ESTAB LIFE: Great Escape Preview

Streams: Crunchyroll on (normal day uncertain)

Rating: 2 (of 5)

Technically this is a Spring 2022 season title, but its first two episodes debuted more than a week early, so let’s take a first look.

Though he has directed a number of other notable anime titles (Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed, Planetes, Maria the Virgin Witch), Goro Taniguchi may be best-known as the creator of the Code Geass franchise and last year’s Back Arrow. This new creative effort, which is being directed instead by Hiroyuki Hashimoto (Is the order a rabbit?, Magical Girl Raising Project, Classroom of the Elite), takes things in a different direction than his previous two efforts and represents his first partnership with Polygon Pictures, the studio behind Knights of Sidonia, Ajin: Demi-Human, and Drifting Dragons. So yeah, that means that this is an all-3DCG title. While the animation effort here is smoother than most, anyone who normally has a low tolerance for 3DCG in anime probably will not find the look of this one to be any more palatable.

That’s not the only barrier this title faces, either. Make sure you look up the premise on this one in advance, because nothing in the first two episodes explains why wards of Tokyo seem to be separated into walled compounds, why transit between them seems to be so forbidden that being an Extractor (i.e., someone who shuttles people between compounds on the sly) is a thing, or why things like a dog-human hybrid, a slime girl, or a magic-using former yakuza girl exist. Why a bunch of high school girls – accompanied by an AI robot and said dog-human hybrid, who seems intelligent but only speaks in “woofs” – are said Extractors or wear such cutesy outfits while doing their extracting can be chalked up to just “anime logic,” so let’s not dwell on that. Way too little of what transpires in these first two episodes makes sense as it is.

In fact, the whole production seems to be relying entirely on “Rule of Cute/Cool” to get by. Its bloodless action scenes do have some zing but are nothing special overall, the interactions between the girls is about as anime-generic as they come, and some of what transpires is just outright silly, and not in a good way. The story also conveniently overlooks how the Extractors get out of the messes they get themselves into; sure, they get their clients out through some ludicrous methods (a zipline from one of those grappler guns which seems to extend for a mile or more?), but how do they get themselves off the top of a high-rise that they have climbed up to through hostile security measures? For that matter, how do they so freely move from compound to compound when travel seems to be restricted? Yes, some things can be overlooked in the spirit of cool, but this series gets away with way too much.

Overall, this isn’t one that I can recommend on any basis.

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