* Wonder Egg Priority handles themes of physical and sexual abuse, self harm, and suicide. *
A time after her best friend commits suicide, Ai Ohto finds a garden with talking mannequins and an egg dispenser. When she dreams, the egg cracks and she meets a girl, the world then starts attacking that girl and Ai must defend her. She must repeat this process if she wants to see her best friend again and discover the secrets that lie behind the eggs and this mysterious dream world.
Ai Ohto lacks confidence. Our little ray of sunshine is struggling with the death of the only person in her school life that cared about her, Koito. Ai is quiet, avoidant, but caring when she makes connections. She has a special way to find the cracks in people’s armor and comfort them in that area. This makes Ai a naturally interesting character. She is both lost in her self understanding and so clear in her understanding of others. I think the death of Koito was the first time she did not see through someone. Not in a way that she can articulate but in a way that she does very subconsciously. The sudden death of a friend sent her into a self questioning spiral. While Ai was very visually unique with her Heterochromia, having eyes of different colors, her person was not particularly memorable. It felt like she had significantly less dialog than a normal protagonist, which was okay, but key moments of hers needed to be better highlighted.
Neiru Aonuma struggles to connect to others. Our robotic prodigy is pretty cold on the first couple takes, but it seems like Ai gets over her walls and finds the human side of her. I never really got the impression that Neiru appreciated the other girls like she appreciated Ai. It was like Neiru imprinted onto her and could see no other. Ever the mysterious character, we know that she is highly intelligent and that she has an assistant but who is this girl that showed up in the garden for eggs? I know, but I want you to find out about her for yourself. I wish that she had been given her most critical development before the final three episodes, but hey, we can discuss that in the pacing section. All in all, interesting characters but largely forgettable.
Rika Kawai puts on a brave face. She loves to talk about how she uses people or does not care about them, but at the end of the day, she is risking her body for a girl that she cares about deeply and supporting the mother that neglects her. Rika is the kind of person that runs in the dark, jumps in the pool head first, and throws the first punch. She seems like someone who is in search of a partner in crime, someone who can understand what she is saying and call her out when she cannot speak truthfully to her heart. Like a personal editor, but I know from experience those get annoying. Rika is a welcome passionate character. Where lots of people could find themselves lost in the despair of their friends suicide or the pain that the girls went through to bring them back, she was a real emotional driver and a wild card in our group of warriors.
Momoe Sawaki can’t be seen as a woman. When she is fighting the demons of the girls from the eggs, they always fall in love with her, thinking she is a guy. She originally disliked Rika and Neiru, but like how Ai brought Neiru around to Rika, Ai brings Momoe around to the rest of the group. Momoe feels the most disconnected from the rest of the group. Where most of the girls share and explore each other, Momoe shares some but never really has any realizations about herself through the group, it all lives in her own experiences and trials. While I think that she was rather bland design wise, it turned out to be important to her character and she was the owner of some of the most interesting developments and ideas.
I originally came into the review thinking that I was favorable to the emotion Wonder Egg brings. I was excited about the world. I was impressed with the amount of ideas. The characters were unique and deep, if not a tad bland. But what about how I felt about the show itself? I tried to write this section two or three times and ultimately delayed this review two days because it took me that long to process it. I really was not that emotionally affected. Randy put it best when I hit the three episode mark, “Well it tails off from here.” I couldn’t really put my finger on why, but the first three episodes hit so much harder than the rest. There is an initial shock of the new world and your desperate attempt to find a foothold of understanding, but I struggle to identify any moments that I can point to and say, “This is a moment of beauty where I felt something I want to share.” The only scene that stands out to me in hindsight was a scene where self harm nearly took place because that made me a bit queasy and I had to hide my eyes. Yes, at twenty four years old I had to hide my eyes from an anime. Certainly not my proudest moment. But this was a small thing that I probably liked more than anything else for its authenticity. I did not like however, how reduced the key moments were. The girls were working so hard and fighting for their friends that killed themselves and in the end, the moments of resolution were, ultimately, mute. That felt like a punch in the gut. A “what WERE we doing here” moment that really left me disappointed in a way that felt unintended after the characters just accepted it. Then we added a “WHAT were we doing here” when the show implies that the story continues in a way that is largely unexplained. I just wanted to feel closure and Wonder Egg does not have that for you.
At its core, this is a show about girls. If you rolled your eyes about this being in the ideas section, please listen. So much of anime is male centered. Most protagonists are male. Most of the ideas are male centered. Most of the fantasy elements appeal to males. In Wonder Egg Priority, the entire main cast is female and the focus of the show is women. The issues presented are not uniquely feminine, but they come from what feels like a feminine point of view. I just wanted to make that note because I really enjoy the stories that women come up with. Some of the best anime are written or directed by women and that feels valuable to mention, despite Wonder Egg being written and directed by men.
Momoe’s struggle is her self image, specifically with being seen as feminine. I think it would be easy to look at her and say, “Just wear a dress, forehead.” Yeah, sure but that was not the crux of it. The crux of it was that she had an image of herself that no one, but Ai, really respected. Even her best friend never really acknowledged her as a woman, something that Momoe was unsure about for a long time. This kind of idea surprised me because it is essentially a trans-identity problem. Where Momoe went through no identity change, the self image did not match the outward facing image and people not respecting that difference caused issues. An idea such as this coming from a culture as conservative as Japan’s was surprising, but welcome. Momoe was an interesting character to ponder and I hope we see some more characters like her.
