16bit Sensation: Another Layer

Title:16bit Sensation: Another Layer
16bitセンセーション ANOTHER LAYER
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,
Notables: ABE Atsushi
Konoha Akisato is a minor illustrator who wishes she could draw the cute girls of 30 odd years ago but is assigned to draw only men. She feels that her company, Blue Bell, is the worst and no one there 'dares to dream'. An anonymous online confidant, 'Blue Belly' agrees with her, which is better than nothing. Then one day Akisato finds herself somehow transported to 1992, the heyday of Bishoujo manga, anime and games. There waits 'Mamochi' a 15 year old male illustrator who hates bishoujo.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Stretch [series:4732#628]
(12 episodes watched):

I don't exactly know where this is going, but I'm curious to find out. In a way, surely being sent back in time to 1992 would be a dream come true for Konoha. We have gotten to know her and her frustrations fairly well, so how things work out will matter. Will there be any explanation of how she time travelled? Even if there isn't, I'm curious how things will go. No doubt she will find a job at Mamochi's small studio (they meet in a rather tawdry manner). One episode is not enough to reveal the complete premise of this show, but I like it so far. The 'Another Layer' subtitle made me wonder if this might be a sequel to another anime, but apparently it isn't.

In episode two Konoha gets a crash course in how to do her job with '90s technology and makes herself useful at Mamochi's studio. Seeing how early game designers did their work was fun. Mamochi apparently never wanted to be in the video game business at all, but was pressured into it. He is grudgingly impressed by Konoha's enthusiasm and may change his own opinion of game making. Then we get a major surprise which we absolutely must have an explanation for: Konoha finds herself back in 2023, as if it had all been a dream.

She bounces back and forth between the present and the past, never going back to exactly the same date twice, apparently. We get a sort of a lesson in the evolution of personal computer technology. I wonder why she didn't try to track down her 90's friends in the present day before trying to duplicate her first time leap (she could have pointed out that she hadn't aged a day), but I remain intrigued and curious about where this will go. Konoha gradually figures out the strange requirements for another leap. She associates with the staff at Alcohol Soft, a small 90's game maker. And after the company suffers a disaster, she finally gets what she has wanted all along: a chance to help create a classic bishojo game. There's always the chance that she'll abruptly leap back to 2023 before the job is done, however. This show keeps me engaged with the odd premise and likable characters. It is a homage to the development of video games and the anime that sprang from them. I enjoyed being reminded of how rapidly things have changed just within my lifetime.

In episode eight it is Mamoru who goes time travelling and things get weird. He finds himself with a game designer from back when video games were in their infancy, and there is definitely something odd about this guy, 'Echo', and his assistant, also named Echo. They seem like aliens of some sort, what with their inability to understand concepts like imagination. All sorts of questions leap to mind--for instance, are they the ones behind the time travelling?--but Mamoru doesn't ask many. Are we to believe that some supernatural force is behind the evolution of video games? Back in 1999, Konoha accomplishes her one big goal then is returned to 2023, where whe finds that history has been significantly altered. I was still intrigued, but wasn't getting much of any idea of where this was all going.

That happened in episode ten. Konoha finds that the game she helped create did far more harm than good to the Japanese anime industry. She meets an aged Mamoru who proposes a plan to fix things. If I understood things correctly, the last leap will be used to send Konoha back to 1999 where she'll create yet another game that will divert some of the attention from Last Waltz which was paradoxically too successful. It seems to me that this might only exacerbate the problem (won't it only draw more foreign attention to anime?), but it is intriguing nevertheless. Oh, and I think I know who the mysterious person Konoha was communicating with back in episode one is.

Things get wild in episode 11, with a conspiracy among the bad, alternate anime industry to abduct Konoha and some bizarre science fiction plan that involves dozens of preserved humnan bodies. Konoha's old friend Toya, now a high ranking anime executive, finds that she has been tricked into helping advance this evil scheme. I found I was still able to suspend disbelief enough to take this seriously, but the boundaries of what I could believe were being stretched and might break. Time travel is one thing, big conspiracies are something else. In episode twelve Mamoru launches a one-man rescue attempt (as a major executive, couldn't he call upon a number of security guards?). But with presumably just one episode to go, time seemed to be rapidly running out and it was hard to see how everything could be wrapped up all at once. For instance, what about Blue Belly? and what about Echo? That has seemed to create a supernatural dimension to the show, and now there's a conspiratorial one as well.

Last updated Monday, January 29 2024. Created Wednesday, October 18 2023.

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