I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives Season 2
Episodes 13-15

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 13 of
I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives (TV 2) ?

How would you rate episode 14 of
I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives (TV 2) ?

How would you rate episode 15 of
I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives (TV 2) ?

Note: Crunchyroll's categorization of the episodes makes no distinction between 'Season 1' and 'Season 2', and thus these are listed there as Episodes 13, 14, and 15.

Like the kids of the show being transported back into the fantasy world for another round of quests, here we all are thrown again into a new season of I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives Okay, my role here is actually more akin to the new kid this season, Keita Torii, being drafted into coverage of the show starting with this cour. At least Torii is pointedly caught up on the details by Iu in only a couple moments, I made myself shotgun the first season of Million Lives in less than a week to be ready for this premiere review. The good news: Turns out I mostly enjoy it! More irreverent takes on the isekai formula are nothing new, of course, but this show pointedly trades worshipping at the altar of its game-mechanic contrivances for questioning how interacting with systems like that could affect different people's perceptions of the value of human life. And by the end of that first season, it became clear that that's likely the actual, in-universe point of this whole venture. It's a strong hook to end your first run on, the kind of conceptual exercise that personally works at drawing me in.

So it's a good sign when the first episode of Million Lives's second season kicks off by reinforcing and revisiting those themes. As mentioned, Torii is brought in and up to speed in a comically quick fashion (both for economy of storytelling and, seemingly, to get the best comedic timing out of the running gag about new party members getting freaked out by the Game Master), equipping him in his new outfit that makes him look like Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear, and teasing some tension between him and Yuusuke before our heroes start gathering information on the direction of their latest mission. What works about this is how it ends up being less about catching viewers up on the story and more about the characters really grasping what the long-term passage of time means for this world. I was hoping we'd see Best Girl Kahvel at least one more time, and here she is, now as Best Mom!

Kahvel's maternal mellowing out could have ended up being another instance of Million Lives's occasionally odd gender commentary, but it actually works here as a demonstration of the central theme on the value of life. Yuusuke codifies this pretty quickly with his comment about how "destroying something is a hundred times easier than creating it", and then Torii comes in and confirms its universal application by relating it to his own experience of raising his little brother. It marks the show as downright tidy this early into its second season with regards to its themes, which makes for a good impression. And the reflection of the stretch Kahvel spent missing Yuusuke does a good job demonstrating the disparity in engagement with the world between its denizens and the summoned heroes, even if ending on Kahvel – who must be at least in her thirties by now – putting the moves on the fifteen-year-old Yuusuke comes off only slightly weird.

So this is is an effective beginning that shows the series still has its heart in the right place, but we all know what we're really here for: Seeing what esoteric quests the Game Master is going to foist on the gang this time! Sending the party off to the island nation of JapanJiffon and grouping them up with a bunch of mercenaries works as a neatly differentiated situation from the stuff in the previous season. Even with the concept significantly higher than before, there's still time for irreverent poking at the whole setup this is exercising. My favorite detail has got to be the 'Vaikedaam', a pair of ritual dancers named Aoiu and Yana who are very clearly based on Aoi Yūki and Ayane Taketatsu from their days together as petit milady, with the anime bringing in the actual voice actresses to play them! It makes for a great gag, and lends some lighter commentary on the march of time, traditions, and resources that Yuusuke and the others will be fighting for against the enemy orcs on the island.

The denser elements of that setup may be where I think Million Lives is straining at the moment. By the end of last season, and with things like the introduction of Torii's character, it's clear that the series wants to get into analyses of more ambiguous subject matter, and more power to it for that. Stuff like Yuusuke's pragmatic reasons for assisting with the island's agriculture or weapons crafting fits that tone, even as his mindset for doing so – purely for protecting those he thinks are most useful to their long-term goals – comes off a bit eugenics-y. Of course, he's rightly called out for this by the mercenary Cantil, and the events leading up to the death of another character, Ryce, in the third episode make clear that Yuusuke's feelings here are mutable.

On the other hand, that same episode attempts to codify the conflict between the humans and orcs as some sort of morally-ambiguous act on the side our main characters have taken. Certainly, elements of it aren't as black-and-white as it may have seemed, but Yuusuke attempts to couch the humans' breaking of the deal with the orcs as some sort of clear, villainous betrayal, despite the fact that it was done in response to the orcs being the ones who moved in and, you know, started eating people. I'm hoping this will be open to reinterpretation as other elements of Yuusuke's worldview have been throughout the show, as otherwise it comes off like Million Lives trying to spin something as more of a quandary than it is just because it thinks it has to do that at every turn now.

It probably doesn't need to go all-in on that, since the character level of things is really doing a fine job at demonstrating the complexity of this world and the plot it's weaving. We've got Torii who I like due to how he contrasts with someone like Yuusuke. From the start, Torii is shown as someone who was only reluctantly willing to kill someone as his last option, counter to Yuusuke struggling with the knowledge that he premeditatedly murdered someone as part of a plan he thought was inconsequential. Distinct from Yuusuke's efforts to live a pragmatic misanthropy, which we've seen could be a losing battle for his disposition, Torii comes off like your classic "Punk with a heart of gold" type, who helps because his own struggles for his life have taught him the value of others'. Similarly, the aforementioned Ryce is spotlighted in that third episode as someone who carries the lives of others with him (instead of just 'standing' on them), whose value therein still ended up snuffed out arguably due to an impulsive action by Yuusuke, thinking he'd be the only one inconsequentially effected. We only spend that little bit of time with Ryce, but per this show's mission statement, he has just enough three-dimensional impact on the story that his permanent death hurts when it hits, contrasted well with all the temporary times we see the players get taken out. Good night, sweet prince.

So that's where we're up to with Million Lives's second season so far. If the ending of the first season got you fully on board as it did for me, this should keep working for you. The only other point of contention I could possibly bring up is that the animation is still pretty dang flat. There are some flashes of nicer presentation and direction in the season's premiere episode, mostly regarding the reflective scene around Kahvel, but everything else looks rather chunky. This is mostly a problem with how much of the episodes have dealt with what are supposed to be setpiece battles against the orcs, so even as we're seeing nominally-cool deployments of things like Yuusuke's newly-developed giant crossbow or the amazingly-named 'Storc', it's all more coasting on the concept of the strategies and implementations than the actual depiction of it. If you were fine watching the first season, it shouldn't bother you at this point, but it still speaks to how this is a series that took its time to get to the conceptual hooks I think are the real draw, and the way it looks did it no favors in getting there. Still, it's effectively continued on with being the show I've gotten into with fifteen episodes in less than a week, so I'm still happy to be here and settle into letting the Game Master spin us along for another season.

Rating:

I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.


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