Mayoiga (The Lost Village) Review — Where Did My Life Go So Wrong?

To the point that I’m reviewing shit like this?

There’s this 2015 movie called Tag that’s on Youtube as of this moment. It’s by my favorite present-day foreign film director, Sion Sono, and it’s easily one of the best modern-day horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. It was creepy. It was funny. Its take on puberty was pretty cool. And even if you don’t agree with me on the film’s quality, I think most of you would be hard-pressed to deny that it was better than watching Diomedea’s attempt at scaring the living daylights out of people with their shitty horror comedy about a bunch of faceless rejects whining about personal problems no one gives a shit about.

Okay okay, I know I’m setting a low bar when bringing up the name, Diomedea – a studio so faceless and forgettable that I’ll bet most of you fans of the magical boy high school show aren’t aware that they’re the ones behind it. And it’s true, my reaction to most horror anime is about as positive as a baby fry’s when they instantly wake up to their mother about to celebrate their birth by swallowing them whole. So to say I was shocked that Mayoiga ended up being crap is like saying the majority of the U.K.’s intelligent population was surprised that Boris Johnson didn’t keep the majority of his manifesto promises when it came time to deliver on them.

In fact, the only thing that was shocking about this show was the cult fanbase that erupted in its wake. I wasn’t sure what they were seeing at first until I realized that the director was Tsutomu Mizushima – the guy who gave us critically acclaimed shows like Shirobako and unintentionally funny trash like Another – and that everybody who went into this show knew he was the guy behind the anime beforehand. No seriously. Name me one guy who loved this anime’s atrociousness that didn’t look up who the director was. So in other words, in order to enjoy this anime and that godawful Hippopotamus song, you’d have to know the director, have watched Another, have found that show hilarious, and make constant comparisons to that show whilst using other people who think similarly to back you up. Those are not acceptable conditions for liking a show! That’s ten levels below needing to read the original source material in order to appreciate an adaptation.

But let’s talk about the anime itself. It’s focused on a group of thirty boys and girls…guys, if you want to make Battle Royale, just make Battle Royale. Lord knows we could use an actual animated adaptation of that rather than another goddamn copycat that only barely acknowledges the original inspiration. Anyways, it’s about a group of thirty on a tour to a mysterious village so they can start over their lives or something. I dunno. The details of the tour were so loosely defined that apparently one person joined just so she could shoot things without anyone complaining. When they get to the village, they discover it’s been abandoned and certain members of their tour start mysteriously disappearing, so they start looking for…bwahahaha! Actually, they just mostly ignore the people who disappear in favor of discovering the secrets of the village itself. And trust me when I say that Nanaki Village ain’t exactly Gravity Falls.

The series basically goes through its story by having each episode consist of one section of the main cast searching for answers, another section revealing their pathetic sob story that will in no way affect the plot other than influencing whatever CG monster ends up chasing them, and a section where the characters just act crazy for no reason other than they can. Oh yeah, I should probably explain those CG monsters. They’re basically supposed to be physical manifestations of the characters’ deepest fears, so they take the form of giant bees or penguins or whatever the fuck you call Hayato’s thing that looks like a cross between a homeless woman, a malformed spider, and a giant turd. And to be fair, the fears do have potential on paper like parental abuse and dead family. But it also matters how you convey those fears, and Mayoiga seems to think that the best way to do that is to say the children have them. Well tough, but so do a lot of people in real life. What makes these fictional characters special?

Also, the solutions these characters come up with to resolve their issues are pathetic. Nothing but power of friendship and yelling their feelings, which is the fucking white noise of teen drama resolution at this point. Not saying that that can’t be an effective way to resolve a conflict, but Haibane Renmei’s finale earned it through its strong usage of religious metaphors supplementing a sin that’s vaguely defined on purpose towards a character that was more than just a cliche. Mayoiga has nothing of the sort to elevate the drama but camp, and really shitty camp to boot. There’s a scene where the characters are threatened by fire arrows (fucking rolling in creativity right here) and all they can do is react to getting shot the same way most people react to watching The Neon Demon after ingesting sleeping pills. Granted they were under a spell that made them lethargic, but when someone flat-out states that a fire arrow isn’t effective as a lethal weapon to justify their drowsiness whilst another person states you need to bring a matchlock gun to get them scared, I start rolling my eyes. Even if they look lame and you can’t cause a fire with them, a fire arrow will still kill you if it hits you in the fucking neck.

