And so, episode 2, and a little more timely. It must be said, this episode is more representative of how much of WorldEnd is going to be: slow-paced and reflective. It’s trying to walk the fine line between letting stuff be shown without drawing attention to it, and pointing it out even though some impact is lost by doing so. I think it’s weaving across that line as it proceeds forward, but arguably hasn’t fallen off entirely. It does illustrate why opening with the promise of action at some point was a good idea though. If the first episode had been so slow, I cannot imagine people who didn’t know there was a future payoff would stay. Fair warning, this story works with insidious feels, but that means it requires time to work its way in. I’m expecting to get to the moment that hooked me in a couple more episodes, though it might be the next one depending on how fast they move, and we’ll see how it impacts.
Anyway, the episode begins with a quick flashback of Kutori’s closing remarks from the previous episode, and then fades into Willem watching the adorable population of the warehouse chowing down, having obvious difficulty processing the idea that little girls = weapons. Naigrat introduces him, which falls entirely flat, and then we get to see the OP for the first time. I had been shown the song before (If you guessed Protonstorm, you get no points) and it hadn’t wowed me at the time, but seeing it set to the visuals I think it really works well.
The ethos of the covers is represented by having Kutori crying behind the title, before the requisite ‘This is what the show is about’ montage runs. But HOLY SHIT what a montage. I joked before I watched it that it’d be interesting to see what foreshadowing they manage to hide, and DAMN did they. I honestly cannot even refer to the scene in question without risking spoilers, but let me say it not only references the underlying central circumstances of the entire story, but also the true nature of the world. It is the most ballsy thing I think I’ve ever seen included in an OP, I am thoroughly impressed. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to explain when we hit that point in the story proper.
The next few scenes continue to show Willem failing to make a connection with the locals and coincidentally showing more of what you might call the B-Team: Tiat, Lakhesh, Pannibal and Collon. These four are the main cast of the sequel, having grown up a bit by then. We also then get to meet the other two members of the A-team: quiet Nephren (whose name survives without interference, and whom you may also recognise as the girl Willem is holding as he falls in the very beginning) and the rambunctious Ithera (whose spelling I actually prefer over the LN’s Aisera. Go figure). We also get to see Kutori being adorably childish over insisting she’s not a child at 15. We also see CR immediately trip over its dumb naming conventions as they forget how many H’s they originally put in Ctholly (I fucking swear that first H wasn’t there last episode, though they’ve retconned it in now). In the LNs, Kutori had a reasonably long monologue about her pride at being the tallest and one of the eldest, and her rejection of the idea that Willem might just see her as another kid when she’s clearly so mature, but this scene serves to get the basics across.
Willem’s musing about the frightened attitude he stills receives from the majority of the girls is interrupted quite hilariously by Naigrat really disrespecting personal boundaries. Under almost all circumstances, her randomly licking him would be incredibly uncomfortably creepy, but with the knowledge that she has a stated interest in literally consuming him it’s somehow highly amusing instead, as any sexual connotations become blurred with a more literal appetite. Willem’s panicked burbling as his mammalian hindbrain freaks out adds the rest of the context needed to land the humour, in my opinion anyway. Ithera’s crack about getting dessert toppings gives Willem the inspiration he needs to win over the girls however: Pudding!
A big success, and for a moment Willem sees memories of doing the same for all of the younger children at the orphanage (which I still don’t think they’ve stated with enough attention) before Naigrat comments on him looking better, which prompts Willem shut down once again. It might come across as an emo “I can’t allow myself to be happy” but Willem has yet to come to terms with the loss of his entire world, everything he died to protect, with the only remnants being creatures he fought against. Who hate his race, and therefore him, for being the bad guys. If you’re the only one who remembers all that’s gone, letting yourself have those memories be overwritten with more immediate comfort could seem like one last failure to keep it alive. Regardless, his efforts to sink back into apathy are countered by an application of happy children to the face.
