Waking up in a strange bedroom in a dream world, teenager Haruto Tsukishiro finds a strange app on his phone. When he activates the program, an odd woman appears and tries to drag him to her realm. Luckily, a mysterious, white-haired girl severs their connection and helps him escape, revealing that the woman is a witch; however, their conversation is cut short. As Haruto enters the realm again, he meets an anthropomorphic, talking cat named Katsumi Kanzaki. While the witch's minions pursue them, the white-haired girl opens a door for them to escape.
After their ordeal, Haruto describes their savior—which only he can see—and Katsumi, the leading authority on dream world research, realizes that she must be "Lily," a being that resurfaces repeatedly across multiple dreamscapes. Hoping to leave the dream world through a blue door, they enter the witch's realm once again. Finding themselves in peril, Lily reveals the truth to Haruto: witches suffer from "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome," a coma-like sleep state induced by torment in their real world lives. Thus, they cannot wake until they are defeated in the dream world.
After finally defeating the witch and locating the blue door, Haruto and Katsumi say their farewells, promising to meet up in the real world. However, when Haruto exits through the door he awakens in the dream world bedroom once more. Seeking answers, Haruto and Katsumi try to uncover the mysteries of the witches, Lily, and Haruto's own inability to leave the dream world.
When I saw the first episode of 18if it felt like the show would turn out just like how I predicted when I first saw it. Terrible. But outside of that episode, there was a strong episodic story that lurked deep in it.
18if used multiple directors and it used them well. Each episode had its own style to it and its own way of expressing itself. Interesting ideas were brought out in each of these episodes and they all had a good message to say about people. At its heart, 18if is about accepting the things that happen in life and getting over the
things that bring us down. As each girl has a different affliction there is a different moral that one can learn from each character. While the morals may be obvious I think the way that 18if communicates them can be quite powerful. The show does a good job of getting me to care about what is happening to the character even if I have no reason to care about them in the long run. Some of these episodes were very impressive, the best of the lot being Episode 7. Even if you're not that big into this show just check out Episode 7, I imagine that you can watch it stand alone and it's really worth it. It's very impressive and if it was on its own I'd give it a 9/10.
The characters are pretty good for what they are. They aren't deep but that's because they're only the focus for one episode. They don't need to be deep and they each portray their message well without it being too preachy (for the most part). The art and sound are really good when in the individualistic style but the art suffers when outside of it. Still, it always feels and sounds distinct and I think that is a plus.
In fact, that is something I could say about 18if as a whole. While it doesn't always stick its landing, it's at least always reaching out for something to grasp. And personally, I enjoy it when shows try to do creative and interesting things even if they don't succeed. And 18if certainly does try. And sometimes it succeeds. Other times it falls on its face, but more often it leaves something that is enjoyable and unique although not spectacular.
And that's good enough for me. The big hits balance out the flops and overall it's something that I enjoy and can appricate but far from the deep meaningful work it could have been. Overall I think it's worth it for those better episodes and the unique things it does. There really isn't anything like it.
People say 18if is like a box of chocolates: there are both good and bad parts and you won't know which one it is until you try. While I agree, I would rather compare it to an expensive box of luxury chocolates: all the flavours are exotic combinations, with ones such as broccoli-mango or truffle-chili. Initially you are turned off because you can't imagine these crazy combinations can possibly be good, but once you try some it becomes clear that they taste much better than they sound. Of course, there will always be some you dislike, but overall it's undeniable that a lot of well-placed
effort and experience has been put into them, and that they're certainly worth the expensive price. (Not that the price part applies to this anime.)
18if is a mostly episodic series, where each¹ episode is directed by a different director. The first 10 episodes are fully episodic; you can watch them in any order if you want, or skip episodes you don't like. The last three episodes consist of a short continuous arc that explains questions raised during the first 10 episodes. Note that if you skipped episodes before, you won't understand the references to these specific episodes.
