Mayoiga

November 6, 2016

Sick and tired of your life? Can’t seem to get it right? Societal norms and pressures of society aren’t doing anything good to you? Well, why not throw it all away and start life anew in a village far, far away that doesn’t exist on any map. That way, you can live your life the way you want without anybody telling you what to do. Live life the way you deem fit and to your liking. Wow. Sounds like a good deal. This seems to be the case for Mayoiga. A group of seemingly disgruntled young people with their own problems in life deciding to run away from it all by taking this once in a lifetime tour to redo their life from scratch. A society they can call their own cut off from the rest of the world. But will it be that simple and straightforward? You know how shady and small those small finer prints are especially if you’re staking it all from an unknown online source. Because it may look like paradise at first until something sinister seems to be lurking beneath it all. And you can’t call the police or your local ghostbusters to help you because nobody knows where you are. Heck, they don’t even know if you even exist anymore.

Episode 1
A group of 30 people believed to have discovered a secret website beneath all that coding are on a bus heading to Nanaki Village. Dahara is their tour guide and host as each of them introduce themselves and their goals. Basically, many of them are facing some sort of hardship and want a new start in life. This village is rumoured by online circles where people have gone vanished but in fact is believed to start a new life for themselves. After some discuss the few theories of its existence, they start singing a weird hippo song. Really. It’s weird. As the bus takes a break, Hayato talks to Mitsumune that he is sceptical of this tour because really, everyone else is a weirdo and that it is like some tour for overly self-conscious sickos to make friends. It is believed Mitsumune escaped from the cram school his parents sent him and wants to redo his life again. Mitsumune thought Masaki is having some sort of sickness. She talks about weird stuffs before her motion sickness catches up. He returns to the bus to get some pills. He notices Lion still at her seat and asks her why she joined this tour. She is not obliged to tell him but warns and hopes they don’t end up cannibalizing each other. The bus ride resumes. They play really weird bus games like how Mitsumune needs to read out his imaginary suicide note. That is when the bus driver tells them off young ones that they don’t know about life. Doing this is just irresponsible. Everyone has varying degrees of hardship but people his age tough it out. In his eyes, they’re like babies. Angry Valkana shuts him up to do his job because they pay him to drive and not lecture. After Mitsumune has some time bomb-cum-suicide nightmare, the driver loses his cool. He starts speeding in the rain and complains about his life. Economic downturn, no overtime pay, mother calls him for money, blah, blah, blah. So you guys want to start over? How about we start over and leave this world by dying happily together in an accident? Some of the guys beat up the driver but as Masaki tries to stop the fight, the driver steps on the brakes before they crash, causing her to vomit all over him. While cleaning up and resting, they hear a weird music coming out from a clock. Koharun explains it is Nanaki Village’s traditional nursery song and Dahara introduces her to everyone as the one who discovered the village’s location. Valkana shuts her up and tells her off that she is not in charge. The journey continues and soon they will be crossing a bridge directly into Nanaki Village.

Episode 2
The path becomes bumpy and dark. The bus slides off the slope. You mean they have to push it all the way back up?! This is when the group becomes divided into encouraging the driver to go ahead when he warned them it was dangerous. Mikage then tells everyone to give their money to him. Since they are going to start a new life, they are not going to use the currency anymore. He hopes the driver will be happy and not rat out on this village. Otherwise they will testify he stole their money and abandoned them. Nanaki Village is just walking distance away so everyone starts trekking. Mitsumune wants to help Masaki but Hayato warns about his habit of falling in love easily. Lion thinks the guys are dating since they are so close but Mitsumune clarifies that Hayato is his best friend and always saved him from being bullied. The group is scared when they see huge bear treks so they make haste till they arrive at the village. Everyone is happy to arrive but something feels odd. It feels like the entire place is abandoned and not a single soul around. They split up in groups to get more clues and ascertain this is the correct village. From the dust piling up and rusted things, it is probably abandoned for a year. They start theorizing if the villagers abandoned it or all died or being executed. Maimai seems to flirt with Mitsumune. But when he is relieved that he didn’t fall for her, she takes it as an insult. Too late to apologize. Everyone is shocked when the bus driver returns. He thinks he needs to watch the kids as an adult but they think he decides to abandon his lousy life and join them. Nanko and Mikage then question Koharun. If Nanaki Village is said to be a village that cannot be located, how did she find the place? Koharun claims she has been doing intensive research and even visited sites but all were duds. One day she got a mysterious email that detailed this location. Of course that email is in her laptop and she didn’t bring it since there is no signal and wouldn’t need it. Mikage finds that unbelievable. Suddenly Valkana and his group rush back. It seems Masaki and Yottsun have vanished.

