Ayako KawasumiTakehito KoyasuFumiko OrikasaEmi Nitta
18if
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: A
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Akira Nishimori, Hiroko Kazui, Koichi Chigira, Koji Morimoto, Kyohei Suzuki, Takaaki Ishiyama, Toshiro Fujii
Writer: Atsuhiro Tomioka
Actor: Kaori Nazuka, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Takehito Koyasu, Ai Kakuma, Aya Endo, Ayaka Shimizu, Ayako Kawasumi, Azumi Asakura, Emi Nitta, Fumiko Orikasa, Inori Minase, Misato Fukuen, Nao Tamura, Nao Toyama, Shiho Nanba, Yu Shimamura
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19410
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 27 July 2018
18 if
It might be the weirdest anime you've ever seen. It's not the weirdest anime ever made, obviously, but it's well up there in the Weirdness Rankings. What anchors it, thankfully, is that it's actually telling relatively conventional stories once you've dug past the art style, dream sequences, surrealism, questionable messages, penis metaphors, spunk splash attacks and Cambodian genocide dictators in the style of the Wizard of Oz. It's comprehensible. You can watch it and enjoy it. I could imagine showing a random episode of this to my parents and they'd have no trouble processing it, once I'd explained that it's set in a dream world and has a dreaming hero who helps dreaming girls wake up from their real-world comas.
It's definitely unusual, though. I loved it, even though the show's budget degenerates from "low" to "you actually broadcast this?".
It's set in lots of dreams and they have a different director every episode. Everyone's clearly been encouraged to do whatever they want. The styles aren't even meant to mesh. Sometimes the dream visualisation is wonderful. Sometimes the show's happy, poppy and full of Disney colours. Let a small child watch this, though, and they'll probably find lots of family-unfriendly material, e.g. bullying, spree killers, the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, terminal illness, fat-shaming and some horrifying looks into the idol industry. As well as going into #MeToo territory, we also have scary delusional fans and the sacrifices that are required for an idol's public facade. This is in an episode called "Idols Don't Go to the Bathroom!". There's some heavy material here, not all of which goes in comfortable directions. There's one person in this show with conventional morals, but he's not the hero. The show's also capable of delivering some messages that you might disagree with, e.g. the ice skating episode. That said, though, I'll forgive a lot for the experience I got with the deaf girl episode.
If you choose the right episode, though, you'll have something a small child will love watching. Just make sure you know what's coming, because otherwise you might find yourself fielding questions about guillotines.
The show's based around Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, which is real and also called Kleine£Levin syndrome. Girls aren't waking up. What we learn here is that they're called "witches" and that they create dream worlds that can be entered and interacted with. Our hero (Haruto Tsukishiro) also seems locked in a dream state, but no one's trying to help him. Every episode he visits a new witch and gets caught up in her problems, which hopefully might wake her.
It's an anthology show, effectively. Every episode does its own thing. There's some feminism here, especially in the last episode, which is basically a big existentialist debate that (among other things) kicks the living daylights out of the show's thin template of "bloke helps girl overcome her problem". The episodes are sometimes a bit opaque, either being resistant to conventional analysis or just plain weird. It's particularly unclear what's going on in ep.10. Occasionally, alas, I think it's just bad, e.g. the overly casual return of a certain character in ep.12. That was treated too lightly. Then we have the problem of variable art quality, which can be amazing and unique (especially ep.7) but ends up in a place where you're saying "they ran out of money, didn't they?" Ep.9 and (sadly) ep.13 have that.
Oh, and ep.11 is a semi-recap episode. However when it's not just recycling previous episodes, it's telling us vital information about the show's mythology.
I liked this show a lot. You don't have to agree with everything it's saying, or even be confident that what you're watching is coherent enough to be saying anything in the first place. If you haven't spotted anything disturbing in this show, try looking again. However it's raising quite a few heavyweight themes amid the gleeful dream world silliness, while the animation's being experimental and cool. (And sometimes terrible, but hey.) There's also a smartphone game of this. Awesome. It's not perfect, but it's spiky, cuddly, mental and interesting.