A beautifully sad parade of personalities. Too often anime uses cookie-cutter character types and doesn’t take the time to build real personalities in characters. Sometimes that works fine, but a lot of the time it’s frustrating. This show doesn’t have a single character that is obviously similar to another in the show, and frankly these girls are pretty unique in […]
A beautifully sad parade of personalities.
Too often anime uses cookie-cutter character types and doesn’t take the time to build real personalities in characters. Sometimes that works fine, but a lot of the time it’s frustrating. This show doesn’t have a single character that is obviously similar to another in the show, and frankly these girls are pretty unique in anime in general.
For that to be the number one thing I remember about this show means a lot for the characters, because this show has a ton of memorable aspects. And a heavy second on that list is, without a doubt, the heartbreaking sadness of this show. It’s spectacular, painful, magnificent. It’s odd to speak of sadness in those terms, but as long as drama exists in fiction, audiences often enjoy the kind of good cry shows like this can give. And this show can give one hell of a cry.
Some difficult subject matter follows, so be advised. Spoilers also present as usual.
The characters are the driving force in this show, without a doubt.
Four girls, all 14 years old (pretty sure about that), make up the main character group. This show falls squarely in the “coming of age” category, and these characters do a great job highlighting and accentuating the pains, both real and imagined, that girls often encounter growing up.
Ai Ooto is the mainest of the main characters. Like each of the four girls, she is dealing with the loss of a friend. Not a loss by accidental tragedy or by tearful departure to another place in life: by suicide. Her situation is quite complicated. Essentially, she had no friends in school, and was often bullied for her heterochromatic eyes. One girl was friendly towards her: a girl named Koito Nagase. Turns out this girl also didn’t have many friends, and Ai felt attached to her quickly. Both have had similar experiences, with bullying and otherwise. Things began to get complicated when both girls discovered each other’s attraction to one of the young male teachers at their school however, and this situation devolved into silent misunderstanding and Koito’’s eventual death. Thereafter Ai stops going to school and lapses into depression.
Ai is presented as an unsure but energetic girl, unhappy in her friendless state. It’s definitely obvious that the writers want viewers to see her as potentially suicidal, and certainly Koito fits that same mold. I won’t get too deep into the webs here. Instead I’ll highlight some nice points about this character.
The heterochromia thing is confusing. I don’t understand why it’s a point of her being bullied. I’m with Koito: I think it’s beautiful. Why only Koito and that aforementioned male teacher think that I do not know. As a design feature, Ai’s appearance is amazing. One amazing blue eye, one fantastic gold eye, she is a marvel to look upon. I won’t go all the way to ascribing attractiveness to her, as she’s only 14 years old and I won’t go there with a character of that age, but she should have been to anyone her age. It’s a glorious feature, and I didn’t understand why it was the reason she was bullied.
The name “Ai” was an interesting choice for this character. If I may speculate, I’d say this has to do with the main force behind her sadness. Each of the four main girls likely represents a different type of young girl, types which most often find themselves feeling suicidal. Ai’s type is the one who is challenged by “love” in almost every respect. Foremost is her situation with her family, which involves a slightly cold relationship with her mother, a father who is no longer in her life, and the newcomer to the family, the teacher Shuuichirou Sawaki, who also happens to be Ai’s love interest. A lot is going on here in the “love” realm.
First there is familial love. Ai struggles with this, wanting love and affection from her parents but only receiving some limited signs of “love” from her mother (despite her mother really caring a lot about her), with her father out of the picture. Then comes her youthful romantic love for her teacher, Sawaki-sensei. Young people, male and female, often struggle with a first love, giving it more weight in their minds and young hearts than they often should, but nevertheless the effect is often strong on the individual. Ai definitely has difficulty in this area, as not only is this “love” for her teacher a difficult matter by itself, for all the obvious reasons, but Sawaki-sensei is also dating Ai’s mother, and eventually they make plans to get married. To the mature viewer this is a chaotic mess, but to a young girl who finds herself in this situation it must feel like hell. I don’t know how Ai could deal with it if it wasn’t for her friendships with Koito and eventually the other three Wonder Egg girls and their dealings with that situation. It’s beautifully presented by the writers of this story.
