Mayoiga: The Lost Village is definitely one of the more curious anime to be released this Spring 2016 and that is by no means a bad thing. Take 30 or so strangers, a mysterious village and enough emotional baggage to last at least twenty life times and you’ve got Mayoiga.
Lets break it down!
Adventures of the Lost Villagers
The anime seems very straight forward at first. As it begins you are introduced to the seemingly excessive cast of characters who have all boarded a bus tour in hopes of discovering the mysterious Nanakimura Village. Our bundle of travelers hope to leave their old lives behind and all start new lives, all with a blank slate. This is obviously a brilliant idea which could never, ever fail. Especially considering that almost all of the people on the bus are just meeting each other for the first time and know near nothing about their to-be-neighbors. I mean seriously, they don’t even know each other’s real names. Every member of the tour had signed up for this trip online through some puzzle competition and are using internet screen names, and we all know that there is absolutely nothing questionable about the people you meet on the internet. Grade A, 100% fool proof idea. . . but I digress.
The main protagonist Mitsumune, or the closest thing to, is a seemingly average 16 year old boy who, while a bit naive, is very enthusiastic about starting his new life. As the group journey on toward their new lives Mitsumune quickly establishes a connection with Masaki, a timid but sweet 17 year old girl who is one of the biggest question marks of this entire show. Despite the warnings of his long time friend Hayato, Mitsumune and Masaki continue to bond throughout the trip.
The tour group eventually meets up with Koharun, a graduate student who has long been studying the mysterious Nanakimura Village. She takes up as their guide for the final stretch of the journey. Eventually they arrive safely to their destination, but as they begin to explore the village it becomes clear that Nanakimura is most definitely not what any of them were expecting.
As the group settles into the deserted town mysterious things begin happening. People start disappearing, people’s pasts and personalities begin to reveal themselves and they all discover that they may not truly be alone in Nanakimura. The series follows the group as they try to decide if running away from their troublesome pasts is really worth facing who or what Nanakimura Village has lurking about.
The Would Be Villagers
There are way too many characters to mention all of them by name. The Lost Village does a great job of assembling a varied cast where each character feel unique even if some are of a similar vain. The first episode itself aids this along greatly with an “introduce yourself” montage where we get to meet each character and learn of their reasons for joining the tour. Of course, as the series progresses we learn that many of their reasons are not as simple as they were initially made out to be.
Particularly after arriving in Nanakimura we begin to see who most of the characters really are. Some are revealed to be slightly manic like Mikage who exhibits some scarily serious control issues. Other’s reveal themselves to be completely off their rocker like Lovepon who is very obsessed, it would seem with execution – I’m not kidding, the girl says the word at least twice ever episode.
Many characters in turn are afforded the chance to display their uniqueness. Valkana and his caring leadership which contrasts is brash leadership, Maimai and her calm consideration and even Lion and her keen observational skills are among the few who take to the spotlight often for said uniqueness.
What makes Mayoiga’s characters special however is the depth that they all have. Though many of the characters aren’t given essential screen time – which is to be expected with a cast this large – they are all shown to have a depth beyond what is first seen of them. Especially those who’s pasts are revealed.
I could wax on for ages about how much I loved the handling of characters this project showed but you can probably get the idea from what I’ve already written. The series shines for its use of characters and the manner in which it adds depth.
A strong draw to this anime is also the mystery. The series doesn’t outright ask you to solve it and I’m sure there are many who could probably watch and just take things as they come. But just because the questions aren’t asked doesn’t mean they aren’t in your face all the time. Right to the end you would be hard pressed to say exactly what’s going on. Be it what’s going on with a character, what’s happening in the village or why things are the way they are, you spend a lot of time with this anime just trying to figure it out.
This anime also manages to dredge up feels in unexpected places. Part of the reason the anime is so hard to figure out is because there are many unexpected plot twists along the way. The twist go from mild to extreme and at the center of it all are these characters with these meaningful lives they have lived and are now trying to escape.
A lot of characters obviously means not everyone can get the same amount of screen time. Some must inevitably take the lead, others will contribute to the story and some will fill gaps by simply being in the scene. What hurts is that some of the characters who are given time to shine, at least enough for them to stand out, inevitably leave you feeling robbed.
By the end of the series you’ve learned a lot about a lot of people but you really can’t help feeling like you didn’t learn enough about some that may have mattered more. Add to that the abrupt end. While the show manages to maintain a steady progression throughout making brilliant use of cliffhangers, it ends leaving some major questions unanswered. The series has flow and depth but there is a serious lack of development. The series feels like its building to something great both dramatically and emotionally but in the end just seems to flop.
!! SPOILERS WARNING !!
I honestly hate that the series ends and we still don’t know why the village exists or why it is the way that it is. We never find out about Nanko or get any real detail about Lion’s past. We are left wondering what’s to happen to the villagers who remain in Nanakimura and the sudden reveal of a villainous mastermind is majorly cheated by her sudden turn of enlightenment in the last few minutes of the finale.
Go for it if you’ve got some time to kill and expect to be wowed if you stick it out. If you’re into mysteries, they’ve got it in spades. Like shipping? They’ve got that too. The fun part about this anime is that even when it goes to extremes and push the boundaries of the realism it set out to embody, the characters and the meaning behind the story remains relate-able and keeps the show appealing.
Expect to be left unsatisfied and expect to be left with a whole lot of unanswered questions but also expect have a good time on during the ride.