How can one little smart phone RPG anime take such a big bite out of the Japanese entertainment industry?
Winter is over, Spring has Sprung, and we're ringing in a new anime season with a look back at some of the outstanding titles from one year ago as “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” enters a new phase with the Spring 2018 Renewal. And what better way to put a full stop on the Winter 2018 Rewind than with a peek at a show with a punctuation-theme in its name? Please join us as we check out Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair.
What's Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair?
Based on the smart phone RPG developed and published by Happy Elements, Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair is a 2018 TV anime with direction by Yoshiaki Iwasaki and animation production by J.C. Staff. Crunchyroll describes the story of the series as follows:
"I’m never going to give up!! For that reason, I became a Period!!” Evil demons known as "Spiral" -made of souls who died in agony- threaten the people of the world. In order to stand up against Spirals, people founded the "Arc End". Individuals whose skills are recognized are admitted to Arc End to become “Period” to fight for peace. Haru, who failed the Period admittance test 38 times, was accidentally admitted as an “Assistant Period” in Arc End 8th Squad. Forming a team along with other new members, Gajeru and Liza, he is finally able to take his first step towards reaching his goal!
Don't let the intimidating name or that description fool you: Last Period isn't a straight adaptation of a fantasy RPG story-line, but rather an anime original situational comedy that uses the trappings of the smart phone game to skewer all sorts of aspects of the business of creating anime and video games.
Pay to Play.
What the description above omits to tell you is that by the time our protagonists arrive, the Arc End 8th Squad has already been shut down for lack of funding, leaving Haru and company in desperate straits as they try to gather enough “zel” (a fantasy currency) together to re-open the guild hall. This leads to the main characters taking all sorts of low-paying gigs, er, I mean “quests” in an effort to scrape by.
The situation is complicated by the presence of Wiseman, a Team Rocket-style rival group who seems more than happy to under-cut and under-bid Haru and his friends at every opportunity, and the whole situation becomes even more messy once they start throwing the actual mechanics of the Last Period smart phone game into the mix...
In Last Period, in-app purchases and micro-transactions become central to the plot when the Wiseman team consistently nabs powerful five-star ally characters through the “Call” system, a gacha-based form of summoning that should be familiar to any fan of free-to-play smart phone RPGs.
Haru and company, on the other hand, can only acquire weak one-star allies. Last Period presents a satirical view on real world issues such as deceptive drop rates and gambling addiction. For an anime inspired by a smart phone game, Last Period is surprisingly sardonic when poking fun at the medium in particular and capitalism in general. A cross-over episode with other Happy Elements games, for example, even ends on a note of existential horror.
Stop, Drop, and Roll.
Last Period isn't content to contain its scathing sense of fourth-wall-breaking meta-humor to just smart phone games. It also offers a pretty harsh look at the world of anime production, especially the more mercenary aspects of the business.
As the series progresses, inexplicable tie-ins (including a cross-over with Higurashi - When They Cry), official pilgrimage sites as tourism promotions, and famous studios all find themselves in the crosshairs. One episode even has a sharp look at both the Kemono Friends pop culture phenomenon and the fall-out from Tatsuki and Yaoyorozu being kicked off the project at the height of its popularity.
Crunchyroll currently streams Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair in 199 territories worldwide, and the series is available in the original Japanese language with subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, German, and Russian. At the time of this writing, there is currently no North American home video release for Last Period, so what you stream is what you get.
Don't let the bright color scheme and cute character designs fool you, beneath the surface Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair has a sharp tongue and an acidic wit. If that sounds like your cup of tea and the series is available in your area, then please consider giving Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair a try.
Thanks for joining us for this installment of the Spring 2018 Renewal. Be sure to tune in next time when we look at a show that explores how parenthood is even more difficult than a life of organized crime, especially when psychic powers are thrown into the mix.
Is there a series in Crunchyroll's catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to [email protected] or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.
Do you love writing? Do you love anime? If you have an idea for a features story, pitch it to Crunchyroll Features!