The Avengers of Tortured Souls
Originally, I was going to wait until this anime was over to write a review on it, because it very well may drastically change in the later few episodes, but I've come to realize that it really doesn't matter what the last few episodes are like, when it pertains to my opinion of the series right now. I might as well just write it all out, so that even if later on my views on it change, this review will still be a testament to how unbelievably impressive this anime was during it's run and how much of a profound effect it had on me while I was watching it.
The hearts and emotions of us humans are very, very tender, like a goddamn chicken wing from KFC (not sponsored). So sensitive in fact, that when the icy, uncaring grip of trauma burns into one's soul and won't let go, it's hard to find a way to counteract its effect on everyday life. That feeling of being dragged deeper and deeper into anxiety, rumination, self-hatred, and regret... it's exhausting, and self-perpetuating. Some circumvent it with various coping mechanisms - healthy or not - some rely on those they love, and some other people still will eventually overcome it through therapy and rigorous conditioning.
But a lot of people aren't so lucky. When they fall into it, they subconciously make it harder and harder for themselves to escape it, they push people away, they stop living, and eventually, succumb. You know, kick the ol bucket on purpose. You know what I mean. Man, this is hard to talk about.
May I offer you an egg in this trying time?
Wonder Egg Priority is a deeper look at the consequences of this, and comes up with an interesting "what-if": Suppose that when people commit suicide, their souls aren't immediately gone? Suppose that when they are defeated by their demons, those demons remain until someone comes along and helps that person overcome them? Where do those tormented souls go? And will it be super colorful and awesome and cool and make for a good anime?
This anime seeks to provide a sort of narrative-driven therapy for those that can relate to the existential and physical struggles of the traumatized by creating a bridge in-between sympathetic and relatable characters, and those they want to save for some reason or another, in the form of a fantastical world where the embodiments of one's trauma, regrets, and failures comes to life. And for what it is, it does this very, very convincingly. It's almost effortless, how well this anime portrays trauma, cooking up complex feelings like a souffle on a cooking show.
The main character is a girl named Ai, who lost a friend to suicide. A mysterious, vague, annoying, and slightly misogynistic voice guides her through the process of purchasing these magical "eggs" which when opened, contain a suicide victim and transport you and them to a world created by their trauma in life. And she comes to discover that by saving these people, and helping them to conquer the "Wonder Killers" which plague their manifested reality, she may be able to save her friend, who is now a statue. Maybe.
Along the way, she meets three other girls with similar situations all with their own stories, trauma, idiosyncracies and unique personalities, and the four of them become friends, hanging out in between rescuing the wonder egg souls in that dream world.
Can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs amirite
One of the things this anime does beautifully is meshing unbound creativity with thematics and symbolism. The weapons the girls use to defeat the "Wonder Killers" are all linked to their own stories and personalities. For example, one girl weilds a giant exacto-knife, symbolizing how she deals with her own feelings by cutting. The Wonder Killers themselves are also ultra-creative, because they strongly embody an abstract representation of trauma, yet also carry a lot of subtlety. Their designs are incredibly creative and disturbing, and that's really one of the things that sells it. Like a giant rejected art project interpretation of a gym teacher monster with huge tits spraying out paint goo everywhere.
Yeah, it's uh... it's cool, trust me.
The animation is one thing that brings this anime a league above others. The detailed animation in how the characters move is reminicent of Kyoani's animation, and it's really stunning work from Cloverworks that they're able to release a TV series that's so elegantly crafted. Everything from the lighting to the subtleties in the four girls' body language that defines their personalities is really engrossing. I can't praise the animation enough.
The power of the four color pen compells you!
Also, despite how visually complex the Wonder Killers are, they're all animated super dynamically in 2D with keyframes. No corners were cut. Just pure talent and passion, clearly went into making this.
But the characters are where the anime shines even more than the animation. Each one of the four main characters are incredibly complex and have a lot of layers to them, that get peeled back with each successive episode. Ai is a shy, insecure girl that finds comfort in her friends, and due to her own history with being bullied, has her own guilt about her friend. In a lesser anime, this might result in a very cold personality, but in the more realistic way Wonder Egg Priority treats its characters, she's not so cut and dry. She legitimiately feels like a real person, she has her moments of selfishness, silliness, and childish displays of emotion, but also a genuine sense of caring and warmth to her. And with her curiosity, she makes for a really good protagonist.
Rika is another main girl, who starts off totally juxtaposed from the others. Her story is one that resonated with me personally. A seemingly selfish, loud-mouthed, vain girl whose entire image changes through the course of only a few episodes, believably, into being one of the most sympathetic characters who really isn't at all what she seems. Additionally the anime doesn't make the mistake of treating you like an idiot by simply making any character's backstory an excuse for their behavior, you're left to your own devices to figure out your own opinions on them. Then there's Momoe, who has an interesting complex of emotions relating to her previous relationships with girls that can't necessarily be simply quantified, and Neiru, whose much darker history is mysterious and intriguing, adding to her cool and refreshing exterior.
Prepare for trouble
The cast is just incredibly strong in this show, and that ranges to the minor characters in each episode too, who are all really different. This mostly pertains to the people inside the eggs that these girls help save each episode. Their problems range from sexual abuse, to mental illness, to brainwashing, and they all have a different role to play in the eyes of both the main characters and the viewer. Each encounter helps the main four to progress as characters, and also helps to develop and explain the mystical world we found ourselves plunging into, which at first seems almost nonsensical despite obviously demonstrating an underlying darkness and depth to it. Even from the first episode, it's totally captivating. You won't want to stop watching even with the relatively relaxed pacing.
But that doesn't mean the show is just all posturing for deep themes, it also has its fair share of comedy, fun, and charm. It's just fun and heartwarming to see the girls interact, on one hand, and on the other, the action scenes are colorful, full of life, and exhilirating. The nonstop switching up of the moods and atmosphere in the show will make sure you'll never be bored, but also never be thrown for a loop. It's all very balanced and easy to follow along despite it's depth. If you can suspend your disbelief in the first episode, then it's smooth sailing from then on.
The Hype has arrived
It might be a big bite to swallow and isn't for people that just want something lighthearted, but still, there's something for everyone in this show, and a certain audience it wants to reach. If I could comapre it to something, it would definitely be Flip Flappers or Madoka Magica, even Persona 5 in some ways.