(This is an old post I never published, focusing on Mayoiga – an anime from the 2016 spring season)
Mayoiga (or the lost village) is a mystery/horror anime with a very large cast of characters. So large, infact, that it contains 2.5 times the amount of characters as there are episodes.
A lot of people claim to have disliked the anime from the very start. Whether it be because they hate the entire cast, or think the plot is just absurd. Now, I do actually understand those arguments and don’t think they’re wrong. However, I did always see potential for Mayoiga and personally didn’t hate the way they presented the plot, scenario and characters. It made sense because it was as if the characters are meant to be un-likable. These are people that have run away from home for that very reason, they’ve essentially said “Screw the world, I want to start again”. Now this is something that I don’t personally see as being too ridiculous, because I know for a fact that a lot of people in this world, especially those that are the age of most of the characters in Mayoiga do think like that. Whether they would actually run away to a village that no-one knows about is a completely different question and could be argued for hours, so I’m not going to get in to that. But fundamentally, I didn’t find the set-up of the show so un-realistic that I considered it stupid. And therefor, as both a mystery and a character driven anime, I thought it could end up being an okay show.
So what, exactly, is the issue?
Well, Mayoiga has set itself up in a bit of a catch 22. This is because there are so many characters that the show will feel extremely un-fulfilling if we don’t get back-story on at-least most of them. Heck, even if it were just the most important characters to the story. The creators know this. However, removing all opinions on how good or bad their back stories are, there’s simply not enough time to cover a satisfying amount of it. No matter how efficiently they use time, it’s impossible for every character to achieve a good level of satisfaction. Essentially, it’s like the writers are throwing themselves under a bus.
If they focus solely on a few characters, giving them more in-depth stories and generally making them a bit more relatable, then they’re missing out a whole bunch of other characters that will end up simply being throwaway and a waste of space.
If they attempt to cover every character, they’ll end up either running out of time or making the story even more ridiculous than it already is.
If you were to ask me, I think it would be better to have a larger focus on a smaller set of characters. So at least they can get a fleshed out story between them, and use the rest of the cast as more side-characters. But I’m not entirely sure how much of an option that is due to the way the story is set out from the get-go.
It’s really difficult to tell what the writers are going for with Mayoiga, and honestly, whether it is for good or bad reasons I could sit here and talk about it for hours. Some people like it because of its stupidity, some people hate it because it enters this area of “so absurd I can’t follow it without wanting to rip my hair out”. And some people just enjoy it for what it is. Personally, I can’t say any of those opinions are wrong. But it’s so hard to make my mind up with this show. With the huge cast of strange characters and short run-time, perhaps my issue with the show does not lie in how it is executed. Perhaps, the issue was that it was destined to fail from the moment it began.