Episode 3
Everyone goes to look for Yottsun but couldn’t find him. Puuko’s scream alerts everyone. There is a huge claw mark with blood on the tree. Time to freak out. They hear growling noises too. As they run, Mitsumune trips. That’s where he sees Masaki cowering in fear by a tree. She is interrogated as she recounts Yottsun wanted to bring her somewhere. Then he spotted something and left by himself. Since he didn’t return, she tried to look for him and slipped. She couldn’t remember the rest. Many do not believe her story but Mitsumune stands up for her. The group becomes divided if they should leave or stay but unless all of them want to get out of here, the driver won’t leave. Mad Valkana tells off everyone it is this moment they find out who their friends and traitors are. A few guys go help him continue look for Yottsun. Masaki isn’t grateful for Mitsumune sticking up to her. She tells him not to do so again or he will be cut off from the group. Hayato tells Mitsumune to stop sucking up to her. It’s that I-told-you-so talk again and all Mitsumune have to do is listen to what Hayato says to avoid getting bullied. After the rest assign sleeping quarters, they go get some food. There is a vegetation farm nearby and oddly it feels as though they’ve been tended to properly till yesterday. Hyouketsu blames Jack for his overlapping character and initiates a silly argument. This has Jack returning with a hoe and tries to kill him! Luckily he is restrained and tied up. It is then Maimai recognizes Jack as her old classmate. Rumour had it that he had an attitude problem and stabbed a classmate. He was sent away for juvenile detention. Some are calling him to be executed but Valkana shows them a secret underground prison cell which he found where they can put Jack for the time being. Koharun believes Valkana is taking this too responsibly although his reply is that he doesn’t want to be made a scapegoat. Valkana reveals he was a freelance engineer and was made a scapegoat by the company when his system failed. Koharun believes he doesn’t want to be alone. Otherwise he wouldn’t have joined this tour and ignore all interpersonal relationships. That night when Mitsumune can’t sleep and makes his way to Jack’s prison, he sees Maimai. Lovepon thinks they are going to execute Jack and she eagerly wants to help. She becomes crazy when they’re not as she talks about nipping the problem in the bud or tragedy will befall everyone. She then tries to kill Mitsumune by drowning him. He manages to escape but sees a corpse floating ahead.

Episode 4
Everyone returns to the river trying to find Yottsun’s body but could it be Mitsumune just imagined things? Because it is dark and the scary roar in the background, everyone returns to the village to discuss if there was a bear or a tiger or whatever lurking around. Mikage suggests leaving this place since it is too dangerous but Masaki disagrees that they are safer here than going back. She doesn’t know why but she feels so. In the end, Mikage and many decide to leave tomorrow. Only a handful remain. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune wants to stay and the friends argue and part their ways. That night, Mikage talks to Valkana that Yottsun’s killer might be among them. Somebody trying to live out his/her dream of becoming a mass murderer. He suspects Koharun as she knew the place and wasn’t initially on the tour bus. She might be in cahoots with the previous villagers. He also feels Masaki knows something and won’t tell them. Mikage’s group try to push the bus out but it is still dark. They can’t go back to the village now as it will be dark and dangerous then. So they start trekking as far as they can before the sun sets. As they trek and map their progress, things seems to be going great for some time until they realize they are back to where they started. They followed the map accurately but something feels off. It gets scarier when the roar is louder and they get a jump scare when they see Jack in a distance (it was briefly shown his prison cell is empty). Hyouketsu fears he is here to kill him and runs but slips. Since the driver is acting suspicious, Valkana and Koharun tail him. They see him trying to call out to somebody but nab him. Mitsumune thought he could get closer to Masaki and tells his real name. It’s Mitsumune. Instead, she cried. Huh? Mikage’s group almost drop into the abyss but spots an old rail line. Following it leads to a tunnel. But then they see the scariest sh*t ever. What’s this about a large Mitsumune Maimai saw?! Koharun and Valkana interrogate the driver of who he was looking for. Misato. His daughter who died 10 years ago.

Episode 5
The driver adds he wants to take Misato home with him. Just then Mikage’s group makes it back to the village. After checking the cell and confirming Jack is gone, everyone starts discussing about Hyouketsu who fell off the cliff. They can’t even remember this dude’s name! Mikage starts making his accusations to everyone when everyone is being inconsistent with their stories of the roar. That is when Lion freaks out. She points out Mitsumune is a ghost! Wait. What?! She saw him vanished for a while! She says she has the ability to see dead people. The driver becomes desperate in wanting to confirm Misato. That is when Mikage and co get even more suspicious and want to know more about it. Lovepon insists on executing Mitsumune and Maimai as she accuses them of freeing Jack. But since everyone is tired, it is suggested everyone hits the sack. Mitsumune thanks Maimai for standing up for him but she insists she is doing it or else she will be suspected too. Mikage, Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta discuss the suspicious people and plan to capture one of them to interrogate. A few girls sweet talk Mitsumune into helping to guard their quarters while they sleep. Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta are waiting to take him down when Lion comes to talk to Mitsumune. He praises her supernatural power but she reveals it was a lie and took advantage of him. Because the situation was getting out of hand and people were being stupid arguing over stupid things. Mitsumune is impressed and allows her to use him in such cases but she is not impressed with his goody two shoes nature of accepting and playing along with everyone. What Lion didn’t say is that she can see people who are going to die. Once Mitsumune is alone, the trio nab him. In the cell, Lovepon can’t wait to torture him. But they smell fire and escape. Masaki returns to help cut Mitsumune loose. There is something she needs to talk to him about. Suddenly there is this giant monster appearing before Mitsumune whom he recognizes as Tokimune.

