As the popular DS game “The world ends with you” got its own animation this year, it’s just about time to write another Anime review about the famous game that was firstly released on April 18th 2008 in Europe and April 22nd in the US and Canada.
Despite that the game got many remakes, it was announced that the animation would air in 2021 by both Domerica and Shin-Ei-Animation while Square Enix provided character design and still operated as the publisher.
A total of 12 Episodes with the japanese title “Subarashiki kono Sekai”adapted from the game were released from April 2021 forwards.
Now the anime has ended and it’s just time to see how well the adapted version of the videogame did and if the meaningful message of the game was properly conveyed.
Here it comes, the full review on The world ends with you, if you dive any deeper into this blogpost then be aware that it contains major spoilers and also discusses the end of both the game and anime.
The anime takes place in a fictional version of Shibuya in Tokyo as there are actually two versions in the game: the Realground and the Underground. The latter is where most of the story takes place for our main cast and serves as a playground for the so-called Reapers’ game in which the players have to complete daily missions without getting erased. If a player gets erased it leads to death. People from the Realground and Underground cannot interact with each other, yet the players can scan the thoughts of the Realground inhabitants only and also imprint thoughts on them to direct them for their missions.
This Shibuya is close to the traditional one, having the same streets and spots such as Hachiko, it is also mentioned that it was remodeled after the real Shibuya in Tokyo with some of the streets renamed.
Despite the serious setting in which the players fight for their lives there are many fashion and food shops in which the characters are seen to buy food or clothes as some spots are connected to the Realground and allows some areas to see the players which is usually not the case, besides Reapers are both able to interact in the Realground and Underground, while they do not have their wings in the Realground and also are restrained in some ways.
In the anime Neku’s first “starting point” in week one (or game one) is the Scramble Crossing, while in his other runs of the Reapers’ game for example game two he awake at the statue of Hachiko.
With no memories, Neku Sakuraba wakes up lying on the street of the scramble crossing. When he suddenly realizes that he cannot touch anyone nor talk to them, a timer is set on his hand and a message that welcomes him to the so-called Reapers’ game. While he cannot even remember his own name he soon encounters Shiki, a young girl with a cat plush who in a dire situation asks him to become his partner in order for him and her to use their psychic powers and destroy the monsters called “Noises”. A player with no partner cannot use powers and that concludes not being able to participate in the game.
The story sticks close to the game, yet the game has many little extra side stories that could not fit in a 12 Episode- anime.
We can see that Shiki and Neku, the latter who is firstly very distant and antisocial towards everybody, not wanting to interact with anybody, play through the first week and encounter other players. On the second day Neku gets tricked by one of the Reapers and almost chokes Shiki to death if not for Mr.Hanekoma who helps them, later on the Reaper who made a deal with him actually tells him that she lied and he would have been erased anyways. Neku who thought Shiki would not forgive him is taken aback when she tells him she understands why he did that and trusts him.Everything seems to go neatly. Shiki’s backstory, which we will discuss later in the post, also plays a crucial role as a guide and intel for Neku who has no recollection of his past. He played the game because he was forced to yet through Shiki towards the end of the week Neku gets to know the shocking truth: Everyone who is invited to the Reapers’ game is already dead and pays an entry fee in order to get a chance to be revived again.
With Shiki having lost her appearance as her entry fee, taking the one of her friend Eri which she is jealous of, Neku helps her to overcome her jealousy and see her friend Eri getting to know her true thoughts about Shiki. Also there are Beat and Rhyme to players they have met and befriended over the course of the first week, yet Neku sees how troublesome the emotions are that come with interactions, as Rhyme’s erasure on day 4.
This new motivation to make up with Eri and give their best for those who left made Neku and Shiki hopeful as they also were able to clear the first game in which Higashizawa was the first Game master.
An interesting lore point which pointed out that it was not a single-event of players being gathered but a cycle in which game after game must have been conducted from that point on. As the anime depicted the nice atmosphere of the game which we could not always imagine through the heavy dialogue based game with some cutscenes, the anime filled all the little holes but also rushed many things, such a Neku turning suspicious from time to time and his feelings changing as he meets more people which seems at the beginning very troublesome. But in the anime it is depicted as if he is constantly making only positive changes, on week one in the game he was more inclined to get pessimistic over small inconveniences and stayed much more in his anti-social manners until week one was completed.