Mind you, I would have done less eye-rolling if that had actually happened. Or if anyone had actually died in this show. Yeah, despite the fact that it’s marketed as a horror story and borrows heavily from works that feature creative ways to kill people, every single character is alive by the time the series ends. Not a single one is beheaded or set on fire or even given as much as a scar in this show despite multiple opportunities to do so. And no, I’m not for torture and brutal deaths even if it’s done to characters I don’t like, but you might as well have gone that route and entertained someone in the audience if you weren’t going to give us anything other than this half-assed attempt at a redemption story. I was talking about this show with a bunch of friends at Expo and we all agreed at being super disappointed that nothing even approaching a bloodbath ever occurred. When we expect a setup similar to Battle Royale, we expect an ending similar to Battle Royale as well.

I could go on complaining about everything else this show does wrong (Hayato’s possessive nature towards the main dude, anyone?), but I’ve got limited time this weekend and most of you guys have already moved on from the show by now, so let’s just get to the important questions.

Is it scary? No. The monsters look worse than the CG alien from Howard the Duck, they move so slow that they couldn’t catch up to a bus dragging the Statue of Liberty behind it, the tonal shifts ruin any sense of dread, and you cannot seriously expect me to believe that a penguin whose only method of attack is to punch you with its flipper could possibly threaten my life any more than I could threaten his with a kick to the stomach.

Is it funny? No. There’s way too much expository dialogue, the imagination in these scenarios is bog-standard, and I have it on good authority that anticlimaxes that halt plot progression (and more importantly, seeing these unlikable characters fall into a grinder) have never in the history of mankind been humorous.

Is the psychology interesting? For a first draft maybe. This entire show feels like it got animated because the final script burnt up in an accident and all the production team had to meet the deadline was something they had previously thrown away once they were done choosing a compelling direction to take these elements. Nothing about this show feels like the creators were giving it their all, like they realized what sort of crap they were dealing with it and proceeded to just not care. The animation and cinematography are incredibly flat, the character designs clash badly with the setting like putting the cast of Dragonball Z into Shin Sekai Yori, and the ending feels like something M. Night Shyamalan’s malfunctioning robot clone would come up with before getting thrown into the trash heap.

Is my review of this show over? Yes it is. I’ve got better things to do than wasting anymore of my time on this pig shit. Like reviewing Big Order…oh wait.

Minor Quips

  • So what exactly was entertaining about the Hippopotamus song anyways?
  • The Grim Grinning Ghost song is scarier to watch than Mayoiga.
  • I swear to god, Twitter conversations are more cancerous than beneficial to enjoyment of an anime in the long run.

14 responses to “Mayoiga (The Lost Village) Review — Where Did My Life Go So Wrong?

  1. I almost agree with your point about ‘conditions for liking a show’. I think they are valid conditions for liking Mayoiga; I just don’t think said ‘liking’ of Mayoiga is any mark up for its quality. Usually enjoyment is a mark up because your review of its quality tries to determine why you enjoyed the show; but with Mayoiga, a lot of enjoyment came from conversation /around/ the show with the actual anime being subservient to that and not engaging just on a show-to-viewer relationship. While such conversation is what art thrives on, if there isn’t any quality besides the conversation, we’ve got a problem.

    Mayoiga needed something to ground its viewership in the show. What it gave us is something we can only really enjoy by dancing around it. It could have given us that /and/ grounded us in actually enjoying ‘the show’. But it’s too rough a piece of postmodernist theatre to matter to the majority.

    • I mostly center on how a person watching something on his own would feel about an anime, because almost anything can be enjoyable if you’ve got friends participating alongside you (Plan 9 From Outer Space, anyone?). It’s also another reason why I generally avoid Twitter discussions on specific shows. That, and those sorts of online discussions have a tendency to never work out in my favor.

  2. This anime was fucking shit. Great post. All your reviews on shit anime are hilarious. I hope Mari Okada reads this. I’m looking forward to your Big Order review.

  3. I still don’t understand why people think intentionally violating every rules of storytelling is “comedic genius”. By that logic Grisaia or Mahouka should be the greatest comedy ever.