Episode 6
Lovepon runs off by herself. She sees a demon mask haunting her! Flashback reveals a depraved monk used to visit her mom. In return for money to clear her debts, she offered sex and alcohol (the brand is a demon mask). Lovepon didn’t like how she also abused her mom so one day she put the bottle on the stairs to make him trip and fall down. The monk then started beating her while she screams execution. When the rest look for Lovepon, now Nyanta sees her fears. Though the rest sees nothing, Nyanta runs away when a zombie hornet is on her tail! Her story tells she was bullied by her classmates. To get her little thrill of revenge, she bought an airsoft gun and sniped at them. It was all fun till she was caught. The bullies tie her up under a hornet’s nest and started shooting at it. Now it’s Jigoku’s turn. He is running away from a gel monster?! It was his dream to join the rangers and posted his solitary training online. Though, many panned how stupid he was. To make up for his required height, he put a breast gel on his head. He failed to get in. What about Mikage? He is telling all those laughter to stop. He was in charge of promoting some toy train. He was very confident about it although the executives were cautious and don’t want to end up embarrassed with a big failure. Mikage dared gamble it will be successful so they put their trust in him. On event day, the toy trains didn’t arrive because of a simple error he made in the delivery date. No doubt Mikage got chewed out and everyone laughed at him. So now a demon train is after his ass?! The rest heard gun sounds in the forest and go look for the missing ones. They manage to round up Lovepon, Nyanta and Jigoku but all give different accounts of their stories. It confuses everyone. Koharun starts singing the nursery song and analyzes how it is all related to this. She then shows them an article on Masaki. She went missing many years ago at Yanagase Village which is the village they passed before entering Nanaki Village. They fear she might be a ghost.

Episode 7
Mitsumune had another twin brother, Tokimune. Both are like day and night. Mitsumune was neat and nice while the other was messy and naughty. Tokimune was playing dangerously on a wall when he fell off. Mom was not able to accept his death and started going crazy. She sees Mitsumune as Tokimune and the entire family has no choice but to play along. This goes on long enough till he is in high school. She became very protective of him and before Mitsumune knows it, he became Tokimune. That is why he joined this tour to live as himself. So a reason Mitsumune liked Masaki was because she was the first person who really liked his real name. She brings him to the tunnel, a place that could leave Nanaki Village. However she warns him she must confront his inner enemy and she will be waiting at the other side. She notes his hand is the warmest among the rest. Mitsumune is paralyzed in fear as he sees the giant penguin toy he calls Tokimune. Masaki just ran right through it. Unfortunately Mitsumune is too chicken to face it. But he received a punch in the guy! So is the monster real?! He runs back to the village. Mikage chides everyone for not wanting to talk about the monsters because they always avoided the subject. Everyone concludes that Masaki is a ghost bringing monsters here to kill them. Many are afraid to deal with the monsters. Maimai explains she and her best friend fell in love with the same guy. He looked similar to Mitsumune (hence, that giant Mitsumune). When she started dating him, her best friend shunned her. Her other friends turned against her and eventually she was dumped. Therefore she is not going back to society. This gives everyone hope to kill the monsters so they can continue staying here. This means they must kill Masaki. When Mitsumune wanders back into the village, everyone plays nice with him to get more details. After he tells them what happened, he is quickly put to bed. The others are getting ready to exorcise the ghost. Stakes? Cross? Salt? You think these would work? As they wait for her at the tunnel, Masaki pops up. Lion and Nanko are the only ones against this witch hunt as they go warn Mitsumune. Masaki is tied at the stake and tortured. Lovepon is obsessed about killing her but this is where many draw the line. They can’t just stab her. Hayato then does the honours to stab her as he blames her for seducing and brainwashing Mitsumune. In his haste, he cuts her arm. It’s bleeding. Do ghosts bleed? Mitsumune is not happy to see this and punches Hayato. Hayato is still bent on killing her so Masaki can’t bear to see Mitsumune suffer anymore and will tell everything.

