Mayoiga – The drama mystery show with a dull plot and cast of primarily boring characters. When I first saw the PV for this show I had high hopes. Recently Diomedea has a habit of alternating between cookie cutter romance comedy shows and generic action shows; so I was hoping this would help their stagnation since KanColle. In a sense, it did. Admittedly I did enjoy the show’s experimental visuals at times and there were a few characters that I didn’t want to execute. But I think the real monster of the show is the absence of any creative or entertaining writing.
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It is a rare occasion for me to drop a show so late into its airing but I had lost all interest in Mayoiga by the end of Episode 10. This article is based on Episodes 1 – 10 and will not contain thoughts on the show’s finale episode, purely because the show didn’t engage me through to the end.
Grating character personalities and predictable storyline
To put it simply, if your mystery is predictable then your audience will get bored easily and if the viewer doesn’t care about your characters then your drama falls flatter than Lion-san’s chest. There are a multitude of scenes that are clearly framed so that the intention is for the audience to fear for the character’s well-being, but composition alone won’t evoke sympathy for an otherwise stale character. The writers constantly try to throw new plot elements into play without explaining or even attempting to resolve ones demonstrated multiple episodes prior. Not to mention that I found myself figuring out the major plot twists episodes before they were revealed and that’s not a way of making myself sound good, I can be very slow on picking up red herrings for plot twists. I didn’t even expect the ending to Blue Exorcist so if I can predict your plot then that’s not good. I don’t even think that mattered much given that if none of the characters survived I wouldn’t have cared anyway. Each character suffers from “one character feature” syndrome where they all have one specific thing that differentiates them from the other 29 cast members. Do they ever develop on this one aspect of their character? Of course not. The only time their backstories are relevant and contribute anything to the episode is the design of the Nanaki monster.
The concept of the monster was cool, but needed more screentime
One of the saving graces for this show was it’s visual design and setup of the main antagonist of the show. As they’re found lost in the Nanaki Village, a monster is “sighted”, which in turn sets up the driving force of the plot for a few episodes. I enjoyed these episodes. While it’s definitely a concept that’s been done before, the personalised monster and inner demons idea worked for the show and provided a unique threat to the cast where the writers could’ve easily just made tribe-like villagers prominent instead. As mentioned prior, each character views the monster as their own greatest fear which allowed the extensive number of staff to let their imaginations run wild. I feel like these episodes show what could’ve been for this show and were a good demonstration of the staff’s capabilities. The Horror genre was really pushed here, featuring mangled and distorted visual imagery to create some chilling monsters. While some where clearly more inventive than others (Mitsumune’s Penguin/Mother Hybrid compared to that giant bee), the inclusion of such a unique embodiment of evil helped develop backstory for each character. Given the show’s perspective coming from a member of the group, it’s important that the audience understand each character and what they hide from the protagonist. Also important is why they hide it, this concept enabled a fast paced method of exposition and creation of sympathy for the extensively large cast.
Also just as a small point, the show is so dark that some of the incredibly detailed visuals are just washed out entirely. I went and tried to brighten some of the original screenshots I captured from the official Crunchyroll stream and you can see how horrific the monsters really are. This is a repeated offence where every scene seems to occur at the dead of night in the pitch black forest so the audience can’t even see the work that went into the designs. This episode showed the monster’s big reveals, the show doesn’t want to hide their appearance any more so why darken the whole frame diminishing the experience for the viewer?
A Mystery/Drama/Horror hybrid that doesn’t know which genre to be
Retracting from the mystery genre is fine and that reason alone isn’t why I stopped watching the show, it’s the fact that they focused more on a Drama/Horror aspect of their narrative. This doesn’t work when your audience doesn’t care about the characters or feel any sort of connection with anyone in the cast – which I didn’t. Having such a large range of characters does more damage to the drama than anything, in later episodes the show will try to juggle multiple plots with different groups of characters all at once, cramming as much exposition in where it can. Needless to say this led to hectic pacing and an incoherent passing of time leaving the average viewer confused and completely lost. On multiple occasions I had to re-watch small sequences so I could make sense of what was going on and when in the story it was happening. In early episodes, the plot struggled to stay consistent and engaging when the full 20 minutes were dedicated to it, spreading this time-frame across multiple groups made the drama ridiculous and incomprehensible.
Laughable “plot twists” and illogical results of conflict
Mayoiga likes to do this thing where every episode ends with a new cliffhanger in an attempt to hook viewers for the upcoming episode. That’s nothing new and is a completely fine way of keeping viewers interested in your story while they have to wait for a resolution. However, when your cliffhangers become downright stupid then the reason you make cliffhangers is completely abolished. So many forums ended their posts with “Can’t wait to see what stupid thing happens next”, where viewers knowingly tune into the show for ridiculousness. Once Mayoiga reached around episode seven, the show was seen as an ironic viewing experience – a test to see how insane the writing can get within a twelve episode duration. But I have to give credit where credit is due, at least it doesn’t rely on tacky fan-service.
To put it simply, the show isn’t very effective at what it attempts to convey to their audience. Mayoiga started off strong as the writing did well to introduce the viewer to their thirty character cast up until the prominent conflict was introduced. In a confused panic, it seems that the show tackles multiple hurdles without warming up, hoping nobody would notice if they make a flashy show of it. Given the strength of the Spring 2016 season, it’s just not worth your time and is heavily outshone by existing shows of the same genre.