The story progresses a tad rushed yet with amazing transitions from one arc to the other, as when Shiki and Neku cleared the game and met Kitanji the Conductor of the game. Yet there is a little twist that destroys the happiness in a second: Only one is allowed to return to the Realground and it was chosen that Shiki is that one person.
Neku happily accepts and tells Shiki she should go ahead while he is allowed to enter another game which costs him another entry fee.
Unexpectedly Shiki who was supposed to enter the Realground becomes Neku’s new entry fee and is collected in front of his eyes, vanishing as the thing that is currently the most important treasure of his.
Here it shows an interesting twist in the story: firstly Neku connecting deeply to a person to an extent that that very person becomes his next entry fee and secondly the occurrence of another game right away which Neku starts with a whole different cause and attitude.
We again see Neku awakening but with most of his memories being returned as his new entry fee was Shiki and his old one being returned. Yet his death stays a mystery until he meets his new partner Joshua, a mysterious boy with an overly clever and sly attitude. Forced to become his partner without knowing him Neku’s second week starts a whole lot different than the one before as his new partner seems to know eerily much about the Game, the Underground, the Realground and much more.
Mr.Hanekoma who has acted as an guide up until now also seems to be acquainted very well with Joshua and while in anime Neku is suspicious of Joshua up until the end of week two, in the game it seemed much more hostile and mistrusting towards Joshua, even calling him rude nicknames unlike in the anime. Still the Neku in the second game seems a lot more willing to interact with people and give even more effort as he has Shiki on his mind. Meanwhile his friend Beat became a Reaper which also was a shocking revelation.
As a player can choose to become a Reaper, it gave off a certain feeling of betrayal and instability due to Rhyme’s death which had impacted him a lot. Not only that but Joshua’s personality which also sticks close to the game is a lot more pushy here and things almost go a bit too fast compared to the game.
Due to Joshua’s intellect which makes him stand out next to his peers, they are able to not only finish the daily missions but get a little bit of free time to research, as Joshua tells Neku that he has been looking for the Composer. Later on it is revealed when Joshua uses odd abilities that are seemingly too strong and unique for a player that he is actually still alive yet playing the Reapers’ game, finding a loophole to enter the Underground from the Realground. An illegal act and the reason why Neku was able to scan him despite being a player, revealing the memory of Neku’s death caused by Joshua.
After holding that grudge against Joshua and not trusting him unlike his partner before, the new game master Minamoto Sho causes chaos in his reign in the Reapers’ game filling it with Taboo noises who cannot be beat the normal way, the main reason why Joshua was forced to use his odd abilities in the first place. After they arrive at the end of week two and facing Minamoto Sho head on, Neku regrets his suspicious behaviour when Joshua saves him from a lethal attack while sacrificing himself, later on revealing that Minamoto Sho was the one who apparently shot Neku causing his death and not Joshua.
In front of Kitaniji again, Neku is full of sorrow. He made it to the end of his second game yet the face of Joshua who sacrificed himself and he did not want to trust hurt him very much. On top of that, Shiki was not given back to him and due to Joshua being his partner and entering the game through illegal means, Neku has to shoulder the penalty by entering his last game, and therefore last chance.
The entry fee: All players, including Shiki,
Here is another wonderful point that was emphasized and showed Neku’s immense growth, After he realized that Joshua, which by all means he had a reason to be suspicious of, he didn’t leave him behind yet that he did not trust him caused him guilt which shows a big contrast to Neku from day one week one.
Also the other players he met and helped out because he taught of Shiki while helping them showed that he didn’t keep his view and values to himself anymore but sincerely cared for those around him step by step.
As again the game gives more time to get to know each character more and more, Neku’s reactions are a bit dull and simple in the anime, as his thought process and suspicion was far bigger in the game but also the regret and disappointment of himself after Joshua’s sacrifice, as Neku blames himself for not trusting him much more.
