Episode 4, “Reapers”, picks up immediately with a new Reaper's Game on Day Zero of seven. This time, however, we're left with a different Neku. Rather than the misanthrope we met in episode 1, this Neku sorely misses Shiki, and desperately wishes she was alive. However, Shiki served as Neku's entry fee, and just like him, remains in limbo in the stylish streets of Shibuya.
After the stylish OP, we're back with Neku, who's been given a brand new mission. The message is clear: if Neku doesn't solve Minamimoto's equation – and complete the mission – he's dead. Only this time, it's for real and very, very permanent. Thankfully, this world's version of a '00s inspired Komaeda Nagito is here to help Neku fend off a round of spider-like Noise. Kiryu Yoshiya, a.k.a Joshua, is a brand new player to these very deadly games, though he's a bit too laidback.
Neku is about to say something to Joshua when the world goes hazy and a string of images flashes through Neku's mind. At first, he thinks he's scanned his new partner, but remember: players can't scan one another. Scanning is for the living, which means that whatever's happening to Neku… well, we'll have to figure it out with him.
Despite his wariness of this newcomer, Neku teams up with Joshua, in large part because he needs to complete the mission and stay alive if he's ever going to get Shiki back. Thankfully, wiz kid Joshua is able to quickly solve the equation (the square root of 10,816 is obviously 104, duh) without incident.
As for the person who gave them the mission, he is a new Gamemaster and my favorite Messy Hot Boy, Minamimoto Sho, who looks like a himbo but absolutely is that one kid from your Gifted & Talented class, but hardcore into anime. What I mean is that he's wicked smart, and also… incredibly annoying, though I'll admit, I'm a Sho fangirl and have been since 2008.
Episode 4 marks the beginning of a new arc for TWEWY the Animation, and wow, does a lot happen in this episode! Thankfully, it has a very different pace than the opening, and features a dynamic that is entirely distinct from Shiki and Neku's partnership. This definitely helps set Neku and Joshua apart, while simultaneously helping to set up another growth arc for Neku.
Additionally, Minamimoto Sho adds a far more brutal and deadly element to the games, especially with his declaration that he wants the Players to fight one another, Battle Royale style. Sho even pits the players against the Reapers, which of course, is a very, very bad idea. His introduction brings in new sources of tension and conflict, reinvigorating a series that had a rather rocky start.
It'll be interesting to explore Joshua and Neku's dynamic, especially now that the frenetic pace of the first week of the games has slowed down a bit. I'm still wary about the pacing for the next few episodes, but hopefully this episode is an indication that TWEWY the Animation has found its legs. I actually really like Neku's character development. It feels authentic, especially in the wake of Shiki fading away and being used as leverage against him in the previous episodes. It's clear that the boy we initially met is gone. Now, we're dealing with a Neku who's got more heart than jerkitude, which makes for a solid, enjoyable protagonist to follow from here on out.
I'm still really into the show, though my concerns for anime-only viewers who are new to all the jargon remain. Still, episode 4 felt genuinely good enough that I have no regrets about the score I'm going to reward it with.
Mercedez is a JP-EN 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. 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.