Episode 5, “CAT”, opens on another day with Neku after the reveal that Beat, his rather brash friend, has sided with the Reapers, and is now directly against any Player, including Neku. However, before he can get too into his own head, Neku is yanked out of his thoughts by pretty boy Joshua, who casually mentions wanting to go somewhere else today. Somewhere non-mission related, to be specific.
That place turns out to be Wildkat, owned by none other than Mysterious Glasses Daddy -I had to look that up so I could remain accurate- Mr. Hanekoma, an ojiisan of a cafe owner if there ever was one. And it's here that Hanekoma and Neku reunite, much to the former's nonplussed surprise. However, it's not a sweet reunion: if anything, Hanekoma isn't necessarily happy to find out that Neku's not here by choice. He's not playing the game because he wanted a round 2 of it. He's playing to save Shiki from un-existing, no matter what obstacles stand in his way.
The bulk of episode 5 is focused character building, and while it might feel a bit like info-dumpish at times, it really is critical to getting viewers to understand Joshua, and maybe, even push viewers towards a love-hate relationship with his easy-going manner and his magnificent bastard-like tendencies. Joshua leans rather hard into this too by baiting viewers with the fact that he's always been able to “see” the Underground, and even all but says that he volunteered for the Reaper's Game just to spice up his life. Thankfully, Joshua isn't a one note character. Despite all of his magnificent bastardness, he's actually a quite clever character who genuinely has a lot more depth than he tries to let on. It'll be interesting to see how he fits into Neku's story.
There's also quite a few juicy nuggets of plot in episode 5, including a few static-filled flashbacks as Neku starts to remember the nebulous something that's been hinted at around Joshua. While there's not much development on that specifically in the back half of this episode, there's plenty to chew on ahead of episode 6. And while they're all plot threads that have no end in sight, there's a solid sense that things will inevitably get wrapped up cohesively, which I honestly couldn't have said in the first arc.
If episode 4 felt like a vast improvement, then episode 5 feels like TWEWY the Animation has finally gotten its legs. Things flow much, much better than the first three episodes of the series, and the plot progression we get feels much more natural. The cliffhanger for episode 6 feels genuinely engaging, and was telegraphed well enough that I'll leave viewers to fill in the blanks, rather than spoiling things here. Additionally, Neku's resolve in this episode actually feels impactful. Unlike the opening arc, I actually feel quite a lot for this version of Neku. While part of that is certainly due to nostalgia, a lot of it is this slightly different version of the world of TWEWY, which seems to finally have some cohesion ahead of the mid-season episode, and the back half of the rest of the cour.
In a way, I think this will come too late in the game for anime-only viewers who dropped after episode 3 -or potentially, last episode- but if you're on the fence, I imagine that this episode might have hooked you in for at the least the rest of the arc. It's still too soon for me to say “the rest of the series”, though I certainly hope more and more anime-only viewers are finding this series much more enjoyable, though just like the years, the jargon and plot points started coming, and definitely won't stop coming.
Still, things seem to be getting more and more complex -in a good way- as Neku continues to push forward towards a future where he revives Shiki. Where that will go in this particular version of the story is yet to be scene, though I do think we're in for some of the most impactful plot beats of TWEWY yet. There's certainly a lot of hope for the rest of this arc, especially now that viewers have been given ample breathing room to watch everything TWEWY the Animation is trying to do come together.
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.