If you were like me, you are probably thinking about watching this show because it looks like another Saekano. Surprise: it’s not!
Girls Beyond the Wasteland is a series about a group of friends/schoolmates getting together to make a bishojou game. They all bring a different skillset to the table and serve in different positions: Buntarou is the script writer; Andou is the coder; Yuuki is the artist; Yuuka is the voice actress (voiced by the amazing Kana Hanazawa, mind you); Atomu, the assistant and member-at-large; and Sayuki, who basically checks over everything and takes care of everything else.
Girls Beyond the Wasteland is a show that takes a slice-of-life approach. What I mean by this is that most of it (emphasis on most) occurs on an episodic basis. Whenever you want to incorporate a slice-of-life approach, you need to balance it out with something else because you are basically forsaking a definitive story that would otherwise unite the entire plot together. Whether it’s pure humor (e.g. Hanayamata, The Daily Lives of High School Boys, etc.) or a colorful cast of characters that mesh well with each other (e.g. Love Live!, K-On!, etc.), something needs to occur to captivate the audience somehow.
And that’s the numero uno problem with this show: there is nothing captivating. At all. Nothing. There is some humor, but it is sporadically placed throughout the show in a poorly integrated fashion. As for the characters themselves, well they are mostly archetypal, one-dimensional, clichéd, and with no development. But I’ll give the show this: there definitely was some potential for development. However, it did not flesh out this opportunity well. Some characters are the stars of their own episode (e.g. Andou, Yuuka, Buntarou, Yuuki, etc.) but literally nothing happened. Awfully formulaic too, since it usually boiled down to this:
- A conflict occurs, either internally or with someone else
- Some lame resolution is reached
- Move onto the next episode and (usually) pretend like that was it and nothing happened
Fortunately, towards the end of the show, whoever wrote this show does break away from this dry formula. A slight improvement, yes, but this also presents its own set of flaws. For example, Sayuki’s brother – someone who was never mentioned in the show until two episodes before his actual appearance – is forced into the plot because, you know, the plot needs to move along somehow. Same goes for the other competitive game-making group that wants to acquire members from Buntarou’s group. It’s something that does not build off on anything in the show. Aside from that, other aspects of the plot is also pretty clichéd. Obligatory fanservice episode with no meaning? Don’t worry, it’s there alright!
If you’re worried about the pacing, it is actually alright for the most part since the story is presented episodically. The only issue with it is with the first episode, where basically getting every character to join the group is crammed into an incoherent 24 minutes. Because of this, you may end up questioning why some of them decided to join the group.
As for the art, it’s very mediocre. There are some minor shading inconsistencies and the characters themselves seem to almost never change facial expressions. Sound-wise, the voice acting was done well and the music was alright, but I didn’t find it too remarkable.
All in all, a dry cast of characters and a formulaic plot is never a good combination. There were times when the show could have built off the potential it had, but it blew every chance that it was given. I wouldn’t recommend watching this unless you were so bored that you have nothing to do. Then go ahead.
P.S. Did you pick up on the references to other shows? (cough Saekano cough)
Author's Disclaimer: Please remember, this is my own personal opinion. I critique anime primarily on how the story is executed and how well-rounded the characters are. This review is not meant to target any other review but was intended to provide a more holistic analysis.
It should also be noted that this is a full-fledged review of the entire season.