With his last game starting, Shibuya already looks quite different and becomes a homogen mass, scanning the people has no use anymore since everyone thinks the same. Something the conductor wanted in order to make a “perfect” Shibuya.
Mitsuki Konishi who acts as the third game master also plays by unfair means and uses the Reapers to target Neku who wakes up alone with no other player around him to partner up with. Until Beat finds him he chooses to give up his role as Reaper and become Neku’s final partner, also noticing Neku’s growth in comparison to week one.
Beat who secretly helped Neku while being a Reaper pretending he would challenge him every time, becomes Neku’s drive to go on and as they both reach the last stage overcoming the taboo Minamoto who came back due to Mr.Hanekoma finishing the taboo refinery that Minamoto made on week two. Yet Minamoto in the anime died by light spears while in the game he was crushed by a soda machine.
After defeating Konishi and advancing forwards the true battle begins between Kitaniji who conducted the game from the very start and also reveals that he and the composer made a bet about Shibuya.
Kitaniji unlike in the game, brainwashes Shiki and makes her fight Neku and Beat. He also doesn’t absorb his partners unlike in the game but immediately turns into a monster, after Neku stops the brainwashing on her.
Defeating Kitaniji with the help of Mr.Hanekoma’s pin he left for him before he vanished, Neku puts an end to the game with Beat’s and Shiki’s help.
Kitaniji realizes that Neku was the chosen one, the proxy of the composer who would be his rival in the bet he made.
And here comes the biggest twist in the story, that Joshua is the composer and actually killed Neku in order to make him his proxy in the bet between him and Kitaniji. His main agenda was to destroy and eradicate Shibuya due to negativity and bad things that kept happening in it.
Joshua constrains both Beat and Shiki, handing Neku a gun and making him play one last game that both of them would shoot at the same time in order to determine a winner.
Neku, who doesn’t want Shibuya to disappear and finally learned how to connect with others, expanding his world by letting their values and opinions in as well, takes the gun.
Yet when Joshua counts, Neku tells him by the end that he would trust him, his final regret of never having trusted Joshua being left behind and lowering his gun. Joshua, who stares at him, simply shoots him and causes an end to Shibuya.
In the end all the effort and growth Neku put in went into the final decision of trusting Joshua and accepting him, to end up shot by the one person he trusted.
Joshua as well saw that growth and was surprised, he was Neku’s second partner and therefore tried to get him back to his old ways which didn’t work, and the most surprising outcome was that Neku’s killer and the composer who wanted to destroy Shibuya earned the trust of the one who was only by himself and secluded in the beginning.
The end shows that Shibuya was restored to a new and better place, with all the players who had died being back in the Realground. Neku is seen with Rhyme and Beat waiting for someone. Shiki in her true appearance only known due to Mr.Mew in her hands joins the group and Neku is seen to put down his headphones he always kept on in order to avoid people.
A meaningful end and metaphor to show the change that those characters went through.
While in the anime we don’t see the truthful dynamic of those two, it’s actually a very meaningful relationship that gives Neku the important first push into his character development.
Shiki who is a total stranger and quite annoying for Neku in the beginning becomes source of trust and hope as he sees how much Shiki cares about those around her.
She doesn’t abandon people in need even though she is not obligated to help and while it was something that Neku found bothering at first, it was the side he came to like about Shiki.
Despite that he doesn’t know Shiki’s true appearance due to Neku’s bold and straight-forward behaviour he tells her she is fine the way she is and that the Shiki he got to know is someone he admires and finds interesting.
With that Neku was able to make Shiki overcome her jealousy for her friend Eri and also made Neku more aware about the people around him which was the first step to connect to people. Even though Shiki was one of the few he trusted, she was as well the main source that kept letting Neku play the game and saw it through to the end.
Acceptance and awareness is something that this dynamic taught, a start into a more vast world for Neku and a much more comfortable one in which Shiki could be herself once again.
Joshua was his second partner and kept Neku on his toes with suspicion and trust. As Joshua proved to be more on the intellectual side and did things that went beyond the usual daily missions, Neku still tried his best to trust but couldn’t bring himself to do so. Especially after seeing himself getting killed by Joshua, which was refuted later on by a memory that showed Minamoto killing him, Neku felt extreme remorse and regret for not trusting him.