Episode 8
Masaki has been to this village before. She followed her cousin, Reiji to find this place. He was so happy to find it that he couldn’t stop taking pictures and couldn’t wait to report this to his friends. He could have continued snapping had not Masaki reminded him it is getting late. As they leave, Reiji saw some kind of monster and ran back. Masaki saw nothing. Masaki slipped and fell unconscious. The next thing she knew, she was lying on the road. Each time she tried to climb back up, there was no village. Therefore she came on this tour to save Reiji but couldn’t find him. Everyone is startled when she mentions that there might be other villages like this but she isn’t exactly sure. As for the tunnel, she tells everyone not to go there and has a bad feeling about it. Although she went through it, she turned back halfway. But everyone still don’t believe her because she is the only one who hasn’t seen any monsters and the inconsistency in her story that she never went back home but lived in a nearby village to work part time until she chanced upon this tour. They show her the article. Because if she lived there using her real name and the article came out nationwide, don’t you think it is inconsistent? While Mitsumune protects her again, the rest are back to lynching her. Suddenly the bus driver swoops by in his bus (how the heck did he manage to get it unstuck?) and kidnaps Masaki and Mitsumune. Hayato’s shirt gets stuck in its door. Everyone plans to stop the driver before he leaves the area. But Koharun and Nanko deduce something odd from Masaki’s story. She is different from the rest of them who has not seen monsters is it because she has no psychological scar? Is it why she could run away? The driver is desperate thinking Masaki is a ghost and wants her to call Misato. Of course she isn’t. Koharun observes Valkana joining in this witch hunt. Ever since Masaki become prime suspect, everyone forgot she was a suspect. He claims he doesn’t believe everyone and was fooled to thinking he could lead a new life here. But if he is going to live here forever, he needs to know this village better and Masaki knows this place the best. As they duo make their way, they are attacked by stone arrows. They know they’re not hallucinating as they both see the same thing. Guess who is attacking them? Hyouketsu?!

Episode 9
As Valkana pins him down, Hyouketsu is still terrified and claims he was rescued by that person and just doing as told. Valkana then chases after a shady figure in the distance. The driver thinks driving through the tunnel will let him see Misato again. Stepping on the accelerator, Mitsumune sees Tokimune chasing behind and Hayato sees a zombie hand on the window! When the driver sees Misato in the mirror, he steps on the brakes. The rest exit to bus for fresh air. By the time they return, the driver is gone. At the end of the tunnel, there seems to be another village but the entire place is covered in fog. There is also a stone written supposedly by Reiji leaving a message to Masaki if she wants to go any further, accept Nanaki. She doesn’t understand what it means but has a bad feeling if they stay. Hayato wants to continue looking around and says she can look for Reiji too. If anything turns for the worse, they can always go back. After Masaki excuses herself to go to the toilet, the guys try to get a bird’s eye view of the place but it is foggy. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune again stands by Masaki’s side. He tells him off he is not the only one with problems. In fact, his overprotective mom is better than his. Hayato’s fear is his grandma in the attic. Since young, his parents tried to groom him into an ideal child since they were living in a posh area and wanted to keep a reputation among the community. The slightest mistake he made, he was beaten and worse, thrown into the attic where a creepy picture of grandma was. He believed she was a victim too, having thrown inside here before her passing to avoid rumours of a senile old granny wandering around to ruin their reputation. Hayato did try to fight back to no avail. He resigned to live his life as their puppet till he met Mitsumune. He got a taste of freedom. As long he is his puppet, everything will be alright. Mitsumune is shocked at this truth despite he is always grateful for listening to him. Hayato wants things to stay as it is but Mitsumune won’t be deceived anymore and leaves. As he looks for Masaki, he only finds her ribbon. Then he bumps into Valkana who also wandered here. They start seeing their monsters. Valkana’s a slime monster? Mitsumune slides down a slope. Now he hears his mother’s voice. Meanwhile Nanko and Lion want to use Maimai as guinea pig. To rid of the monsters, they must overcome their mental scars. So they try to take her into the tunnel to test this theory when they are attacked by Jack. Luckily somebody punches him out.

Episode 10
Mitsumune finds himself in hospital. His dad is also there and is glad he is alive. We can see dad went through a lot of stress ever since Tokimune’s death. He tried to erase Mitsumune’s name at one point but just couldn’t do it. He tells his son to live the way he wants. Meanwhile Mikage is furious that everyone has lost interest to find Masaki. They don’t even care about it anymore. Maybe they’re tired? Some are even having a change in character. They turn on Mikage since he is acting like their leader when he is not. Enraged, Mikage goes off by himself as the rest laugh at his destiny thingy. Lion, Nanko and Maimai are brought to Reiji’s place. He can’t go with them back to the village and when he sounds like he can’t reciprocate Masaki’s love, Maimai gets upset. As Reiji brings them along, Lion is surprised Nanko and Maimai believe her that she can see people who are about to die. It seems she is some sort of fortune teller or at least that was how it supposed to be. When an angry customer called her a fraud because she bought an expensive charm to save her husband but failed, Lion was confused but her mother didn’t really bother much with it because you know, it’s all part of business. A bird’s eye view of Nanaki Village, Reiji fears the place is changing shape again. Seems he can see someone else’s monster. Because of a past so complicated, it materializes in the form of a monster. He warns them to tell their friends to get out no matter what and when Nanaki attacks, you must endure its pain. They don’t think it will be easy since the rest are bent on staying.

