Girls Beyond the Wasteland is an effort to explain the otaku culture, those fans of anime, manga, and VG and the people who cater to the likes and interests of that mindset. The question is, does the story of the six teens who create the genre measure up to this demanding culture.
Quick answer: No.
Rokuhara is a team of four girls and two guys, six unlikely members drawn into the Business Management Club of the local high school to create a bishoujo game. These six make for a rough fit. We can introduce them as pairs. First, the alpha females Kuroda and Andou. Kuroda is the visionary leader of the VG production team, refined and sophisticated. Andou is the blue-collar programmer who can assemble the components the team offers into a smooth set for gameplay. These are dyed-true-blue contrarians, doomed never to agree to anything, particularly if the genre of the proposed game is to be yuri, BL, or straight romance. Andou quits often in protest only to be lured back somehow. Pair two. Call them the 'study in contrast' females. And why call them Yuuka and Yuuki? Clarity? The character design of these two are strikingly similar (school uniforms don't help), with pigtails, slight difference in hair-color, and physical size the only clues. Look twice to be sure who has entered the scene. Yuuka is the extrovert whose flare for the dramatic makes her an ideal voice actress. Yuuki is the shy artist whose character designs and backgrounds are highly noticeable. Yuuki herself does not like to attract attention. Finally, the two males Bunta and Atomu, the foils for the girls of Rokuhara to trivialize. Bunta is by all rights the MC, a would-be writer who is invited by Kuroda to draft the script for the VG project. Other than that. Bunta is an unmotivated teen who doesn't have a clue of what his future could hold. Atomu becomes the talent-less jack-of-all-trades producer of a 'pretty girl' game. As one who is always rejected by girls whom he asked out on dates, Atomu sees the bishoujo game as the ultimate revenge, damning all 3D girls in favor of the 2D girls he will create.
Through 12 episodes, these six will learn the general concept of 'game producers' in a world that runs from initial work to create concepts and characters to the threat of hostile corporate takeover once their work begins to find acceptance. Slowly, a warped sense of friendships is forged. The thought of harem perks up, but with Bunta, there is no notion of romance. For Atomu ... romance? Don't you dare trifle with that poor boy's tortured psyche! This strained the whole plot with notions of love triangles that never form, where a girl's attitude of boys runs closer to scorn than love's rapture. When friendship betrayed is compensated for with a zeal to complete the project. And the thought of doing a second game ... for fun! Bah!
The strained plot was not aided by the animation. Call Girls Beyond the Wasteland a study of impacted file footage. Watch the opening theme where Kuroda and Andou are 'talking shop.' Clumsy. And all the girls plunging in full fall ... a touch of the weirdness. Just your flat animation telling the flat story of six diverse personalities pulling together to get the job done. I can only put up with so much 'ganbare!' Note to Word Check: I said ‘ganbare’ (Japanese for ‘do your best’), not ‘garbage.’ Confusion understandable.
I had some confusion with the translation of the original Japanese title Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu. Specifically the term Kouya. The HIDIVE selection offered ' ...Beyond the Youth' vs. A-P's entry as ' ... Beyond the Wasteland.’ The 'Beyond the Youth' comes up in the last episode, where a high school instructor gives a lesson on the expectations when the boys and girls of high years graduate and become the young men and women, and in a few years beyond that need to excise the 'young' label. In short, one's future, one's destiny. As for 'Beyond the Wasteland,' this refers to Kuroda's term for the flamboyant lifestyle of the otaku whose tastes determine success or failure for the VG producer. Both thoughts are engaging, but in the end, both are lost upon the storyline. Bunta still remains without direction in his life ... just an inkling. Kuroda's suggestion of making a VG just for fun is rejected. The aspect of hard work rewarded for its own sake seems to have destroyed the 'fun’ element. The final results are less satisfying than lost in the otaku culture.
It's a premise which doesn't deserve a second season. While 'Wasteland' is not wasted effort, it's an effort that doesn’t need to be repeated.
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