Love is also challenged for Ai at school. Of course there is the absence of love present in those who bully her for her eye colors, but also there is Koito. Koito befriends Ai, and Ai loves her for it, but when Ai sees Koito herself being bullied, Ai won’t step forward to do anything to stop it. She watches in horror, experiencing fear, hypocrisy, hate, sadness, dejection, and love all at once. For a poor 14-year old girl, I cannot even begin to imagine the mental state this must put one in. Koito chooses a poor way to deal with it by allegedly killing herself. Ai is rescued from her sad and devolving state by the Wonder Egg project.
In the end, Ai’s situation with her mother improves dramatically. She mostly comes to terms with the situation with Sawaki-sensei. And through the twists and turns of the story, ultimately Koito’s situation is brought to a closure as well, if sadly. So through it all, Ai learns a lot about what it means to love and be loved, and how experiencing such powerful feelings at such a young age can so powerfully move people young and old.
This design and development is quite well done for her character, and I’m pretty sure it’s very intentional. Most of Ai’s character aspects seem very centered around the issue of how a young girl deals with “love,” in all its forms, for the first time as she comes of age. For the authors’ part, it shows great attention to detail and care. It’s insightful, believable, complex but understandable, and very, very human. It shows great understanding of human nature. Ai as a character is fun, heartfelt, and certainly very nice in every way, but it’s these details I see running through her character design that I like most about her. She’s a very well written character.
Rika Kawai is definitely my favorite character. You know I love the bad girl types. Rika is a former “junior idol,” I think is how it’s termed. Her friend that she fights for in the Wonder Egg world is a former fan, a poor schoolgirl named Chiemi who is overweight but loves Rika almost madly as a fan. This girl buys little gifts for Rika and always goes through the meet-and-greet line at Rika’s events. Rika discovers one day that the girl is stealing the items to give to her, as she doesn’t have enough money to buy them yet is obsessed with her idol Rika. To try and get her to stop stealing, Rika, instead of talking to her about it directly, decides to burst the poor girl’s bubble and make her stop being her fan. Rika insults her appearance and embarrasses her publicly to her face. Rika does succeed in bursting that bubble: overwhelmed by Rika calling her fat, the poor girl starves herself to death thereafter. Rika is haunted by this whole incident and gives up her work as an idol.
Rika has all the personality you’d expect for a “junior idol.” She’s at you all the time; she never met a stranger. I love her energy and her forceful personality and even her harsh demeanor and expressions. I think Rika represents the type of young girl who has a lot going for her but puts on a tough outward appearance to mask an overwhelming pain in her heart. If I recall correctly, Rika doesn’t enjoy the idol work, and seeing a fan abase herself and fawn over her when she nearly hates herself makes her snap.
Rika doesn’t recognize soon enough that Chiemi herself is going through something similar: she needs someone to latch on to, to look up to, to idolize. The poor girl has little to no money and is ugly and out of shape. Chiemi idolizes Rika as all the things she wishes she could be. But in Rika’s heart, she realizes she’s masking her own personality. An idol of course is all excited and happy and energetic on stage, whereas Rika didn’t feel any of that in her real self. I think it momentarily angers Rika that a fan would so idolize her public face when her private one seemed so ugly to herself. Chiemi sees the public Rika and loves it, Rika sees the private one and hates it, and doesn’t like that a fangirl likes the public version of her.
It’s hard to put on appearances. It takes a lot of energy and drains one’s life. It makes one unsure of what one’s true self looks like. One might begin to wonder whether the “fake” personality is the “real” personality and vice versa. For a 14-year old, this would be particularly difficult to deal with mentally. Even after Chiemi’s suicide and Rika’s involvement in the Wonder Egg project, Rika continues to project her lively personality at everyone, and yet at times we see her truer self peeking through, as she sits sulking silently, brooding over the unhappiness she’s experienced, grinding her teeth as she swears to avenge and resolve, the pain and rage in her young heart reaching unhappy levels that no one, much less a poor child, should have to go through.
