Shōmetsu Toshi (消滅都市) is a seinen, science-fiction, thriller anime series that is an adaptation of a Japanese mobile game. The anime is being produced by the studio Madhouse, with direction from Shigeyuki Miya. In the pilot episode, we are introduced to a man named Takuya who kidnaps a girl from an underground laboratory and delivers her to a group of scientists that are conducting experiments on her. The young girl named Yuki is the sole survivor of a mysterious incident that took place where thousands of people vanished into thin air. The area where this event occurred is referred to as the Lost.
Shōmetsu Toshi, otherwise known as Afterlost on Funimation, was an anime that I didn’t have high regard for going into it due to the simple fact that it is an adaptation of a video game. Most anime adaptations of video games that I have seen have been horrendous disappointments, the Persona franchise notwithstanding (I’m a bit biased when it comes to those). Nevertheless, I figured if Madhouse is producing it than it can’t be too terrible, right? Well… if that pilot episode was any indication, I would have to say that I may have been quite incorrect with my assumptions.
The first episode picks up very quickly. It begins with people disappearing in a way that is reminiscent to them breaking apart into confetti. There is a lone girl with long, blue hair who is stuck in the midst of the chaos. She looks lost and extremely concerned but is the only one to remain standing. Then it flashes to the laboratory where she is kept in a cement room with one tiny barred window. Her jail break occurs and everything else hastily goes into motion.
There is a car chase scene (or two), an explosion of sorts, and many attempts at instilling intrigue. The main issue with this episode was that it was trying way to fucking hard to blow minds, and in the process, it didn’t offer much in the ways of consistency, whether that pertained to animation quality or laying plot-related groundwork. I felt immensely frustrated because I wanted to be blown away and swept off my feet. The only place I was swept to, was the dark corner of confusion.
The doomed section known as Lost is revealed to be an enigma to everyone; scientists and government officials alike. No one can understand what caused it to transpire and nobody has a single clue as to what happened to the masses that disappeared. Did they die? Did they get transported to another planet? Or were they shoved into another plane of existence?
Rather than building intrigue and suspense, the first episode sort of laid these questions into the watcher’s lap and then immediately tossed in a few other elements, like spiritual entities with metahuman powers and contract killers (my assumption) in black suits and big guns. All of these people have one thing in common: they want the blue-haired survivor. I was left with a deep sense that the series wanted to share too much shit in a short amount of time, which created a wrinkled, mess of things.
The untidy ambiance isn’t solely left to the writing either. The animation alternated quite heavily between gorgeous, precise virtual cinematography with bright colours and interesting use of details in close-ups, to horrendous application of computer-generated graphics for the larger elements (i.e.: cityscapes, buildings, vehicles—essentially anything that wasn’t a person). Additionally, it kept panning to either the left or the right in settings that didn’t involve heavy action (e.g.: showing a girl sitting at her desk who’s trying to decide if she wants to answer her ringing phone). It rarely stood still, which I didn’t like because it just didn’t feel natural to me at all; it was almost like the camera had a soft form of ADHD (I say this as a person who has terrible ADHD). I’m appalled to think that this came from a reputable source like Madhouse.
Character-wise, we have Takuya who seems like a ballsy dude that isn’t afraid to get bruised-the-hell up in situations that he feels may be worth it. Yuki (our survivor lady) didn’t speak much and she came off as a basket of emotions, which is kind of understandable given all of the trauma she’s been through. She also seems to have some powers of her own, and I’m sure that may be an added reason for why she’s so sought after. There is also a spectacled dude who is an otaku for idols. He reminds me a bit of Kōta Hirano from Highschool of the Dead. I don’t know if he’ll play a major role in the overall show, however, he did give me the sense that he’s the comedic relief.
As first episodes go, this was the worst that I’ve seen thus far this Spring season. I’m half-tempted to drop it, but I would be lying if I said my curiosity about the Lost hadn’t been peaked. My hope is that things will be more put together, at the very least with the writing and plot progression if not the animation, so that my season will continue to go rather decently.
You can watch Shōmetsu Toshi on Funimation on Sunday mornings. The dubbed version will begin airing at the end of the month.