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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Failure Frame

How would you rate episode 1 of
Failure Frame ?
Community score: 3.3

What is this?


Mimori Tōka and his classmates are abruptly catapulted into a fantasy world, summoned by the resident goddess to serve as heroes. The good news is most of the students display amazing skills upon arrival. The bad news is Mimori is the worst of the lot, bottoming out at a measly E-rank. Incensed, the goddess tosses him into a dungeon to die–but it turns out that Mimori's skills aren't so much worthless as they are abnormal.

Failure Frame is based on the light novel series written by Kaoru Shinozaki and illustrated by KWKM. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore

I'd make a joke about having seen this before but I'm pretty sure I've made that joke before because a good 50% of the new series coming out every season are rehashes of rehashes that just barely avoid qualifying as plagiarism. Failure Frame is just one of a long list of revenge isekai, where the main character is pulled into another world with a bunch of classmates and he gets a supposedly weak skill and everyone's really mean to him and abandons him—but he'll show them! He'll show them all!


I get that bullying is a serious problem. I've experienced it myself—albeit to a lesser degree than some others. One time my bully's mom came and yelled at me for getting her son in trouble! Still, I am deeply uninterested in watching someone else's revenge fantasy. The bullies are always cartoonishly evil and/or incompetent. The world positively conspires to make sure the protagonist is set on the lowest rung of the social ladder. Even the gods hate him. (It's always a him. These fantasies are pretty much uniformly gendered male.) But wouldn't you know it, every time someone has super-weak abilities, they figure out a way to make themselves super strong.

For the level of genre awareness most isekai have, you'd think someone would stop and point out that the goddess' bad gacha pull will have super-strong abilities if she'd just take the time to level it up. But they never do, because that would interfere with the sense of persecution. And by “persecution” I mean everyone standing around pointing at the protagonist and going, “Hey you. Fuck you in particular.” It's just so empty and spiteful, I have no interest with engaging it on a deeper level. The best thing I can say about it is that it's only the third most boring anime I watched today.

It also gave my friend a migraine, so watch out for that.

James Beckett

Before I even started watching the first episode of Failure Frame, I gave myself a challenge. No matter what I saw over the course of the following twenty minutes, I had to begin my preview by highlighting some of the positive things I had to say about the show. It would be so easy to dunk on an anime with the subtitle “I Became the Strongest and Annihilated Everything With Low- Level Spells”—but I vowed to take the harder path. This ended up being quite challenging, but I refused to give up and eventually I found those nuggets of gold that I was searching for.

First off, unlike the other "Douchebags on a Bus Isekai" from last season, Failure Frame doesn't spend the entire goddamned episode in or around the bus. Good job, Failure Frame; I also dug the design of the Skeleton-Minotaur Thing that Touka fights after getting banished to the dungeons for being a big dummy loser-pants with no friends. I didn't love the poor CGI compositing against the dirt-brown environments and cheap screen effects, mind you. The design itself, though, is pretty sweet.

Phew! Okay, now that I've done my due diligence and said something nice, I can finish out this preview by making sure that you all understand how much Failure Frame sucks. It sucks a lot. Sure, it's not visually the ugliest isekai anime of the season but it almost certainly has the ugliest soul—and that makes it a real chore to sit through. Maybe it's because I've spent nearly a decade now having to help counsel my fair share of angry and disaffected young men but I really can't stand it when an anime makes “Overwrought Hate Poems of a Puberty Addled Recluse” into its whole aesthetic and then expects me to buy into it. Failure Frame's attempts to sell it's story about a victimized loner who gets back at all of his asshole classmates with his lame-but-secretly-the-bestest-ever videogame superpowers reeks of tryhard bullshit to its very core. I have been listening to the discographies of My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park for as long as some of you reading this have been able to form conscious memories and this show is too emo by half for my tastes.

Nothing about Failure Frame speaks to a single spark of genuine creative passion or ingenuity. We've seen the Douchebags on the Bus get isekai'd before. We've seen the lone-wolf hero get heckled by the Queen Bitch of Isekai Land and declare his mission for vengeance. We've seen the endless parades of exposition and bickering that shows try to grift people into mistaking for a “plot” with “characters.” I don't want it, I don't need it, and I most definitely don't plan on wasting any more time on it.