She’s one of the saddest characters to me. All the girls have really sad aspects, and while Rika’s situation is not the saddest of the group, her personality is least capable of dealing with it. She projects strength but is always just one step from giving up. She pushes herself, wanting to be stronger, and it wears her down, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Many of us know what it’s like to wish we were different, whether we “have it all” or not. On top of all this, Rika now adds the burden of reviving her fan, trying to take responsibility for and undo her mistake in pushing Chiemi away. It’s quite a heavy situation for a single person to bear, but it’s a situation that only a single person can really bear. Rika creates her own unhappiness, makes it worse, and then has only herself to get herself out of it in the end. She doesn’t rely on her friends very well, and has to learn to let go of her troubles to allow them to help her. But even then this is mostly a problem she has to wrangle with alone, and it’s sad to watch.
Once again this is very well written. Not so well as Ai’s character, but still very nicely so. Again it show understanding and depth of thought and feeling in the writers. Plenty of young girls deal with this particular kind of insecurity that Rika feels, wanting to be different and putting on a face over what they think is ugly even when it really isn’t. Every viewer watching this show loves Rika. Not Rika the idol, not Rika the fighter, not Rika as she imagines herself, but the true Rika we see. We love the flashes of anger and frustration. We love that she only falls to her knees and cries out her eyes once no one can see her behind her closed door. We love that she’s friends with everyone from the moment she meets them. We even love her shameless lying about leaving her money behind and therefore needing to borrow it from her friends. We love that Rika. Her friends love that Rika. Rika has to learn to recognize herself and be herself and not try and be something she’s not. Many young people have to learn such things, and are heavily burdened by such insecurities until they overcome them, if they ever do. We see Rika and we understand and sympathize with this.
Momoe Sawaki represents another chasm that young girls often fall victim to: gender and appearance. To make it worse, almost always this type of insecurity is accompanied by that strongest physical force a young teenager must confront: sexuality. Momoe has a very boyish appearance, and a very attractive boyish appearance at that, and is adored by girls her age for it. It causes her a bit of confusion. But it’s not simply the adoration that causes the confusion. Girls want to go out with her. Boys don’t usually. She doesn’t fit into either world very well. Momoe only has one friend that sees her as a girl, and she becomes very attached to that girl as a result. She can just be “friends” with this girl, and it makes Momoe more at ease for once. She can just be herself with her best friend.
Until, one day, her friend crosses the line. Momoe’s friend declares her romantic love for Momoe, and not only that, tries to act on her sexual desires right then and there. Momoe runs away in fright and horror and heartbreak. Her one friend who saw her as a girl actually saw her as a love interest, even though she knew they were both girls. Momoe couldn’t take it and ran away from the scene. Her friend killed herself.
Oh world that inflicts pain on such innocents through such a precious and wonderful gift! Sexuality and gender and all that goes with that is such a powerful and amazing experience as we come of age, but so often it is misused, misunderstood, or outright abused, both by individuals on themselves and by others upon each other. It gets so bad with Momoe that you don’t know how she can stand it. During a late episode of the series, Momoe is finally asked out on a date by a boy. She can’t believe it, and is so excited as she pretties herself up as she prepares for her date. When she meets the boy for their date, he’s horrified when he sees her. He thought she was a boy! It breaks our hearts seeing Momoe tossed around so, even if it’s no one’s fault particularly.
This is the most accessible type for the writers in this modern age. Everybody wants to spotlight this issue these days, and usually mishandling it in the process. So there’s no end to the amount of material one could draw on from real-life examples of people dealing with issues of this kind. The biggest difference between all that noise and Momoe’s situation is that Momoe is not so much confused about her gender herself but is forced to live between worlds because of her appearance. Almost everyone mistakes her for a boy, whereas she knows she’s a girl. Still, misunderstandings about gender are very common among young people, and someone in Momoe’s situation would certainly feel troubled as she does. The writers do a good job molding a character around these issues with Momoe. I really like the anime tomboys anyway, so I’m immediately happy with this character, and I think it was a nice touch by the writers to design her so.
