An inconsistent invasion

Hundreds of shounen stories, a genre of Japanese comics and animated films aimed primarily at a young male audience, are released each year. Each one is characterized by its action-filled plot. With respectable shounen titles like “Attack on Titan” or “Jujutsu Kaisen” airing their latest episodes, less popular stories like  “High Rise Invasion” are overlooked. Released on Feb. 25, “High Rise Invasion” is a Netflix Original horror-mystery anime series based on Tsuina Miura’s completed 21-volume manga series.

The plot follows high schooler Yuri Honjo, voiced by Haruka Shiraishi, as she finds herself trapped in an alternate dimension full of giant skyscrapers connected by suspension bridges. The world is populated by masked figures who mercilessly slaughter the confused inhabitants that they stumble upon. 

The overall plot enhances the attractiveness of the show, and as Yuri decodes the mystery behind the world. Viewers are kept guessing every episode, and as the story unravels, the content gets much more interesting. Who is controlling the masks? Why are all these random, normal people suddenly in an alternate dimension? If only the writing was better executed and the character’s personalities were better conveyed in the anime, “High Rise Invasion” would surely become top-tier. Unfortunately, this anime lacks many necessary aspects to a unique shounen story, and is highly inconsistent.

For a show categorized as horror, the gore is baseless and almost unnecessary at times. Gallons and gallons of blood serve no purpose if the feel of the show is not suspenseful or ominous. Additionally, for such mature subject matter, the writing and interactions between characters is a bit childish. It is obvious that the writer tried to keep things light-hearted, but that cheery atmosphere takes away from a necessary aspect to a good horror story: tension. Yuri and her friends appear too nice and unrealistically fearless. Apparently, anyone could operate in a life and death situation so calmly. One minute the show is intriguing, and the next it feels corny or the interactions between the characters are uncomfortable. Even the comedic scenes are out of place.

Despite major holes in the atmosphere of the show, “High Rise Invasion” has garnered the support of anime fans on TikTok for their attractive character designs, especially the character Sniper Mask, voiced by Yūichirō Umehara. Though, that introduces another major downside to “High Rise Invasion” : the ceaseless fan service. 

 Fan service is a narrative term that means “giving a story’s fans’ exactly what they want.” The phrase fan service most often describes semi-sexual scenes that appear in many anime and manga. The fan service in “High Rise Invasion” ruins the mood at every turn. Just when things start to get interesting…boom…awkward crotch shot. The animators are really just playing into the hands of the audience without adding any true substance. Although the manga has its own share of fan-service, those kinds of scenes occur less frequently. The fan service is not a deal breaker, but the needless panty scenes will drive you crazy. 

Admittedly, the fan-service and simple-minded writing dampen the experience, but the mystery and suspense make it almost worth it. If you are looking for a quick, 12-episode anime to watch to kill time, “High Rise Invasion” may be a good choice.

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