The Lost Village
Episode 9

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 9 of
The Lost Village ?

On a conventional narrative level, it's fairly easy to run down the events of this episode. The Mitsumune team (Mitsumune, Masaki, Hayato, and the bus driver) barrel through the tunnel and emerge into a possible second Nanaki Village, resulting in Hayato spilling the true motivation behind his friendship and Mitsumune finally challenging his past. The Lion team (Lion, Maimai, and Nanko) essentially figure out the show's trick, and head off to the tunnel themselves. Valkana has a series of confrontations with Jackness, Mitsumune, and his own demons, while Jack reappears to cause more trouble. Meanwhile, the home team back at the village sharpen stakes to hunt a bus, and then suddenly they're not in the mood for that.

As far as actual stories go, we're getting a lot of answers here. Nanko lays it out pretty clearly – this village is a place where people's personal demons are made manifest, and it's only through overcoming those demons and coming to terms with your past that you're able to leave. Nearly everyone in this story is an inhuman, one-note, scar-based personality, and so nearly all of them simply need to solve their own personality in order to leave.

But that's the boring stuff. The Lost Village has never impressed as a traditional narrative, outside of occasionally demonstrating a legitimate ability to create dramatic tension. It's as a comedy that The Lost Village shines, and this episode was shining bright.

Part of that came down to the fact that this episode worked very hard not to allow for any dramatic tension. You'd generally expect an episode that features at least five monster attacks and a dramatic betrayal by one of the main characters to go for the dramatic jugular, but The Lost Village's singular execution made sure basically none of those scenes landed as frightening or cathartic. The early high-speed ride through the tunnel was probably the most classically “horror movie” scene of the episode, but its direction once again felt more like an inept student film than a polished anime production. The way the show deliberately avoided revealing the monsters seemed to be intentionally evoking the idea of “conserving an effects budget,” something a cartoon clearly doesn't have to consider. And the general combination of bland exterior and flat interior shots kept what had every reason to be a very exciting scene from ever feeling more than weirdly ridiculous.

Hayato's performance also played a major role in this episode's comic success. Early on, it almost felt like Hayato was performing the audience's role; in response to Masaki's ridiculously vague statements and Mitsumune's wet blanket defenses, Hayato just kept raising very legitimate questions. “Why didn't you tell us about your past experience?” “What motivated you to come back, and then what motivated you to stop and join our tour?” “Can't we just stop for a moment and actually sort out our motivations here?” Hayato's questions offered a strong counterpoint to Mitsumune's everlasting credulity, and had me cheering for his sanity… until the second half arrived, and we learned Hayato's relationship with Mitsumune was based on a backstory roughly as believable as Lovepon's. Not only was his backstory silly, but the show tonally undercut it by sticking to that one bland “something spooky's going on” music track from start to finish, allowing for virtually no emotional rise or fall. The Lost Village may not kill off its characters, but it's happy to kill our ability to believe in them.

There were a variety of other highlights that made this episode silly and charming throughout. Maybe the biggest conventional joke was the brief return to Mikage's team, where the underlying humor of the team sharpening stakes to, uh, hunt a bus ran into the sharp punchline of his allies apparently getting bored of that plan. Other jokes were more incidental – the awkward non-sequitur cut of Mitsumune picking up Masaki's ribbon and then suddenly being on top of a hill somewhere, or Valkana describing his escape from his personal demon as “I managed to escape because it was kinda surprisingly slow.” And then Mitsumune's own personal demon turned out to be maybe three feet tall, and the two of them walked into a misty lake together.

Attempting to square the circle of simultaneously being a self-destructive comedy and an actually narrative is certainly resulting in some less effective moments, but overall, I'd say this episode of The Lost Village succeeded in all of its major goals. Our unwieldy bus-full of miscreants are slowly making their way to the finish line.

Overall: B+

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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