The Summer 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Are You Lost?
How would you rate episode 1 of
Are You Lost? ?
What is this?
How was the first episode?
Are You Lost? puts its chips on the table early in this first episode, as it introduces its cast through a series of boob and crotch shots before we actually get to any names or faces. From there, it soon reveals that its four high school heroines have been trapped on an island, with no prospect of rescue and an urgent need to master their surroundings. Unexpected survival expert Homare volunteers some choice info, and thus Are You Lost?'s full premise reveals itself: “let's find a horny narrative vehicle for talking about my passion for survivalism.”
“Cute girl is an expert in some niche passion, informative speeches and fanservice ensue” is a pretty common anime template, and Are You Lost? isn't a particular noteworthy example of the form. The show is so voyeuristic in its framing, largely capturing its cast through the crooks of bare legs or over the crest of wet shirts, that it was hard to take their plight particularly seriously. This wasn't helped by their clearly archetype-ready personalities, with the show offering an obvious Sporty, Nerdy, Princess, and Survivalism Mouthpiece spread from their very first conversation. Even the fanservice generally felt pretty clumsy, and the show has nowhere near the directorial or art design assets to meaningfully convey the experience of being stranded in any tonal sense.
The show's humor is also pretty one note; its gags almost all center around Homare doing something momentarily inexplicable or salacious, the peanut gallery gasping, and then Homare explaining how whatever she did was actually a survival technique. On the whole, Are You Lost? might appeal to the specific “I hunger for both boobs and Bear Grylls” demographic, but stands as an easy skip for anyone else.
We're only a couple of series into the new season and we already have a leading candidate for Best Girl. Homare Onishima could very well be unbeatable, not because she's some action star or cute moeblob but because she's the ultimate level-headed pragmatist in a situation where pragmatism is a survival necessity. What makes her special is that she is so unhesitating and unflinching in her pragmatism that she generates multiples spit-take moments in just the first 12½ minute episode. We're talking about a girl who, in what could easily be one of the season's feature scenes, grabs a locust out of midair and eats it without skipping a beat and before her companions even realize what she's doing. That leads to a later scene where she kisses another girl specifically to give her some spit, leading to a candidate for all-time great anime lines: “My first kiss. . . tasted of locust.” And that has to compete with the flashback to a time with her father where she has to comment on the taste of raw moose testicles.
In fact, Homare doing extreme yet practical things learned from her survival training with her father, and how those actions flummox the other girls, looks like it's going to be the central running joke of the series. That Homare could probably carry this series alone is good, because aside from her, none of the other girls have shown much in the sense of interesting personalities. One seems to be the standard nerdy girl, one is an athlete, and one is an apparent airhead, but so far they're mostly just here to react to Homare. Presumably they will show more quirks and character as the series progresses.
A flippant take on a survival story clearly isn't the only goal here. Various camera angles, scene framings, boob jiggles, and the actions of Homare also emphasize a fan service aspect to the present. So yeah, this is going to be a “cute/sexy girls do cute/sexy things on a deserted isle” story. This might work if done right, but it's going to require a very delicate balance. However, director Nobuyoshi Nagayama pulled a minor miracle by actually making Happy Sugar Life work in his last outing, so I'm definitely not discounting the possibility.
I don't know if there's any pent-up demand in the market for a wilderness survival show starring generic anime schoolgirls, but if there is, Are You Lost? is here to fill that niche. The mix of elements here is certainly an odd one, and at the moment they don't seem to be blending particularly well together. Based on this episode alone, it's hard to tell if this series is trying to deliver serious information with a side of gross-out humor, or if it's just using the survival guide content to set up some jokes and a bit of fanservice. The one thing I can say for sure is that whatever Are You Lost? is aiming for, it hasn't really hit the mark yet.
If you're here for survivalist trivia, most of what we get in this premiere is either basic to the point of being obvious or so specialized that its value is questionable. On one hand, I don't really need an anime series to tell me that drinking seawater is a bad idea or that you shouldn't leave a dehydrated person out in the sun. On the other end of the spectrum, while I didn't know which parts of a moose can be eaten raw going into that episode, I don't really foresee myself benefitting from that particular tidbit of knowledge. Some things in this episode do manage to find a happy middle ground, like how far away the horizon is when you're out at sea, but Are You Lost? needs to find that sweet spot of “obscure yet interesting” on a more regular basis.
