This is review number three hundred and seventy. This anime is part of the Spring 2016 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Mayoiga or The Lost Village. It’s a twelve episode anime about a bunch of random things that I think is supposed to be scary, but it’s actually not. Hey, you be the judge. Let’s read on.
This anime follows a group of young people in a tour bus going to the mysterious Nanaki village. It is said that people vanished there, but it’s rumored that they are actually living a happy life. The people on the bus want to start a new life as well, and they believe Nanaki village is the place to go. Covered with fog and surrounded by forests, the people wanting a new life may soon regret their decision after stepping foot in the mysterious village.
Taking the Pants Off
Oh gawd, what do you say about Mayoiga? It is an original screenplay, so I already had my guard up. Nothing original is good now, but I was incredibly cautious because this was written by Mari Okada. She already had her turn at writing something original, and it’s called Nagi no Asukara. The premise is pretty solid, but Mari certainly does not know how to properly utilize characters. She can create a nice environment for them to move in, like the imaginative underwater village in Nagi no Asukara, but the woman cannot craft a story well. The good premise eventually runs in a circle until it eventually crumbles into something awful. I hated Nagi no Asukara so much that I refuse to publish my review of it. I’d give KyoAni a score of ten before I publish it. Given my long experience with anime, you can just tell Mayoiga will suck. It’s not really a matter of “is it good or bad”, but it’s more “how bad is it going to be?” Despite knowing this will bad, I still decided to watch it though. I’m in this for the sh*ts and giggle, and a lot of my facebook followers also wanted this review. Oh, you sad bastards. I can tell you straight up that Mari Okada’s writing is still as bad as Nagi no Asukara. Mayoiga had a good concept and premise, but the characters were pretty bad. The story lagged, and the ending sucked. But you can really tell things are going to be bad in the first episode alone. I personally took this as a signal of things to come:
Oh gawd, this is one of the most talked about anime of Spring 2016. F*ck you all. Anyways, the story starts with a bus full of people travelling to a mystical village hoping to live there. This is problem number one, because the setup is stupid. Oh wow, I’m going on a village far away from any modern place and I’m going to live there. It’s in a place full of fog and I’m with people I don’t know. Geez, I hope nothing bad happens to me. What am I saying? Of course nothing bad will happen. I’m travelling to the mountains in a village I only read on the internet, where people are rumored to f*cking disappear, but I don’t care. I’m going to live there now, and it’s going to be fun. The problem with this setup is that it feels a little hollow. You didn’t even build up their journey there to cover the characters and their motivations. The anime opens with a bus full of people, and it’s pretty uninspired. They didn’t provide proper backstory for the village, and we don’t exactly know why the people in the bus want to live there. Mari Okada simply just wrote a story with a bus full of people, and I think she plans on just killing them off. Why the hell not?
This bus is special though, because it’s packed with a lot of cliché characters. There’s one character that just yells, and he does it without even being provoked. During the introductions, a normal person would just say their name, but the characters would give out exposition. “Hello, my name is such and such, AND I’M BEING STALKED”. Ok, subtly is certainly not part of the story. I mean seriously, she lined up all the characters and they just introduced themselves in the most stupid way. Wouldn’t it make sense to start the story focusing on the characters first before boarding the bus? I personally like the collection of eccentric people here, because they’re all somewhat millennials spoiled by the internet. Horror movies are often about overly socializing 90s stereotypes, but I’m digging the update here. The thing I don’t like is the large cast. Thirty people inside the bus are just overkill, and I can only assume some of them will be killed off. The only reason you would stuff a bus with so much characters, which are incredibly hard to balance in a twelve episode story, is that some of them would eventually die. There’s no other explanation for it, so I hope the story isn’t dumb enough to keep them all in the twelve episode run. Oh, I can only hope.
From the first episode alone, you can already tell the anime has some plot holes. The characters’ motivations and backstories, their blissful ignorance that they’re heading into a cliché horror setup and the lack of explanation about their destination already signal bad things about the anime. You’re already racking up questions in your head, and I can guarantee that the anime will not answer them. Like curious puppies though, I bet most people would continue on just to find out the mysteries the characters will encounter. Personally, I wondered if it’ll be a slasher story, a ghost story or a monster story. I love the concept, and I wanted to see how far it can go. I also like how the reveal is never really hurried, and the audience is just led blind throughout the first six episodes. Seriously, nothing really major happens in the first half. The characters just talked among themselves, but a group of characters are significantly getting more screen time in the episodes. A lot of the relationships are being setup though, and you’re really just waiting for something big to happen. As the story progresses, the paranoia is set to the maximum and I personally love how the characters just boil in their own sweat. The eccentric characters would soon show us just how insane they are, and this blows into something really funny for the anime.
