Episode 7, “Joshua,” drops us right back into the tail end of episode 6 with the final two days of Neku and Joshua’s week together. Neku is still incredibly reluctant to be with Joshua, but who can blame him? He’s partnered with his murderer, who seems to still be moving through the world with the same nonchalance as before. It’s an uneasy scene that really showcases Neku’s inner turmoil at the death he’s only recently remembered but ultimately has no rhyme or reason for.
Post-OP, Neku is quietly furious. He can’t really escape Joshua since they’re partners, and a partner is necessary to survive in the UG. Still, it doesn’t get rid of the simple fact that Neku doesn’t want to be within six feet of Joshua. However, there’s not enough time to dwell on that, especially when a new mission comes through, sending our pair towards a new objective that they have to complete if they both want to stay alive.
Meanwhile, the show cuts away to Konishi and Kitaniji, who are discussing Minamimoto’s antics with the Taboo Noise. His actions are a serious crime, especially since they can kill Reapers too. Yet that’s not the focus of Konishi’s conversation. She’s fixated on the particularly long-lived Neku. Why? Well, I suspect we’ll get answers to that later on.
Back in the UG, Neku and Joshua face off against a red Kangaroo Noise who brings the heat… until Joshua blasts it with a ray of light. Then it’s off towards their objective and Route 5, which is square root of 2.2360679, the number mentioned in today’s mission mail. If they follow the route, they’ll arrive at their final destination: Udagawa, where they can hopefully clear the mission. The moment they arrive, however, they’re greeted with a mess of Black Frog Noise, another variant of the Taboo Noise that attack Players and Reapers alike without discrimination.
Neku and Joshua are able to clear the Noise, but it seems they’re too late. The moment the last frog disappears, they hear a scream – it’s ganguro girl Nao, who’s collapsed onto the ground. It looks like this is her final fight: she barely manages to complete a sentence before she fades into light particles and disappears. Unfortunately, Sota isn’t spared the same fate, and he tells Neku to stick it out to the very end so he can ultimately come back to life. And because of the pacing of this arc, this moment actually kind of stings: Sota and Nao might not be main characters, but we’ve seen enough of them that having their stories end here genuinely hurts a bit, and the show is careful to give the scene enough weight to let it sink in before Joshua admonishes Neku for caring so much, and for how he’s changed.
Unfortunately, the Taboo Noise continue to be a problem even for Uzuki and Kariya, who are steadily becoming overwhelmed by Sho’s mass-production of them. This time, Neku and Joshua arrive on the scene in time, and are able to effectively crush the Noise and save Uzuki. Uzuki angrily chides Neku for saving Reapers, of all things, but Kariya quickly thanks them, and reminds them that this time, things won’t play out the same way for Neku as they did his first time around. Sho isn’t playing by the rules: he’s more than willing to crush anyone who isn’t himself. Thankfully, Neku’s determination to bring Shiki back to life is unwavering, and he manages to defeat the final boss of today’s mission before Hot Boy Sho shows up on the scene.
When my favorite character does make an appearance, he initially taunts Neku before sending him and Joshua into the final day where the Reapers’ Game is set to come to an end. No matter what happens, this will be Neku’s final day, and all he asks, as a boon, is for Joshua to be straight with him and tell him everything he needs to know about why Joshua murdered him. But first, the boys are off to Mark City, the stage for their battle against the Game Master. At first, it seems like little more than a somewhat dramatic climb to the top. Then Beat appears, and things get very serious, very quick, especially when his temper flares and he seemingly forgets what it means to be a Reaper who kind of follows the rules.
And yet, that’s not even nearly the climax of episode 7. That takes place on the rooftop, in a wonderfully animated scene with Hot Boy Sho that is interspersed with a bunch of flashbacks to the day Neku was murdered in cold blood. Only… Neku wasn’t murdered by Joshua. He was murdered by Minamimoto Sho. Neku directs his rage towards the Game Master, and him and Joshua launches into a fierce battle against the corrupted, tabooed form of Minamoto Sho.
And y’all? This battle is beautifully scored.
There’s a really interesting use of liminal space in this fight, a stark lack of music in certain parts. In those empty moments, viewers are left with either a trickling of ambient noise or atmospheric sounds that mimic an all-consuming voice. It’s a perfect fit for a fight against a man who once claimed he’d drop the moon on the Players in his game. And that line – “drop the moon” – ultimately comes back to bite Minamimoto Sho right on his butt when his Taboo Noise form isn’t enough to take out Joshua or Neku, the latter of which can’t afford to lose.
Episode 7 is perhaps the best episode of the series to date. The pacing feels good, the action is solid, and there’s enough to keep you excited for the final five episodes of this series. In many ways, this is what I initially wanted from the show: an action-adventure series that took from the source material, remixed things to make them fit, and ultimately, created just as emotional an experience as the game. Episode 7 proves that this can be done, and if wary viewers stuck it out until now, I think they’ll see what I mean.
I have a lot of thoughts regarding episode 7’s end, though I’ll say they’re all positive. I think the transition at the end of this episode is a solid hook into the final arc, as is Neku waking up in Shibuya Scramble in front of 104. Honestly, even though I went into The World Ends with You the Animation knowing how everything ends, I’m also intensely excited to go through this story one more time and see how viewers feel about the last five episodes. If they’re anything like episode 7, then The World Ends with You the Animation has the serious potential to be one of this season’s strongest series, first arc misgivings and all.
Mercedez is a JP-EN localization editor & QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who also writes & reviews at Anime Feminist and But Why Tho?. She’s also a frequent guest on the AniFem Podcast, Chatty AF. 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 or on her Instagram where she’s always up to something.