Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair is an RPG-style comedy with a twist, like if Konosuba took place in a freemium mobile game where all the rolls come up 1-star. This week, Nick and Steve find out if this extremely meta adventure is hilarious or just depressing.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
So Steve, I hear there's a new Fate/Grand Order event starting this week! How's it going for ya so far?
It's going to be f i n e
Yes, it's time for us to make like a 52-year old woman and start our last period.
So it's safe to say we live in the Era of Mobile Games at this point. The games industry is so squirrelly that the only way anybody makes money anymore is to put a portable gambling simulator in everyone's pocket, and the anime industry has started reflecting that too. We've had plenty of surprising shows adapted from phone game IP the last few years, from Rage of Bahamut to Kemono Friends, and the latest weird entry in this trend is Last Period: The Journey to the end of Despair.
And boy does it earn that subtitle.
There's big money to be made in shiny jpegs of sexy anime characters. And I'm not saying that flippantly, as somebody who opens the Fate GO app on my phone every day. And that's where Last Period comes in, to both mock and embrace the fundamental absurdity of mobage.
Also it's just a very goofy comedy.
It's a particularly meta take on mobile game anime, I'll give it that. The basic setup is that a trio of Periods, the unfortunately-named freelance fighters of this world, get all their stuff stolen and have to work from the bottom to get it back.
That's easier said than done when they have a trio of Team Rocket wannabes constantly undercutting them on their commissions.
Please, let's at least give them a proper introduction!
Look, all I care about is that their mascot is voiced by Heybot and I hate it.
Ah yes, This Week In Anime devotees will surely recognize the delightfully nasally voice of our favorite farting robot coming out of this creature.
Shiori Izawa is an international treasure, and I will personally see to it that she never lives that role down.
It's at least less mortifying than her last role...
So yeah, Last Period's premise is standard fantasy comedy à la Slayers, but it stands out by focusing completely on meta jokes that come from the world of mobile games. For instance: reusing NPC designs...
At least Choco is sympathetic to their plight.
Choco is perhaps the most directly meta character in the whole thing. Her whole shtick is that she knows she's in an anime, so she'll constantly commentate from the back about how bullshit everything is.
She also has perhaps the most garishly awful design in a show filled with purposefully overdesigned characters, which is pretty impressive.
Her deadpan breaking of the fourth wall is well-trodden territory, so it's not often as pointedly funny as it's intended to be. That said, I got a kick out of the most recent episode's documentary format allowing her to literally stare into the camera like she's in The Office.
I'm a sucker for one meta joke on another meta joke.
Yeah, it can be a pretty tired dynamic, and I find the show to be better when it's going all-out with its jokes rather than just making meta quips. It's yet to reach the level of How Is This Real that Anime-Gataris managed, but I've gotta hand it to the creative team who decided to we needed an entire episode about using a crossover collaboration to promote the anime.
A crossover with Higurashi of all things. In The Year of Our Lord 2018
There is no reality in which I needed to hear this again in Twenty Freaking Eighteen.
And yes, Choco does have the same seiyuu.
But for real, it's a bizarre little crossover that somehow factors in a Scooby-Doo style Haunted Real Estate scam and even includes the actual producers of the Last Period mobile game onscreen.
Yes, one of them is a man with a raccoon head.
It's mostly just funny because of how weird and unexpected it is, which is probably Last Period's biggest strength. Individually, a lot of its punchlines fall flat or don't have the bite you'd expect such a laser-focused parody to have, but when it just throws subtlety out the door it can be fantastic.
Yeah, the parodic elements are only okay. Sometimes the jokes land, sometimes they don't. But what I'm really charmed by is the show's commitment to its own silliness. It takes classic story beats out of Saturday morning cartoons and has a ton of fun with them.
But that's not to say the show can't be smart and biting. Last Period recognizes that if you're gonna make fun of mobage, you have to make fun of the root of their evil: late-stage capitalism.
Last Period: the Wokest anime
hashtag millennial feelings
It's still a mobile game anime, so they always ultimately assure the audience that it's fine to spend a moderate amount of money on gacha mechanics to get a jpeg of your Anime Spouse, but I do appreciate the little jabs nonetheless.
Like making the Gacha Merchant essentially Tom Nook as an anime girl.
Yeah, at the end of the day, it's still an anime promoting
the Last Period game, so even its most direct critiques of predatory practices by mobage come across as disingenuous. The latest episode does this most blatantly, as our normally kindhearted hero Haru gets corrupted and broken by the cruelty of gacha.
These are all super-real feelings that anybody who's played a mobage will understand. Obviously the anime takes things to extremes for comedy, but there are definitely people who get their lives and their savings sucked dry by gacha, so I'm not totally comfortable just laughing at everything.
Wiseman at least live up to their name with some legit sound advice.
It's all kept colorful enough that it's not outright demoralizing, but I'd be lying if it didn't get uncomfortable to watch sometimes. There's a delicate line between sympathizing with suffering and exploiting it to make your marketing seem #relatable and I'm not sure Last Period nails that balance.
That said, I did laugh out loud at the back alley iTunes deal.
whistles nonchalantly as I open up Fire Emblem Heroes
That's 100% accurate to the feeling of spending actual money on gacha. I also like that, as the ostensible villains of the show, Wiseman have their own rigged summon pool that gets them nothing but 5-star characters. And by "like", I mean "I'm extremely jealous".
At least Last Period understands that the true villain of the show is Iona, the horny anime girl embodiment of the cold, uncaring laws of probability.
Yeah, Last Period's not a great
show, but it's a unique little oddity compared to the other straightforward mobage adaptations we usually get. If nothing else, it's worth checking out for Crunchyroll's translation.
I certainly can't think of a more accurate translation.
I think Last Period is a heck of a lot of fun to watch! If it relied solely on poking at mobage conventions, it'd be pretty weak. But it combines that with an atmosphere of cartoonish absurdity, a colorful aesthetic, cute and distinctive character designs, and Heybot.
Just remember, Steve willingly
subjected himself to Heybot, so uh, grain of salt.
Look, both anime and gacha hell are a swamp, and