After six episodes though, is this anime a slasher, ghost or monster story? I mean, after six episodes, it’d be pointless to still keep things in the shadows. Well, that’s actually the problem here. All three elements are present. The crazy violence of a slasher flick, the paranoia set in a ghost story, and the foreboding presence in a monster are all present in the anime. At first, I actually liked the approach. The story is so good that it can tell three stories and still shroud the audience in darkness. At some point, the paranoia will get to the audience as well. This is what I originally though, but then I soon realize that Mari Okada is just a sh*t writer.
The anime actually can’t decide on a story to tell. It’s a slasher, ghost and monster story because the anime is making things up as it goes along. It’s padding the length time of the episodes by focusing on character relationships. I like the setup of the thirty characters, and some of them develop wonderfully in the series, but enough is enough. We need some clarity to move forward, because this is getting ridiculous. Characters would wander around the village, some of them would run scared and others would try to deduce what the hell is happening, but nothing is actually going on. The anime is just stalling towards the second half, and it’s becoming annoying. It eventually revealed its big villain though, and it looked like this:
What do you say to that? Honestly, what the hell?
Actually, this is just one piece of the puzzle concerning the main antagonist. I don’t want to spoil the big surprise, so I’ll just keep it shut now. The weirdest thing happens while the monster is attacking though, because the show decided to give us the backstories and motivations of some of the characters. I actually liked the flashbacks, because they told us a lot of the characters, but it’s a bit too late to do that seven episodes in. The flashbacks are all interesting stories, because it tells of how broken the characters are. It gives us a good idea of why they wanted to go into a village in the mountains, and it actually liven the story up a lot. I don’t understand why the anime didn’t do that in the first place. If the monster’s motivation lies within the flashback, then they should’ve set it up early on and just build on it. Instead, it wasted a lot of time showing a character attacking another with a hoe and other nonsense like the girls talking about sleeping with one of the boys. I do find the hoe thing funny though, because it kept reappearing in the proceeding episodes. How do you write stupid sh*t like this?
There were some good things that happened in the latter half though. When the paranoia reached the ultimate, a lot of the characters started losing their mind and they all turned their frustrations on one character. It kinda turned into a Lord of the Flies ordeal where the characters were just left alone for such a long time. Mixed with their paranoia, they eventually make a mess of a situation by doing this:
A f*cking witch hunt. I was honestly laughing hard at this scene. Seriously, they accuse one character of being a ghost. They wanted to prove this theory by sticking a knife in her, and it must’ve slipped their mind that they already tied her up meaning she clearly isn’t paranormal. They argued that the knife would just pass through her if she’s a ghost, and all I kept thinking is that I had Nagi no Asukara in my f*cking drafts and I no longer want to publish it. This is Mari Okada’s kind of writing style. She does have good ideas, but she can’t really write cohesively. In Nagi no Asukara, the big twist is that some of the characters aged and it leads to some romantic complications. Nothing satisfying came off that twist though, and the characters just awkwardly talked with one another until the show ends. She proves her lack of cohesion as well when she revealed the monster in one episode and then follows it up with a witch hunt to prove a character is a ghost.
The mysteries surrounding the story are finally revealed, and it’s really bad. I love the connection between the monster and the people in the village, but it didn’t do anything to improve the story. Towards the end, the story just focused on one of the main characters chasing a girl through a tunnel and it just killed the momentum of the show. After stuffing thirty characters in one bus, the show somehow only needed two of them to tell the story. What about the rest of the characters? They died, right?
No. They did not.
Talk about stupid. None of the characters died, and I actually understand the twist here. You see, the anime is teasing a horror story but it’s actually something different. It knew the audience wanted some of the characters to die, but they don’t know the true intentions of the story. It’s a bit more lighthearted than anything else. I get it, and I appreciate the big twist. With that being said, it’s still stupid. What are you going to do with half of your characters now? They’ll just sit around doing nothing? For twelve episodes?!
Yes. That’s all they did.
It’s frustrating, because there is actually a lot of potential in this anime. I actually think the show can be as freaky as Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. It’s about a bunch of cute girls killing each other, and it often comes off as totally disturbing even though you can anticipate that they’d be sticking knives in their necks. The beauty of Higurashi is that it understood what it wanted to achieve. It used folk lore and the unsettling environment of the village to create paranoia. It would then hone in on one character experiencing the paranoia, and then it’d just do a lot of disturbing things. It knows how to betray its audience, and I actually think Mayoiga can do this as well. Everything it needs to create a great Higurashi inspired story is here. The paranoia, as seen in the stupid witch hunt, the folk lore of the village, the creepy atmosphere with the woods and the fog, and the characters experiencing them are wonderful ingredients to tell some freaky story. It’s all there, gawd damn it. Sadly, this anime only comes off as unintentionally funny.
