Girls Beyond the Wasteland Review — Not Worth Walking Through Said Wasteland

The only thing I got from traversing it was the urge to shove this anime up Project No. 9’s sphincter.

Oh goody. Another anime written by a visual novel writer. Or to be more accurate, it’s adapted from a visual novel written by a visual novel writer (aware of the redundancy, thank you). And we all know how much I love visual novel anime, what with their cliched characters, excessive dialogue, blatant fanservice that doesn’t further the story in any way, and overall bland approaches to serious subject matter. Oh, and what’s this? It’s another anime about a bunch of people making a visual novel? Let me guess, it’s going to be completely self-aware about its cliches, do nothing interesting with said awareness, have a very imbalanced gender ratio of females to males, and have no actual stakes or motivation for the character to make the visual novel beyond “I want to do it”. Boy, I’m loving this trend.

Well you’ll be please to know that not only did Girls Beyond the Wasteland prove me completely right, but it’s such a step down from Welcome to the NHK – the only good anime about making visual novels and NEETs and such – that it actually caused me physical pain. Want to make the characters short on cash and living in squalor as motivation/contrast to their goal of making it big with animated porn? You’ve got a couple of decently-off high school students who don’t have parents and want to make visual novels because they can. Want to have the characters explore serious social issues through their slice-of-life interactions? You’ve got girls moping about how hot they are for Blandy McBlanderson whilst noting how similar it is to their visual novels. Want to see an actually experienced studio tackle your serious material so that even when the animation is bad, at least it’ll be expressive? You’ve got Project No. 9 taking a dump on your eyeballs. If all that appeals to you…get out of here right now.

Girls Beyond the Wasteland, or Shoujo-tachi Blablabla as it’s called in Japan, is an anime based on a visual novel by the godly writer himself, Romeo Tanaka. Yes, that Romeo – Jinrui – Rewrite – Cross Channel – Tanaka. A guy whose prose is about as subtle as a Jackass stunt and whose humor is about as funny as a G-rated Rodney Dangerfield. I’m not a fan personally, but then again I don’t get the appeal of visual novel writing at all, and that’s one of the least weird things about what they like in the East.

Seiji Kishi’s adaptation of his light novel series, Humanity Has Declined, is remembered by people as one of the best surprises in recent years. Christ knows why. It was fucking AWFUL! Set in a world where everyone reacts to everything with a deadpan expression (which wasn’t funny when The Avengers did it either), the satire amounted to nothing more than a bunch of ripoff scenarios from much better post-apocalyptic products along with a bunch of anime in-jokes that made me want to vomit out the window. It depended way too much on its premise and setting and those freaky fairies without actually making things happen, taking way too long to get to the punchline and actually causing me to fall asleep watching it. Which is kind of a miracle because I stayed awake the entire time watching Girls Beyond the Wasteland and it is a million times worse than those dancing fairies could ever be. Although I’ve got to say, pausing the video and pacing around the room for five minutes to think about what you’re doing with your life isn’t exactly a better alternative. Especially when you do it three times during one episode.

Seriously, the only way Girls Beyond the Wasteland could have been worse is if the cast from Little Busters was voicing these people whilst scratching chalkboards during recording. Not only does it have the same lack of stakes that Saekano has, the main character literally asks the main female why she wants to make a visual novel in the first episode and she flat out responds that she can’t tell him, but he’ll do it anyways. What kind of person would possibly consider that an acceptable hook? And then there’s the fact that if you didn’t tell me this was originally by Tanaka, I wouldn’t have made the connection at all. As boring as I find his pretentious dialogue is, at least it stands out when it appears. This show though? could write the dialogue that showed up in the subs and every thing I’ve written has been so awful I never made it public. Not even on fanfiction.net.

