In the winter, it was Erased that got us all talking. ‘Mystery’ seems to be the key genre this year, and the trend continues with Mayoiga. Also known by its English title The Lost Village, Mayoiga’s concept was enough to make it stand out among the new shows to many people. But has its first few episodes disappointed us?
We start off with a group of young men and women on a mysterious tour bus. They have gathered there to ‘make a new start’ together- by finding the promised land, a lost village known as Nanakimura. There, it’s rumoured to be a utopia where one can leave everything behind and start anew, away from the trappings of their old lives. It can’t be found on a map, and it’s doubtful the place even exists, but this group of people is willing to take that chance. However, when they reach their apparent destination, they find it abandoned with faint, lingering hints of life. They must find out the secrets of this lost village.
Each member of the group has their own reasons for wanting to start anew. From fleeing abuse, escaping a crappy job, or simply because they want to prove it’s all a ruse. This large cast- all with interesting backstories- are introduced within the first 5 minutes. Whether this is a mistake or not, we’ll know later. It seems far-fetched that we could find depth in a cast this huge, but it’s been done. (If you have watched or read Battle Royale, you’ll know that having over forty characters does nothing to dull the emotional turmoil).
As we are introduced to each character, a familiar feeling sets in. We’re shown the tsundere girl, the guy who’s always angry, the shy girl, the spineless protagonist, an endless array of character tropes we’ve seen a thousand times before. Despite this, some of them do have interesting quirks and a bit of potential. It isn’t their personality types that will get you excited. The real intrigue is to be found in your curiosity about their backstories, how they came to be on that bus. A tsundere (for example) is only boring if that’s the only aspect of her character. If it goes deeper than that, then there’s hope yet.
The animation is a particular strong point with Mayoiga. Diomedea is more well known for its adaptations of light novel content, and isn’t a big name like Shaft or KyoAni. Even if it’s not incredibly renowned, Diomedea has definitely impressed. It gets by a lot of opening scenes by using 3D animation, something that has become highly controversial. However it’s not overused, and in scenes where 2D animation is used, the 3D is kept to an absolute minimum. This avoids the jarring contrast between the two styles to become obvious. Clever use of 3D animation is something that should be appreciated, especially when the style is drawing more and more attention to itself in recent years.
Storywise, tension has already been set up by the end of episode two. We’ve now established the protagonist and his love interest (who by the way is an adorable little thing and we love her), and foreshadowing has taken place. In a dramatic scene between the tour group and their reluctant coach driver, it’s shown to us that tensions in the group are rising and there could be a mutiny in the future…? We’ll see. Any story involving a group of weird individuals being isolated in a totally abandoned location will involve some intense drama. The only drawback could be the protagonist himself- he doesn’t seem like the type to actively drive a storyline. We could be relying on the side characters to move the plot here.
Whatever the case, we’ll be continuing to catch up on the anime of spring 2016, and this includes Mayoiga. The pull of a good mystery plot is hard to resist.