Episode 12, “It’s a Wonderful World,” opens in medias res with last week’s cliffhanger as the end game content ramps up to a proper finale. Neku is facing a now dragon-fied Kitaniji with only his pins to help him. Thankfully, just when things seem a bit dire, Beat and Shiki both sweep in with Noise Rhyme in tow, reminding Neku that he’s not alone in this fight. More importantly, that he’s never alone, that his friends will see him through to the very end. With their hands on one another, they sync up and unleash a colorful barrage of attacks, ranging from Mr. Mew walloping Kitaniji to Beat skatting up his scales to deliver a barrage of blows. It all culminates in one last all-out attack in the name of getting back their lives. It’s coolly animated with a flurry of effects and splashes of color, down to Kitaniji’s defeat.
Post-OP, Neku, Shiki, and Beat stand before walls slathered in CAT’s gorgeous graffiti as Neku reflects on CAT’s -Mr. Hanekoma- message to him way back in episode 4. He’s not going to run anymore, nor is he going to shy away from trying his best. He’s going to live and give it his all. And just as it seems that things are going to twist right, they twist left, and Joshua walks out. Then, all the pieces start to fall into place.
Almost immediately, Joshua reveals that he is Shibuya’s Composer, and that Kitaniji and himself have been playing a game between themselves for Shibuya’s fate. Even knowing that this was coming, knowing that this twist was going to be in this finale, I felt it, in large part because of the voice acting and the table setting from Joshua’s arc. And as viewers witness a flashback between Kitaniji and the Composer, even more pieces start to fall into place, leaving viewers with the gut-wrenching conclusion that every single thing has truly been a game.
Beat, of course, doesn’t take well to this, but Joshua Thanos-style snaps them into unconsciousness, after putting Beat and Shiki in an airborne t-pose. It’s then that he reveals that Neku has been his proxy for Shibuya’s fate, and that by defeating Kitaniji, has locked Shibuya into the path of destruction and erasure. Yet this isn’t what Neku wanted, not in the least. He never asked for this. And that’s the real cruelty in all of Joshua’s machinations, isn’t it? Honestly, it has been since Neku started questioning Joshua’s intentions way back in episode 6. Yet this isn’t the end. It’s far from it, and thankfully, it’s not a bad end for Neku. No, he’s worked hard, and he knows what to do. And with his friends, he’s going to figure out how to save Shibuya and themselves.
As Twister played one final time in the OP, I found my eyes stinging with tears. Not from sadness: rather, but utter delight and satisfaction, from a deep sense of excitement about what was going to happen. That feeling only grew more when the credits rolled, finishing my time off with Neku and the gang. As I sat down to collect my thoughts, I found myself feeling immense gratitude for each and every single one of these characters who I’ve had the pleasure of going on an adventure with. I really love this story, and while TWEWY the Animation has its glaring flaws, its hiccups, and its errors. It’s far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean that the good doesn’t outweigh the bad, and ultimately, I found that the good was really good, and the bad… mostly mediocre, save for the opener.
Episode 12 is twisty finale antics at their finest, tying together all of the events of the past eleven episodes into one emotional conclusion. It’s also true to its title, creating a really sweet, moving ending, though I’ll admit: this might hit differently if you’re an anime-only viewer. I don’t think that’s bad, but I also don’t think it’s out and out good. While I loved being able to fill in the gaps all throughout this series, I also think that that remains one of the biggest weaknesses of this adaptation. Even in this finale, there were times where I wish certain game elements had gotten included for more emotional impact, though that’s ultimately the limits of a twelve episode adaptation versus a full RPG.
Yet even with the parts that got cut from this finale -there’s a bit more fleshing out, and a fight, before Neku gets his happy ending- I still found this to be an incredibly satisfying finale. It feels like closing a really enjoyable book: I don’t know when I’ll revisit this series, but I know I’ll always have these warm, positive feelings towards how good of a story it became. I love seeing Neku Sakuraba happy, love seeing him loved by his friends, love seeing him become a radically different person from the premiere. In many ways, the back half of episode 12 feels like a celebration of who Neku has become over the past twenty-one days, and it rewards im in kind by giving him the ultimate prize: a true second chance.
TWEWY the Animation has been one hell of a ride, going from one of the season’s weakest premieres to a strong, emotional finale. And as I sniffled my way to the end of the ED, I found myself really happy I got to cover this series, both as a critic and as a fan of TWEWY as well. Realistically, this adaptation won’t be for everyone. I’m 100% sure there’s fans who dropped off hard in episode 3. Yet I think that this is one of the most solid video game adaptations in recent years: certainly in the past decade, though… don’t get too mad at me for saying that.
This is probably my fourth or fifth time with Neku, and I consider it one of the most emotional rides I’ve ever had. It came at the right time, during a global event that made watching this adaptation something of a comfort food, but for the eyes. Even with its missteps and the lack of the original game’s music, I found this itteration engaging, once it found its legs in around week 4. Yt even still, each week has been immensely satisfying to me, whether or not the episode was good. I suppose that’s the power of getting to play around in this version of Shibuya.
It’s here that I’d like to thank Lynzee for this experience, as she’s the one who gave me the go-ahead to review TWEWY the Animation, for which I’m immensely grateful. I’m also grateful to you, the readers, who have engaged with my reviews on a weekly basis, and hopefully, find yourself engaging with the series when the new game drops. I really hope that this adaptation creates a whole new generation of fans who love this version of Shibuya, love this story, critic it, create for it, and share it as much as I did back in the 00s.
Next to me is my Switch Lite, which is almost always on me unless there’s water (not a glass, but like, a pool) present. In it, snuggly clicked into the cartridge slot, is my English copy (I have a Japanese copy, so the distinction is important) of TWEWY, ready for one lsat run-through ahead of NEO TWEWY‘s July drop.I As it charges, eagerly awaiting an hour or two of evening play, I find myself thinking one thought, and one thought only: wow, the world really is a wonderful place, isn’t it?
See you next (anime) season, Players.
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.