Then there’s these usual “spending your first few episodes introducing the characters and setting up the premise without making some plot happen in the process” that always comes with visual novel anime. Except whilst most of these types of show get the drama kicking in around the halfway point, Girls Beyond the Wasteland waits nine fucking episodes for the characters to even push towards getting the visual novel done on time, and there’s still nothing else to pay attention to other than that boring plot point around then. One episode is literally just the main character in his room struggling to get some writing done and procrastinating the entire way through whilst the girls put on maid outfits to inspire him for like two minutes before they leave. I’m sorry, but who thought this would be exciting to watch in any way? And whilst the show does try to throw a little personal drama in the mix, quite frankly it makes Full House look butch. Girls Beyond the Wasteland just doesn’t make any of the personal struggles the characters go through dramatic enough, always involving little insecurities amounting to the modern equivalent of “that Shuffle episode where Sia’s lucky panties couldn’t help her in her date with Rin” that are solved by the end of the episode because of an inspiring speech.

It doesn’t even have the decency to ramp things up appropriately for its final act. When they finally tell you what the visual novel is actually for around the closing act, it’s so generic and involves a character who had no importance until said reveal that I couldn’t bother spoiling it even if I wanted to. And what follows after, let alone before, barely has any relevance to the reason to begin with. It’s just used to cause some drama that immediately gets resolved in like five minutes and nothing changes story-wise apart from the characters getting resolve that they’ve already gotten a few episodes ago. We don’t even get a fucking payoff to the visual novel’s creation. It gets submitted in a competition that is immediately skipped despite a good amount of buildup to it, and the results are brushed off with a few lines of dialogue and a half-assed attempt at deciding what the future is going to be like. Throw in some terrible title references, and you can tell the creators are just stuck in that terrible era of anime where visual novel adaptations were getting churned out left and right.

Not only is this a bad show. Not only is this another example of how awful visual novel anime tend to be. This is one of the worst anime I have ever seen in my life. Yes, even worse than Myself;Yourself and Plastic Memories, this is Da Capo levels of bad. I seriously can’t believe how empty and unfunny this show is. The direction and energy put into this adaptation is one of the most lifeless things I’ve ever seen, and the story is so fundamentally flawed that it resembles a little kid crying in the corner as he lets a bunch of 80s thugs kick him to the ground. Ignoring the fact that it has no aspirations to be anything but another generic “follow your dreams and you’ll succeed” anime, the characters don’t have any reason to have the dreams they do, they never suffer any problems in regards to their goals other than mild inconveniences, and the humor consists of nothing higher than leaving a camera on and watching actors shoot the shit to the point that it pretty much defines how not to do comedy. I bet you anything that if you were to watch a random sitcom on CBS, it would be a million times more entertaining than this pile of garbage!

Fuck. Everything. About. This. Anime. Period.

Minor Quips

  • I’m not exaggerating with the “pausing video” thing. When I was watching the penultimate episode during vacation on a VERY shitty stream, I kept pausing the file to wonder why I was wasting my limited ski lodge bandwidth on it, culminating in a LOOONNNGGGG moment of defeat when this scene occurred.
  • Maybe I’ll watch Ratchet & Clank next week just to see which is more boring.

2 responses to “Girls Beyond the Wasteland Review — Not Worth Walking Through Said Wasteland

  1. Eh, I enjoyed it. Still trying to work out exactly why. It was pretty pantomime-y, but in a way I like.

    That episode with him procrastinating in his room? One of my favourites. The show regularly took aspects of being a creative artist, like ‘hitting a wall’, and gave them more than one dimension of exploration into them. The summary of Blooter’s downfall at the end was one of the funniest moments I’ve had from anime-about-making-something-anime-ish.

    It was simple, but had some sweet things to say, especially at the end, about the struggles and purpose of (very) mainstream art in the modern day. A lot of things about it weren’t good; some whole episodes were a real bore for me too. But I still enjoyed it overall.

    • Honestly, I don’t think I’m going to find a visual novel anime that’s going to impress me anytime soon. Too much filler surrounding the core material that may or may not be worth it.

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