At the moment, my biggest concern is the cast, which consists of a quartet of forgettable characters. We've got the sporty girl, the bookworm, the dainty rich girl, and the obligatory wilderness expert, and that's about all there is to their personalities at the moment. The main source of humor seems to be the contrast between survival girl's expertise and her lack of social skills, but none of the jokes landed well enough to really make me laugh. You're probably better off revisiting Laid-Back Camp if you're looking for an outdoorsy series with some real personality, but if you're dead set on watching the busty anime equivalent of Bear Grylls, Are You Lost? looks decent if not particularly awesome.
I sort of understand what Are You Lost? is trying to do, but I can't say that I think it's especially successful at it. It seems to want to be a sort of semi-educational fanservice show, one that throws random bits of survival knowledge at you and flavors it with shots of girls' bodies and other prurient bits like literal spit-swapping and peeing in mouths. (You know, for dehydration prevention.) The problem is that some of the “solutions” are specious at best – I'm pretty sure that drinking urine isn't much better than drinking sea water in terms of saline content – and for me, at least, none of it is particularly sexy either.
Most simply put, the two pieces of this story sit uneasily together. On a more personal level, I was hoping for something more in line with the manga Limit – a serious survival story that just happened to star schoolgirls. Elements of this do work; the different personalities of the girls, although clearly designed for maximum fan appeal, seem to mesh well and give a decent variety of abilities, with Mutsu's astronomy knowledge and Homare's survival skills looking the most impressive. Exploring the island they've washed up on may be more interesting than Homare squeezing fish for their blood or offering to pee in Shion's mouth, and I do enjoy her deadpan almost Sagara Sousuke-like delivery, but none of that is enough to make me want to keep watching this. My end feeling is that this could work as either a fanservice island story or a survival one – but both together just isn't cutting it.
The premiere of Are You Lost? lets you know what kind of show it's going to be in two key scenes in it's short twelve-minute runtime. In the very opening shots, we get a bunch of shots of the four main girls passed out on their little bit of floating detritus, soaking wet so their skin and underwear is showing through the fabric. As each of the four girls wakes up, we get very conspicuous shots of their thighs and chests, not to mention an upskirt or two. So, the first thing you have to know is that Are You Lost? is pretty horny. Later, survivor-type Onishima explains to the others how you can pulverize fish to drink their blood and meat juices through a fabric filter, and to demonstrate she uses her own shirt to shower herself in a drizzle of nasty raw fish slurry. So, the second thing you have to know is that Are You Lost? is all about weird and wild survival trivia (and it's seriously really horny).
The amount you are likely to enjoy Are You Lost? almost certainly correlates to how much you need an anime short that delivers either half-naked schoolgirls, How-To-Survive-On-A-Deserted-Island trivia, or both. The animation is functional but not spectacular, the characters are all fairly one-note comedy archetypes, but there's definitely a lot of trivia, and the fanservice is plentiful, and often quite kinky. We get shots of blood-soaked shirtless Onishima, we have Onishima preparing to quench Kujou's thirst by urinating straight into her mouth. It's essentially what would happen if Cast Away was turned into a softcore gag-comedy, and that's the kind of thing that I feel most viewers will be able to immediately tell whether or not they're on board with.
Are You Lost? isn't for me. I need a very specific brand of ridiculous to get me through vignette-based gag comedies like these (see Asobi Asobase for what I consider to be a high watermark of the genre). Much of this first episode isn't actually all that focused on jokes – the humor is less about specific punchlines and more about the three “normal girls” dealing with how Onishima's particular brand of survival instincts are both deeply weird and necessary for their survival. The basic failure of this opening episode is that I found it neither particularly funny or sexy, so all that was left for me to get out of the show was the trivia, which was…okay, I guess? It's cool to see the girls using whatever means they have available to survive on an island, but that would be enough to get us through a few minutes of show. At twelve minutes a pop, Are You Lost? already feels like it's three times longer than it needs to be. Folks who are eager for a silly and sultry comedy that can kill a few minutes might get something out of this, but this is one island vacation I'm happy to take a raincheck on.
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