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18if – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「Red Doors feat.米良美一」(Red Doors feat. Yoshikazu Mera) by TeddyLoid

「電影の魔女」 (Den kage no majo)
“The Witch of Thunder”

18if might be what you get, if you took LSD and mushrooms before going to sleep, and started having severe hallucinations in your dreams. Central to the series are witches, misguided girls afflicted by a deep slumber known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty Syndrome‘, escaping a difficult reality through the construction of a deceptively benign dream world. The caveat lies in the fact that unwitting people who happen to stumble across a witch’s realm are at risk of dying in real life, if they die in said dream world.

Presumably in a style formatted like the game providing 18if’s source material, puzzles need to be resolved in order to leave the dream world. The Witch puzzles are initiated by entering through the red door, with a blue exit door spawning once a solution is found. This is usually attained by either killing the Witch to wake her up in real life, or resolving her personal problems through empathetic conversations. Schmooze, kill, or be killed. I don’t think I would last longer than a couple of minutes!

Episode Impressions

Haruto Tsukishiro (Shimazaki Nobunaga) finds himself trapped, but holds a distinct survival advantage in the fact that a young, white haired girl called Lily (Nazuka Kaori) turns up time and time again to assure his safety. From what we’ve seen of Lily, one could describe her are being reminiscent of the stands from Stardust Crusaders, or the zanpakuto from Bleach. Only I’ve got a description that fits even better. Per-son-a.

There are many similarities between 18if and Persona 4, with the two crossing over on the theme of a dream-like world, and resolving people’s problems to release the shadow in their hearts. Although the dream world is arguably better executed in 18if, with a much funkier and stylistic take, there is some way to go before the characters become just as compelling. Haruto and Katsumi Kanzami (Koyasu Takehito) were pretty engaging, especially compared to Yuu Narukami from Persona 4, so there is certainly promise in this particular regard. As for releasing people from the grip of a shadow, did Haruto just Talk no Jutsu the Witch of Thunder? Although it felt a bit cheesy, I suppose it established one of his defining traits in being an incredibly smooth talker. So we can also expect less violence and more diplomacy, where witches are convinced to cease and desist.

Yuko Sakurabe (Endo Aya) had a lovely backstory going on detailing her transformation into the ‘Witch of Thunder’, incorporating the theme of bullying. But I personally felt it was forcefully shoved into our faces, with a minute long exposition scene being too short to achieve much intricacy or depth on such sensitive topics. To put it simply, as good as the ideas were, they were ultimately shallow in execution. More time is required to flesh out the witches themselves, as opposed to revelling in the abstract artistry of a postmodernist dream world. There is also a limitation on the potential character development of witches. Rather than a struggle to finally accept your true self as seen in Persona 4, things seem to hinge around Haruto’s reassurance that he will improve their lives. For the show to already rely so much on the force of Haruto’s character feels like quite a precarious situation. If he falls short on engaging the audience, then any kind of intrigue would likely fall flat.

Concluding Thoughts

18if is a pretty psychedelic anime, and I think people with a penchant for the unusual may find it worth their while to give it a shot. Fans of the abstract may particularly find themselves at home, with many aspects of the show simply oozing a minimalist style. Hopefully, this single episode was an explanatory induction. Rather than going down an episodic route, I think 18if would probably benefit from having 2-3 episode properly expanding on the backgrounds of characters.

ED Sequence

ED: 「Wonderland」by Lily (Nazuka Kaori)

July 10, 2017 at 12:58 am
13 comments »
  • July 10, 2017 at 3:09 amHanover Fist

    Getting a 404 on all the text screencap links. Looks like your copypasta was “18if – OP” in the filename rather than “18if – 01″

    • July 10, 2017 at 3:11 amZaiden

      Aw man, I’ve been having a terrible season with hyperlinks in introductory posts. Hopefully the next show won’t give me trouble, more like I need to get on top of things, and thanks for pointing it out! Will get on with fixing ASAP.

      Edit: Fixed! :)

  • July 10, 2017 at 6:25 amGinobi47

    This anime is crazy… and I dont know if that’s in a good way or a bad way.
    It’s just plain crazy.

  • July 10, 2017 at 8:06 amfrubam

    I think I’ll try at least two more episodes for now, but man, this show felt all over the place. It was like Alice in Wonderland if the Cheshire Cat came in mid-chapter and swept Alice up to the next chapter of the story =0\. It started to lose my interest for a moment there because everything felt disconnected and random, but somewhat turns itself around near the end.

    I am curious to see if he’ll return to the real world to meet Kanzaki and Sakurabe, and perhaps, as Zaiden says, the story becomes more “Persona”-like, or will this take up a more episodic nature where he always starts “down the rabbit hole” and must find his way out.

    • July 10, 2017 at 12:17 pmAex

      That ending gave the feeling that he might be stuck in the dream-world, rather than just “visiting”. Hope not, cause Yuko could really use a hug in real life, too.

    • July 10, 2017 at 12:30 pmLyfe

      I’m interested in seeing how the anime ties into the smartphone puzzle game. Also there’s a VR game of the same name coming too. I’m not sure if we can link to other sites here, but there’s an official The Art of 18 website out there with info that’s worth checking out.

  • July 10, 2017 at 12:21 pmLyfe

    They’ve got the dreamscape look down perfectly. I hope this is a return to form for Gonzo.

    • July 12, 2017 at 1:47 amZaiden

      Lyfe, did you not enjoy Akiba’s Trip? ;(

  • July 10, 2017 at 12:58 pmGrant

    The art’s nice and interesting even if not stellar and it’s got a good idea, but it went too quickly through events and I never felt excited or even that music, art and events were properly matched. I’ll probably try at least another episode or two, but at the moment I’d rather play whatever game was behind this show than watch the show.

    Seriously, how do you make a boy exploring a magic dream world with a professor-turned-cat and sword-fighting with a witch boring?

    • July 10, 2017 at 1:09 pmLyfe

      I could see the smartphone game being translated into English at some point because Funimation has licensed the anime. The game is kinda popular(See 18_puzzle) on twitter. But if you don’t want to wait, it’s out on IOS/Android in Japanese.

  • July 10, 2017 at 7:27 pmAxel

    Is anyone else getting some serious Penguindrum vibes here?

    • July 12, 2017 at 1:47 amZaiden

      Axel, not particularly, but I see where you’re coming from.

  • July 18, 2017 at 2:01 pmChris Hall

    still waiting for them to add ep 2 to this site

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