Finally there’s Neiru. Neiru is not a gyaru character, but has that characteristic tanned appearance. She’s a curious character, one I was not able to understand ultimately. Her storyline is also another unhappily recognizable situation from real life: siblings falling out and experiencing turbulent relationships as a result. Neiru’s younger sister attacked her and stabbed her in the the low back, why we are not told in the show. This sister killed herself right after the attack, and Neiru deals the pain of that event by saving the Wonder Egg children.
This is the only character I have a problem with in this series. First, I’m not sure what type she represents, if any. Neiru is the president of a giant corporation at age 14. Huh? She doesn’t seem to like people, nor seems to desire friends, nor seems to emote much at all until in the heat of the moment. She’s a little judgmental, but not terribly so. Her feelings are often hidden even from the viewer. She’s a mystery from the beginning to the end of the series. Why have a character that’s all mystery and nothing else? Even in the end, the show reveals her to be completely different from what we took for granted she was (no spoilers, though it’s not a huge deal here), and that attempted to explain some of her character points, still her character was confusing. The personalities of the other three girls are intricate but their plotlines can be discerned through all the unfolding of the story, but Neiru is just there and is Neiru. A lot about her character is unclear.
Neiru seems to play an enabler role as well, which places her centrally in the story while not involving her personally very extensively. She’s the connection to the shadowy organization Plati, or at least Japan Plati here. Plati basically is the link to all the events in the show, and certainly the remaining characters beyond these four main girls.
Before I get into those remaining characters, once more I will laud the parade of personalities this anime puts forward. Oftentimes shows with lots of different kinds of personalities juxtapose starkly different personalities. We all know series with great characters where one character is a wild and unrestrained but adorable nut and another character is an introvert who barely speaks above a whisper if you can even get them out of their room. While that’s sort of the case here—and I should add I have no problem with that range of variety in characters—these girls are both similar but different, both subtly and overtly. One can see outwardly how they’re different, and can see that they quite obviously share certain experiences and personality traits that naturally would make them friends. Sometimes people become friends in anime just because the author wants them so (or lovers, which we all know countless examples of). These girls obviously could be friends. But also you can look beneath the surface and see the intricacies of each girl, and you can recognize how these aspects both draw them together and also cause friction between them.
Neiru and Rika are a good example. They get on each others’ nerves a lot. Neiru is quiet, thoughtful, and observant, and doesn’t waver in her behavior regardless of the setting, while Rika is outwardly boisterous and reactionary, and privately fragile and prone to tears, all very opposite to Neiru. Yet the two are both very successful already in their lives, and understand the pressures of being successful and maintaining that success. Both have trouble expressing themselves sincerely, yet both of them have passionate feelings for their friends and the things they love. As much as they obviously differ, beneath the surface they share commonalities that would naturally make them friendly towards each other, and particularly when placed among other friends which help to deepen those bonds.
These four are a very nice set of main characters. They’re intricate and interesting, while also entertaining, fun, and heartfelt. Shoujo series like these often do a great job portraying friendships between girls, but I think this show does particularly well at it. Most of this has to do with the quality of the characters’ designs and their interaction with the overall storylines running through the series, and I cannot laud the authors enough for that.
Acca and Ura-Acca are the proprietors of the Wonder Egg system. Ura-Acca tells their entire story to Ai at one point, saying they were once human scientists who worked on secretive and fantastical projects (for an organization whose name I forget). On their own the founded Japan Plati, the Japan division of the secretive Plati organization. They’re mannequins of things now, just brains operating disposable bodies, or so I presume. Not much is told about them other than the parts pertinent to the story. They enable the girls to enter and engage with the Egg World, but don’t play much of a role other than that. They’re a little mysterious, but not in a sinister way ever. They’re simply there as main cogs for several main storylines.
One of those storylines is that they created an AI as a daughter. Frill, as she named herself upon her “birth,” is a very interesting character. A lot of details are packed into her, and yet she only appears in a couple of episodes, and only in flashbacks to the past. Yet she is central to all the events in the show.