Mitsumune goes up the hospital roof to find… Yottsun?! He recounts he saw Nanaki while he was going to have fun with Masaki. Before he knew it, he slipped from a cliff and plunged into the river. God saved him. God? This old professor named Kamiyama. Kami, get it? Yottsun is chirpy because Kamiyama told him everything and his eyes are opened. It seems Nanaki is a term used to describe the monster of your past. Kamiyama explains he has been to Nanaki Village before and has been doing research on it. Kamiyama specializes in psychology so when he discovered this village, he was excited. He did research and presented it but was soon ridiculed. His supporters eventually left him. Sad and upset, he went to Nanaki Village and at first was thrilled to be living all by himself. And then he stumbled upon the monster. It was he evidence he had always been looking. When he tried to take a picture, he suddenly returned back to civilization. Just that easy. Because he lost Nanaki. His Nanaki was the research ridiculed by everyone. So when he proved it right, it also disappeared, cutting him off from the monster. Mitsumune thinks it is a good ending for him but is made to look closer at a photo of Kamiyama’s younger self. That photo was only taken 3 years ago! As Nanaki contains the psychological scar of the past, it also contains your soul, emotions and ultimately yourself. Losing Nanaki means losing yourself and when Kamiyama lost his, his body started aging rapidly. The scariest part is when you cut yourself from those psychological wounds, you’ll eventually stop functioning as a proper human. Speaking of which, some of the group members are feeling lethargic. Jack and Hyouketsu return to base. The letter is scared for failing his mission. He pleads to boss not to abandon him. Their boss turns out to be Koharun.

Episode 11
The driver sees Misato and begs for forgiveness. Valkana returns to the village and is pissed everyone is lethargic. Even when Maimai’s group return and tell what Reiji told them, they’re still too lazy to move. Even more so, they don’t care when Jack and Hyouketsu start shooting fire arrows. The sane ones go to confront them but Maimai and Lion become their hostages. Hyouketsu’s blabbermouth has him revealing Koharun as the ringleader. It seems she is trying to make the monster stronger and these guys believe they could help her as she told them they were special. At first Koharun wanted to use Valkana she thinks he is just honest and a coward. Speaking of her, Koharun meets Hayato who is on the verge of going insane thinking Mitsumune has run away with Masaki. Koharun pours more fuel on the fire by mentioning Masaki’s name and how she torn their years of friendship apart. This makes him go crazy and a large hideous monster pops up. Koharun notes it is growing. Kamiyama drives Mitsumune and Yottsun back to the village but he tells there are certain conditions to be met to enter it. The reason Kamiyama stayed behind is to warn others not to enter but it seems when the tour bus came that night, he was asleep. Mitsumune wonders why Yottsun didn’t age like Kamiyama. Yottsun recalls when he was floating adrift and staring death in the face, all he could think was his musician parents. He didn’t want to become a pro in classical music like them but a rapper. And make it big too. But he realized he couldn’t. As he drowns, he hit an inspiration. The lyrics come to his mind. He realizes he always wanted to be a rapper even if he doesn’t make it big. In short, Yottsun accepted his Nanaki unlike Kamiyama left his behind. Although he doesn’t hate, sometimes he could feel regrets. Mitsumune cannot see Nanaki Village anymore and Kamiyama deduces he doesn’t have enough psychological scars.

The driver knows Misato is his Nanaki. He reconciles with her and despite feeling very hurt, he hugs her and believes she is the one who is most hurt as his carelessness was the source of her death. He will not deny he has lost her anymore. This is when Reiji pops up. He believes the driver has accepted his Nanaki and has a favour of him. Mitsumune laments he can’t get back into the village when the bus suddenly pops out from nowhere almost hitting them. They see Misato for real as the driver introduces her as his Nanaki. Misato claims she isn’t the only Nanaki that can talk (as others seen so far were monsters) but Reiji too. It is time to say goodbye so Misato is glad her dad came to terms with his daughter even if the one before him is fake. She might not be able to talk to him anymore but will always be in his heart. In a blink of an eye, Misato vanishes. When the driver says Reiji told him to help Mitsumune back into the village to save Masaki (Reiji even confirmed he is Masaki’s Nanaki), it makes Mitsumune sad to think how much Masaki cared for him and since she is so desperate to save him, she doesn’t realize he is her Nanaki. That Reiji doesn’t exist in reality. The driver will send him back as he drives straight into the darkness. When the bus reaches back into the village, he is missing so Mitsumune is forced to take the steering. Masaki is still finding Reiji and sad she hasn’t been successful. Suddenly Mikage and Lovepon catch her. They are going to kill her for real as they blame her for tearing them all apart. The bus appears out of nowhere, almost ramming into them. Mitsumune is back. But don’t look now, there is a huge monster ahead!