    Moreover, I’m baffled that another situation like this happened recently with completely opposite fans reaction. I’m talking about Gundam G-Reco. Tomino flat out said that he INTENTIONALLY made this show incomprehensible BEFORE it aired. He also has made multiple mecha parodies in the past. Yet when the show came out, everyone criticized the anime to death and said that Tomino has gone senile. Why is Mayoiga different?

    • I can’t speak for G-Reco as I don’t even remember it anymore aside from the cheerleaders, but there are people who think Grisaia is hilarious.

      As for this:

      I still don’t understand why people think intentionally violating every rules of storytelling is “comedic genius”.

      The problem I have with this logic is that when you intentionally break the rules, you have to replace it with something. If not, you’re just a strawman, and why would I want to watch something that doesn’t have yin and yang?

      Not to mention, there’s a lot of guys who want to break the rules that succumb to the less obvious but very deal-breaking pitfalls of the genre. Mayoiga suffered from the agonizing pacing problems and cheap drama a lot of bad horror anime have. And then there’s this year’s new “deconstruction” anime, Re:Zero. Does being a criticism of the LN genre really excuse the fact that the pacing, humor, and world-building is absolute trash? Y’know, just like every other LN adaptation out there, but no one really brings it up because they’re too focus on the blatant otaku pandering and/or “execution of scenes” to care?

      • Yeah, you can look at every intentionally of unintentionally awful anime(or live action) out there and easily find someone who think it’s hilarious. Comedy is very subjective, so I’m not holding it against them. I just hope Mayoiga and Re zero fan understand that “author intends it” is a terrible argument.

        “Deconstruction” is even worse. Anime fanbase has turned it into a buzzword.

    • Why is Mayoiga different?

      Regarding this question, I think it’s because of the recent success Mizushima built up for himself with Panzer, Shirobako, and (to a lesser extent) Prison School along with how “hilarious” Another was that people went nuts over the Hippopotamus song and what not even though they weren’t anything special at all. I didn’t even know it was him until someone told me after I watched the first episode and found it boring, but they thought it was hilarious. And let me tell you, there wasn’t a single “fan” of this show who didn’t know it was him beforehand, and those who didn’t were all converted by Twitter.

      That’s why I hardly pay attention to my Twitter TL and never look up who’s doing the anime (besides the studio because their names are all over the charts) these days. As someone who struggled with this for the first few years of this blog, I can safely say that expectations can do a lot to warp opinions.

  4. In regards to Mayoiga all it can be was a controversial show while airing and that people will remember it as that horrible show which had the people turning crazy in regards to whether it is a parody or just a horrible show.
    It’s the mentality of ‘it’s so bad that it’s good’, but instead of good, comedy.
    Well at least it can give a lesson , at least it won’t be as bad as Mayoiga(even if it is at least it won’t be Big Order). Also that if you make a bad show it will get more attention than a good show as people will call more attention to how bad it was making it more popular than the good one, which is honestly sad.
    Lastly I thought you were an anime-only fan and that you didn’t read manga so it was a surprise to know that you read Battle Royale.

    • Battle Royale started out as a (crappy) novel before it became a manga, which I never read. I only really know about it from the movie adaptation.

      Also that if you make a bad show it will get more attention than a good show as people will call more attention to how bad it was making it more popular than the good one, which is honestly sad.

      I have a certain fondness for bad stuff. There’s all sorts of lessons you can learn from them, so I don’t mind too much that they overshadow the good. It’s the mediocre, risk-free crap that refuses to carve out its own niche, I can’t stand.

      • Yep, I forgot it was all from a novel, you read it? I also forgot about the live-action movie I remember some people saying that they hated the movie but loved manga so I checked it out and read it all as people were saying there were a lot of things which copied Battle Royale.

  5. I’m happy enough if others found this enjoyable. After the first two-three episodes I wasn’t one of them as even though those episodes were flawed it looked like something good may be coming. By episode 4, any hope of that was gone and you just kind of clung to the thought that maybe there would be some sort of big finish. And then there wasn’t.
    I think if others find it funny or whatever, that is their choice. What bothers me is when they try to force that opinion on others who really just found this anime dull and relatively pointless.

    • It’s the fact that they all knew who the director was beforehand that annoyed me regarding their reason for liking it. I really hate when you use that sort of pre-knowledge to judge a show over, y’know, just judging the show?

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