Can you believe that The World Ends with You originally released for the Nintendo DS in 2007? Some of you may have played it (or its remake for the Nintendo Switch) but many likely have not. And now, The World Ends with You (herein referred to as TWEWY) is getting an anime for the first time—and it's airing in just a couple of weeks! If you’re coming into the anime without any prior knowledge of this beloved game and its colourful characters and world, or just need a refresher since it has been fourteen years since its original release (try not to feel too old....), you have come to the right place.
We are here to give you a bit of background behind the lore of TWEWY before you watch the anime! We will keep the story’s many surprises and twists a secret, so don’t worry; we wouldn’t dream of robbing you of some of the best moments in the plot. But we will bring you up to speed or refresh your memory about the basic story, the characters, and the ever-important setting. Let’s go to Shibuya!
The World Ends with You is centred around the Reapers’ Game, a mysterious “game” in the neighbourhood of Shibuya in Tokyo that lasts for seven days. Players of the game have no memory of how they got there, why they are playing, or what the outcome of the game is. All they know is that they have a countdown timer that appears on their hand, and challenges they must complete within certain time limits under the threat of erasure if they fail.
Neku Sakuraba is one such player in the Reapers’ Game. When he first wakes up in Shibuya, he has no memory of getting there. His only clue is a strange pin he finds in his hand, and when he flips the pin over, he can suddenly hear the thoughts of everyone around him. Then he receives a mysterious text message on his cell phone with the first challenge he must complete in the Game, with little other explanation about what is going on...
The characters in TWEWY are a huge part of what makes the story so special. Each one is uniquely designed with their own quirks, characteristics, and secrets. There are quite a few of them, so we will focus on the ones likely to be at the beginning of the anime.
The main character, Neku Sakuraba, is a stoic boy hiding behind a pair of headphones. He’s a bit of a loner, preferring to do things his own way and showing the cold shoulder to everyone he meets. His partner in the Reapers’ Game is his total opposite, a bubbly girl named Shiki Misaki. The two have to work together whether they like it or not, or they are not going to be able to win the game.
Two other players in the Reapers’ Game that often make an appearance are Beat and Rhyme Bito. They are siblings, big brother and little sister respectively, and also balance out one another’s personalities. While Beat is often impulsive and loud, Rhyme is calm and optimistic.
Finally, let’s talk about a couple of the main antagonists. The bad guys in TWEWY are the Reapers, the mysterious people who control the Reapers’ Game. They assign the challenges that the players have to complete and also can create Noise, the strange creatures that Neku and the others are forced to fight. Koki Kariya and Uzuki Yashiro are two of the main Reapers that Neku interacts with, both sporting distinct black Reapers’ wings. The two often show up to challenge Neku and Shiki.
The setting in TWEWY is so important that it almost feels like another character. The story is set in Shibuya, a real neighbourhood in Tokyo known for its fashion trends, music scene, and nightlife that make it a hot spot for young people. A lot of the locations in TWEWY are real places in Shibuya, though many of the names have been slightly adjusted. For example, the 104 Building is modelled after Shibuya 109, the Mecca of fashion in the district. The statue of the loyal dog Hachiko and the Scramble Crossing (one of the busiest crosswalks in the world) are plucked right from the real city!
The aesthetics and vibes of the real Shibuya are apparent in TWEWY through its music choices and fashionable character designs. Shibuya inspired the look and feel of the characters, giving them their distinct and instantly recognisable design. The entire story also takes place in this one neighbourhood, so it’s a good idea to understand what Shibuya is when you dive into the world of TWEWY, especially if you’ve never been to Tokyo.
To say we are excited about The World Ends with You The Animation is an understatement. We can’t wait to dive back into Shibuya and get to know these great characters all over again. Plus, the sequel to the game is going to come out this summer! So if you didn’t get a chance to play the original game and are interested in the sequel, the anime can bring you right up to speed. We hope that our guide can help you enjoy the anime right from the beginning - and got you even a little more hyped for it.
Are you planning to watch The World Ends with You The Animation this spring? Did you play the game? Are you hoping to play the sequel this summer? Did you find this guide helpful? Be sure to leave a comment or question! And check out our anime chart page for more!