I actually laughed at some of its scene. My favorite involves the backstory of this kid who’d be thrown in the attic by his parents. In the attic, there’d be a picture of his grandmother ready to freak him out. It’s f*cking funny, because the scene came out of nowhere. After amazingly told backstories, we got an absurd one about child abuse. The ridiculous thing is that the story tried to create something scary out of it. They’d do jump scares and horrible CGI to hammer the fact that the grandmother is freaky, and I was just laughing. After all that stupid buildup, the show somehow ends up making the audience laugh than scare them. It kept us out of the dark for too long, and it’s hard to take anything seriously now. Another funny scene in the show involves the floating body one of the characters discovered in the early part of the show. It was a really good thing to see someone dead, but the anime took time to reveal that the guy is just awkwardly floating down the river contemplating on his life choices. What the hell? That’s just unbearably funny. Of course, let’s not forget the best character in the series. In terms of chewing the scenery, nothing kills the scary mood than the chick that constantly yells out “execute him” for no f*cking reason. This is a really great comedy, but I never thought an anime could be this bad.
Despite the large cast, I think only ten or so actually had some interesting parts in the story. Some of them were useless characters begging to be killed. I actually want to start talking about them first, because some of them are annoying as hell. There’s a fat character in this anime, and he only just eat things while the other characters would deduce the mysteries of the village. For ten episodes, I kept saying to myself that he needs to die. Someone grab the hoe and actually kill him. I also wanted the PDA couple dead. They just flirt with each other for every f*cking scene they are in, and it was unbearable. I wanted them dead, because they just only served to color the show with red and we never got that. There are also those three Yuuna characters, that guy with a white shirt and the sick kid, I wanted them all dead. They didn’t really provide anything to the story, and I think they were just destined to die. I can imagine just how satisfying it would be to see these characters dead.
Of course, not everyone is useless. Some of them did have a significant role in the story, but they really brought the show down considerably. Some characters had story arcs that didn’t lead into anything, and it really just wasted time. A good example is the f*cking bus driver. He should’ve been dead in the first episode, but he decided to stick around for much longer eventually overstaying his welcome. I did not give a flying f*ck about him and his story is just uninteresting. There were homicidal maniacs in the group, and the driver’s story robbed them of some screen time for them to truly stand out. There’s also this best friend character of our lead, I think his name is Speedstar, and he didn’t do anything worthwhile in the story as well. I do love his backstory and motivation concerning his best friend, but I felt that it was badly developed and it eventually ruined the initial climax of the anime. Yeah, the climax involved the monster finally dying but Speedstar and his hang ups took center stage for no reason. There’s also the tour organizer and his lady friend. I think they had a major role to play, since they organized the tour to the village but they really just ate precious time that could’ve been used to develop the story. The lady friend had too much screen time where she really just stood around and walk with one of the interesting characters in the show. They even did a big twist about her, but it really just gave the story a lot more plot holes.
The main character in this anime is Mitsumine, and I think he’s a decent character. His backstory is amazing, and I love his timid naïve personality because it matches well with the rest of the cast. He’d be tricked into doing things, and he’ll just smile. He’ll talk to a bunch of girls, and he’ll feel happy that many girls talked to him. He is pathetic, but I like it because it has a good chance to grow into something more admirable. Sadly, this didn’t happen. Towards the end, he did nothing but chase after one girl. His motivations for chasing her is also never explained, but he just threw caution away to chase after her. I understand siding with her after being persecuted by the rest, but his naïve personality became a bit grating when he would just obsess over one girl for no reason. “I want to be with her because she’s a nice person and I love how she smiles. I’ll now head into the woods despite the fact that a murderer might be lurking there.” Isn’t he such an admirable lead character? I can actually tolerate him, but the girl is something else. Her name is Masaki, and she is just annoying. In the later parts of the anime, she forbids people to enter the tunnels. She never explains why, but she’s very adamant about it. When people did enter the tunnel, they discovered a lot of answers they’d never have come across if they never enter the f*cking tunnel. She is the most annoying thing in this anime, because she is supposed to be a mysterious element but she just suck. As a character, all her motivations are simply explained by “I don’t remember or I’m not sure, but I know my actions are correct” and it’s really annoying. It’s not mysterious, but it’s more tedious bullsh*t because the story clearly didn’t know what to do with her.
