TWEWY the Animation has been one hell of a ride, going from one of the season’s weakest premieres to a strong, emotional finale. And as I sniffled my way to the end of the ED, I found myself really happy I got to cover this series, both as a critic and as a fan of TWEWY as well. Realistically, this adaptation won’t be for everyone. I’m 100% sure there’s fans who dropped off hard in episode 3. Yet I think that this is one of the most solid video game adaptations in recent years: certainly in the past decade, though… don’t get too mad at me for saying that.
In many ways, I lament how weak the series’ opening arc with Neku and Shiki was in comparison to its incredibly sEpisode 11 slaps. It’s the perfect second-to-last episode before next week’s finale. This is what I dreamed of the show being: plotty, impactful, emotional, and engaging. Even though it had to compress a sizable JRPG into twelve-episodes, TWEWY the Animation is easily one of my favorite adaptations in a long time, doubly so since I already adore the video game (though the Tales of Symphonia anime will forever hold a special place in my heart).
In many ways, I lament how weak the series’ opening arc with Neku and Shiki was in comparison to its incredibly strong back half. And I’m not only saying that because I know how powerful this story can be; at this point of my wEpisode 10 is chockablock with plotty tidbits in its back half. Like a good stew, all these ingredients come together to make a feast that’s both moreish and utterly satisfying. (and I’m not just saying that because we get to see my hot, messy boyfriend Sho again!) I want another taste, another sample of what TWEWY the Animation has in store next week, and the week after. My gut feeling I had early on definitely played out, but that was just part of the plethora of feelings coursing through me.
In many ways, I lament how weak the series’ opening arc with Neku and Shiki was in comparison to its incredibly strong back half. And I’m not only saying that because I know how powerful this story can be; at this point of my watch, my positive impressions are less about nostalgia, and more about the merits of this adaptation. It’s still not perfect – there are some hiccups even in this episode – but TWEWY the Animation is really, really good. I just wish it had been this good from the start.
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.