First Impressions – Mayoiga: The Lost Village

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Well – you knew it wasn’t going to be boring…

My first read on Mayoiga is that this is what you’d get if Another had been written by Okada Mari.  And yet – that should terrify you.

This is going to be a tough one to assess, honestly.  Is there talent on display here?  Absolutely – I mean, Mizushima Tsutomu is a very good and versatile director, and it shows.  But if you watched Another you know what happens when he indulges his baser impulses as he did in the final few episodes.  And do I even meed to mention what happens when Okada Mari is involved in projects prone to excess?  The potential for an absolute clusterfuck is dripping from every pore of Mayoiga, but there’s a part of you that kind of wants to be watching when it all goes terribly wrong.

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I think the most fundamental question is just how seriously Okada and Mizushima want us to take this nonsense.  My gut says not very, which is good because if they did, boy are they kidding themselves.  But the downside there is that Okada tends not to do very well with self-indulgent parody – she’s very much at her best with works that are more sincere and reality-driven.  And I fear that the true Mizushima was the final few episodes of Another, and not the first ten (where it was a borderline great mystery-horror series).

One thing I think we can say for certainty is that this is going to be an absolute bloodbath.  We may see mortality rates approaching Bokurano levels here.  The story is a bunch of self-obsessed young people (roughly middle-school to mid-twenties) board a bus to a semi-mythological “lost village” called Nankai on a “Do-over Tour” where they can restart their lives.  Every one of these characters is an over the top cliche (we even get a butt-monkey tour guide) with ridiculous nicknames like “Soy Latte”.  I suspect the one character on the bus who has a clue is the driver, who calls out the paying passengers as the self-absorbed and cowardly babies they are.  Of course, the next thing he does is try to kill everyone on the bus by driving off a cliff…

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This is a free-for-all from the opening whistle, a mass introduction of characters, sinister music, eerie fog.  It’s amusing – I mean, the “Unlucky Hippopotamus” song alone was worth the price of admission – but my sense is this would have been better served as a short OVA rather than a full series, because I’m skeptical Mizu-kada can sustain the appeal for 12 episodes.  As for the cast, the lead trope seems to be nice guy Mitsumine (a rather good Sakai Koudai).  The name Mitsumine is most famous in Japan as the “Wolf Jinja” near Chichibu, but in case that blatant foreshadowing was too subtle the girl called Lion makes sure no one misses it by saying straight-out that Mitsumine is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I’m not sorry I watched Another, as badly as it fucked up the ending, and there are certainly Okada originals over the years that have held my interest.  I’ll stick with Mayoiga for a while out of morbid curiosity, but also in the hope that the talent of the staff will allow this series to become more than it appears likely to become based on the premiere.  Plus, Mizushima sneaking Ika Musume onto the tour bus yesterday earns the show some credit in my book anyway…

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6 comments

  1. The unlucky hippo was worth the ep in a way, yes … but for me the break-neck dialogue at times yanked me out of the atmosphere I felt the series was trying to create, and to my mind that is a sure recipe for me not enjoying this sort of series.

    Am going to give a few more EPS a try, but I am still kinda scratching my head about ep 1 tbh.

  2. Should probably start a betting pool for which characters will die in what absurd way. Was the death by umbrella from Another? It’s been so long I’m not sure I’m remembering correctly. Although my prediction is halfway through things will have gotten so out of hand that Okada and Mizushima just give up and suddenly characters will start vouging and the colors will go crazy. Mayoiga the soon to be Jojo tribute anime.

  3. Yup death by umbrella was from Another.

  4. Another small note is that the unlucky hippo song reminded me of another bizarre song from a Mizushima work, the Douro-chan OP. It’s been stuck in my head all day now. Pi piru piru piru pi piru pi…

  5. While Mizushima Tsutomu should have known better to change how it happened and while he does have other sins to his ledger Another isn’t really his fault. A few years after I watched Another I saw the book at Barnes and Noble and picked it up hoping he just royally jacked up the ending…nope. The book is just as comically bad with almost the exact same deaths.

    *Spoilers*
    Even down to the horrible and laughably not scary pillar squishing sequence.

  6. G

    I attribute 80% of my enjoyment of this episode to the music (Unlucky Hippotamus and the lullaby – lullabies and bedtime stories are often freaky but fascinating) and the rest to the start of this episode, where the bus was travelling on a dark road and the monologue just went on, which for some reason was creepy for me. Definitely seeing some of the standard tropes here but I’m still of hope this is better than Another. The premise pulled me in a little more.

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