I’ll just end this review now. There’s no point going over the rest of the cast. There are some wonderful characters here in an “it’s so bad that it’s good” kind of manner, and I’ll leave it as a surprise when I successfully tricked you into watching the anime. Diomedea handled this anime, and I must applaud them for taking a risk like this. It failed, obviously, but I’m still glad that they tried to do some original horror. They’re a pretty so-so kind of studio, so I appreciate the fact that they’d take a big leap like this. The only problem they really did was hiring Mari Okada to write the horror story for them. She is a “hit and miss” kind of a writer. She doesn’t consistently get big hits, and a lot of her works are pretty bad. She also handled M3: The Dark Metal, and it’s pretty horrible as well. I think people look up to her because she does have an extended list of shows she helped create like Selector Infected WIXOSS, Blast of Tempest, Golden Time, Gosick and Toradora. Just looking at her works, you can tell her experience is undeniably there. She’s considered a veteran now, and experience can really get you far especially in the anime industry. The problem seems to be that people aren’t critical of Mari’s writing. Instead of trying to improve her plot holes, people just accept it and then they spend months animating her work without thinking it’d be bad. I’m sorry, but this anime is bad. Mari Okada is not that good of a writer, and she clearly cannot do horror. Her extended list of works had no horror in it, and she even fails at writing a good romance so I think people are over estimating her talents. I guess they went with horror because Tsutomu Mizushima directed this anime. He worked on Blood C, Another and xxxholic. In terms of a creepy vibe, I think the guy knows how to create it. I must admit Mayoiga does have a nice flair of the unknown to it, and the atmosphere is consistently unsettling. Sadly, the writing isn’t on par and it’s really a shame.
Sight and Sound
I was originally excited when I recognized the character design. It looked just like the one in Nagi no Asukara, and that’s really a good thing. Buriki is a light novel cover artist, and he designed the characters in Haganai. I was wrong though, because a Naomi Ide designed the characters. I think she took inspiration from Nagi no Asukara but it looks like a blatant rip off. She only really copied the designs of Buriki for the main characters, and the rest seems to be her own. It’s OK, I guess. I like the range of her designs and I’ll give her props for designing thirty five characters. No one them looked the same despite their familiar templates, and I think that’s a good thing for this anime. The characters sucked, but I’m glad their design is able to at least give us an idea of what kind of character they are. It’s a bit too on the nose though, like the slutty characters having big boobs and high heels but I think it’s understandable given she did work on thirty five characters. That’s a lot. But in terms of designs, the monster really takes the cake here. The design is a mix of bad CG and live action parts, and it looks ridiculous. It’s absolutely hilarious sometimes, but I must admit that it looks original. The grey colors and the monster design is pretty cool if it wasn’t so stupid looking. I’d say the monsters are the best part of the anime though, and it’s thanks mostly for the inspired design.
Again, I love the atmosphere of the show. The mountains with its thick fog, the abandoned village and even the look of the tunnel are absolutely scary by themselves. They lose their appeal when the story botched whatever the hell they wanted to with the place, but I still applaud the director for at least knowing what he wanted to achieve. I love the bright green of the morning scenes and the dreary look of the night scenes because there is a nice contrast there. In terms of animation, I think it’s pretty good. It’s not great in any way, but I think it’s enough to carry the story. The strong color palette and the quality of the animation do look great, and it actually urges you to keep on watching despite the story losing its focus. I also love the facial expressions of the characters, because it really gives us a good idea of the scenes we are watching. It’s cartoonish, but in a good awkward way.
As always, a bad anime has a great soundtrack. The anime’s OP is “Gensou Drive” by Ami Wajima. It’s a really nice song, and the lyrics about chasing your future despite a gloomy night are pretty great. I also love how the lyrics try to be creepy, and its hyping you up to watch the anime. The OP sequence features all the characters just flashed across the screen. Notice that the story is never even hinted at, and I think it’s because there is no story. It’s just a bunch of random stuff. Try to watch the OP sequence, and you can really get a feel of what this anime is. It tries to look cool with its large cast, but it has nothing to tell even in a montage form for the OP. That’s just embarrassing.
The anime’s ED is “Ketsuro” by Rina Katahira. I would just like to say that I had chills when I heard this song, because it reminded me of YUI when she released her first album. Rina even has YUI’s cute way of saying “desho”, and I just love it. I’m going track down her songs now. Anyways, this song has a good singer and tone to it, but the lyrics are weird. It’s about trusting someone to be happy. It’s a bit vague, but I guess the singer carries the charm of it. The ED sequence is still random shots of the thirty characters. It’s once again signifying the lack of a story to put in a montage, and it’s really bad.
4/10 “It’s supposed to be a horror story, but it’s plagued with plot holes and it’s actually hilarious in a bad way”
Mayoiga is a bad anime. The story suffers from short sighted storytelling, the characters are lost with the directionless story and it isn’t really scary. It’s a bad attempt at horror, and it’s an embarrassing anime altogether. If you want to cringe at a bad anime, then I’d say watch this. If you like “so bad that it’s good” anime, then I think this one fits the bill. If you want to see Mari Okada’s bad writing, then I’ll gladly tell you to watch this. It has some good ideas but the execution is just horrible. The payoff is lacking, and the experience is just hilariously bad. For what it’s worth, I’d say sh*t, why the hell not? I recommend it.