This week we review WorldEnd. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
There’s this new anime adapted from a light novel series. It takes place in the distant future, and it’s part of the military/action/magic genre. The story focuses on a slightly jaded young man with a special power, and it features demi-humans and a wide variety of cute girls with huge swords, whom the main character lives with.
Some of you are probably rolling your eyes already. The thought of yet another trashy light novel series plaguing the market when there are so many other stories that could be adapted is still a worrying prospect. Fret not, however, because WorldEnd is actually worth the effort put into it.
500 years have passed since humanity has gone extinct at the hands of the powerful and fearsome “Beasts.” The races that survived this calamity now make their homes on floating islands in the sky.
Only a small group of young girls have the ability to wield ancient weapons capable of destroying the Beasts and reclaiming the surface. Officer Willem Kmentsch has recently been assigned to look after these girls. Their journey will bring them closer together and, hopefully, heal old wounds that even time can’t mend.
WorldEnd is definitely not your typical light novel adaptation.
While it does have a few moments of overt fan service, the overall tone of the series feels much more relaxed and less frantic – at least until the drama kicks in. No dumb misunderstandings used for gags or unacted-upon romances. Weird ecchi scenarios are (mostly) out of sight. Nothing that wholesale distracts from the overall experience.
Additionally, since the light novel series had already ended before the anime aired, the anime actually presents us with a finished story. Seeing a completed product is another huge plus that we rarely get.
WorldEnd even has some interesting themes that it explores throughout its run. The concepts of memory and self-identity play a huge role in how these characters carry on as the story progresses. There’s actually a legitimate threat to their existence, both physically and mentally. This makes watching their struggles all the more compelling and gripping to watch.
Willem has his own baggage to bring in as well.
The memories of his past failures still haunt him and weigh him down. It gives him a much more vulnerable appearances than other light novel protagonists. He’s actually kind of weak emotionally, and seeing him actually feel things about his situation other than mild anger or embarrassment (the default emotions for LN protagonists) is extremely refreshing.
This feeds into the romance storyline as well in Willem’s slow-growing relationship with Chtholly. As coy as it usually is, romance in anime is finally getting around to the idea of actually having relationships in their stories, instead of a long buildup to an unsatisfying sort-of conclusion.
There are legitimately cute moments between Willem and Chtholly that make me want their relationship to succeed. However, there are also some parts where it doesn’t seem to go far enough, sliding back into bad anime cliches. In the end, having a romance that both characters recognise is happening is definitely a step above the usual, and I hope we get more of it in future stories like this.
The animation is solid, but definitely not without flaws.
I tend not to expect much from Satelight, but the action scenes are captivating and well-choreographed. The character designs needed a bit more of a unique flair, but they aren’t totally generic either. Having so many non-human characters definitely helps alleviate the issue.
What this animation team really handles well though is the lighting, especially during nighttime scenes, and the way that they can draw out emotions using said lighting really helps push the story along.
As for music, Tatsuya Katou brings his typical averageness that I would expect. There’s not too much I can sink my teeth into and there aren’t that many notable themes. However, some vocal tracks are definitely worth noting. I never thought I’d hear an old English folk ballad in a sci-fi/drama anime, but it works surprisingly well.
If being better than the other mediocrity in its genre is all it has to do, WorldEnd succeeds brilliantly. Having actual stakes and human emotions in the story does wonders for getting invested. However, in the grand scheme of things, quite a few elements still need some fine-tuning. The fact that this seems so much better than shows like Asterisk War or Akashic Record says much more about the genre than it does WorldEnd.
Still, I can definitely recommend checking this one out. It’s a fun time with some solid drama and an endearing romance element; much more than I can say about other shows from this season.
Check out my thoughts on some other great anime from last season.
Final Score: 7/10