Episode 12
Since Hayato pops up, everyone could guess this grandma Nanaki is his. Even more shocking, Nanaki is under Hayato’s control. Hayato is brainwashed and mad as he continues blaming Masaki for taking away his only friend. Then Mitsumune’s fine speech makes Hayato even more confused. He wants to be his equal. He wants to be his friend who can be there when he is in pain. Unfortunately, the confusion rises because Koharun is trying to convince Hayato not to listen to them and insists he is being deceived. This time the Nanaki goes berserk and is going to kill them all. As Hayato injured his leg, Mitsumune carries him as they make a run. Koharun picks up the walkie-talkie Mitsumune dropped. Kamiyama is trying to contact Mitsumune. It is revealed Koharun is Kamiyama’s daughter and she is doing all this in hopes of reversing her dad’s aging by finding his Nanaki. He realizes she was the one who drugged him that night. Reiji overheard her and corrects her thinking that by provoking a Nanaki she could amplify a fading trauma and prevent a Nanaki from vanishing. She is wrong because Nanaki is inseparable from oneself. Kamiyama is fine with the way things are now but not Koharun. She has always looked up to him as a researcher. Inside the tunnel when Mitsumune can go no more further, Hayato now stands his ground. He always thought he was helping Mitsumune but realized he was the one being helped. As he faces his Nanaki, they both disappear. Reiji explains Hayato has accepted his Nanaki and has returned to the real world. Masaki is happy to see Reiji again but he tells her to take a good look at herself. Masaki was always lonely and wanted a friend. And so Reiji was created as her imaginary friend. He was always with her and gave her solace. Masaki cannot accept this and runs away. Reiji tells Mitsumune to go after her while he tells the truth to the rest. Long ago, Masaki always called Reiji’s name whenever she is in pain. But recently she has started to call a different name: Mitsumune.

When he finally catches up with her, they see a shy cute ribbon critter. WTF?! Is this Mitsumune’s new Nanaki? Masaki comes clean with him that because it would look weird in front of others to have an imaginary friend, she started pretending Reiji couldn’t be seen in front of others. Reiji was also in a way made to say things she wanted to hear. She thought by coming to Nanaki Village she could be with him together. Reiji is back at the village with the rest (Jack and Hyouketsu were easily defeated by Valkana and Nanko). Although he tells what is happening, some don’t really care. A Nanaki’s roar is heard in the background. Reiji reminds them that they should know by now that as long as they don’t leave the village, they’ll be safe. Because the Nanaki who is part of them feels scared of being left behind. Remember, all of them ran away to start a new life. This means rejecting their past selves. Thus Nanaki are being rejected by themselves and not by anyone else. Everyone start to realize that each has their own hardship and believed only themselves was having a hard time. They were all just the same and easier to believe everyone around is having a great time. When Masaki accepts Mitsumune, she feels Reiji back in her heart. This means Reiji suddenly vanished before everyone’s eyes. Masaki returns to the real world and Mitsumune promises he will soon follow suit. The group is still divided to stay or leave. While a big majority want to go back, some feel they want to remain here as there feel reality is no different. The small who group who chose to remain include Koharun, Valkana, Lion, Hyouketsu and Jack. Those who left find themselves back on the bus (including Hayato, Mitsumune and Masaki). The bus makes its way across the bridge.

Lost Souls, Lost Plot
Despite the less than stellar reviews and not so forgiving criticisms from many about this series, honestly I find this quite interesting and intriguing. At least for the initial episodes till I suspected what Nanaki actually was, it started to go a little downhill. And then with that kind of ‘ending’, I think the slope went a little steeper. I am not saying that this is actually a bad anime or do I agree with those who really want their drama mystery to be oh so perfect. But it could have been a little better. How? Don’t ask me, I’m not the script writer. Hah! Trying to pass the buck here. In a nutshell, this anime is pretty decent and slightly better than the average but as the series nears its end and once the mysterious Nanaki is known, things started to get a little lukewarm.

Now, with about 30 characters in the series, you can either say it is a hit or miss. It is both mixed feelings for me. But you have got to agree that while some get more prominent screen time and even a little peek at their tragic back story, the rest felt like as though they were there just to make up the numbers. Heck, I don’t even remember some of their names till the end. Sometimes I feel that these lesser characters can be done without and that it wouldn’t really add anything to the plot or advance the story. Like a certain fatty who only loves to eat – what was his name again? It’s just slipping my mind… Something along the lines of Doraemon… And there is a pair of love birds eloping together who would make single otakus into jealousy rage because of how lovey-dovey they are that it makes you have goosebumps… Oh, I remember there is a cutie idol trying to get away from a stalker and thus on this tour. No you don’t remember? Fine. Not that she mattered anyway.

