewers just have to stick with it for a little.
Story pacing aside, the animation in TWEWY is clean and combines the flat 2D style from the game extremely well with 3D battle animations. It’s a pretty seamless look and the more intense fights were fun to watch. I wasn’t sure if the game’s style would look dated in a 2021 anime, but it really holds up to create something that’s impossible to separate from its source. In a good way. The visual callback is familiar while standing out against a lot of the hyper-realistic shows we’re getting lately.
Similarly, music in TWEWY really hits. Again, this is a feature of the anime that really benefits from its source material. The usage of music throughout the episodes drew me in during moments where lore pushed me away. Overall, I still think this anime is made mostly with fans in mind. It’s solid beyond the somewhat unnatural way it tries to introduce a game’s worth of content into a few episodes. The start felt a little uncertain, but it proceeds in a surprisingly promising way. As someone who is learning about The World Ends With You mostly from the anime, it’s hard to tell where the show goes from here. It can only get better, though.
The World Ends With You the Animation is currently airing and streaming on Funimation.