Anime Review: Girls Beyond the Wasteland (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 30.07.2017

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Girls Beyond the Wasteland (UK Rating: 12)

Girls Beyond the Wasteland is - quite fittingly - based on a visual novel game; a fairly recent one, in fact, as it was released in 2015. It was surprising to see a game get an adaptation so quickly; perhaps the quality was so high it warranted it? This story is all about a high schooler named Hojo Buntaro that finds out the world of game development is an interesting one. It's not something he had ever been interested in; while his friends have their interests and clubs, he was content to just laze around and work part-time jobs. Then, after adapting a yuri story into a school play, though, he catches the eye of the stoic and aloof Kurada who pulls Hojo into a world he never expected. This complete collection is out on 31st July and comes courtesy of MVM.

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Hojo thinks he's lucked in when Kurada invites him to a date in Yokohama, but it turns out this date is more of an interview. If this sounds familiar, it's a premise seen ridiculously often, quite recently here on Cubed3, in fact, with Amagi Brilliant Park. Kurada isn't introducing Hojo to a world of magical beings - she has a much simpler desire. Kurada has a dream to create a Bishoujo game and after seeing Hojo's work on the school play, she wants to enlist his help as the writer of her game. A game takes a lot more than a duo, though, and Kurada has secretly set up the "Marketing Research Club" to gather a full team to make the Bishoujo game she always wanted. Hojo is also tasked with finding the rest of the team, too, and soon enough this is a slice of life, coming of age tale of a group of strangers becoming friends and a team, all working towards a united goal.

Even with being a short season - there are only 12 episodes - the first episodes absolutely speed through storylines. The first sets up the premise to the series. The second element sees Hojo begin looking for the other staff members - a team that requires a writer, a producer, an animator, a programmer, a CG artist, and a voice actor. At first, this is hinted to be quite the arduous task as Hojo attempts to recruit some seemingly useless individuals - it seems perhaps this gathering of individuals will be the core of many episodes. Nope. The entire situation is wrapped up in the same episode. The third episode introduces fractures already in the young team, again all of which are wrapped up by thr episode's end… Plot points of Hojo suffering from writer's block and their artist suffering from exhaustion are wrapped up in under 10 minutes each.

Despite these first episodes starting strong, the series quickly degenerates into tired tropes and trite clichés. Yes, there's a trip to the beach, and hot springs! The characters redeem it - somewhat - thanks to some funny personalities, yet even if they also fall back on some age-old archetypes. First introduced are Hojo's childhood friends of Yuka and Atomu; Yuka is part of the drama club and so steps up to performing as the voice actress for the game. She's the classic over friendly, over energetic tomboy character. Atomu seems quiet and friendly but has a secret dark side from being dumped that pours out in waves of darkness from time to time; it makes for some funny moments and it's a pity it isn't done more. There's the shy young girl trope in Yuki who turns out to be a massively popular Pixiv artist and so takes on the artist role. Despite her quiet demeanor, she's quite the pervert, but keeps it under wraps. Fellow pervert, Ando, does not keep it under wraps; she's a Fujoshi and heavily into her BL, and she becomes the programmer.

These fun characters manage to make some funny and enjoyable episodes. At one point, Hojo falls so far behind with his writing that he won't be able to meet his deadlines and so the group locks him in under house arrest until he finishes. There's also quite a charming romance that develops over the series, but is never really given enough time or attention. The finale gives a last burst of interest, too, as a rival game developer appears and attempts to steal the members of the team before becoming a challenge, and so the group has to come together to overcome this.

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Girls Beyond the Wasteland's adaptation was produced by Project No.9 with some very mixed quality. The character designs look good and the environments are gorgeous. Many anime series incorporate popular locations around Tokyo, changing up little details to ensure they don't step on trademarks and copyrights. Girls Beyond does a great job of translating some familiar locales into the show, getting even the smallest details spot on, making any Japanophile feel those homesick pangs and get them searching for cheap flights… From the layout of Akiba, to Yokohama's Hakkejima Sea Paradise, it's uncannily familiar. That being said, the animation looks very poor, and it really detracts from the art. Admittedly, this isn't a particularly dynamic series, so doesn't have a lot of fast movement, but every scene just looks frozen.

Rated 4 out of 10


An utterly forgettable and mediocre series punctuated by the odd enjoyable episode. Being a series based on the world of amateur doujinshi development, Girls Beyond the Wasteland could have been something like Bakuman, giving an insight into the world and industry. It completely misses this opportunity, though. There's also a fantastic pairing here with a romance waiting to bloom that just never does. It's also lacking on the extra features front, with only the clean opening/closing and Japanese dub. This is one that might indeed be worth skipping.

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