World End Economica is a science fiction economics-driven visual novel that follows young Yoshiharu in his quest to gain the fortune to attain his dreams. Along the way he's forced to learn difficult lessons about the world around him, as well as himself.
This visual novel is the creation of Japanese doujin "Spicy Tails", which includes several well known artists from Japan as well as the popular Isuna Hasekura (creator and writer of Spice and Wolf). Much like Hasekura's work on Spice and Wolf, this visual novel has a plot that is heavily driven by real world economics with a bit of character drama mixed in.
Also of note is the ongoing Kickstarter for the translation of parts two and three of the three-part World End Economica series. It currently sits at just under $5,000 away from it's Playstation Vita stretch goal. Paying $25 will get you all three parts for the PC on Steam. If you find this interesting, I'd encourage you to at least throw a few dollars at it.
Like Spice and Wolf, Economica is based around the central premise of economics. While Spice and Wolf is based around older, more well-known economic logic, Economica is about the stock market and the nuances of it. All the drama in the visual novel spins off from the protagonist's attempts to game the constantly fluctuating stock market. There's a lot of educational infodump about the nature of "stocks" and how market forces interact in the market at large.
The Promise of Things To Come
As the title to this article says, episode one amounts to a very long introduction to both the characters and to the protagonist's mindset in the future episodes. It isn't very interesting or conclusive on its own. It's basically a lead-in for the next chapter. Nothing more. That said, I like the possibilities in the future. It's a lot like Spice and Wolf in that they both had relatively slow starts.
Kishida and the Akeboshi Rockets
The Polarizing Main Character
There's a lot of flak leveled at the main character, so I'll touch on it.
People dislike this guy because he's a "jerk", which I don't entirely get. Sure, he's a pretty blunt guy that doesn't sugar coat things, but that's basically it. He's like a far less charismatic and far less jerk-prone Lelouch from Code Geass. The worst this main character does is say "I need to be paid for doing this". Still, people seem to dislike this guy, probably because he's not a very charismatic fellow.
It's a Kinetic Novel
This a book with synchronized pictures. There is no user input and no branching. It's one long text string. Understand this when you're considering it.
Next Time on World End Economica...
To put it lightly, this novel isn't built to be interesting on its own. It feels, acts, and looks like an introduction without much to support itself. As such, it's very much dependent on how the next two parts end up being. All the potential that was generated in this visual novel isn't exploited and is instead carefully preserved for the future chapters.
When it comes down to it, World End Economica is really only for people that want a story that throws a bunch of fancy economics logic at you and somehow morphs it into a plot that actually makes sense. It's really Spice and Wolf's inversion in terms of the economics we talk about and the characters. In S&W, we had Lawrence and Holo, a savvy merchant with modest goals and a wise fox god, whereas Economica has a small-time teenager trying to make it big and a socially inept math wiz girl.
They aren't nearly as charismatic or as likable as their predecessors, but I can see this improving in the next chapter due to character development that we saw here. There's potential in this leading couple, but it hasn't been unleashed yet.
It's a character-heavy economics novel, and that's about the best way to describe it. It's not an amazing on its own, but there is potential stashed away within the sequels if it's done right. I don't regret my purchase.
You can also support the Kickstarter for the next two episodes here. Definitely do so if you are interested. Every bit helps on the journey to the $80,000 Playstation Vita stretch goal.
This review uses TAY's review system as a basis, but due to the unorthodox nature of kinetic novels (it does not precisely fit into either a TAY or Ani-TAY review) I mixed aspects of my reviews and the TAY review system.