He played the game in order to free Shiki and after Joshua’s sacrifice he came to understand that there is much more that he needed to understand and value about people.
Joshua acted as the one who tried to bring Neku back to his old ways as he kept telling him to simply care about himself or that him helping the other players is not like Neku at all, a little trial that showed despite Neku’s suspicion towards him didn’t cause him to forget which impact Shiki had on him.
Next to his bold and straight-forward but serious attitude, Joshua as his partner showed a more flamboyant and carefree side quite the opposite of Neku which also irritated and confused him. It also showed that Neku took his responsibility to bring Shiki back seriously and after having seen Rhyme’s erasure he didn’t want to let that happen again.
In the end we get to see Joshua’s true face and intentions, as he was the true killer of Neku in order to make him his proxy in his bet. For Joshua’s cause he needed someone who was the worst, who wouldn’t mingle with people and keep to himself and Neku was just that.
The composer Joshua is much more strict and not as lenient as the one who was his partner. Wanting to destroy Shibuya and not shying away from killing Neku twice, but it’s seen that he was relieved and impressed by Neku’s growth, showing him that people can change for the better.
Neku was Joshua’s proxy and played his role so well that Joshua himself didn’t see his change coming, proving that with enough effort and the right people one can become a whole new self like the Shibuya that was shown at the end
Beat as his last partner was also an interesting contrast between the Neku from the first week to the Neku towards the end. Beat himself stated that he was surprised by Neku reaching out to him and also willingly partnered up.
Not only that but Beat who is much more simple-minded and hot-headed, as well as driven by an immense willpower proved to be very helpful as Neku stated that he found him annoying in the beginning with his loud attitude but that Beat’s idiocy is something he admired as it was the last fuel when they were about to give up.
From someone he found unbearable to a well-appreciated friend that cheered him up, Neku learned to take his fearless and reckless behaviour in order to save his friends while leaving behind hopelessness and negative thoughts that obstructed his main goal to rescue both Shiki and Rhyme with Beat.
This dynamic that was unpairable at the beginning was a refreshing change of pace as Neku was the one who took more of a lead, unlike his other two partners who were dragging him along at the beginning.
The bond of siblings.
Beat who is eager to save his sister since she was the most important to him in the Realground and Rhyme who didn’t even remember Beat being her brother yet sacrificed herself reversing what happened in the Realground.
After being erased because she saved Beat in the Underground, Beat blames himself even more for not being able to protect his sister another time. The car accident that caused them to enter the Reapers’ game felt like his responsibility. Despite the fact that he tried to save his sister because of his own selfishness, they still ended up dying.
Rhyme and Beat are complete opposites, she who dreamed of having a dream and him who wanted to become the best skater, the brother who was selfish and caused trouble for his parents and sister, and the sister who selflessly cared about her brother and tried to calm him down when things heated up.
Their relationship shows how genuinely they cared for each other and that at times one appreciates the other when it is already too late.
Despite that Rhyme didn’t remember Beat being her brother she still went all the way to save him and risked her own life for it, as well as Beat wanting to take on the composer no matter what in order to get Rhyme back.
Because a life without his sibling would have been the same as being dead…
Why did I take this relationship in this post?
Eri and Shiki are both best friends who share one dream together, yet they had obvious communication problems and also jealousy played a big role.
Shiki who was jealous of Eri even took her appearance in the Underground while later on we get to know that Eri played down Shiki’s talent because she feared that Shiki would be well off without her. In the first place Eri felt like she could only design while Shiki could both design and make the designs become real clothes.
Yet Shiki never knew that until Eri talked about Shiki’s death in the Realground, regretting the things she said to her and wanting to give up the dream because it was one they had to do together.
Shiki, surprised by her friend’s thoughts which she was afraid to hear, wants to return and reconcile with her, as Shiki always thought that she was a nobody next to Eri and admired her friend who seemed to be well-liked by everyone.
This dynamic is important since it shows that thoughts if not spoken out can never be perceived by another person and that sometimes matters seem much more different than one’s own perception.
