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100-Man no Inochi no Ue ni Ore wa Tatteiru (S1)
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My first impression of 100-man was that the quality of the art and animation suggested a show with modest ambitions. A lot of the premise is stuff we've seen before, namely an alternate reality that functions like a video game. It wasn't initially clear whether the show would be humorous or serious; like playing a game, there are few repercussions from mistakes. Apparently the three don't even feel pain and quickly regenerate if killed. However, they are warned by the Gamemaster that if all three of them are killed simultaneously they will remain dead, perhaps in the real world as well. An interesting touch is that the reward for completing a quest is that they get to ask the Gamemaster a question. Unlike most Isekai series they can apparently travel back and forth between reality and this new world. With time the show seemed to get funnier (with stuff like the pathetic role that is randomly assigned to Yuusuke) and seemed less serious, though the title suggests it won't be pure comedy. Despite my first impression in the end my conclusion was that while it clearly wouldn't be brilliant 100-man seemed like a fun show and I was definitely curious about where the story would go. I hope something will be done with the characters and how they deal with this mind-blowing situation, perhaps Yuusuke's implied preference for this new reality over his old one.
After a quest is successfully completed the team asks the Gamemaster a question and gets a disturbing answer regarding why this whole business is underway. It seems they are being groomed to deal with a cataclysmic problem that will befall the real world someday. I think. It would be easier to be thrilled if I knew for certain that I had gotten it right, but this show is kind of difficult to interpret. Still, I found it to be fairly intriguing and was looking forward to episode three. Another (female) member is recruited for the adventuring party, and the incident in which Yuusuke first meets her was amusing. The characters in this show are imperfect people, just like real ones, and neither wanted this job nor are certain they can complete it. One of the girls, Kusue, becomes disturbed by the violence that is involved in the game, something which definitely doesn't happen often in isekai anime. Most of the time players gleefully hack opponents to pieces and enjoy being free of rules and regulations. We get to know what sort of people these four main characters were before getting involved in this game, which makes them more likable and interesting. I find that when it is this show's turn to be watched, I generally feel lucky.
The next problem: should Yuusuke and the girls obey an order from the Gamemaster that will result in three innocent persons being put to death? Or are they being tested--to see if they have the character and the courage to refuse to obey such an order? Or, come to think of it, did they misunderstand their instructions? Although the plot wasn't exactly racing towards a climax, I still felt fortunate whenever it was the turn of a new episode of 100-man to be watched. It's still difficult to understand how anything that happens in this world which operates like a video game could possibly portend a catastrophe for planet Earth. Nothing (IIRC) was done to prove to the characters that Gamemaster was serious and really could cause (or foretell) such a thing. The implication from a comment in episode eight (if I'm not imagining things) is that the real world itself might just be another stage of a video game, which is a shocking and intriguing claim that demands explanation. But I don't sense much of anything will be done with it. The characters do, at least, wonder whether the world they are in is real or virtual. But, as usual, they probably won't give the topic a second thought.
In episode ten the entire party is at risk of being killed by about the last threat you could possibly dream of. That would trigger the real-world catastrophe, wouldn't it? At this point I had come to feel somewhat less fortunate when new episodes of this show came along, due to the prolonged lack of an explanation of that. I was hoping that things would reach a crisis and the series would end definitively rather than we get a second season, because this show was increasingly seeming good enough to justify watching it for one season but not for two. In episode 11, we sort of get an explanation of the relationship between this game-like world and the real one: (spoiler?)This is a parallel reality, not a virtual one. That was kind of hard to buy (how is it possible to bounce back and forth between the two?), but it does create some ethical issues regarding things the team has done while operating on assumptions. It definitely doesn't explain why the real world would be endangered by what goes on in this one; it seems to me that about the only effect might be that these four people never see their home world again. A sensational claim has been made but no real evidence presented to support it, which is frustrating.
I was pretty confident that this series would wrap up with episode twelve, but no, a new arc begins and we are told that a second season will premiere in July 2021. I guess I will continue to watch, but am not exactly thrilled. The basic problem is that I cannot be confident that we will ever get a plausible and rewarding explanation of WTF is going on here. Season one ended in an anticlimactic and frustrating manner. I am not thrilled by the new character who will join the party. And I don't know what to make of Yuusuke's thoughts--at one point he's troubled by something he did, but at another he doesn't seem to give a damn. Hey, that's right--he hates people in the real world, doesn't he? Or at least he did back in episode one--there hasn't been much mention of this trait of his since then, which is why I had almost forgotten about it. Well, maybe a six month break is just what is needed before continuing on with this show.
Last updated Saturday, July 17 2021. Created Sunday, October 04 2020.