Girls Beyond the Wasteland
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Girls Beyond the Wasteland ?
Girls Beyond the Wasteland continues to act like its slavish commitment to the most stereotypical bishoujo game template is somehow parodic. But parody needs jokes. This episode has only a handful of jokes – none of them funny – so all we're left with is the bare skeleton of a scenario we've all seen dozens of times already. Our gang of teens puts on skimpy outfits and participates in traditional Japanese summertime activities. It's a familiar ritual presented without personality or flair. What's the point?
The attempted joke continues to be that our crew of teens acts out stereotypical beach episode activities in a “realistic” way, which turns out unsexy or otherwise humorous. For example, Atomu (that guy who's sworn off romance with real women) attempts to play volleyball but ends up trying to pelt a lovey-dovey couple. Sayuki tries to do that thing where two girls laugh while chasing each other on the beach, but nobody gets it. She also asks to be splashed sexily only for the other girls to go at her like monsters. That's the most successful of these “jokes,” but that's not saying much. Sayuki, who may be a terminator reprogrammed to make visual novels, tries to apply visual novel logic (that the girls will splash her photogenically) to real life and is rebuked (they do so viciously). Her expectations (sexiness) were undercut by reality (crudeness). I get why it's supposed to be funny, but the laughs don't really come.
If the show committed to its premise and made the entire thing a ludicrous farce of teens hanging out on the beach, this all might have had a chance of being entertaining. Instead, it plays the premise straight more than it makes fun of it. But its brand of commentative metahumor is supposed to be the show's main draw. The kids eat watermelon. The kids light fireworks. The kids go to a hot spring resort and sexually harass each other. Yawn. I am not attached to these characters, so there's no enjoyment to be had in watching them eat watermelon for several minutes. It's not even like making fun of beach episodes is special anymore. Excel Saga did it in 1999, both Ouran High School Host Club and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya did it in 2006 – and those are only the examples I can think of offhand, but there are probably several dozen more. Stripped of even that thin veneer of originality, this episode provides nothing new. At least previous ones had the occasional well-observed details regarding the creative process. This has nothing for me.
This episode is titled “This is the So-Called Fanservice Episode,” and that is technically true. The production value continues to be horrific, so the scenario's only redeeming factor – raw titillation – is sabotaged from the get-go. Anime contains much more nicely illustrated breasts, as well as more creative poorly-drawn ones. Unless your specific fetish is both ugly AND vanilla, I can't imagine this doing anything for you.
In the closest thing resembling a plot, the day of fun seems to have allowed Sayuki and Teruha to reconcile. Yuka continues to pine after Bunty on the sidelines. We'll see if that ever amounts to anything. This episode gets a higher grade than last week's because its conclusion wasn't a bizarre non sequitur, but that doesn't mean that the show has improved. It just means there wasn't a “huh?” in between all of the “zzzzzz”s this time. I wonder if the visual novel is any good? I'd be angry if I paid for advertisement and got this as the product. Oh well.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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