A short scene with Kutori helping clean up again indicates she has something weighing on her mind, and then the next day shows us the girls playing a version of Dodgeball taught to them by Willem - no longer the scary outsider. Our A-Team watch from the window as Nephren helps Kutori and Ithera get dressed, the potential for fanservice mostly avoided even with Ithera being in a bustier. Kutori’s shift isn’t revealing and the shots of Ithera typically don’t leer… with one leg-hovering exception which puts the lie to everything. Once again fanservice crammed in where it has no reason to exist causes a disproportionate fall in quality.
Both the fun of the game and Ithera’s teasing of Kutori (along with a mention of a ten-day countdown to something) are interrupted by one of the girls chasing the ball over a cliff, Willem running after her to see the girl’s face covered in blood and her unable to stand properly after her fall. To which he is the only one to show concern, the other girls urging the injured one to get the ball and return to playing, even as she fails to walk in a straight line. Willem suffers a minor mental interruption at realising the girls place no value on their own lives (that whole ‘weapons’ thing) and we get into the large exposition dump of the episode. After a stupid commercial break splash screen featuring a naked Kutori, for no goddamn reason. Just, what the fuck. Stop cramming this shit in.
Insisting on being told the truth over Naigrat’s halfhearted objection, she takes Willem to a heavily locked room underground, where he’s told the girls are “Leprechauns” (wut? I mean, I guess Tiat, maybe…), as well as some “You don’t need me to tell you…” about “the 17 Beasts” which humanity unleashed on the world 500 years ago, destroying the surface and exterminating everything which didn’t manage to escape to the floating islands, including humanity itself. Who now goes by the term “Emnetwihts” because the translators must have just given up trying to make terms unique to this story look like actual words.
Opening the room to reveal oversized swords Willem immediately recognises as “Carillons” - weapons of humanity wielded by Braves which allowed them to take on the overpowering monsters that assailed them - weapons no-one other than Braves can use, except for these girls. Able to use these most powerful weapons and lacking any regard for their own safety, expendable soldiers capable of fighting the Beasts to defend the last refuge from extermination. Doom doom doom. Next morning, Willem discovers that Kutori and Ithera have “gone out” - the reason now being clear. Also note that there are four “Dug Weapons” (really? That’s a source term though, not on CR this time) missing. Two are with Kutori and Ithera, and the other two belong to the two girls in the OP I haven’t talked about. You won’t be meeting them for a while.
Kutori and Ithera return one rainy evening, Willem walking to meet them whilst thinking about the implications of the girls using some magic-like ability called Venenum, which would allow them to detonate themselves in combat whilst leaving their sword for someone else to wield after them. The exact nature of this realisation is different from the source material, which I’ll talk about later, but the underlying truth of the girls being “weapons” holds true. Willem meets the girls off an airship; both pretty battered and Kutori being carried unconscious on Ithera’s back, and a very large lizard who seems to have no regard for Willem hands over the two swords the girls use. I’m not even going to comment on the twisted mess their names have become.
The walk back provides Willem and Ithera an opportunity to talk, Willem stating that the girls remind him of someone he once knew, and Ithera avoiding the conversation getting deep by once again joking about relationships. Kutori then awakens back at the warehouse with Willem watching over her, leaping headlong into being a tsundere as their conversation reveals that ten day countdown (now at five) is the date a Beast has been predicted to rain Dandelion Fluff of Death upon an island, and Kutori will need to suicide herself in order to destroy it. Expressing a desire to make, and leave behind, memories, Kutori asks Willem for a kiss in an adorkably teenage manner, Willem coming across as perhaps unkindly dismissive in his rejection of the idea, even if he does only see her as a child. (He’s in his early twenties, by the way, given I’ve heard some people squick about a fifteen-year-old and a “middle-aged man”. Still not okay, mind you, and Willem does have those extra five hundred years on her too). Kutori becomes even more adorable when she effectively bluescreens from him just pecking her on the forehead, before turning onto her front so he can begin a very unsensual massage to counter the familiar, to him, effects of venenum poisoning, which is what caused her to collapse and another skill the current world lacks any knowledge of. I personally got no sense that the massage was inappropriate, even with the underage girl in her underwear aspect. As stated before, her shift is not revealing and Willem conducts the massage with an approach almost as though he’s doing maintenance on a weapon, which is quite literal from a certain point of view. Fortunately, the camera also does not try to sexualise the scene apart from some shots a foot fetishist would love.