Nicholas Dupree

I almost feel bad for this show. It so, so wants to be the latest Edgy Isekai hit, but it just doesn't have what it takes. This is yet another show about the class outcast getting brought to another world with his sneering, asshole classmates and having to rise up from the bottom of both the High School and Magical hierarchies to become the coolest, grimmest, most badass anti-hero who ever collected a harem of anime girls to affirm his manliness.

Unfortunately for this show, it does not have the juice for any of that. No matter how many close-ups of sneering villains looking down on our protagonist we get, nor how much every single person on screen calls him invisible trash who's dumb and ugly and let's all throw rocks at him, it just doesn't land. The production is just too much of a mess, trying for mood and atmosphere it can't attain. The supposedly terrifying and ferocious monsters look like rendering errors, and the 2D animation struggles to move at all. I'm not quite ready to say it looks as bad as the first season of Arifureta, the template this show is most obviously copying from, but it's damn close, and I have to imagine future episodes will only look worse.

Granted, I still wouldn't have found this show impressive even if it was animated to the nines. I'm already not a fan of this style of revenge story, but the way Failure Frame goes about it ensures I have nothing to care about. Touka's sole defining feature is that everyone in the world hates him and will take any opportunity to abuse him, because he does not exist in a world with real people, but rather hollow scarecrows for the audience to project their malice onto. The sneering, cocky, disloyal, and utterly cruel people in his class and in this new world are simulacra meant to stand in for any and every person the audience has ever felt disrespected by, and thus they do not exist as people. It's painfully cheap storytelling that shows up in damn near every one of these shows, and it kills any sense of catharsis or even trash fun one might get from these things.

It's an ugly, thinly constructed mess, and outside of the goofy looking CG monsters, it never reaches “so bad it's good” levels of incompetence. Failure Frame is just a rushed, generic attempt at an overdone subgenre, and you'd be better served checking out any of its peers.

Rebecca Silverman

Do you like your villains detestable? Repulsive? Unrepentantly horrible? Then give Failure Frame a try, because it has some of the most instantly hateable bad guys I've seen since…well, since I read the light novel the series is based on. That may sound like dubious praise, but it helps to raise the story out of the isekai swamp it was born in. Sometimes our protagonists are merely neglected, or possibly just not popular but otherwise fine. That's not the case for Touka Mimori – the episode opens with a graphic scene of him being beaten as a child, and when he refers to himself as “air” in his class (as in, invisible), it quickly becomes clear that that's not his twisted ego talking. Touka isn't so much bullied as completely ignored, and when the entire class is spirited away to a fantasy kingdom, it turns out that he's so far down the classroom hierarchy that most of his classmates are perfectly willing, if not eager, to sacrifice him. He's not bullied because in their eyes he's not even worth that much attention.

Add to this pile of horrors the goddess who summoned the group, the appropriately named Vicius. She puts on a good show about needing these “heroes” to save her world, but if you pay attention to what she's saying (and not saying), it becomes apparent that she's been doing this summoning thing for quite some time; when she remarks that it's unusual to get “even one S-class in a summoning,” that implies that she keeps conducting summonings – and when things go south, she has no compunctions about cutting her losses and rolling the dice again. Her entire speech about how she's learned to get rid of the lowest-ranking member of a group again implies this, and the alacrity with which she dismisses Touka and disposes of him indicates that she doesn't see any of her “heroes” as people. They're tools, and he's just not sharp enough in her mind.

Admittedly, this isn't too far off the path trod by Arifureta and its ilk. But I like that Touka's determination comes from the little boy who was beaten all those years ago, finally standing up for himself and screaming. I'm sorry that the anime blurred over the moment when he flips Vicius off as he's being “disposed of,” because more than his attempt to use Paralyze on her it speaks to him just having had enough. He's not instantly stronger because he's found his anger, but it's a start, and that feels a little more organic to me than the usual power fantasy, even while remaining very much a power fantasy. It doesn't look great, and its probably not going to convince anyone sick of Isekai Variant 238B to give the genre another chance, but for what it is, I think it works.

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