Frill is a Frankenstein’s monster character type. Acca and Ura-Acca created her to be their own daughter (no odd sexual threads are woven into the plot here, which is interesting but satisfactory), and program her as—you guessed it—a 14-year old girl. She’s birthed from a chamber full of liquid and pipes and wires; very Frankenstein-esque. From there, everything is nice and normal about her life until Acca becomes interested in a woman. Then all hell breaks loose.
The Frankenstein aspect of this character is curious. It may simply echo the same themes that such a character always carries: humans attempting to create a life on their own inevitably create a monster. Still, it’s curious that the story should take this route with this character. Frill does eventually do some monstrous things that make her very inhuman, but could also arguably make her more human, just a very evil one. Such themes are inseparable from a Frankenstein-type character in the first place. It may not play a particular role in this show.
The most curious part about her character for me was the fact that she named herself. If the Frankenstein analogy is taken to its fullest extent, she wouldn’t have a name at all. But since Acca and Ura-Acca create her as a “family member,” as their daughter, one might expect them to name her themselves. Instead the dialogue makes a point of showing us that they want Frill to choose her own name, and indeed they do ask her “What is your name?” immediately once she’s birthed and shows signs of life. She then announces that her name is Frill, an inexplicable choice in my mind.
The choice of name is curious, but since I can’t divine any meaning behind it, I will let that matter lie for now. More interesting is the fact that Acca and Ura-Acca let her choose. Frankenstein’s monster isn’t named and never gets a chance to name itself, nor indeed seems to assign any importance to a name. The fact that Acca and Ura-Acca don’t name her themselves might play some role in the “inhumanness” of Frill, but I can’t discern any evidence for that in the show. Still, beyond that, the fact that she names herself screams that it’s significant. Unfortunately at this point I can’t find any reason behind this nor can I see how it plays a role in the show or the character. It’s interesting but undecipherable to me at this point. The only tiny thing I can hypothesize is some godlike aspect that Frill carries, something that’s partially supported by a curious connection to the Lain series (see the Story section below), but only with the weakest of connections. That is probably all just in my head too, and not something intentionally incorporated by the authors.
Then there’s the thing with Frill using the “companions” she created to enter the Egg World. These creatures, humanoid in body but with insects as heads, are AIs Frill herself created ostensibly as friends, but we only ever see them in the Egg World. I still don’t fully understand their role in the show. But that aside. Frill is also said to be the cause behind a lot of the suicides of young girls, something that stemmed from her original crime and Acca’s reaction to it (Story section). This also is interesting in a story sense, but I’m not sure how it plays into this character.
So as interesting and as apparently central to the story Frill is, she leaves me with more questions than answers. Perhaps this is something a second season of this series would shed some light on.
There are a lot of other characters that play brief roles in the show. Most of these are the Egg girls our four protagonists are helping in the Egg World. These girls are usually more suicidal types that the authors put on display here. Sometimes these girls help the four protagonist girls see through some of their own troubles, as they see parts of themselves or their experiences mirrored in these girls. It’s effective as a story element, but the characters themselves come and go in short succession, making little impact on the story overall or the viewer’s impressions.
You have the Wonder Killers. These are usually projections of some trauma inducing individual from the Egg Girls’ lives. These creatures are grotesque in form and malicious in intent. They’re hardly characters, but play more of a role as the object the girls have to fight. More on that later.
As many characters as this show contains, it’s pretty easy to keep up with the important characters. Mostly everything centers around the main four, and if it doesn’t, and more characters become involved in the story, it’s usually only very briefly, or revolves around one of the four main girls themselves, so it’s pretty easy to keep track of everybody. This is one of those show that handles a lot of characters very effectively, and I appreciate that kind of effort from the authors.
That being the case, I can evaluate these characters solely on my impressions of the four main girls and the few supporting characters around them. And it’s a very nice set of characters. The girls themselves are very good characters, and are well supported so that the focus remains on them and doesn’t distract to other characters. While I might not jump up and down and glorify these characters in overflowingly glowing terms, they are of the best quality. They are evocative and thought provoking, a worthy combination. I was very pleased with this aspect of Wonder Egg Priority.
