First Look: The Lost Village

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Alternative titles: Mayoiga
Anime original by Diomedea
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Thirty men and women, many of whom have never met before, go on a bus tour to the mysterious village of Nanakimura, rumoured to be a utopian community where people go to start their lives all over again. What could possibly go wrong?

Aqua’s verdict: On The Road To Twin Peaks

The last time Tsutomu Mizushima directed a thriller, we ended up with Another, a show he may or may not have turned into a farcical black comedy once he realized the source material was an utter mess. So what better writer to pair him up with than Mari Okada, prime provider of all things melodramatic and unintentionally hilarious? The Lost Village is a train — well technically, bus — wreck that needs to be seen to be believed. Set on some bizarre plane of reality where ordinary people flip-flop from casual chatter to opheliac cult-mumbles at the drop of a hat, where the inside of a touring bus becomes an otherworldly macrocosm of characters all across the spectrum from cliché to caricature and where a suicidal bus crash is narrowly averted by an amateur occultist puking down the drivers neck, The Lost Village is as melodramatic as it is oddly mystifying.

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With Shirobako, Mizushima proved himself the go-to guy for balancing huge casts of characters, and in The Lost Village, he once again manages to figure out who you’ll care about and who’ll you be expecting to die in a couple of episodes. The result is an utterly baffling piece of television that rather than alternating between unintentionally hilarious and bombastically trying to hard, somehow manages to consistently fuse the two into a single consistent vibe, a bonkers, yet absurdly endearing blend of cheesy soap opera and shameless anime that will tickle your fascination and your funny bone in equal measure. It’s a show made by two people with very distinct, often contradicting styles, constantly fighting over the right to be on top of the production, tearing itself apart to reveal a core of pure, unadulterated weird. Is it good? Who cares if it’s good? It’s fascinating.

Marlin’s verdict: My Lost Time

I think we can pretty safely file this one away under “trying too hard”. From the very beginning the show just so satisfied with itself by constantly bashing you over the head about how mysteeeeerious and daaaaaark this show is. It doesn’t help that they start out with more characters than the end of Durarara, making it feel like everything, even the people in it, are just kinda window dressing to the concept of this mystery setting. It was a bit disappointing how easy it was to pick out the main character by how much of an absolute wimp he was in his introductions. I’m not saying he has to be the reincarnation of TK — who is obviously the only good part about that character blitz — but give our main character something to go off of other than OH MAN I GET CAH-RAAAAAAZY DREAMS. If it’s alright with everyone else, I’m going to let this magical mystery tour go on without me.

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Artemis’ verdict: Ask Me Again In A Couple Of Episodes

I didn’t exactly dislike what I saw of this, but the premiere certainly didn’t blow me away either. The premise looks promising enough on paper, but the execution was a little ho-hum, which doesn’t bode well for a mystery/suspense title. My main issue was that while the creators were clearly going for a creepy atmosphere and at least partially succeeding, I felt let down in that absolutely nothing of note actually happened, unless you count a bout of temporary insanity by the bus driver — which I don’t, since this apparently didn’t bother the passengers enough to stop him from driving again a couple of scenes later. There were also something like 20 characters introduced within the space of a couple of minutes, and I can just tell that at least half of them are going to annoy the everloving crap out of me. It’d be fine if I thought they were all going to get killed off one by one or something, but as far as I can tell this isn’t a murder mystery horror piece, so I’m assuming most of them will be sticking around for a while. I’ve already forgotten all their names though, limp main character included, which can’t be a good sign. However, it’s entirely possible that the rocky start was just that, and since I do think the base story has potential, I’ll be giving Lost Village a couple more episodes to try and impress me.

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