A shady bus tour of young men and women are headed to an elusive village called Nanaki Village. A destination where people can partake in a utopian existence, free of the world’s obstacles… or so goes the rumor. Heading deep into the mountains, the bus is carrying 30 different individuals, each harboring their own expectations and troubled hearts. What they had arrived to was an uninhabited village with lingering, faint scents of life. It was falling apart. Just what is the secret of Nanaki Village?
A dark and mysterious setting with a bus full of people trying to escape from their lives. You would assume, quit rightly, that every last one of these characters has a secret or is hiding something that merits leaving everything behind: families, friends, money – but can they really leave behind the things that they want to in order to have a new beginning? We have what will probably be a diverse range of personalities and backgrounds, but at the start we know absolutely nothing about any of them. Do any of these people have ulterior motives? Or is everyone truly on this trip to start over?
With 30 potential characters, The Lost Village has the biggest cast of characters by far this season. Each of them are only known by the alias which they used on the internet forum where they all met and decided to leave together. The director of the trip is enthusiastic and excited and, through brief introductions we see a little bit of each person. Not that we’ll remember all of this when things start going, but it’s a nice start nonetheless. Usually, when an anime dumps a large cast in front of us, the idea is that each viewer will identify with one or two characters as their personalities and plights reveal themselves and what will shape the journey for every viewer as an individual. There’s bound to be stand-out characters, those with strong ideals, those with the darkest secrets and everyone will have an opinion on each character. The Lost Village will be an anime very focused on character development.
Under such tense circumstances, it won’t be long before we see characters clashing, singling one another out and finding friends and enemies. And when they arrive at this mysterious village and see that it is suspiciously uninhabited, things start to unravel. Weren’t there supposed to be people here? What’s happened to them? And when members of the group start disappearing, the others begin to wonder whether the village is the best place for them to start their new lives after all.
The art is well-done and character design is done well enough to make the characters different from one another without going to any extremes. Even the soundtrack so far has proven to be impressive so far with helping ramp up the tension. I’m expecting big things from The Lost Village but, at the same time, I can easily see how this series might end up derailing, as some predict it might do. I’ve never seen an anime with so many scenes that are in the dark. I know this is meant to add to the mystery and the trepidation, but it’s hard to build suspense when I can barely see what’s going on in the first place. What characters are there in this scene? What’s going on? I’m hoping that things have light shed on them in the near future. A great dollop of mystery is something I enjoy, but at this point I’m hoping that the story will start leading somewhere soon.
There’s been a lot of debate in the anime community about whether The Lost Village is worth investing the time in or not, if the characters are believable enough, if the plot is exciting enough or whether the whole thing is so bad that it should all be viewed as some odd black comedy. However, I’m taking it at face value and I’m quite enjoying it. There’s a bit of philosophy on the meaning of life and the strength in reinventing yourself and the characters seem to be quite varied and there’s plenty of tonal shifts throughout that leave you guessing just what’s going to happen next. Some seem to think that things are only going to end up with death, death and more death and others say this anime is a pathetic attempt at giving self-interested individuals lots of screen time. Whilst I’m not doubting the potential for both of these things to be true, there’s also equally the potential for mystery, suspense, character growth and perhaps some cathartic revelations to help those that are ‘lost’ find themselves in this ‘lost’ village.