• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

Train to the End of the World
Episode 10

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Train to the End of the World ?
Community score: 4.4


I've spent these past couple of months arguing vehemently for the necessity of Train to the End of the World. Therefore, it's nice to get a break. You don't need my input when the episode says everything on its own in plain English (and Japanese). This week, Train to the End of the World argues for the importance of works like Train to the End of the World. It's goofy, it's metatextual, and it has berets aplenty.

Before the girls reckon with the philosophy of art, though, they first run into Shizuru's dad. Formerly a wolverine and currently a cartoon critter, he plays into the series' trademark banter like an old pro. The apple clearly didn't fall far from the tree. In addition to being funny, the scene also becomes strangely heartwarming as he catches up with his daughter and her friends after his two-year absence. Despite all the absurdity and unpredictability of the post-7G world, there is room nonetheless for compassion and humanity. There's still a chance to go back to normal.

Or maybe there isn't a chance, and maybe that's okay. I really like their suppertime chat before they enter Shiinamachi. The train crew ruminates on how little Shizuru's dad has changed before they get philosophical and wonder what "changing the world" even means. If we think back to last week, the swan boat guy argued that the universe's unmalleable nature was one of change. Indeed, we're constantly dealing with new normals. Reimi got so used to the 7G upheaval that she had given up on going back. She adjusted to her surroundings and carved out her own niche as best she could. There's something tragic and resilient in that, which I think is a fundamental part of human nature. As a collective, we're great at coping. Narratively, this foreshadows a resolution where the girls might not fix what 7G has done. As Nadeshiko says, however, the important thing is that Shizuru reconciles with Yoka. I agree with that. Small personal stakes should always trump earth-shattering ones.

As an aside, this episode adds a ton of ammo to my argument that Akira is the best character in the show—perhaps even the best character, period. She's the most blatant vehicle for the series' cosmopolitan set of influences and references, and she slays me every time. No other anime protagonist picks up a beret and praises Che Guevara and Edogawa Rampo in the same breath. Nobody else is weaponizing Edvard Munch with the gusto of a Dragon Ball powerup. "High school girl who is a little too well-read and way too smug about it for her own good" is an authentic and underutilized character archetype.

Thematically, Akira's assertion that "artistic expression has no limits" drives the creative force behind the episode's second half. The chaotic clash of styles, references, and subversions provides the most direct example yet of Shuumatsu Train's raison d'être. Just look at our "villains," a squad of mangaka who resent that their strict adherence to genre conventions didn't translate into success. True art isn't afraid to get weird with it. I also believe their berets being a "paid subscription" is a dig at products like Adobe's software suite, which is both based and true. Art should be democratic, i.e., available for all to create and enjoy. Once you get past all the manzai humor and bizarre narrative corkscrews, this is legitimately one of the most politically trenchant anime in recent memory.

I'd also be remiss not to call out Shinichi Watanabe's contribution to this episode. Colloquially known as Nabeshin, the veteran director storyboarded this week's dose of train-based irreverence, and considering how gleefully and shamelessly it plays with form and style, he deserves plenty of kudos. You can also catch his trademark afro on one of the mangaka defending the streets of Shiinamachi. His eccentric brand of humor is a perfect match for the show, and it's an even more perfect match for what this episode does in particular, so his recruitment is yet another example of Shuumatsu Train's exquisite craft.

I don't have much else to say. Compared to the show's recent output, this was an uncommonly straightforward excursion—and a fun one at that! Now that we're at Ikebukuro's doorstep, the anime is primed to enter its final act, and with at least two episodes remaining, I think it's primed to end as confidently as it began. While its unrelenting strangeness may condemn Shuumatsu Train to be at most a cult hit, you will most certainly find me decorating its temple, donning its robes, and singing its praises.


Train to the End of the World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. He's currently considering how even the apocalypse couldn't stop Japan from having a nicer rail system than the United States. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

discuss this in the forum (49 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

back to Train to the End of the World
Episode Review homepage / archives