Well, much to my chagrin, The Lost Village is over. I wish it’d gotten a thirteenth episode, as not only would I have liked to stay on the ride a little longer, its finale felt a bit rushed in it’s second half. The show did manage to resist the urge to tie a bow on everything, but things like the non-reaction to the revelation about who was pulling strings felt hastily pasted-in. But let me consider the show as a whole.
…ok, I keep trying to, but I’m having a hard time, as I keep ending up circling back to just how divisive the show has proven. By and large, it does not appear to have gone over well with audiences (if ratings on sites such as MAL and Anime Planet are to be believed). However, what is striking is that people either love it or hate it – there’s very little middle ground with this one.
If you’re reading this review and wondering if you should try the show, I think the fastest answer is with a pair of questions. First, did you watch Another and enjoy it? Second, if yes, did you think it was a good horror show, or did you think it was a good comedy? If you thought it was good horror, you will not like The Lost Village. If you thought it was good comedy, you will probably like The Lost Village. If you didn’t watch Another or didn’t like it, well, then you can keep reading this review.
The Lost Village is a somewhat odd show, and it to some extent defies categorization as such. It is probably most accurate to say that it is a horror show, but someone looking for that specifically will likely be disappointed in it. We get the creepy noises in the woods, and the angry hordes considering acts of illogical violence, but they rest cheek-by-jowl with a young man being chased through the forest by a silicone implant the size of a car and a girl who spends 80% of her screentime screaming about executing people. The show will spend ten minutes in what seems to be pure farce before delivering backstory that makes characters who were one-note “joke” figures quite sympathetic. There’s a critique of society going on, and of the inability of people to come up with something better even when they reject what is already there. There is also a detective whose investigative powers are aided by groping her own abdominal flesh.
Ultimately, I think what one of The Lost Village’s biggest messages is is that the biggest sin one can commit is to simply go with the flow and allow oneself to be carried away by the mob. While it’s cast is made up of people who have opted to reject their larger society, they themselves degrade into a torch-wielding mob at the instigation of a few bloodthirsty people. When someone does pop in to suggest that the whole thing is a terrible idea, the tide shifts temporarily, with these would-be murderers weakly avowing that they weren’t really into the whole stabbing and burning thing. One of the complaints has been that these characters, those weak of will, don’t get any development, that the cast is much too big. But they don’t get it because they’re not active agents; they’re not supposed to be easily distinguished from one another. They are the mob mentality given form.
Its for reasons like this that, unlike some who have enjoyed the show, I’m unwilling to write it off as having been “so bad it’s good”. I think you can certainly watch it in that manner, and even find it entertaining as such, but you’ll also miss out on some deeper meaning in there. I doubt it was a coincidence that the guy haunted by the silicone implant only wanted to be a soldier, casually spouts sexist nonsense, and himself identified the implant with breasts in a flashback. But it is easier to laugh at that than it is to think about it.
Ultimately, I loved The Lost Village, while also thinking it could’ve used a touch more finesse. There are some plotholes rolling around, and, as I said before, I think an additional episode would’ve allowed some of the final items at the end to feel less chucked in. I also honestly was persistently bugged by the character designs for the most part. Many of them look like they were ripped from Another and from Shirobako, and while there is a touch more diversity to female bodies than either of those had, some of the adult women looked no older than the high school girls in the cast. And the OP and ED were both pretty bland. These are, in my final estimation of the show, minor nitpicks.
A less minor one is that while the show flirts with taking a look at misogyny, it never quite commits to this aspect enough to warrant anything more than a note that, hmm, some of these men seem really viciously hateful toward women and girls and we’re not supposed to take this as a good thing. It’s a missed opportunity, particularly considering that it isn’t as if the show is trying to be coy about it – one woman is fleeing a stalker and another is sick of her employer’s inaction on sexual harassment, and one of the girls tells off one of the men who makes an explicitly sexist remark. I was genuinely disappointed that it seemed in the end to have been half-assed.
Yet, even considering these issues, The Lost Village will likely prove by favorite show of the season, and with half the year gone, I am hard-pressed to see it not making my top ten shows at the end of the year. I genuinely enjoyed this show, and I’d love to see others give it a chance.