The Lost Village
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 6 of
The Lost Village ?
I'll put everyone's fears to rest right here. In spite of getting a lengthy “you gonna die” flashback devoted to her, as well as spending most of the episode being chased around by a spooky floating mask, Lovepon does indeed make it through this episode. The precious maiden of executions survives her first encounter with the lost village's wacky monster brigade. The hero of the show is safe.
In fact, what might be most surprising about this episode is that in spite of basically spilling the beans on the “monster” here, the kill count didn't rise at all. We got four very silly flashbacks and four absurd chase scenes, but not one casualty. The Lost Village apparently still has a use for characters like “talks like a cat and loves guns” and “also loves guns, has a boob on his head.”
Apparently, whatever is haunting the lost village is not only likely connected to Masaki (a fact we learn when Koharun offhandedly reveals that hey, a girl Masaki's age with her exact name went missing here some time ago, maybe we should look into that), but reflects the deepest anxieties of whatever it's chasing. It's an extremely Mari Okada trick (see also: Anohana, Kiznaiver, Wixoss, etc) that works perfectly for The Lost Village's camp-horror shtick. Instead of the slow, textured build towards emotional catharsis used in shows like Anohana, here we simply have ridiculous backstories dumped in our lap retroactively, in order to explain whatever weird thing happens to be chasing whatever character we're following at the moment.
Lovepon's backstory exemplified the appeal of this show, in how it developed an unspoken running joke through a clear fundamental failure of storytelling. First of all, it's just inherently funny to devote half an episode to giving Lovepon a tragic backstory - of all the characters in The Lost Village, she may well be the most inhuman and mascot-like of any of them. But on top of that, her backstory actually did nothing to explain why she loves executions. That is essentially her one defining character trait, and yet when we see her history, that “execution” mantra has nothing to do with the man who abused her and her mother - it turns out Lovepon has just always really, really loved executions. While “loves executions” is a silly personality, in a traditionally bad show, you'd generally get a backstory that eventually “explains” why that character has that inhuman quirk. This is bad writing, but it is bad writing with an internal logic, where you get the sense the writer was at least trying to create a human character. In contrast, The Lost Village goes the extra mile by giving Lovepon an extended backstory that only makes her even more confusing. It's that whimsical, ridiculous touch that makes The Lost Village special, how it consistently creates internal jokes by playing against audience expectations regarding coherent storytelling.
Not to be shown up by Okada, Mizushima also brought his B movie A game to this episode. It's honestly not hard to make an episode where someone is being chased by a giant boob visually funny, but even from the very first minutes, many scenes here were framed to ruin any possible tension. Like with the second episode walk through the forest, the way the episode framed Mikage's team investigating the fire made it basically impossible for the audience to tell what was actually going on, ensuring the scene devolved into a bunch of anti-dramatic noise. Other scenes made excellent juxtapositions of sound design and visuals - the most tense music track of the episode was assigned to slowly zooming shots of a frigging tree, while the characters running away from their fears was accompanied by a perky, almost too on-the-nose circus tune.
There were plenty of other great moments in this episode, from the outright intentional joke of Koharun running the heck around Dahara in order to talk to Valkana, to the hyper-condensed Nyanta backstory detailing her whirlwind romance with BB guns. I wouldn't call this episode as much of a comic highlight as last episode, since some of the humor here just felt a bit more broad and obvious (Jigoku being chased by a boob is funny, but not as funny as the cast just slowly losing their dramatic train of thought). But this episode actually had to push the plot forward, which necessitated hewing a bit closer to standard thriller beats than rambling around in The Lost Village's true strengths. All told, I'm still considering The Lost Village the breakout comedy of the season.
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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