Girls Beyond the Wasteland
by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Girls Beyond the Wasteland ?
Bunty only has a few days left to finish the game's script. The following episode depicts his descent into Cram Hell, a familiar state for anyone who's ever procrastinated on a deadline. When Bunty's flight instincts kick in, the rest of the team locks him into a makeshift prison camp scenario, boarding up the windows and monitoring his bathroom breaks. In typical writerly fashion, the very first thing that Bunty does is take a 6+ hour “nap.” When he wakes up, it's time for double-turbo-panic mode, and the team is forced to resort to even stricter methods. In the end, Yuka's pleas to treat Buntarou more humanely – allowing him a bath and brief nap, supercharge him, and he completes the script on time. As the rest of the team sleeps, Sayuki goes to check up on Bunty and ends up kissing him in his sleep. Afterwards, they all share a moment on the roof. Then Sayuki drops another bomb – Buntarou needs to script the game's drama CDs, which are due in three days. This triumph of cramming, while momentous at the time, was only temporary. Cram Hell is forever.
This was another episode where Girls Beyond the Wasteland managed to convey some genuine insights into the creative process. Bunty's progression from avoidance, to panic, to last minute revitalized inspiration is something that I have (unfortunately) experienced many times over. I wouldn't say that it makes this episode fun to watch, though. It was more stressful than anything, evoking memories of unpleasant experiences. Girls Beyond the Wasteland is evocative enough to capture the experience, but not funny enough to make it enjoyable. The “jokes” include a fanservice scene where the girls (+ Kai) dress in maid uniforms to somehow motivate Bunty into working harder. The problem is that this show is still too ugly to be effectively sexy. (Unless you have a specific fetish for angular, off-model women.) Bunty's horror at Kai propositioning him in drag was also more gay panic nonsense.
At least the moral was alright this time around, in line with Yuka's storyline a few episodes ago – working yourself sick and nasty is a self-defeating endeavor. Self care only makes you better at doing your job. Ultimately, Buntarou has to push himself in those last 24 hours, but it's better for everyone if the process doesn't reduce him to a foul wreck of a man. His coworkers need to know this, since they function as his enforcers. Managers must know how to safely discipline their creators while also doing their best to ensure that they complete their work. At the same time, writers have to submit to this process and recognize that this will be a regular part of the creative lifestyle. It's painful, but also rewarding, as evidenced by the ecstatic, tranquil way that Bunty approaches his surroundings after having accomplished his labor. There's an addictive high in writing to deadline, and everyone is complicit in the process. Also, despite debating his further deprivation, the team is overall supportive of Buntarou, sacrificing both time and money for him. Cram Hell lives up to its name, but it fosters an unprecedented sense of camaraderie.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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