Episode 8 makes it clear that this ain’t your momma’s Reaper Game. The dramatic stakes here are higher than even the previous episode, which was one of the most exciting episodes of the series. Even with Beat’s comedic outbursts, episode 8 feels like End Game content, the final stretch in TWEWY the Animation‘s story. Neku and Beat have quite the challenge ahead of them if they’re going to survive both the games and Miss Konishi’s machinations. Thank goodness Neku’s a different person from who he was at the beginning of this series or else he’d be in trouble. Even knowing how things end, I truly hope that Neku is strong enough to see this final week through and bring all those loose plot threads together.
Episode 7 is perhaps the best episode of the series to date. The pacing feels good, the action is solid, and there’s enough to keep you excited for the final five episodes of this series. In many ways, this is what I initially wanted from the show: an action-adventure series that took from the source material, remixed things to make them fit, and ultimately, created just as emotional an experience as the game. Episode 7 proves that this can be done, and if wary viewers stuck it out until now, I think they’ll see what I mean.
If episode 5 is TWEWY the Animation regaining its footing, then episode 6 is a solid transitional episode that effectively builds up to the climax of this arc. It confidently blends quieter, character-building scenes with plot developments and interstitial moments that build up the ongoing mystery of the Shibuya Underground and what’s potentially happening behind the scenes with Minamimoto and even Joshua. It feels night and day compared to episodes 2 and 3, which felt frenetic, messy, and generally all over the place.
If episode 4 felt like a vast improvement, then episode 5 feels like TWEWY the Animation has finally gotten its legs. Things flow much, much better than the first three episodes of the series, and the plot progression we get feels much more natural. The cliffhanger for episode 6 feels genuinely engaging, and was telegraphed well enough that I’ll leave viewers to fill in the blanks, rather than spoiling things here. Additionally, Neku’s resolve in this episode actually feels impactful. Unlike the opening arc, I actually feel quite a lot for this version of Neku. While part of that is certainly due to nostalgia, a lot of it is this slightly different version of the world of TWEWY, which seems to finally have some cohesion ahead of the mid-season episode, and the back half of the rest of the cour.
It’ll be interesting to explore Joshua and Neku’s dynamic, especially now that the frenetic pace of the first week of the games has slowed down a bit. I’m still wary about the pacing for the next few episodes, but hopefully this episode is an indication that TWEWY the Animation has found its legs. I actually really like Neku’s character development. It feels authentic, especially in the wake of Shiki fading away and being used as leverage against him in the previous episodes. It’s clear that the boy we initially met is gone. Now, we’re dealing with a Neku who’s got more heart than jerkitude, which makes for a solid, enjoyable protagonist to follow from here on out.
In a way, TWEWY the Animation is one of the most interesting advertisements for a video game franchise to date. It’s beautiful, stylish as heck, and features really great voice acting, but it’s hard not to shout, “Go play the game then watch this!” so that viewers have some context about what is all happening in these first few episodes. However, rather than pushing the source material onto you, I’ll suggest that you just come along for the ride, and if you like what you see, pick up the game later—either on the DS or the Switch—to fill in the gaps that the anime either don’t or won’t have time to fill. I think there are still enough in-world lore and general world-building in these episodes to keep viewers engaged.
There’s a frenetic pace to episodes 1 and 2, which kind of fits the source material. Of course, the perk of the game is the simple fact that you spend more time with Neku, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme, and get to explore Shibuya’s every nook and cranny. As a fan, I find the episodes perfectly understandable. After all, I spent years of loving the franchise. I’m working with loads of secrets and plotty tidbits from later in the game. I know—or at least, assume I know—how most things will go. I’m along for the ride, simply because seeing TWEWY animated feels wicked in the best of ways.