The artwork is colorful, glistening, and a little unsettling.
By colorful I mean a couple of things. The first is obvious. There are lots of different, vivid colors in every frame. But I also mean it’s very bright. The lighting in this show is curiously bright given the otherwise depressing nature of the content. While the show makes use of shadowing, it’s not detailed. As in, large areas might be affected by shadows, but not little areas from bits of hair, etc. If some part of the drawing is in the light, the whole thing is in the light. This is particularly notable on the face, where the shadowing will show in one spot maybe, but often not at all.
It’s also very glossy, or glistening. These words can be interchangeable. This is tied into the brightness aforementioned. It’s somewhat unexpected given how dark this show is in many ways. The characters particularly are pretty glossy, and the eyes themselves are very glassy. I like this, as it highlights the eyes in this show, which is especially nice because of Ai’s heterochromia.
Why is it unsettling you ask? I think a lot of this has to do with the contrast between the brightness of the artwork and the darkness of the subject matter. Even in Ai’s darkest moments her face is often all lit up with surrounding light, her eyes gleaming brightly, and her phosphorescent hair clip standing out against her glossy bluish hair. Look at some of the images of Rika too. She’ll be mad as hell and yet you’ll see very little shadows anywhere in the frame. Even when the girls cry the tears are shiny, catching the light and sparkling.
Part of this feeling may also stem from the level of detail in the artwork. Lots of individual strands of hair are visible. The eyes have lots of eyelash detail, and certainly lots of details within the colored parts of the eyes as well. Clothing has far more shadowing than any other visible item, showing all the contours and wrinkles. Landscapes, either in the real world or the Egg World, are very detailed. Real world imagery sometimes looks so real I wonder if it actually is filmed from the real world (at least one part of the opening is a real photograph) with animation placed on top of it. We see that occasionally in anime.
It’s difficult to say exactly why the show’s artwork feels unsettling. I can point at aspects like those above, but that doesn’t capture exactly what I mean by this. It gives me a similar feeling that certain other anime have, anime which are meant to disturb the viewer just a little with their artwork. The first that come to mind are Parasyte and Clannad. Parasyte is horror of course, and uses all the fine detail and sharp edges to enhance that aspect. Clannad is the poster child for those bizarre faces we once saw a lot of in anime, where the eyes are monstrously big compared to everything else on the face, and the mouth is crammed right up against the nose, if it’s visible at all. The artwork in both of those shows is slightly unsettling, and is supposed to be. I get a very similar feeling from this artwork.
All that said, I like this artwork. Given this genre (keep reading) it makes sense to have bright and somewhat mysterious artwork. Beyond all that however, the artwork is just very pretty. The colors are exciting and pleasing to the eye, regardless of whether the scenery is normal or bizarre. And the animation is wonderful. This anime is a remarkable visual experience in some ways, and feels a little different somehow. I like it.
There are a lot of moving parts in this story. Some of them are mysterious, some obvious, some are tied off nicely, others are open-ended. Some are interesting, some make you scratch you head. It’s a curious mix for a curious show.
The main premise is that these four girls are fighting against the problem of suicide in young girls. The fighting is done in the Egg World, a place they access through dreams, where they fight malicious enemies large and small in order to relieve the hurt caused to the real girls who are victims of these assaults, in real world form of course, in real life.
Within that, there are a lot of individual plot threads. Ai’s situation with her family and her young love for her teacher is a big one. The other girls have their individual situations as well that make up their own plotlines. Beneath all of this is Acca and Ura-Acca’s plotline with Frill and the causes behind young girls’ suicides. And within it all is a lot of curiosity and mystery.
Each girl’s individual plotline is mostly resolved. They all seem at peace, to one extent or another, with the situation as it results. Acca and Ura-Acca themselves are no longer a mystery, despite their unusual role in the overall tale. The unresolved parts are the most curious.