The premise for the episodic episodes is as follows: In every episode there is a different witch, representing a real-world person with Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, and Haruto and Katsumi have to help the witch get back to the real world. In addition, every episode (more or less) showcases some kind of real-world issue that serves as a theme for the episode — ranging from classic themes such as the idol industry to obscure ones such as Cambodian history. I thought all of these stories were quite interesting, but given the nature of the show there will probably be ones you won't like.
Apart from the director of each episode, there is also Kouji Morimoto — known for staff roles in Majo no Takkyuubin/Kiki's Delivery Service and Akira, for example — as the co-director in every episode². This combination leads to the anime being overall very well directed, despite the fact that the episodic directors tend to be relatively obscure.
The music in the show is overall very good too; of particular note is the OP song which I would consider excellent, combined with the unique OP visuals. The ED is different each episode, with the songs being of varying quality. The ED visuals are usually just simple credit rolls with flashbacks to the episode, over varying backgrounds, but the rest of the show's visuals are engaging enough that a flashy ED animation doesn't feel necessary.
The animation quality is hit-and-miss, but it's always at least alright, with some episodes being exceptionally well animated (episode 7 comes to mind). I haven't played the source game, but the anime is strange enough that if someone told me this was adapted from a puzzle game I would just assume they're joking, so I wouldn't expect it to be a very close adaptation. If you've played the game and got a similar feel as what I'm describing, then you probably know what you're in for.
Overall it's difficult to give the show one single score because it varies so much, but I enjoyed it enough that I feel a 9 is adequate, and there are certainly some 10 elements in my opinion.
¹: Episodes 1 and 2 were directed by the same director, but otherwise this applies.
²: One episode was exclusively directed by him.
Growing up is never easy, we all have our struggles along the way. Knowing that it will all be worth it eventually is what gives us the courage to persevere to adulthood.
18if tells the stories of multiple teenagers struggling with real-world problems in a very abstract fashion. Emotional turmoil is depicted through young women struggling to find happiness in the life they've been given; whether it be bullying, the weight of parental expectations, ostracizing, etcetera. These stories are played to resonate with the audience across 13 episodes, with varying degrees of success. The times it succeeds are rare but worthwhile indeed; even if as a
full package it does not come together into a cohesive whole.
Each episode of 18if has a different director and focuses on different themes; some of them are better than others but overall the show is superb at nothing and is frequently mediocre. Occasionally the art style might change from episode to episode, but it never reaches a good level of quality that could be compared to other episodic shows. If I had to label it with a genre I'd say it's a Drama, Horror, and Psychological; from time to time 18if dabbles in Romance, which felt uncomfortable to watch because each episode the protagonist tries to woo the new lady introduced.
I understand that 18if is a multimedia project, but I'm writing my review solely based on the content of the 13 episode animated series. The content that fills those episodes is severely lacking so I can imagine the additional content expands the universe and further develops its characters.
The plot revolves around Haruto, a mysterious young man, and his struggle to save young women afflicted by "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome". The disease is brought on by severe emotional stress and it makes the afflicted person falls into a coma; once in the coma, the person can create an idyllic dream world as a method of escape from the harshness of reality. The concept is an interesting one indeed, the dream worlds sometimes were impressive in how they were able to describe what the afflicted character desired from life but didn't have in the real world. Only about half of the episodes develop the characters through the worlds they create, the other half just try to weird you out as much as possible with little to no development on the characters.
It felt like most of the directors didn't work together to write 18if's story cohesively, but instead, they vied to make the most memorable episode.
For example; one of the better episodes takes inspiration from the genre classic "A Nightmare on Elm Street", Haruto delves into the subconscious of a girl who was mentally scarred by a horrific crime committed against her and she now kills criminals out of anger by invading their dreams. They may not have explained why she was able to kill people through her dreams, but that didn't bother me because the episode achieved its goal at deconstructing a character in an unusual way.
