Somehow, That Escalated Slowly And Quickly
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Comedy, School
- Airing Date : Oct 8, 2017 to Dec 24, 2017
- Studios : WAO World
Animegataris Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
Credited with creating one of the worst anime of all time, WAO World is rather infamous. Yes, this is the studio behind the legendary Mars of Destruction, an OVA that is mesmerizingly bad. Now, you might be wondering why we are mentioning this rather old abomination; since, at first glance, Animegataris has nothing in common with Hametsu no Mars. Well, that is not actually the case, as this wacky school-based comedy slowly changes from a love letter to anime into a critique of the overblown hatred leveled at the OVA. Ignoring the context of the anime, as a stand-alone comedy, is Animegataris worth a watch? Just because it is an improvement over Mars of Destruction, does not necessarily mean that it is good.
High-school can be the best or worst years of someone’s life, prompting Minoa Asagaya to carefully consider which club she would like to join. Unfortunately, the teenager is not particularly passionate about anything and ends up getting roped into joining the anime research club by the snobbish Arisu Kamiigusa, who is a proud otaku. When it comes to anime, Minoa is a complete newbie. She only remembers watching one show during her childhood, a strange sci-fi series that was canceled after a single episode. Despite being unable to remember the anime’s name, Minoa continues to have vivid dreams of that single 20 minute OVA. With the exception of a talking cat and the student council president who is trying to shut them down, the club gets off to a good start, as a handful of students join Minoa and Arisu.
As the story progresses, Minoa starts to fall in love with anime, resulting in the students creating a successful short. Their project impresses the rest of the school, which opens a portal to the anime world – an alternate reality that exists alongside ours. As people get superpowers and mech robots start to fall from the sky, the world is taken over by anime, with Minoa being the only one to notice that this is wrong. Eventually, it is revealed that Minoa’s upperclassman – Kouki Nakano – is actually an anime character who has been trying to get someone to change his name. With the help of her club mates, Minoa brings to life the anime from her dreams to return reality to normal. Once the world is saved, time resets back to the first day of high-school; although, this time, Minoa is a huge anime fan.
What We Liked About Animegataris
There are quite a few labels that can be used to describe Animegataris, but predictable is not one of them. While the earlier episodes include a couple of hints that this is not a particularly normal world – like the talking cat and a strange aura radiating from the door leading to the anime world – nobody could predict just how insane the story would get during the final four episodes. Even if the characters are not doing anything for the viewer, this unpredictability is likely to keep them watching out of morbid curiosity.
WAO World knows their anime. Animegataris lives up to its name, as there are dozens upon dozens of nods to other series. To be fair, the majority of them involve slightly changing the name of a popular series, but the studio does throw in a handful of visual references that left a smile on our faces. The best is probably during the final episode, where Minoa does her best impression of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann’s Kamina.
For the most part, the animation is pretty good, with WAO World pulling all the stops for the design of the characters. The girls are waifu material, while the extravagant action scenes during the latter half of the anime are visually impressive and dynamic. Also, Animegataris does try to play around with clichés and tropes, although it often settles on repeating rather than subverting them.
Animegataris is a completely original anime by WAO World. With no manga or visual novel to follow, the creative team could take the story in any direction, and that freedom is the anime’s greatest strength. This is definitely for people who are well versed in the medium, as 95% of the jokes require the viewer to notice that a reference is being made to another property. The first eight episodes do not push the envelope at all, with the focus being solely on the club’s activities. They go to a convention and spend a few months working on their short, while the rest of the club initiates Minoa into the otaku lifestyle.
There is an almost slice-of-life quality to the early episodes, and the characters prove to be relatable and likable. While Animegataris does try to foreshadow the insanity of the final four episodes, the change of pace is extreme. Seriously, it feels like a completely different show. The rest of the club is immediately affected by the anime world, as they turn into stereotypical otakus who hate anyone that does not love anime. Minoa’s dream anime feels like a reference to Mars of Destruction, as the director of the fictional OVA shows up to hate on the internet for nitpicking every little aspect of his project and ruining his career.