The episode then ends with another flashback, fortunately not as a stinger this time, with Willen gazing upon Kutori’s sword as she sleeps off the last effects of her Venenum overdose, remembering back to the girl who wielded it back when he fought. Meet Leila, someone I’m quite fond of and the Regal Brave, the ‘True Hero’ of Willem’s time. Everything he could never be. Her actions come to have a lot of importance for the current state of affairs in the world, as do those of the blonde you also see.
The ability of the translators failing to make unique words and names look good rarely surprises me these days, sadly, and Shuumatsu is providing ample material to be expectantly-disappointed about. Whilst they have improved on a couple, the vast majority I really feel they dropped the ball on. Venenum, for example, was mentioned in the first episode but gained more import here, and fair enough, the LNs “Venom” doesn’t make any more sense (Though I wonder where the extra syllable came from). The swords also haven’t changed too much: “Carillon” as opposed to “Kaliyon” though I again prefer the latter. The K makes the word seem more appropriate for a sword somehow, even if both terms are silly. The new name for humanity though… “Emnetwiht”, just seems to ignore any attempt at grammatical correctness. (For reference, the LN translation went with Emnetwyte, which at least looks better, Ementwight being a bit too unwieldy even if it does include the actual monster). Hatred of the humans for this is what is behind the abuse of “Disfeatured” from the previous episode.
Also, why are the Beasts not capitalised in this show? Are nouns now getting treated pretty casually these days?
Otherwise, there are a few substantial changes in the episode different from the source material. First is the girl getting injured during the game. As opposed to a cut on the head and probably concussion, in the LN she suffers a cut to her leg and her arm is run through with a branch, which she spares no care about wanting to get back to the game herself. Naigrat is less upset about telling Willem, and is much clearer about the fact that the girls are not strictly speaking “alive” in the first place and so lack any fear of dying, as they don’t really understand the concept. As shown with Kutori though, the older they get the more they learn. There’s also a continuation of the running joke of Naigrat making Willem uncomfortable by her mentioning that humans tasted so delicious it’s been passed down in troll legend since they disappeared.
There’s also much more focus on Willem’s familiarity with the swords themselves; aside from naming them he remembers some of each one’s history and the special abilities it granted to its wielder, as well as the fact he could never use the ‘proper’ unique swords, instead limited to the mass-production models with lower potential (probably the ones the anime shows in the rack rather than with their own plush display case). Because of this, he typically carried more than one (as seen in the last scene of the episode) and learned how to perform maintenance on the battlefield, restoring the magic arrangement of the weapons on the fly. Crucially, he also notes that the magic condition of the weapons in their current condition is appalling, and marvels that the girls are even able to fight with them.
That the girls are not truly alive is also given more import, as “Venom” or “venenum” is said to be in direct opposition to a creature’s life force. An innate limit on how much any particular person could use. Therefore, if an individual who was not technically alive in the first place tried to use it, there was no such limit in place, allowing the explosion which comprises the fairies trump card. The episode downplays the unique aspect of this a bit. Likewise, I feel that the anime is downplaying just how broken Willem is due to his situation. The LN shows that he’s very close to being suicidal, with only his responsibility to remember everything he lost keeping him from going through with it.
Interestingly, by this point in the source, more background information about Braves had also been provided, with the young girls of the warehouse comparing themselves to the ancient Heroes in a manner Willem doesn’t understand until he sees the swords, after which he then muses about the requirements needed to become a Brave and why he never could, and also why the similarities between Braves and the fairies allows Willem to accept them with more ease than might be expected. I’m assuming some of this will come out in future episodes, especially when we learn more of Leila, so I’ll leave it there for now.