On the flip side, there was a stink bomb of an episode where Haruto awakens in a world that resembles a children's storybook, visually and narratively, the episode has almost no relation to the main show other than the main character's name was still Haruto. There were a few episodes like this that felt like a viscous self-indulgence of a single director who appeared to have little interest in the show's narrative, which is sad considering some of the other directors put a lot of work into making episodes that contribute to the story.
The source of 18if's most perceivable issues is the fact that there is little connecting each episode until the finale. The first eleven episodes seem to be written individually from one another, so don't expect to feel much plot or character progression until the last two episodes. When the ending comes it revisits the major characters and recaps narrative highpoints in a way that I believe was meant to be satisfying… but it honestly just highlighted how messy and disjointed the story, tone, and characters are.
The R+ rating comes from the conflict with the dreamers, the violence was sometimes gory; as a side note, there is a bit of profanity in episode 9 that is meant to be comedic but comes off as repulsive, thankfully it only happens just the one time.
The script is usually passable, but occasionally it is so bad that it conveys a totally misguided message to the viewer. An example of this issue is in one of the more standard episodes that follow an ice skater who is pressured by her parents to succeed as a performer. The pressure she is faced with causes her to become afflicted by Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, once in a coma she creates a world where she can be a normal girl and live life without her harsh parents, which feels like an interesting and relatable escape for a suffering person. The episode is solid up until the end when Haruto arrives and tells her to go back to being an ice skater because it is her "destiny", which was appalling considering this concept betrayed the entire message of the episode and it went against her wishes.
Most episodes weren't ruined by confused writing like that one was, but the few that were misguided definitely stand out as an example of how to ruin a good short story.
Most of the segments were tropy, with predictable scenarios and archetypical characters, but I was able to forgive this aspect easily because each episode brought a new theme to the table.
Even though the story is episodic there are three consistently present characters; they are Haruto, Haruto's guide/mentor a scientist who appears as a cat dressed like a detective in the dream world, and Lily, a girl who's only part of the story is to be a deus ex machina in the dream world. Sadly, the three leads rarely got development.
The most interesting character of the three was the scientist who searches for a cure to the "Sleeping Beauty Syndrome" for his afflicted sister. I rooted for the scientist more than the protagonist because he had actually had a motivation to be a part of the conflict; whereas Haruto was impossible to identify with, becoming a completely blank slate at the start of each episode.
As I said before, the visuals vary from episode to episode but they never are at the point which I would call above average. The music is for the most part standard. A bewildering opening starts off every episode and it does a good job at preparing you for the demented scenarios that will inevitably ensue. It has a really unusual EDM style song that I liked quite a bit but I can understand if someone wouldn't appreciate its funky style. Each episode has different outro credits and none of them are outstanding.
Taken in bite-sized chunks I could imagine someone finding a great deal of enjoyment in this series. However, I’m reviewing it as a whole completed product and it, for the most part, failed to engage me.
Final Score: 5/10
When I reflect on the time I spent watching 18if I remember the good moments more than the bad ones. While it's a mixed experience for sure, I definitely think the turnout leans slightly more to the positive side.
+The stories is quite interesting but I will say it just a 8/10 cause some part drag it down
+The art style really fittable to plot and the very main stories of this anime so call "Dream" cause everyone see things differently so the art shouldn't be the same thing cause it won't be call "dream" more like "What the creator think of the dream" so 10/10 for sure!
+The sound, music and voice are surely a 10/10. I listen to the lycans every time and it never gets old because the lycan are so good! The voice really fit the characters too! So 10/10 for that
+It seem this show didn't have much time to show us about the characters. They seem to only just have one episode to show all that but they did manage to do that but I do think they need to do it more slowly like 2 episode to introduce one characters cause it seem one characters is like a big act of the anime. So I will gave it just 8/10
+I really enjoy in every ways. If you a kind of person who love every single anime tags then its a full recommendation to you all! So 10/10 cause I really enjoy it!
