Girls Beyond the Wasteland
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Girls Beyond the Wasteland ?
It's time for the latest installment of blandly executed, mild workplace conflict. This round, Teruha learns that she should take care of her own responsibilities to the project before interfering with others. Although she's the programmer, she starts making unauthorized changes to the writing and art. This pisses everyone off, and they have to work harder to undo her mistakes. Worst of all, it turns out that she's been neglecting her assigned work. Confronted with her selfish idiocy, she storms off in a huff, leaving the team without a programmer. This leaves the team at an impasse. Teruha's a jerk, but they need her coding skills. The resolution to this conflict is simple, of course: Buntarou volunteers on Teruha's family's fishing boat to help reel in a big catch during a terrible storm! They both survive, Teruha's immaturity is somehow tempered, and she rejoins the team.
This show is getting difficult to write about. It seems to have settled into a narrative routine of episodic stories concerning common issues that pop up in group projects. I mean, at last the previous episode had two of those to talk about. Girls Beyond the Wasteland has started failing so thoroughly as entertainment that it feels like I'm watching educational television on office culture. It's like Arthur on PBS, but less funny and with a worse art style. It doesn't help that this episode's plot was borderline nonsensical. While the last few scenarios at least provided good advice – cooperate with your teammates, don't get an ego about your work, don't work yourself sick, etc. – what am I supposed to do with “reenact Moby Dick with problem teammates to reform them?” Was the implication that Bunty earned Teruha's trust by holding his own in her field? I have no idea how that solves the problem of her not doing her job and messing stuff up for everyone else. I guess the show is trying to frame her dysfunction as the result of the team not trying to understand her on her own terms. There's even grounds for that – Sayuki was needlessly hostile to Teruha's ideas back in episode two, and this conflict was never resolved. But this isn't the way to make up for it, not just because it doesn't make any emotional sense. Girls Beyond the Wasteland has skirted the line up to this point, but this episode marks its first serious dip into incompetence.
Other issues remain consistent. The rest of the characters are so dull that the show has – accidentally, I think – invested me in Teruha more than any of them. That's especially surprising because she's the closest thing Girls Beyond the Wasteland has to an antagonist. There's not much to her character, but at least she's loud, assertive, and can carry a joke. That's more than the rest of the cast. I don't think they've even brought back the non-Buntarou guy's “hatred of women” gimmick. This makes it especially awkward that the show keeps bagging on her. She's just punched down at as a rude, uncooperative fujoshi who can occasionally be reined in to either work on the game or be gawked at. Ugh.
For the sake of review, I can't rule out the possibility of Girls Beyond the Wasteland climbing back up into something watchable, but I have to say – it's dug itself a pretty steep pit.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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