For the first 2/3 of the series, WAO World created a decent run-of-the-mill school-based comedy. The pace is on the slow side, but the characters are fine. While Minoa is nothing to write home about, the remaining club members are a hit. With the exception of the eccentric Kai Musashisakai, the remaining students feel like real people. Animegataris understands that fans watch anime for different reasons; so, each student represents a unique subsection of the community. For example, Miko Kouenji is a huge fan of visual novels and watches anime to see whether they capture the spirit of the source material. On the other hand, Arisu’s interest starts and stops with anime, and she does not care whether the adaptation is faithful to the source material.
Once the two realities seep into each other, the story’s pace picks up considerably. The world literally starts to fall apart, as Minoa frantically runs around trying to convince everyone that this is not normal. While there are parody elements from the very start -there is even a character who exists solely for fanservice- Animegataris goes into overdrive during the final few episodes. The visual comedy improves quite a bit, although the slice-of-life elements are mostly dropped.
1. Kai Musashisakai
Animegataris is an anime of two halves. The first eight episodes are character-focused, with the story taking somewhat of a back seat, while the last four episodes are story driven. Besides Minoa, who remains largely unchanged, Kai is the only character that survives the transition. Kai loves battle anime and is the most overtly eccentric member of the anime research club. Actually, he is borderline delusional, believing that he possesses an evil eye and often acts like he is an anime character. As the anime world takes over, Kai’s imaginary powers start to manifest, allowing a glimpse into the world that he pretends to live in every day.
2. Subtle Parody
Ignoring the last four episodes, which are about as subtle as a brick to the face, Animegataris shines the brightest when slyly poking fun at tropes and conventions associated with the medium. Minoa’s best friend, Yui Obata, is a perfect example of how to mock fanservice. She barely plays a part in the story, only showing up in a provocative position just before the opening theme song. Her poses are never too sexual, and there is a fantastic payoff in the last episode, where she winks at the audience as the camera tries to sneak in for a final close-up.
3. Class Is In Session
The best arc of the series is, arguably, the one dealing with the club’s OVA. While Animegataris falls flat in comparison with something like Shirobako, these episodes provide a bit of insight into the work that goes into creating an anime. Despite slaving away for three months, the anime research club barely has enough time to complete their three minute movie, having to work until the deadline to get something out. WAO World also criticizes how the medium tends to frown upon innovation, as the students try to produce an anime that incorporates every single popular trend.
Animegataris is a confusing beast. It is ambitious in scope, but barely tries anything new. The studio is obviously aware of the clichés and tropes associated with school-based comedies; yet, they seem satisfied to knowingly reproduce them without any subversion. Honestly, Animegataris is the type of series that can leave someone wondering whether they actually enjoyed watching it.
From a storytelling perspective, Animegataris never quite hits a homerun. The characters are great during the “normal” slice-of-life episodes, but the plot can be rather dull. On the flip side, the story becomes incredibly entertaining during the insane final arc, but the majority of the cast gets the shaft. With the exception of Minoa and Kai, the rest of the students act like caricatures of themselves.
1. Terrible Pacing
Animegataris waited way too long to introduce the anime world angle. People who appreciated the tone and pacing of the slice-of-life episodes are likely to be disappointed with the sudden shift towards the absurd. On the other hand, those who prefer a touch of insanity with their comedy might have dropped the series out of boredom. It makes WAO World’s anime difficult to recommend, as it can be rather frustrating to watch. As it lasts for only four episodes, the anime world arc is rushed and focuses way too much on Minoa reacting with shock as the world goes to hell.
2. At The End Of The Day, The Humor Is Just Not Consistent
Animegataris can be amusing, but laugh-out-loud moments are in short supply. While Kai is consistently entertaining, the rest of the cast is best described as pleasant rather than funny. While tons of series are referenced by the anime research club, WAO World seems happy to just point out that they know about the existence of Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. These references can barely be considered jokes, as there is no real punchline. Slightly changing the anime’s name is simply not enough.
Animegataris is a mess. WAO World has definitely done worse, but this comedy series is hardly anything to write home about. The anime world is an interesting concept that is poorly executed, while the characters are left by the wayside after receiving quite a bit of development. Animegataris is too wacky for slice-of-life fans and too slow-paced for viewers seeking an absurdist comedy.
Did you agree with our review? Is Animegataris worth a watch? Please let us know in the comments below!