The Lost Village
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 11 of
The Lost Village ?
We're really approaching the finish line now. Absurdly, preposterously, miraculously, basically all of The Lost Village's weird plot threads are coming together into something resembling a climax. The factions are pretty well established at this point, at least. There's Mitsumune and the Show-Explainers on one side, who basically understand Nanaki Village and are now trying to save Masaki. Valkana, Nanko, Lion, and Maimai, who are the closest things this show has to a “traditional protagonist group.” Koharun's irregulars, the little lost boys who now work in service of Koharun's mission to make a big Nanaki. Lovepon and Mikage, the last, committed defenders of the execution lifestyle. And All The Rest, a bunch of characters the show has clearly gotten tired of returning to and thus has decided to put to sleep.
That's a whole lot of characters to get to! And yet, on a narrative level at least, this episode juggled its various conflicts fairly gracefully. None of the scene transitions here felt like non-sequiturs - early on, slow, eerie scenes with the bus driver were intercut with relatively sedate scenes in the village, and the tension across the various narratives ratcheted up at a fairly even pace. Evaluated as a traditional show, I'd say this episode was the most legitimately successful one yet - the base assumptions and characters of this narrative are ridiculous, but they're all moving to a dramatically coherent conclusion.
On top of that, a couple of the sequences here were actually emotionally effective, something the show has never been before. The bus driver deserves a lot of the credit for that; the sequence of him coming to terms with his daughter's death was both beautifully framed and actually somewhat understated. Normally, when a character in The Lost Village has a tragic backstory, we are directly introduced to that backstory through an over-the-top flashback - here, all we were given is the fact that “his negligence led to her death,” a choice far more effective for its subtlety. We don't need to know that she fell off a cliff into a tornado and was eaten by a shark (to pick an appropriately Lost Villagian tragedy), all we need to know is this specific character was impacted by her death, and have his feelings parse as real. I certainly don't watch The Lost Village for its understated emotional moments, but I don't mind seeing one now and then.
The rest of this episode hewed closer to classic The Lost Village expectations. The first scene back at the village was a big highlight, as they always tend to be. With only half of this show's characters ever having received any definition, the diffuse mob of other voices just tends to meld into a collective “the rest,” and here, the rest were mainly concerned with sleeping through whatever happens next. The lethargy of Nanaki Village has been explained in a narrative sense, but that doesn't make it any less silly in a moment-to-moment practical one. Valkana got to play the straight man role this time, as he got progressively more and more fed up with everyone else betraying their own personalities and generally acting like completely ridiculous people. Scenes like this are the bread and butter of The Lost Village - it wouldn't be the same show if characters didn't respond to flaming arrows by saying “eh, we probably won't die” and rolling over for a nap.
The other scenes were a mix of fun details and something approaching actual dramatic tension. This show has gotten incredible comic mileage out of the bus just teleporting in out of nowhere, and both those moments got a laugh out of me this week. I also appreciated the fact that God's reason for being here provided a real backstory to that classic “spooky old man who warns kids not to go up the mountain” horror trope. And the Reiji narrative went through the twist it pretty much had to, as we learned the current Reiji is actually Masaki's Nanaki.
Overall, The Lost Village is still more or less balancing its absurdist desires with the demands of an actual narrative. It's certainly somewhat less fun now than in the first half, when the larger group scenes and consistent introduction of new ingredients made it feel like any silly thing could happen, but it'd be very difficult for this story to actually resolve while staying just as ridiculous to the end. And transitioning all that has come before into a coherent ending is still impressive in its own way.
The Lost Village is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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