WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?

WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?

img_2984.jpgThe fleeting and sad story about little girls known as fairy weapons and an associate hero that survived. This is a world after it was attacked by unidentified monsters known as beasts and many of the species in the world, including humans, had been destroyed. The species that had managed to survived left the ground and were living on a floating island called Regal Ele. Willem Kumesh, wakes up above the clouds 500 years later and couldn’t protect the ones who he wanted to protect. Actually, he was living in despair because he was the only survivor.

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In the first episode Willem saves a young girl from a fatal fall, and in doing so reveals them both to be “furless” and “disfeatured” – humans trying to get by in a world that has been largely overtaken by a different species. After seeing the girl to safety, taking her around the town and then being told by her to then forget that she ever existed, he takes on a job for the military who are looking for a trustworthy ‘disfeatured’ individual to be a caretaker of a warehouse containing special weapons. On his way to the facility, he is attacked by an over-enthusiastic young girl and brought to the facility that he has been asked to be caretaker of. But he sees no special weapons – only young girls. Clearly, there’s something that Willen hasn’t been told. Namely that these young girls, otherwise known as fairest, are themselves the weapons.

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In the first episode, where Willem is walking around town with the girl he saved, we are treated to a beautiful and English-sung Scarborough Fair, which makes the seemingly unimportant journey of a tour around the town rather poignant, and make me feel that this is an anime that is bound to have some tragic overtones further down the line. It’s actually one of the things that made me commit to this anime right at the beginning. There’s a moment where I think “Yes, I want to watch this one all the way through to the end.” There’s a lot of that anime this season, but it’s WorldEnd was one of the quickest in which I felt like seeing it through.

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With the bombshell that’s dropped at the end of the first episode, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be an ultimately happy anime. The series is already drawing similarities with Black Bullet, examining the moral conundrum of young girls growing up knowing that their lives are forfeit in the light of a bigger threat – and they are all that stand in the way of worldly destruction by otherworldly beings. In this instance, there are 17 beasts that threaten Earth and by sacrificing themselves, these girls (or fairies) can take then down without anyone else getting hurt.

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As the story continues, we begin to see that there’s more to Willem than first anticipated and things begin to unravel around his past and his surprising ability with wielding dug weapons. We also begin to see a relationship begin to develop between him and Ctholly, the blue-haired young woman that he saved from falling. When it is revealed that Ctholly has been ordered to open the fairy gate in her next battle (that is, to say, draw on a power so strong that it will kills her), Willem challenges her to a sparring match and tries to change her fatalistic way of thinking. Sure enough, Willem begins to make her wonder whether she is strong enough to battle the beasts without having to sacrifice her life. But daring to hope against hope is dangerous, and she refuses to believe that fairies before her have willingly gone to their death when there was always a way to prevent it. At the same time, Willem learns more about the process in which fairies are chosen to wield dug weapons. He watches young Tiat mature into a potential warrior despite her young age and we can see how powerless he feels to watch the girls he lives with being groomed for death for the sake of the world.

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I want to see if WorldEnd is able to continue to walk that fine line between action and tragedy without losing the impact on either side. Sometimes is seems to wobble, bogged down by giving its large cast screen time, which seems to be where it loses its momentum. It wasted no time in establishing itself as a fatalistic story and it’s no secret that Willem is there to try to intercept this if he can, but it will be interesting to see to what degree he will be successful in this endeavour.