Transcending Romance in WorldEnd, DEATH TO HAREMS (or not)

Some years ago, me and my naive self was told that I must watch a certain romance anime because it was superior to all other romance anime in existence. That anime was Toradora! and that claim was utter bullshit. The only thing that show transcended was, one, its realistic depiction of how dumb a bird looks and, two, a step by step guide on how to identify an abusive relationship.

 

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Inko, the aforementioned pet parakeet of Ryuuji on Toradora!

Let’s take it at face value. WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? is probably one of the most ridiculously long and pointlessly explanatory names I’ve ever seen. Honestly, the only title I’ve seen top this one would have to be ‘My Reincarnation as a Hot Spring in a Different World is Beyond Belief ~ It’s Not Like Being Inside You Feels Good or Anything!?’ which I strongly advocate be adapted in the near future (and you to look up if you haven’t heard of it. Trust me. It’s amazing). Regardless, my point is that while WorldEnd is using a generic plot it’s a perfect example of using smaller details to reinvent a genre. A lot of people I know will complain if a story is too overdone or not original enough but, if you break it down, there are clear archetypes that exist and these templates drive forward all narratives of entertainment we see today. I don’t think being generic in and of itself is a bad thing. Especially not in cases like these.

So, while WorldEnd contains some Frankenstein parts, it comes through in its pacing and romance. Most romantic anime end with the beginning. That is, the first kiss or actual relationship is usually the tail-end of 12 episodes worth of wooing and miscommunication. What has been happening recently (Scum’s Wish and Tsuki

What has been happening recently (Scum’s Wish and Tsuki ga Kirei to name a few) is the establishment of romantic affection early on which allows a deeper intensity to leave with the viewers. Scum’s Wish and Tsuki ga Kirei were great in that. The high-school and middle-school dynamics, respectively, were real to the point where watching was uncomfortable. Just like it was back then. And the complex dynamics of the romance were so much more than a small lapse in communication causing a crisis or leaving scenes unfinished/having scenes interrupted to keep all the fans happy. I’M SICK OF IT and you should be too! If you really have a best girl who’s not winning, rejoice! That means there’s more of her for you. Don’t pretend to be selfless now you assholes. I’d be so much better with Rem than Subaru. You can fight me about it. Ugh, that’d be so tiring. Please don’t.

And the complex dynamics of the romance were so much more than a small lapse in communication causing a crisis or leaving scenes unfinished/having scenes interrupted to keep all the fans happy. I’M SICK OF IT and you should be too! If you really have a best girl who’s not winning, rejoice! That means there’s more of her for you. Don’t pretend to be selfless now you assholes. I’d be so much better with Rem than Subaru. You can fight me about it. Ugh, that’d be so tiring. Please don’t.

I think WorldEnd, in that case, was very transformative as the initial harem is quickly formed and then CRUSHED, DESTROYED, ELIMINATED in the first few episodes. Perhaps a symbolic gesture for all harem-lovers to sit down and shut the hell up. The rest of the season is spent molding Ctholly and Willem, or Cthollem (I just thought of this now. Pretty good, right?). Let’s not forget the man consisting of failing internal organs and shattered bones, only held together by a curse, used his powers which cause enormous strain on a regular person just to dive into the arms of the one he loved after she returned safely from battle.

 

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A failed, disgusting creation…

 

From the first encounter to crushing to infatuation to love to marriage. Imagine this. Develop feelings, confess, and get proposed to instead of develop feelings, beat the ever-loving shit of your ‘lover’, and then not understand why they don’t like you back so you dropkick them.

I love how it all played out. I say this as someone who didn’t especially like Ctholly in the first place (more of a Ren guy. Actually, anyone else was better. Like, are you kidding me? We never get to learn Ren’s background, only that she’s a fucking great blanket, and Ithea hints to having long ago conjoined with her past self and was able to overcome it. That’s amazing. That’s the WHOLE CONFLICT CTHOLLY FACES. Wouldn’t any other girl have been better to develop?). Even if the anime itself wasn’t a godsend, I’d very much like to see more elements of this type of romance like from WorldEnd, Scum’s Wish, and Tsuki ga Kirei where The Relationship isn’t the goal but is, maybe, a stop on the journey spent developing characters. If miscommunication as the main conflict could be replaced with oh, I don’t know, ANY-FUCKING-THING ELSE that would be a great leap forward, for me.

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