I have often said that if a show can’t decide on what the title should be, that is an indication of troubles. Although “Shōjotachi wa Kōya o Mezasu” (“Girls Beyond the Wasteland” or “Girls Aim for the Wasteland”, often abbreviated as “Shokomeza” and also known as “Girls Beyond the Youth Koya”) somehow avoids this problem, the story it tells is one that I have already seen.
We are at school, a teeming cauldron of youthful vigor and endless optimism….more or less. Buntarō Hōjō (often called Bunta, center top row) is approached by Sayuki Kuroda (on his left). She has had her eye on him for some time, admiring him from afar and around corners and peering into his classroom, and she has finally worked up the courage to ask him if he’ll…if he’ll…if he’ll…..write the script for the bishojo game she has in mind. You see, he writes one-acts for the drama club, so he knows how to weave a story. Kuroda runs on an oddish philosophy, in that she feels that people are forced to do things they do not want to do, in order to make money to live, creating, in her mind, a vast wasteland. She wants to do something about it, so things are less miserable and desperate and nothing at the end of the day. To this end, they both slowly assemble the cast they need to make things work on this game, doing things as they seem fit:
Atomu Kai (top row, left). A good friend of Bunta, he is the Assistant Director.
Teruha Andō (bottom row, left). She is the Programmer and she often butts heads with Kuroda on a variety of issues.
Uguisu Yūki (bottom row, center). She is the Art Director and painfully shy.
Yūka Kobayakawa (bottom row, right). The Voice Actress who’s always perky.
So, these six labor away at this game, encountering the standard mix of problems that arise in an endeavor of this nature. The show breaks down into the three-arc components: the first arc assembles the crew, the second arc shows them working and the problem complications, the third arc further complicates the problems, but we all make nicey-nicey at the end so The Project can continue.
It’s just that I saw this last year as “Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend” (and that show was picked up for a second season, which I have yet to see) and it covers the exact territory. You need all of these people to succeed, but there are two who REALLY don’t get along and that one over there is overworking themselves, which jeopardizes the unusually delicate schedule and the story line is all off and the vocal track went missing and, and, and….
I have to surmise that the real problem for me IS me. If I hadn’t seen the other one, I might have found this a better show. I will say that it is constructed better than the previous, although the fights between Ando and Kuroda were based less on performance issues and more on personality clashes. This is what happens when two Alpha females vie for the top spot. Also, this anime started off as a video game (and it was a kind of ‘choose your own ending’, based on decisions made in the game), whereas the other one was a light novel, so things were more in place, story-wise.
Despite all MY problems (and I want to emphasize that the problems are with me and not the show), I did stick it out, as it was interesting to see how all of this unfolded. Sure, some of the characters seem wise beyond their years. When I was their age, I was concerned being able to get a school locker for all of my books, not even thinking I could create a video game! It’s just that Kuroda has something to prove, but she isn’t the best communicator in how they are going to achieve that goal, so she comes off as rather tyrannical. This means she creates most of her own problems but is unwilling or unable to learn from it. Talk about being dragged along, kicking and screaming.
I often felt she agreed to things to keep the schedule moving ahead, but wasn’t willing to flex on her side to resolve the issue permanently, preferring to kick the can down the road. And, seriously, I find it hard to believe these were the only folks you could find? How many attend this school? You painted yourself into the corner when you didn’t have to. I would have like to have seen them select a person who had the talent, but not the personality and the struggles to have to not only send them packing, but finding a suitable replacement in a timely matter. Well, live and learn. I will suggest you watch the first two episodes and see if it fits for you. If you watch only one anime this year, you aren’t watching enough anime.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Sharp and crisp)
Plot 6 (Done before)
Pacing 7 (Can run hot and cold)
Effectiveness 7 (Too many arguments for my tastes)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (Strong points outweighed weak points)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. How is the script coming along?