「教室から逃げられない」 (Kyōshitsu kara nige rarenai)
“I can’t run away from the classrooms”
「思い出から逃げられない 」 (Omoide kara nige rarenai)
“I can’t run away from my memories”
Insane, wacky, and totally out of the blue, watching Estab Life is an experience for sure.
There’s certainly a funny bone to this show, and if these two premiere episodes are anything to go by, it’s working really well. From the comments, the little robot makes, to the relationship between the tsundere character and the pushy genki-girl, I can already see the marks of greatness stirring up.
Thanks to Crunchyroll we got a two-episode premiere ahead of its April broadcast date in Japan, and according to CR, this trend will continue with Estab-Life aka Establishment in Life. You could call this Spring 2022 officially started!
Estab-Life is kinda weird, but in all the best sense of strange, episode 01 really does start in media’s res throwing us directly into this world, not really explaining too much. We already know by the synopsis who the mastermind might be, but those going in completely blind will find themselves with a story that slowly unravels itself like a well-woven mystery. Furthermore, the action doesn’t take a lot of time to start up. There are elements here that were withheld on purpose, there was never really an exposition dump of this world or any world-building for that matter. All you need to know is that Tokyo has been sealed off in sectors and people want to escape to other divisions in order to live the life they’ve always wanted.
Estab-Life is a mixture of CGDCT, a heist show, and a dystopian cyberpunk drama-mystery woven together, and it works great!
A team of extractors helps people who wish to leave for another sector, the sector you are born in, is the one you die in. Extractors work by whatever means necessary, and I’m guessing these pars will get wackier and wackier as the episodes progress. The team consists of 5 characters who’ll I’ll break down right now. Alga (Hayami, Show) is a useful little A.I robot that hacks into computers and networks to aid the extractors in their job. Some of his lines were really laughed out loud for me, I’m really surprised I liked this show so much!
Equa (Mineuchi, Tomomi) is by all intent and purpose the leader of the group, her tactics include using puppy dog eyes to convince her teammates and guessing which cable to cut, in order to be able to go on a job with her, as each assignment apparently has to have the whole team to agree in order to dispatch.
As such are Feles (Takahashi, Rie) and the tsundere of the show. It’s not like I loved hanging out with you guys or anything like that. Equa quickly realizes that Feles would much rather jump ship and deflect whatever Equa is trying to get through to her than accept it head-on. Equa even says something like “Oh, so that means you love me?” while Feles said the complete opposite. Their dynamic made the whole show for me honestly. Equa is seemingly oblivious, but not really to Feles tsundere pushbacks.
And then we have Martese (Naganawa, Maria) who is introduced to us by showing lots of affection to Equa. Equa in turn gives back the attention Martese asks of her. Martese quickly shows jealousy over anyone who tries to do the same with Equa as she only wants her for herself. Honestly the most annoying of the bunch. Oh, and might I not forget the furry addition to this show.
Ulla (Miki, Shinichiro) you’re shoehorned biped anthropomorphic fuzzy. I really have nothing to say about Ulla because he didn’t have more than two lines and basically all he said was wan-wan! Hopefully, more info is revealed as more episodes go by.
Nevertheless, Estab-Life quickly showed that it’s taking the case of the week approach while underlying a dramatic narrative and so far it’s really working! Episode 01 deals with the case of a teacher who has grown tired of his life and wants to seek new opportunities, he’s not exactly succeeding at being the next k-pop dancing sensation, or whatever he was trying to do on that Youtube site (locked in a toilet I might add). So the Establishment of Life seeks him out, after getting a notification. They knock out a teacher in order to get him out of the school, Equa smiles at him like it’s the most normal thing ever. and so it goes. In the process, they get shot down by drones in what was an intense and well-choreographed fight scene, jump into an elevator shaft, jump out a window to fight drones, and climb up the building like they’re James Bond, this plot point served to allow us to see what the girls can do when it comes to combat. They manage to get him out by attaching a rappel rope down a building and into the next sector, where the teacher flies over as Equa pushes him into the leap of faith. Great stuff really!
Episode 02, was probably my favorite because as soon as the case was revealed I couldn’t stop smiling. Turns out Yakuza have taken over the district and are in-fighting like there’s no tomorrow, I loved the little touch that news broadcast predicted the Yakuza war like it was some type of weather forecast. So what are the extractors doing with a bunch of Yakuza? Well, let me let you because it’s a riot. The old guy who helms the Yakuza groups wants to … become a magical girl! You read that right. The extractors don’t really pay much mind to this request and even indulge him in his noble quest (is it really?). It had me seriously in tears. I absolutely loved it. Mostly because of how lighthearted it was, not indulging in the nuances that might come from a (pervy) old man who wants to fit into tight dresses and live his Precure fantasy. After the extraction, the team gets a video, and I can only imagine what that videotape must have looked like. Thank god we didn’t see it though. Smells like cringe.
And well, I had a lot of fun with this show, but before I let you go, let’s quickly chitchat about the elephant in the room.
Yes, the whole show is CGi, as you can see in the screengrabs, but if you’ve seen anything from Polygon Pictures before, you’ll feel right at home. The animation is fluid, while not losing that anime aesthetic. In some frames, it really felt like the stylization worked well for itself, and felt like a painting. The lights are dramatic, and the cell shading technology Polygon Pictures have carved out for themselves feels high-end and clean. (Long are gone the always dirty space suits of Sidonia) Plus the comedy is just a high selling point for me, it’s wacky, zany, and just blatantly unexpected. Furthermore, the camera direction also was really clicking for me. Those intense, slow-mo shots were a highlight for sure! It just really worked. This was honestly fantastic, and I can’t wait for more!