Girls Beyond the Wasteland
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Girls Beyond the Wasteland ?
Bunty has run into a major stumbling block when writing the game's script. It's all about dating, but he has zero romantic experience! As it turns out, nobody on the team has any (besides Kai, who doesn't count). In an attempt to ameliorate this, the team acts out a number of romantic scenes from the game with Bunty as the MC. They are extremely awkward and don't work at all. What ends up working is a "pretend" date with Yuka, who definitely has no actual interest in him, no way. They have a good time, but Bunty is still oblivious to her feelings, and the status quo remains untouched. He takes to writing again with newfound inspiration. But then he receives an urgent call – it's Sayuki, who announces that the game is behind schedule and they need to go into crunch mode. Hearing these dreaded words, Bunty knows that he's about to face his greatest challenge yet.
This episode is better than the two previous ones because the antics are somewhat entertaining and the drama is grounded in some realistic emotion. Girls Beyond the Wasteland successfully captures what it's like to be a stupid teen experimenting with romantic attraction for the first time while remaining firmly ignorant that it's even what you're doing. It's not a particularly entertaining or interesting depiction of these emotions. This show is still about boring kids living out the most archetypical possible version of Anime High School Life. But I have to admit, this episode did draw out some recollections of my own youth. Not all anime can do that, so I have to give the writer props for maybe possessing some ability to channel their emotional experience into art. Not that it redeems this show, however. It's the slimmest glimmer of potential beneath a mountain of flaws.
There was also some alright comedic timing on display. I liked the character deprecation of Bunty asking his teacher what a relationship is like (hilariously awkward/pathetic), only for the teacher to treat him to a recreation of the clichéd wall-slam confession scene. Of course, it's ruined by homophobia, as Bunty and Kai run off horrified that their male teacher is “gay.” Because I can't be allowed to like anything about this show, apparently.
This episode contained brief glimpses into what the show's comedy was supposed to be like as a whole – hyperbolic exaggerations of normal creative scenarios playing out through ludicrous imagery. That shot of the helicopter rising behind Sayuki as she announced crunch mode clued me in to what the series was going for with its otherwise inexplicable fishing scene. It's trying to do something like Welcome to the NHK, where the characters' delusions of importance during the regular trials of game making are highlighted by their histrionics and obviously unreal visuals. The problem with Girls Beyond the Wasteland is that it doesn't apply this type of humor often enough or have characters that support these histrionics. If this happened more often, I might have clued in earlier, and if the characters were better developed – like Welcome to the NHK's cast of delusional jerks – it would feel like I'm being transported into a visual representation of their minds. Instead, it just seems arbitrary. Sayuki isn't the kind of person to frame an important phone call like a scene out of Die Hard - that's Teruha. There's an internal logic to when this sort of exaggeration happens that Girls Beyond the Wasteland just hasn't laid the groundwork for.
Overall, this was a decent episode of Girls Beyond the Wasteland, but still nothing to recommend the show on. It was neither as oppressively dull as the previous week nor as nonsensical as the one before that. The drama was flat, but not actively incompetent. It helps that there was an active advancement in the Bunty/Yuka subplot. Previous episodes had just taken to reminding us that it exists. Girls Beyond the Wasteland is still a bad show, but now I have a better sense of exactly where it's failing.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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