+Even though I said it like I really enjoy it but due to the lack of a little bit of stories and lack of a little bit of care for the characters so I will gave it a 9/10
Notice I write a review after I watch the anime so due to the change of the plot so I will also do a review about every episodes! (Spoilers!)
[spoiler="Episode1"]Episode 1: It seem they try to show us about the dream of the lonely person. I will say its a nice way to put in and if you get a reference like "Alice in the Wonderland" kinda reference. It will also made you think that this person might also be a fans of that too. Cause reminder this is "Dream" so what they dream will be related to what they wanted and what they like. It tell us that that person love dolls and wanted to make friends but then Haruto the MC came by and became her friend. So she got out from her dream cause what she wanted in her dream and put her in the coma was granted.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode2"]Episode 2: Last time it was a witch who need a friend to play with her. Now? Its a dream about the reaper due to her emotion. She want to seek revenge and then she manage to do it within her dream witb a very dark animation for this one episode. You might think "Is this even real?" I will say you won't say any word after watch episode 13 and Haruto save her like the last one.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode4"]Episode 3: This time they change it to the love love kinda anime. Due to this time its about the dream of their love ones but this time Haruto can't save her then she die.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode4"]Episode 4: Its a food chibi anime now. This time is about the girl who got dumped for didn't gain weight. So she then have a dream about eating but this time she wasn't in a coma but she's sleep walking. Then Haruto save her by telling her that she doesn't have to eat anything she doesn't wanted too.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode5"]Episode 5: This time is a dream about the girl who abandoned her reality and wish she could have another life she wanted. Haruto then wake her up by telling her face the reality.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode6"]Episode 6: This time is a dream of the otaku. She got trapped in her dream but she think that she got reborn in the another world after she die so she then curse her friend that she though they forced her to committed a suicide. Haruto then telling her that this is all just a dream then try to wake her up.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode7"]Episode 7: A story create within a dream then feel those story like it was real by putting you as one of the MC of that story.... The story seam to be like a realistic story of a young prince who will became a king soon after. Which that story is also within a story of that king had searching for Nene by searching her within his past. Which this is also a dream within that girls head. Now I get it why there's always the annoying "EXTRA! EXTRA!" Its that kid who have been doing that for like entirely time. Those animation may not look good but the story is really a well made which is so fit with this animation. She then woke up.
It seem this episode is about "Pol Pot" and he was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Cambogia[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode8"]Episode 8: Its a dream about a singer who can't hear anything. So she then dream about the way to talk to people like "If subs was visible." So after she finally get to talk to someone and that's Haruto she then got out from her dream.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode9"]Episode 9: This time is a dream about an Idol but this time is also unlike any other cause she got into a coma cuse someone done something to her. She then dream about her being the hardcore idol teacher. But Haruto got there in a form of a girl. When he got found out he then got caught. The people in her dream then tell her to punish that man but because he said that he's her No.1 fans. She got solf. Then Haruto use his D power to get out of that place and tell her how like "Its a dream right?" After Haruto then help her return to reality.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode10"]Episode 10: This time she got into a coma on her free will so she could dream and create more lycans. Then this time the cat person then talk to her as a fan of her that he will be her friend. Then like every other episode she return to reality.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode11"]Episode 11: This time is like an explanation about the "Eve" in this anime and a little bit of Haruto but they never told us who's that red haired man that told the cat dude like "Don't believe them,"[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode12"]Episode 12: I will say its a very epic action episode. Also its a very logical action to kiss them or do other staff to that witch cause fighting her the witch with tons of military weapon is out of question cause Haruto don't have that mush of imagination of course. Since they said "Eve" need that witch be pure for her so impure her will likely end that fight.[/spoiler]
[spoiler="Episode13"]Episode 13: It seem its like a talking episode but its still not just talk and abandoned their characters or plot but it still didn't tell us "Who's Haruto?" they just cut that out.[/spoiler]
That's why I said they need more time for the characters.