It’s Friday, so that means we’re back with more Square Enix anime time. The second episode of The World Ends With You’s anime adaptation aired today, titled “Shiki.” It’s named after Neku’s partner in the Reaper’s Game of course, and that means we’re looking at a very character-focused episode this week.
But we aren’t just focusing on Shiki, surprisingly enough.
The World Ends With You Anime Reactions | Episode 2: Shiki
The episode starts with our TWEWY Scooby-Gang monologuing each other in a bus. We learn that the two pairs (Beat/Rhythm and Neku/Shiki) are somewhat inverted, with Beat having a clear aspiration on one side and Shiki on the other. The other two are struggling to figure out what they want, for various reasons.
This conundrum only sits for a minute before the next plot element kicks in, this time the show loudly asking the viewer, “do you think Neku is a sociopath?” He sits there and broods about not needing to interact with people, implying the “scanning” ability is preferable to being around people.
We gotta have an action scene next of course, and we get one shortly following the introduction of another ability, “imprinting,” with which participants can influence the thoughts of people in the real world.
This ends up being a big part of the very JRPG “protags progress by helping people with their weird problems” vibe with TWEWY, and transitions straight into a big fight scene against various Noise.
A side note, it looks like “Calling” is the show’s fight sequence anthem, so I expect to see a Calling brawl once per episode from now on. We’ll see how that works out.
Once we get the action sequence out of the way, the real conflict kicks in. While Shiki has so far come off as confident, optimistic and in charge of herself, that isn’t true at all. It’s all a front, hiding insecurities stemming from the gulf in fashion ability between her and a friend.
This is where the Neku Question kicks back in, and we start to see there’s a bit more to him than Broody Amnesia Guy. We also get a new MacGuffin-style mystery for the Reaper’s Game, as Neku reveals he has two player buttons while everyone else is supposed to have one. What can that mean???
Everything comes together at this point, as Shiki’s friend Eri walks by the team in the real world, shortly following a pretty gnarly sequence re-establish how serious the Reaper’s Game is.
I won’t spill too many spoilers here, but long story short we get a big reveal about Shiki’s motivation, her past, more of Neku’s dormant but powerful empathy and a super important detail about the Reaper’s Game. Neku’s audience proxy amnesia powers are the vehicle there, naturally.
Overall I was more into this episode than the last, despite its lack of animation. The story wasn’t scrambling to be set up here, so the pace evens out a bit compared to the first episode.
We also start to get more out of the main characters than their basic personality traits, and we resolve a character-based conflict while opening up more questions about the overall plot.
It’s all handled with appropriate gravity, with little bits of comedy sprinkled in here and there to remind us we’re still watching a colorful video game. We also make a big deal about 10-4, what The World Ends With You’s cast calls this iteration of the 109 tower in Shibuya.
You gotta note when a game or series makes a point to acknowledge this tower, because it’s important enough for the creators to justify darting around its copyright protection.
That’s all for this week! Definitely a lot to think about, if you haven’t played The World Ends With You in any of its forms, or are refreshing your memories from the original DS release. Also, the opening theme remix of Twister (also from the game) slaps way too hard and I’m afraid of its power.