I’m Standing on a Million Lives

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I honestly watched this show this year because I knew Chiwa Saito was playing Kahabell (the sadistic knight if you’re not super familiar with the names yet). I have some mixed feelings about it. Anything she touches I’m going to like usually, but if I took her out of it, I still am confused between liking this anime and just thinking it was average. The characters are just okay, the story has potential, and the artwork is good. Writing this just after S1 concluded, they announced S2 at the end of Ep12, so I find myself looking forward to that!

Characters

Rating: 5

On the typical side, all the main characters are middle school age. I usually don’t like this, for any number of reasons, and a lot of that shows up here. A lot of emotional and moral and ethical confusion. While that can add tension, it’s all but guaranteed with immature characters pressed into complex situations. It gets a little tired as a theme as well. However, for only twelve episodes, the characters get a decent amount of development, and you can get some connection to them. Yes I like Kahabell (Kahaberu? there’s some confusion English to Japanese apparently) because of her voice, and her desire to slice stuff is fun.

Yuusuke has the most potential. As I write this we’re only through the first season, so there hasn’t been a lot of time to develop him. Mostly, the title combined with his attitude towards his homeworld gives a great opportunity to add depth to him. I don’t know if there’s manga to this one, and I never read those anyway (so sue me), so maybe he’s already experienced that development. But in the anime, he hasn’t, and the opportunity is right there. His difficulty dealing with the fact that he killed someone is a tired theme, though understandable given Yuusuke’s age (part of my issues with characters this age, the inevitability of these dilemmas). But it does lend itself, in this case, to Yuusuke’s development. He finds himself in a similar place to Light Yagami (you know it, Death Note), where he’s faced with a choice of judging humanity and acting on it or not. While that theme is (obviously) not new, it remains to be seen how he could possibly undertake such actions, either way. He’s in an “alternate reality” (another tired theme, but we’ll go with it here), so does his hatred for his own world extend into the alternate version of it? And if so, why and what form will that take? He’s already witnessed the similarities to what he hates in his world in the other. I do hope this develops in an interesting way. If it takes the same route as Death Note, it will automatically be overshadowed by that, making a very difficult uphill climb to become great. Not impossible, but Death Note is a fixture in anime, no matter your opinion of it. Comparisons to it, in this type of theme, are inevitable. Ooh, maybe inevitability will be the theme, hence the Death Note similarity? Just a thought.

The reaper depiction and the mass of bodies adds to the mystery. I won’t dive into this too much right now. I hope that’s not misleading, and that some meaning can come from it. We shall see July 2021!

I like Iu and the otaku girl Yuka, but they neither had development enough or really heartfelt moments to make them super memorable. Not yet. They definitely had some scenes where I thought they were going to become those feely type of characters, but they didn’t quite get there for me.

Artwork

Rating: 8

It’s good. It’s an “A” for sure. Nothing super special. The quality is quite good, but the design is not exceptional. As typical of isekai, lots of competing colors and flashy scenery. It’s a little darker than some isekai, appropriately so given the themes and circumstances. Nothing jumps out at me particularly about any of the characters either as far as design goes. Detail is somewhere between very detailed and not enough at some times. It doesn’t quite scream “isekai” or drama, but falls in between sort of. Perhaps it adds to the tension they seem to be attempting to build.

Story

Rating: 6

As mentioned, there’s some tired themes running through this one. Some of them reveal themselves fairly late in S1, which causes some worry, as it feels like these themes might remain and attempt to answer some of the questions that the first two-thirds of S1 left us with. Here’s hoping they blossom into something more interesting.

I like this interesting twist on isekai. Completing quests like its a game, yet it’s actually a parallel reality, all under the watch of some powerful futuristic being. It has that same feeling as Tower of God in that way, but it’s different in the game aspect. The tension created in the last two quests was well done, even if they felt a little unsatisfying and bizarre at their resolution. Uncertainty is a bit of a theme, perhaps unintentionally. If it is intentional, it’s nicely done, as this iteration of isekai does seem to be dealing with death themes heavily. Death and uncertainty around what comes thereafter are powerful themes, particularly in anime and Japan in general. So I don’t mind “uncertainty” and the suspense that goes with it being present in isekai.

What I hope is that this doesn’t keep resolving all those loose ends with weak or blah resolutions, and that the authors don’t simply seek to resolve all loose ends just for the sake of resolving them. Again, the uncertainty, the lack of answers, can be a useful theme here, whether the anime continues or ends. I do not, not, not want another Lelouch situation where every little unknown gets resolved, and some in ways that are downright silly. Hey, Lelouch and Death Note make an appearance together again!

Overall: 6

I’ll likely do some broad editing on this review after S2 comes out. There are definitely some open-ended themes happening here, and interesting resolutions will perhaps serve to raise my rating. For now, I was not super interested in this series as it continued week to week. I did want to see where things would go, with the little mysteries that would emerge episode to episode. But it wasn’t so interesting that I was counting the days between new episodes. I wasn’t waking up in the morning and putting this on, which I definitely do at times.

This anime could become lots of different things. I don’t think it can become a great, but it could become really good depending on what happens in S2. But I also think it could become very vanilla and ordinary. We saw some hints at new characters for S2. While I like the look of some of them, there is a little problem emerging from the story in this regard: every quest they add a participant. So by quest number 12, we’ll have 12 characters on the main team. That’s AoT territory, and it even has trouble handling all that. Or, they’ll have to eliminate certain characters. That would take this anime into new territory, and they’ll have to be careful. Right now, the threat of everybody dying by failing the quests (or all dying and not reviving) hangs over everyone, but there’s been no hint of a single character dying in the real world. Of course, they could just change the rules of the game and not continue adding new participants every new quest. That would be too convenient and I would start to lose interest. Lastly, of course they could just limit the number of quests, either by ending the “game” or by making the quests take a really long time. Either of these wouldn’t be great choices, as the former would kind of be a letdown (only 6 levels? huh?) and the latter would make the series drag too much.

Well, we’ll know more later next year. I’ll update this afterwards. Thoughts, rages, effusions of emotion, and all else are welcome below!

2 thoughts on “I’m Standing on a Million Lives

  1. I haven’t seen this anime, it’s piqued my interest though. It’s a good review, that doesn’t spoil too much?. I read your about page, go for it if you want to just focus on reviews. Nothing wrong with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah unfortunately “reviews” often entail spoilers. Though they are kind of aimed at those who have seen the show. I should put more cautions upfront for those that haven’t seen these shows yet! Hey thanks for the encouragement! Not a lot of people have been through here yet, so you are one of the first few.

    Like

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