So as I said they were there to make up for the numbers because you know, it gives you an impression that this would be some sort of horror survival series. I mean, logically that is how I would think. The only reason why there would be so many cast of characters in a small group and given the setting is a mysterious isolated village, you’d be inclined to start thinking that some sort of evil force is going to pick them off one by one. And here I was, trying to even make a guess on who is next to go missing and be presumed dead. And guess what? Nobody died!!! So when supposedly presumed dead characters come back to live, you would think that it is a cheap and lazy twist but then again if you go back, those characters weren’t confirmed dead in the first place. We just assumed. So at least when we have a reasonably large number of people, our odds of suspecting somebody would be less as the suspicion will be spread out. It would be easier to pinpoint a culprit in a group of 5 compared to 30 people, right?

As for the main characters like Mitsumune and Masaki, despite getting a lot of coverage and in fact more than the rest, somehow I couldn’t feel a little disappointed when the supposed big revelation about them especially Masaki is revealed. Although everyone is a worthy suspect, it is as though the producers were trying to make us think and pinpoint there is more than meets the eyes to Masaki. The way she acts is strange and she can’t really explain herself properly, which leads to her being suspected the most. There were a few mind boggling actions from her as well especially when she tells everyone not to go beyond the tunnel but refuses to say what it is. Does she know or does she not? So it makes her all more suspicious but in the end when her revelation came to light, you wonder what that all was for. Was she just trolling us just to find Reiji? I just don’t understand. Of course being the cutest girl in the group, she can’t be the baddie, can she? And Reiji felt like a convenient plot just to end the story. Why the heck didn’t he show up earlier and save them from this despair?

Then we have Mitsumune as one of those main characters who is of the weak type. I don’t know. Sometimes he just annoys me. Maybe it is the way he always protects and stands up for Masaki despite not knowing what is wrong. Sure, it is a good thing not to jump to conclusion or to have a herd mentality but it makes him seem like he has a crush on her and she must be right in some way and thus the need to save her from being turned on by the group. Well, it is a good thing that he was right in a way because had Masaki be the ‘antagonist’, it would truly be a big slap in the face and a moment of WTF. Really.

The rest of the so called main characters (my presumption they have more screen time and impact than the rest) are also a mixed baggage. Like this Valkana dude who is so full of angst like as though he could explode any minute and his fist will start flying faster than the words coming out from his mouth. Turns out he isn’t such a bad guy after all despite his angry outlook and loud outburst at times. Though he is most prominent in the initial episodes, he starts ‘fading’ when Mikage starts to become the unofficial leader in trying to lead the group to persecute Masaki. Again, this guy also has lots of anger but he doesn’t show it on the outside like Valkana. Lastly, Hayato or Speedstar as his alias is known by others in the group feels like the catalyst to end it all because of his insecurity that his best friend-cum-puppet won’t listen to him anymore. I wanted to insert some gay jokes between them but it just doesn’t seem to fit (that wasn’t a gay joke). And there you have it, with Hayato going crazy about Masaki and making Mitsumune into a straight guy, he sets off the final epic monster boss battle that has one defeating it by just accepting it all. That easy, huh? And Lovepon is a crazy yandere character whose favourite word seems to be screaming “Execution!”. I think this takes up half her dialogue lines.

I had my suspicions on Koharun too. Because she seems to be getting more screen time than Dahara as the tour guide and she was seen to be interacting more with Valkana as the series’ passes. Again, I don’t understand about her mission to create a Nanaki to save her father and thus she experimented with the group on it. Because of that, it helped contribute to my little disappointment as how the series ended and the supposed big revelation that was to be. Not too sure if in the future she will be bringing another set of unsuspecting people to the village since she isn’t giving up on her father yet. And it is like Hyouketsu and Jack’s existence in this series is to be her lackey. Jack could have been the most dangerous character seeing he is the silent type and nobody knows what is on his mind but look at how he turns out. Yeah, we just don’t care anymore.

Speaking of the revelation that was Nanaki, maybe this is one reason why many felt disappointed with the series. Even when it is confirmed what Nanaki may actually be, I too somewhat started to feel like that. I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping for some sort of legendary monster from another world? Who’d knew that Nanaki was the fear of your past that is coming to haunt you and preventing you from leaving the village. Just like Hotel California, you can check in anytime you like but you can’t check out or ever leave. I have already had a faint guess of what Nanaki was halfway through when the group started to give different accounts of what they saw and heard. Because logically if everyone sees and hears differently, it could only be that something personal that would only allow that particular person to experience. Thus when the truth of Nanaki was revealed, it wasn’t really shocking. I just felt a bit letdown.