Frill and her connection to everything is the most unresolved. Once Frill falls out with Acca and Ura-Acca over her murdering poor Acca’s wife, she becomes interconnected with reality through an unknown means. The two men don’t discover this until their daughter commits suicide one day. Himari, Acca’s natural daughter with his deceased wife, at the age of 14, has a surprising conversation with Ura-Acca one day, playfully speaking of marrying him one day. This conversation is unusual enough as it is, but it is a 14-year old girl after all. It’s not that unusual in that sense. The conversation is light, without disagreement or disturbance, as Ura-Acca brushes it off as the ramblings of a teenager. What’s unusual is how it ends: with Himari popping her lips in exactly the same bizarre manner as Frill was accustomed to doing.
Ura-Acca was instantly alarmed when he saw this. Himari killed herself that same evening, with no explanation as to why. Frill had been locked in a casket-like box that was recessed into the earth for all fourteen years of Himari’s life up to that point. Acca and Ura-Acca had basically forgotten about her. When Ura-Acca visits this unhappy place after Himari’s death, he finds all manner of wires and electrical connections running into the box, and Frill alive if somewhat dazed and sleepy inside it. Ura-Acca hauls her out of the box as she muses airily to him as they walk. In some faraway place where no one will discover the truth, Ura-Acca burns Frill to her death. We don’t see this happen, but we see the fire engulfing a structure, and Frill is no longer with Ura-Acca as he watches the blaze.
Yet somehow this all exacerbates the situation with 14-year old girls in the world. Their suicides continue, and Acca and Ura-Acca begin to make the connection between these suicides and Frill. Apparently all of this has something to do with the Egg World and Frill and her bizarre assistants, those ugly girl-like creatures with insects as heads, who reference Frill as if she were living at least once. Hence the story we are introduced to.
To finish with Frill: none of this is resolved. The Egg World continues to exists, we never actually meet Frill in the Egg World, nor in the present as a matter of fact, and as far as we know that situation endures. We don’t know how Frill “got into” that world. We don’t know how Acca and Ura-Acca discovered that world and entered it. We don’t know why Frill is so hostile to 14-year old girls. That might be some kind of self-hatred plotline, but it’s not obvious in the story. Why all this mystery?
The Egg World itself is largely unexplained. The girls enter it though “dreams,” but have to “purchase” their “eggs” in the real world from Acca and Ura-Acca. The eggs contain a “girl” who presumably has committed suicide. Saving them means the girls return to life. By saving these girls, our four main girls incrementally work towards actually reviving the four girls they originally got involved with this Egg business for in the first place. Once they save enough girls, their individual friends revive in the real world. However, not only can they not interact with their friends in the Egg World because they disappear shortly after reviving (back into the real world), but on top of that, one of Frill’s assistants always shows up and brutally murders the Pomanders, the animal creatures that help our four main girls fight the mobs of grotesque enemies in the Egg World. And then on top of all that, once the main girls return to reality, their person they were fighting for that they just revived doesn’t remember them at all.
What on earth? There are more questions than answers in all of this. What is the Egg World? How are the girls “saved?” Why don’t Koito, Chiemi, etc., remember Ai and Rika, etc., after reviving? Why do the girls have to save multiple girls to revive their friends? Why the depressing turnout in the end?
I don’t know. It’s all rather mysterious, and certainly interesting to watch and think about, but I can’t find any answers to these questions. As a story matter, it all seems intricate and interesting, like there’s some good reason behind all of it. But I can’t see through it all right now. The thing with Frill has those Frankenstein elements, aforementioned, but it also brings to mind Serial Experiments Lain and the Wired, which is an odd similarity given that technology doesn’t seem to play a huge role in this show outside of Acca and Ura-Acca’s work. Unless of course all of this is technological in some way, which might make sense, given another of the unexplained mysteries of this show, the catatonic Kotobuki Awano, who lies in a vegetative state in Neiru’s home. Kotobuki has some connection to all this, having visited these “parallel worlds” or whatever, and through some technological means.
I have to cut that short there. You kind of see the issue here. The more you dig down into it, the deeper it sucks you in, and the less you end up learning. It gets more and more confusing. The last straw is the final special episode where, apparently, we’re told the Neiru is actually an AI herself. I was totally lost at this point, and my mind didn’t want to keep thinking about it.
