Disney+ Anime Adapts Fan-Favorite Square Enix Video Game

By Robert Scucci | Published

It’s not too often that a role-playing video game gets a satisfying animated series adaptation, but The World Ends with You: The Animation is a great series for casual viewers and die-hard gamers alike. Set in modern-day Shibuya, both the series and the game it’s based on rely heavily on the setting, fashion, commerce, and deadly games that will keep you engaged throughout the series’ 12-episode run. And if you’re partial to graphic animated violence, then look no further!

The World Ends With You: The Animation

The World Ends with You focuses on a boy named Neku, who wakes up in a plane of existence called the Underground but doesn’t know how he got there as he suffers from amnesia. Bearing a striking resemblance to Shibuya, the Underground is a separate realm from the Realground, where regular people live. While on a mission to find the 104 building, Neku is attacked by monsters known as Noise but is rescued by a girl named Shiki, who reveals to him that he’s participating in the Reaper’s Game.

Based On The Sleeper JRPG Hit

Like the Square Enix video game of the same name, The World Ends with You centers on the Reapers’ Game, a week-long competition in which its principal contestants need to complete a series of missions assigned to them by the Reapers. Failure to do so will result in the contestants getting erased from existence, an act known as erasure. Neku forms an alliance with Shiki, and they use objects with mysterious powers known as psych pins throughout their missions.

No Such Thing As Free To Play

Throughout Neku and Shiki’s journey in The World Ends with You, they befriend other players named Beat and Rhyme. The players learn the true nature of the game, including the “fees” they paid to participate in the Reapers’ Games. In Neku’s case, he has reason to believe that his memories were his cost of admission.

An Updated Setting

The World Ends with You is mostly faithful to its source material but updated for a more modern audience. One notable stylistic change involves the use of smartphones, which were portrayed as flip phones in the video game because of its 2007 release. Stylistic choices aside, Kazuya Ichikawa wanted the anime adaptation to be considered his masterpiece and even cast Koki Uchiyama, who voice-acted in the video game, to reprise his role as Neku for the series.

Spotlight On Shibuya

As for its setting, The World Ends with You expertly captures the vibrant atmosphere of the real-life district of Shibuya. The video game and series alike feature a number of real-world locations and landmarks, but copyright restrictions resulted in some of the locations being renamed for legal reasons. The fashion trends found in Shibuya mirror the gameplay in the sense that different articles of clothing have certain advantages and disadvantages depending on how fashionable the items are.

A Faithful Adaptation

Upon its 2021 release, The World Ends with You was praised for being a faithful video game adaptation, but the series’ pacing was scrutinized. While most critics agree that the series does an excellent job incorporating in-universe terminology from the game, some reviewers felt that the series’ pacing was rushed in the first few episodes, leading them to believe that the sole purpose of the series was to function as promotional material for the then-upcoming sequel, Neo: The World Ends With You.

Perfect For Newbies And Game Fans Alike

Early pacing issues notwithstanding, the writers who worked on The World Ends with You recommend the series to casual viewers who may not be familiar with the game’s lore, as it does spend a considerable amount of time developing the characters after such an intense introduction to the premise.

You can stream The World Ends with You: The Animation on the Hulu section on Disney+. Since the platform is currently in its beta phase, you’ll need to subscribe to both services to access the series through Disney+.