Here’s a series that likes to wear its pretentiousness on its sleeve. Just when you thought the trend for unwieldly long light novel titles might be dying off, along comes WorldEnd with an absolute corker - ‘What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?’, to give it its full title.
Based on a light novel series by Akira Kareno, the show follows pleasant, big-brotherly type Willem Kmetsch - the only human remaining in a world overrun by beasts. We’re quickly introduced to a veritable host of pretty young ‘Leprechaun’ girls and are told they are the only ones capable of wielding the ancient weapons needed to fend off these beasts. Immediately, there is an overwhelming sense that something is Not Quite Right with these girls and their situation - setting us up for a fantasy adventure that promises (hopefully) to deliver the same kind of intrigue and big reveals that made Re:Zero such a thrill to watch last year.
WorldEnd’s biggest appeal right now though is the tone it manages to conjure up. From the absolutely beautiful rendition of Scarborough Fair that plays in episode one (sounding like something off a Yoko Kanno soundtrack) to the delicate, colourful design work from production studio Satelight, everything about WorldEnd seems to hark back to an older-school of fantasy aesthetic. The show has a distinct love for fancy sounding Proper Nouns and almost unpronounceable character names like Nopht Keh Desperatio or Rhantolk Ytri Historia.
There’s this wistful, old-worldy, transient feel to everything, which others have compared to the likes of Spice & Wolf or Chaika The Coffin Princess. WorldEnd might be based on a light novel series, but it’s eager to prove it’s a cut above your average magical high-school hijinks, and very much something for the more discerning viewer.
That said, for all that WorldEnd tries its hardest to come across as a serious High Fantasy romp, it’s not without its more light-hearted indulgences. Chief among them is the countless times it’ll rattle off a joke about Willem’s predilections for young girls; the more outspoken girls amongst the group of ‘leprechauns’ in his care teasing him ceaselessly about which lass he might end up with. Then, in episode two, we see Willem whip off a girl’s shirt and treat her to a sensual back massage, which she inevitably moans her way through to an orgasmic climax. Because really, this wouldn’t be anime without a hefty dose of fan service, right?
At this early stage, it’s hard to know whether WorldEnd will be able to stay its course and deliver something of real quality. Right now, it remains very much a case of strong tone and aesthetic trumping plot - it’s clear this is going to be a slow burn of a show, gradually building toward a carefully considered end-game. In a season already crowded with other, similar fantasy titles, WorldEnd has its work cut out for it - but with a nudge or two in the right direction, it feels like it could turn out very nicely indeed.
You can currently watch WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? in streaming form on Crunchyroll.