Episode 3, “Erased”, picks up with the double-whammy realization that Neku and Shiki are dead, and are essentially playing a game of re-life and perma-death in Shibuya's Underground via the Reapers' Game. Even though TWEWY the Animation is still finding its footing, the scene that plays out between Neku and Shiki as they mull over their un-existence in the RG (Realground, or our Reality) feels like two fire-forged friends having a heart-to-heart about wanting to find forward momentum in their lives again.
Through all that's happened thus far, Shiki remains hopeful that if they can survive the next two days, they'll get their chance at life back. She's a bright, genuine ray of sunshine, and in many ways, her characterization feels natural, though the pace is still a touch rushed. And in his own way, Neku is optimistic about a second chance at existing, too. He's much less of a misanthrope and instead comes off as a jerk with a heart of gold.
Post-OP, Neku and Shiki meet up with Rhyme and Beat, and almost immediately, a mission arrives. However, there's no time limit this time, which almost seems too good to be true. And even when the easy, laid-back music kicks in, there's a lingering sense of, “Oh god, what's gonna happen?” simmering in the background throughout episode 3.
It doesn't take long for the plot to kick in after that. In fact, it doesn't take long at all before Beat and Rhyme run into trouble in the form of reapers Koki and Uzaki. The former is content to chill: the latter is absolutely not having it, and in a rather cruel scene, decides that things would be a lot more exciting if some Noise got involved. So, without any hesitation—nor an order from upper management—Uzaki unleashes a Jaws-esque Shark noise that immediately raises the threat level of the games. Best Short Girl (by this, I mean Rhyme) gets munched on by a shark like I munch on pork skins: quick, fast, and in a hurry.
I'm still of the opinion that TWEWY the Animation must look like a strange, madcap adventure through 00s Shibuya for anime-only viewers. A lot of scenes in this episode made me feel strongly, but that's because I have all of this background knowledge of the characters and the world. Without such context, I don't know if Rhyme's devouring would have had the same impact.
It's a poorly-paced sequence in an adaptation that is driven by this strange, frenetic energy. Everything listed above happens in the first half of the episode, and a heck of a lot more happens in the back half which I won't dive into. I think the pacing will slow down eventually, but it's hard to tell whether that will happen within this cour.
There's some killer music in this episode, though I found myself craving the tunes from the game. However, that's most definitely nostalgia speaking; the in-show music is never bad, though it can lean a bit generic at times.
In a way, TWEWY the Animation is one of the most interesting advertisements for a video game franchise to date. It's beautiful, stylish as heck, and features really great voice acting, but it's hard not to shout, “Go play the game then watch this!” so that viewers have some context about what is all happening in these first few episodes. However, rather than pushing the source material onto you, I'll suggest that you just come along for the ride, and if you like what you see, pick up the game later—either on the DS or the Switch—to fill in the gaps that the anime either don't or won't have time to fill. I think there are still enough in-world lore and general world-building in these episodes to keep viewers engaged.
While I personally l enjoyed this episode, I have to be a bit more critical with my rating this week. I don't think I can give episode 3 all the thumbs up with how badly paced it was. While there are a lot of really enjoyable moments for series veterans, it's not a good entry for anime-only viewers.
Mercedez is a localization editor & QA, pop culture critic, and a writer who also writes & reviews at Anime Feminist and But Why Tho?. There, she gushes about idols anytime someone lets her, which is… not often enough, at least by her idol fan standards. This anime season, she's all about Super Cub, which is great because she's also reviewing it here on ANN. When she's not writing, you can find her on her Twitter, where she's always up to something.