See how this new fantasy comedy is taking shots at the life of fandom
The world of anime -- both the business side and the fan side -- is constantly evolving. Even fans who jumped on board in the last decade have seen massive changes from when they started. How we watch, how we interact, and what we as fans are given by the creators has changed drastically.
Last Period knows it... and they're here to play.
The anime is based on the Last Period smartphone RPG, in which magical fighters called "Periods" fight monsters called "Spirals." And it hits the ground running as, it seems, a self-parody. We're not even a full episode in before we're confronted with the awkwardly familiar feeling of rolling up a one-star character, then being asked to drop Real Money on our free-to-play game if we want something powerful.
There's also an ever-present, vaguely lampshaded question of whether the characters know they're in a smartphone game. Deadpan animal-girl Choco seems extremely genre-savvy, with the other characters ducking in and out of awareness. There's talk of dropping real yen on Luna Stones (the game's version of Saint Quartz or Love Gems), and even a 1,000-yen gift card exchanging hands a little further down the line. There's also the constant woe of seeing opponents role up 4-star and 5-star characters while you end up with 1-star duplicates (and constant reminders that you could throw in some cash to do better).
And yes, there's a warning not to get too into real-money transactions on gacha games: a good lesson for us all!
The gacha humor doesn't end there. If you're anything like us, you can't help but love even the most off-the-wall of collaboration events. (Kind of like how we're celebrating Kino's Journey colliding with DanMemo as we speak!) Fantasy action meets high school slasher horror? Why not? Episode 3 saw the cast of the Higurashi franchise stopping by, with the plot of the week even mirroring the story of Hinamizawa's own woes. And if you forgot that Yukari Tamura is in both Higurashi and Last Period, they make sure to remind you!
But when it comes to parody and lampooning fandom, Last Period isn't afraid to stray from its mobile game roots a little -- and, actually, it does so quite a bit. While much of its humor is firmly rooted in its source material, it has no qualms about branching out and having a say about other elements of the modern anime industry. Like anime tourism.
Now, we love anime tourism and sightseeing. Here on Crunchyroll, you'll even find features looking at the real-life counterparts of your favorite anime settings and how they match up to the real thing, and several of the Crunchyroll team have even seen these sights for themselves! There's no denying that anime tourism is a booming business in 2018 -- and one that towns are more than happy to cash in on.
Episode 2 of Last Period takes this concept and runs with it, showing a village in the red after its hot springs have dried up. Their potential solution? Convince a studio to set an anime series there, and hope that a rush of fan pilgrimages kick-starts the economy. The Periods are against it... but you'll need to tune in to find out which way the village's fortunes go! (Added bonus: The episode serves as the show's requisite "hot springs episode," so they get that out of the way fairly early on.)
Gags are scattered throughout Last Period, too -- even if they aren't the centerpiece of the episode. Dubiously villainous group Wiseman makes their appearance with a sentai-style speech and bursts of colored smoke. Their mysterious mistress bears more than a passing resemblance to the evil ladies of the Time Bokan franchise. And you'll find anime tropes scattered everywhere, including some especially impressive ojousama-style laughs from Liza.
All in all, there's very little real despair to speak of in Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair. The entire show is self-aware and self-effacing, both in terms of its own source material and the era in which it exists. But it doesn't take too much research, if any, to understand its jokes. Fans with a decent level of modern anime engagement will be all too familiar with the trends under the microscope. And, more than likely, they'll welcome the opportunity to have a laugh at them.
Has Last Period called out a trend you're familiar with -- or one you're personally into? Let us know in the comments!
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos. Her work can currently be read in Stranger Tales of the City from Obverse Books.