Family is one of the most difficult things to deal with. When you add a level or abuse or neglect to the relationship, the relationships become so much more illogical. Katy came over the other day and I mentioned that I wanted to hug people more in my life. That I never really hugged my friends and even my family is not very affectionate. I could not tell you the last time that I hugged my dad. Katy was confused by that. Why would someone who used to be abusive deserve affection? The bad answer is that he is family. The good answer is that he is family. Rika understood this idea. Her mother was not good to her. She neglected her, embarrassed her, and asked for things beyond what she deserved. But Rika gave those things to her because they were family. There are some things that certain people get for blood reasons and blood reasons only. Call it right, call it wrong, family is family.
I have mentioned before that I ran track in high school. I ran sprints. The 200 meter was my specialty, but I did pretty much whatever the coaches needed me to because I was the fastest and our team was not big enough to specialize. The last meet of my career they sprung on me that I needed to do the 400m dash. Which is not only longer than what I had done before but it was also one of the last races of the day, after my other two events. I line up on the blocks and wait for the gun. I take off fast and start in the lead, a strong first fourth is how they teach you to run this event. In the middle half you slow up a bit and maintain your position, gaining if you can without ruining your end. The final leg comes around and I start booking it for the finish line. I can hear the other runners on my heels and I am giving my everything. In the last 50 meters of the race I watched not one, not two, but five people pass me. I asked my coach what the heck happened because I listened to exactly what he said. He told me, “You pulled a Wonder Egg Priority.” Okay so he didn’t say that because this was in 2016, but you get the point. And I don’t think it flops really hard when you are watching it, just like how obviously the race doesn’t end like you wanted it in the moment but the next day or two is when you realize how incomplete your race was. I think if we look back at the pacing of Wonder Egg, we can see the issues stem far earlier than our final leg of the race. I think that the early run-ins with the egg girls really identifies the root of the truma for each one, whereas after the first three episodes, those stories seemed to be less focused and less impactful. This is where our amazing start seemed to mellow out. This isn’t particularly bad. I didn’t mind it, but it was noticeable. Before all else, the ending lacked the pace needed to take it over the finish line well. After you watch this show, because you should, I imagine you will feel like the show needed four or five more episodes. Perhaps a second season? But you cannot drop the development bombs that were dropped in the last 3 episodes without some sort of follow up. It feels like we missed development.
The world is one of my favorite parts of Wonder Egg, but half of what makes it as interesting as it is, is animation. Not only are the main character designs really well done and actually play into their character, but the characters are very visually unique. Where most of my favorite romance characters are a bit…indistinguishable, I think I will remember these girls for most of my life. Ai specifically is one of the most interesting. A key part of animation for me is adding these small little mannerisms. Ai would do these awkward peace signs or pull her hoodie tight around her face when she was sad or frustrated. The complete opposite side of these mannerisms is the fight scenes. I really enjoyed the battle scenes. There were so many fantastical elements of ordinary items becoming great weapons to fight some, admittedly, weird and childishly designed monsters. I was not a huge fan of the villains, except for Frill and her crew, because the villains felt like something a five year old drew up and an adult animated. This was some deep subject matter and it becomes a little hard to see it as such when the designs are as eccentric as they were. I had no particular issue with the colors of the villains because the colors in the show were the strongest part of the animation, but I wanted to have fewer absurdist designs.
Oh boy, this is a tough one. Where do I even start? Do I start with the eggs? The talking mannequins in the hidden garden? The dream world? Because the world is a large part of what makes Wonder Egg an enjoyable show, I really don’t want to spoil it. But what I can say is that Wonder Egg does an incredible job at leading you into the world. It is the “long hair, don’t care” attitude about how much you know. We are doing 0-100 on a skateboard behind a Tesla and you better hold on. Not only that, but everyone has their own intentions. They have, do, and will impact the world in ways that matter for all the other characters. Wonder Egg makes you wonder (haha…) what will come next in all the right ways. In fact, I think that the world is so interesting and the issues so real, that the pacing actually made people angrier than they would be if other elements were boring.
For all the oddities surrounding Wonder Egg Priority, inside the anime and out, the music has to be one of the most bizzare elements. Never before have I heard the mix of sounds that I heard on this soundtrack. For how dark the overall material of the show is, the soundtrack is largely very happy, eerily happy when you think about it. If I was led into a kids haircut shop by the easter bunny, but it was all EDM remixes, I might think about the Wonder Egg Priority soundtrack. Hoppy, off putting, and notes full of energy with overtones of “what in the world” dominate the songs. We hear late 90’s and early 2000’s cartoon horn marches and lots of other pairings that I think have never been consumed by my ears before. I really think if you don’t watch the show, you should at very least put the soundtrack on and experience this for yourself.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||4||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||3||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||5||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||1||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||3||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||3||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||3||3|
Wonder Egg Priority is an anime original that tackles incredibly deep themes of self acceptance, family, self harm, guilt, and more. The ideas and the world take center stage and fight really hard to battle the awful pacing issues that really brought the show down in enjoyment. While the score puts it into the range of being able to pass up, I would recommend that you watch this show if you want to be part of an anime original future where deeper concepts and unique characters are being explored.