The only other mind boggling thing was about Nanaki Village itself. What bugged me was, were there other similar people who lived here? For how long then? More importantly, what happened to them? Will they just disappear into thin air when they lose their personality? Because it is hinted that some places in the village had people living just like yesterday and up to a year, it just boggled me how are there people living there and then suddenly vanished without a trace. They couldn’t have left because their Nanaki would have kept them in. My only theory is that Nanaki Village is cut off from our current time flow. It exists in its own time and space. The last batch of people who were here may look like they visited the place years ago but Nanaki Village, it might have been just yesterday as far as the village is concerned. After all, who knows how many similar villages are there in the first place and could it also be that for all those who chose to remain live in the same area but just in a different time flow? What I mean is that the previous batch there might be those who stayed back and they are still around but we can’t see them because they are existing in a different dimension. Therefore I am intrigued about those who stayed back. What will happen to them? And for those who went back to reality, what will happen to them too after they experienced this? A short follow up would be welcoming but I highly doubt anybody would be interested since it won’t make a difference to the overall story whatsoever.

In the end, it isn’t whether it is right or wrong for those who stay or leave. They have made a decision to move on with their choice. I am assuming those who leave have accepted their Nanaki and thus the reason why they are able to get out. It means they are willing to face reality and society once more for better or worse. I am not sure for those who remained have vanquished their Nanaki because perhaps it doesn’t matter to them as long as they don’t get out, they won’t be in danger of facing their Nanaki. They too have decided a new life in this new direction as they believe they will not have any real chance whatsoever back in society anymore.

The interesting and subtle concept this series explored is the fact all of these youngsters wanted to restart their life again for the better. It just shows that today’s generation are so vulnerable that they could be hurt by mere words and offended by everything. Heh… But the point is that everyone has their own hardships. Nobody goes through life like a bed of roses. Well, maybe those super spoilt rich kids who get all their wealth from their dads. While some of the tragic back stories we see are truly heartbreaking, it makes you wonder if life was that hard to have them make this decision to abandon reality and society. At first we might call it stupid and silly but it is not funny when it happens to you. So in a subtle way, this series might be just telling us that with everyone having their own set of problems, the only person who can overcome and defeat it (and at most accept it) is only yourself. Because if you don’t, your past will always come back to haunt you. Forever. Only when you bury the past, you can only move forward.

The other interesting thing seen is the interaction of a group of people living together. This is like Survivor material where alliances are formed and as slippery as shifting sand. We quickly see who the leaders and who are the followers are, the sane ones and the crazy ones. There are all kinds of interesting and shady characters even for a small group like this. But sadly this series doesn’t delve more on this human behaviour and psychology aspect because it would be really interesting to see everyone’s clashing personalities and even a herd mentality and so called democratic majority just to save their own asses especially when they are dealing with the unknown and that is where all your stereotype beliefs make you think crazy things. Towards the end, it feels somewhat lazy as it feels like the producers got lazy and said, “Ah, f*ck all of it!” and then turn most of the characters into lethargic people who seem like they are high on drugs. Don’t fight and resist it. Come join us. It feels so good…

Art and drawing are pretty decent but I thought some of the older characters look like high school kids like Valkana and Mikage. Their past shows they are already working in the adult world and yet when I looked at them at first, I thought they were still in high school. Thus I thought the only real adult here is the driver since he is definitely the oldest of the lot. At first, the Nanaki scares me because of how creepy they look like. Especially those surreal eyes over them. But then when I get to know what Nanaki was and how each of them is tailored to the characters’ past, it wasn’t that creepy anymore. Other than that, the sceneries and backgrounds are rather okay but sometimes there are a few scenes where it gets too dark to see anything. Maybe it is for the jump scare effect but I don’t recall having being frightened out of it although I did maintain my alertness. Phew.

The opening theme is rock based, Gensou Drive by Ami Wajima while the ending theme is Ketsuro by Rina Katahira. After the suspense of the episode, I find it a bit odd that the ending theme is such a slow and lovely acoustic ballad. Maybe after all that mystery and drama, you need a relaxing song to calm your nerves down? I also find it a bit odd that the mugs of the characters grace the ending credits animation. I suppose everyone will have their fair share since 3 characters will be featured in one episode for this part. Yeah, guarantee that no 2 ending credits animation will be the same!

Overall, personally this is an interesting series as the mystery in the initial episodes keeps you glued and guessing what is behind it all. But with many weak characters and a weak ending to boot (everyone is divided to either stay or leave and nobody died!!!), maybe this will be your Nanaki of disappointment after what started out as something with promising only to end up in an unexciting manner. It would be just freaking scary to see anime characters haunting you whenever you feel like you have grown up and wanting to take more responsibilities, ditching the anime life only to have this sort of Nanaki trapping you back in and continuing your uneventful otaku life. Maybe that is why I have never managed to break out from my otaku lifestyle over more than a decade ago… I’m truly lost in a world of my own… Well, it’s not a bad thing so far :-).