This week’s Subarashiki Kono Sekai captures the last days of Week 2 as Minamimoto continues to ravage Shibuya with Taboo Noise. But as Neku’s distrust in Joshua reaches its highest heights, he is also conflicted because he is growing more empathetic of those around him, driving him to be more broken up by the end of the second game.
Although Subarashiki Kono Sekai’s anime is about as neutered of its charm or enthusiasm as any video game adaptation, it still manages to capture the heart of the story by placing emphasis on the emotional growth Neku faces throughout the game. He’s been tormented by numerous harrowing experiences, but losing Sota and Nao forces Neku to look deeper within himself. His world grew beyond the “I got my values, so you can keep yours,” quote from the beginning of the game because of the people he’d come to care about overtime.
It was to the point where Neku ended up having empathy for Joshua because he was unable to clear the air before Joshua T-posed in front of Minamimoto’s final attack for our sins. Even though most of this regret came because of a memory that flashed of Minamimoto being involved in Neku’s death, he’d come to learn that Joshua also had much to lose if he was erased during the game. He might have played up his suspicious tendencies as Neku learned more about who he is, but Joshua did well to get Neku on his side by the time they had to fight Minamimoto. It would’ve been nice if the anime gave Joshua more of his sense of humor or sassiness to humanize him beyond just suspiciously plotting against Neku, but I’ll take what I can get.
It was also an interesting episode for Uzuki and Kariya since they had a friendlier dynamic with Neku this time around. With Minamimoto trying to kill everyone, human or reaper, Kariya found it difficult to share Uzuki’s frustration that Neku helped protect her from the Taboo Noise. It’s unique that this video game gives us antagonists like Uzuki and Kariya that we have a hard time sympathizing with until they’re also stuck in a position where they are fighting as hard for their survival as the main characters are. Because of this, we also get nice moments like when Kariya thanks Neku by warning him that the Gamemaster will keep trying to manipulate the rules and when Uzuki switches the emergency lights to help Neku later on.
On the other hand, the fight with Minamimoto highlights the biggest weakness of this adaptation in that the anime format makes it easy to try to race through the material. Sota’s dialogue or Minamimoto’s final attack where he shouted several digits of pi might have gotten the short end of the stick, but I think, stylistically, it relies on the faithful recreation of the game’s art for atmosphere. Instead of having a Shibuya be a character within itself, playing the game’s funkier music, or building a sense of dread with each threat, we’re just supposed to assume that Shibuya is neat or that Minamimoto’s Taboo Noise rampage is a horrific death trap for everyone involved. Much like how we’re supposed to assume that Neku is only starting to realize his attachment to people when the anime is quick to have Neku grow with every episode that involves him reminiscing about Shiki or Rhyme.
But overall, it is still nice to see a more empathetic Neku that is more open about grieving for those who are dying from the game, including those that he’s gotten far too familiar with to ignore. It makes it all the more frustrating before it’s time for Kitajini to continue moving the goal post away from Neku for his third and last game.