It’s a lot of trouble to think through all this, so I don’t try anymore. I fault this anime for this a little. Mysteries should be explainable. They shouldn’t be so obscure as to defy resolution. Otherwise they’re just mysteries and nothing more, which is exactly what happens here. Audiences are forced to just accept that they don’t have the answers and move on. Perhaps that’s not unreasonable: life is full of such things, and perhaps the authors want us to see that reflected in their work. Nor do I require explanations for everything in a show. But this seems like a little too much here. The final thing with Neiru made me begin to feel like a lot in this show was just thrown in there somewhat randomly, without any overall plot in mind. That makes me a little dissatisfied if that is the case.
However, two things smooth this story over for me. The first is that, as complex as it is and as much as it invites the viewer to try and solve the possibly unsolvable, it’s fun to watch. It makes enough sense as it flashes by, and helps support the characters themselves, who are at the center of this tale. Second, seeing so many unresolved plot points makes me think a second season is in order. So I can forgive some open-ended plot threads if I’m sensing another season coming up at some point. As long as that happens I can worry less about all the answer to all the mysteries of this show.
So in the end I am satisfied with the story for now. I get it well enough, and it provides a nice enough framework to show off the wonderful characters.
Hawk, you didn’t say anything in the Artwork section about the grotesque creatures in the Egg World. Patience, dearest reader, patience. There’s a reason I didn’t bring it up until now.
That reason is because I wanted to consider the grotesque Egg World in the genre context. Four young girls meet some rather curious characters who grant them powers to access an alternative reality where they fight bizarre monsters in surreal environments trying to free real people from harm. They fight using fantastical weapons with immense, unnatural powers. Well, yeah Hawk, that’s exactly what happens in this show. So what?
It’s also what happens in all magical girl anime. Because this is mahou shoujo.
Interestingly, most sources that talk about this show don’t classify it as mahou shoujo. But it definitely is. This adds another bit of explanation to the unsettling feeling in the artwork, but also to the mystery of the show in general. It also explains the centrality of the characters. The writers pulled a page out of the majou shoujo playbook for this show. I’m not sure why people don’t often consider this as mahou shoujo. It has all the signs of it to me.
That’s probably my most interesting takeaway from this show. Most people associate magical girl shows with bright colors, ganbare attitudes, blinding positivity, and lively young girls. But this show basically has all that anyway, just it’s very sad and not so positive. But more and more, we see that mahou shoujo shouldn’t just be happy little girls triumphing over witches. More and more often in modern anime we see it as extremely emotional. Between this show and something like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the sensitive viewer would be bedridden with depression for days. I can’t imagine anyone plopping their little daughters down in front of these shows for an hour of uplifting entertainment. Mahou shoujo is growing up fast, and experiencing all the pains of that age as it does. It’s an extremely sad viewing experience.
But I don’t mind this. I love Madoka for its powerful emotional elements, and I love how powerful the emotional aspects of Wonder Egg Priority are. Mahou shoujo, if nothing else, should always be heartfelt and pretty. That doesn’t have to mean frilly outfits and puffy clouds with rainbows and happy endings. It can mean the emotional rollercoasters that young girls often experience as they come of age. Friendship is not just sisterhood: it’s misunderstandings, miscommunication, unintentional injury to fragile young hearts, and the love that can grow out of resolving those differences. Those are very human experiences, and mahou shoujo, despite it all, is a very human genre in anime. It is very beautiful to watch in that sense.
I like this show. Despite all the odd elements and the bits of confusion I’m left with, overall I seriously appreciate the beautiful display of humanity that’s put forward in this series. I hope for another season. As of now (June 2022) I haven’t heard news of this, and it’s been a year since this show aired. I sure hope we get another season. I’d love to see these girls finally overcome their tribulations and resolve all the mysteries. It’d be great to see them come of age, growing stronger having overcome these turbulent events. Such is my hope for all who go through difficulties, both in the world of anime and the real world outside.