Another set of amazing voice actors in this anime as well starting off with our protagonist Neku Sakuaraba whose matching aloof and cold attitude was voiced by none other than Uchiyama Koki known for his roles Shigaraki Tomura(BNHA), Tsukishima Kei(Haikyuu) and Toge Inumaki(Jujutsu Kaisen).
Surprisingly Anna Hachimine who voiced Shiki Misaki, voiced only Shiki in both the games and the anime, as it was her first and only role, up until this day. Her voice may not sound professional compared to her fellow voice actors, yet it is perfectly fitting for Shiki who seems a little bit clumsy but also lovable despite her lack of self-confidence.
Next up is none other than Ryohei Kimura being known for his eccentric characters which he voiced this time he lent his voice to Yoshiya “Joshua” Kiryu, a sly and clever young man with a twisted personality yet prince-like looks. He voiced Childe(Genshin Impact), Bokuto Koutarou(Haikyuu) and Jo Jojima(Re:Main).
Daisukenojo “Beat” Bito was voiced by Subaru Kimura, the deep and strong voice that matched Beat’s up-beat and strong personality. He is known for his roles Satori Tendou(Haikyuu) and Aoi Todo(Jujutsu Kaisen).
His sister Raimu “Rhyme” Bito (in the game) and the game master of the last game Mitsuki Konishi are both voiced by the same voice actress which is Hitomi Nabatame, showing us both a calculating and cunning as well as an adorable and selfless character. Rhyme in the animation is voiced by Ayana Taketatsu mainly known for her roles Leafa (SAO) and Kotori Itsuka( Date a live).
The animation stuck close to the game’s design, there was a slight thing that bothered me personally but I got a bit used to it later on: the switch from the weird CG (3D animation) when fights occur to 2D when the characters were interacting normally or the normal course of events went on.
The colors matched the slight urban-city vibe of the anime which were highlighted by the soundtrack as well.
Also the switch from the colour-pallete of Shibuya in week one and two to the one in week three in which Shibuya had a more reddish and black tone, emphasizing the ominous change and unified thoughts that made Shibuya a simple and homogen mass of people. The contrast of the change was clear and the atmosphere which was interesting as I really felt the change not only through the story but also the colours making them “two separate” Shibuyas who have nothing to so with each other as the one we knew from the beginning was full of individual and unique thoughts.
Also the colour of red emitted the danger both players as well as the people from the Realground were in, making the viewer alerted through visuals alone.
While the animation was almost akin to the game there were still little changes visible to the people who prior played it.
Still it was enjoyable seeing everything being animated instead of only dialogue and some cutscenes, as everything transited well from one scene and arc to the other.
With the voices being constantly hearable and design of the characters being exactly like in the games it felt like the game itself was animated which made it nostalgic, additionally the soundtracks from the game were also mostly included as remixes or remastered versions, for example Twister which was used as the opening.
But there was a slight problem: With only 12 Episodes it is hard to follow what is exactly happening as you get a lot of input about the world, lore and characters at once. The latter is even held short with Shiki only covering three episodes which I personally thought didn’t cover their whole relationship and the depth of her character, same goes with the others.
Extra events and some side stories which also were slightly important to the already heavy plot also were missing and towards the end there were a lot more changes for example with Minamoto’s death and Kitaniji’s fight.
Despite that like the Persona 5 animation, especially people who played the game would be delighted to see the game animated as they know most of the story yet they can fill the little visual and auditory holes though the animation.
It’s also interesting how close the style of both fights, characters and color palettes stayed to the game and I hope that despite the CG also people who are new to the franchise enjoyed the animation just as much.
Especially the meaning of the title was again conveyed in this anime: the world ends with you, if you choose to shut people out of your life your view and world becomes restricted. Your world becomes small, but if you try to understand each other, trust people and make the best effort to see their values your world will also expand, so it is for you to decide where your world ends, because it ends with you.
Since NEO, the sequel of the game came out recently on July 27th 2021 let’s hope for more content and maybe also a sequel for the animation.
Until then let me try this new pin for my tea cup,