Well friends, our weekly The World Ends With You anime coverage was once again disrupted, this time because we had last Friday off! And who am I to turn down an extended holiday weekend? I may have failed the column, but I didn’t fail myself. And there’s nothing more important than relaxing.
Anyway, last week Neku’s final Reaper’s Game started, and through this week we’ve been seeing a lot of elements from earlier in the series come back. At the same time, we’re building up to a climax at a breakneck pace. It’s good stuff folks, and once again a great reason to revisit the game.
If the last arc was about all the rules being broken, this arc is about the bad guys struggling to regain control. The new Game Master is the ruthless Ironface, the woman who kept her cool alongside the Composer this whole time. She’s real scary, folks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still rules left to break.
Or are there? It seems like Neku’s about to have to tackle this game all by himself, but is quickly rescued by the homie we thought we lost. With Beat as his final partner, Neku has a chance to make serious amends, both internal and external. But can Beat really put up as much of a fight as Neku’s previous partners?
Hell yeah he can. There’s some pretty sweet skateboard-fu in the fight scenes; the animators definitely had some fun with this fresh angle. But while it seems like these two are gonna clean up, it isn’t long before the Reapers get a mysterious powerup of their own.
On the way to the episode’s ending we see what Ironface is capable of. She’s basically a Terminator, appearing with indifference on her face as she threatens the heroes and punishes anyone who helps them. We get another opportunity here that not only pays off some hinting earlier in the series, but starts to show more directly that Reapers are more complicated than they seemed.
Rhyme and Beat
A lot of this episode is building narrative bridges to ramp up the climax. It’s a little less exciting than the others, but only because the show slows down here to give Beat some serious sad boy time. Neku and Beat share some Big Friendship and are ready to win this thing.
Another part of slowing things down here is to show how vulnerable our heroes are. They’re the only two players, so every Reaper in Shibuya is hunting them down. Going loud as usual ain’t a good idea. It happens anyway, natch, as the two begin to realize something’s going on with those red pins.
Headed toward the end here, we finally get some payoff from Uzuki and Kariya being around the whole show. It isn’t quite a final boss fight, but we do see more of the Reapers’ humanity. They have motivations and goals of their own, and aren’t exactly cool with how the rules have been bent.
The closing minutes are some real cliffhangers. We see consequences to everything the baddies have been up to start to appear, and, perhaps, a mysterious character starting to show their true colors.
Next week will definitely be a doozy. With only a few episodes left, we’re about to see everything crash together towards a resolution. But we aren’t quite there yet. Hopefully we’ll be hitting this piece on time again next week, but for now we can only look forward to next Friday’s The World Ends With You.