What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 8.
So what happens in this episode? Phew… honestly, it’s kind of exhausting how much happens in this episode, not that that hasn’t been the case in a few previous episodes but what’s different here is the sheer amount of forward momentum the plot is given to the point where I’m wondering if ~maybe~… actually no, forget about it, I’m not going to tell this anime how to do it’s thing.
Well now you’re pretty much obligated to say what you were going to say since you’ve drawn so much attention to it… Okay, fine. So this anime is based on a Visual Novel, great, love it, Visual Novel Adaptations make for some of the most “interesting” anime’s for better or worse. But the Island visual novel (according to sources) is 30-50~ hours long! This anime is 12, 20 something minute episodes! See the problem? And just so you’re all aware, I’ve never played a visual novel so my experience with them is nil, likewise I don’t like comparing anything to the source material—especially a source material I haven’t played/read. But when the adaptation feels strained to contain all the plot elements and feels rushed to the point of bloat, you have to wonder if ~maybe~ a different adaptation approach should have been considered.
By which you mean? Rather simply, more episodes. I’m not saying things need to be 1:1 adaptations in order to be satisfying. A clever writer can work around a run-time limitation to deliver the goods; The Fruit of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia animes are more than proof of that (again haven’t played/read the visual novel of that so only going off how fulfilling the anime version is). But here, with Island, we’re given an absolute information overload, not to mention enough character development and rock solid ~feels~ to power 3 episodes at least.
Care to elaborate? Okay, I’m going to rush through it though, so spoiler warning for this paragraph. Rinne and Setsuna return to the deserted island where Rinne and original Setsuna spent a time stranded 5 years ago, Setsuna discovers an ancient technology in a cave along with original Setsuna’s dead and decayed body his diary reveals that he found a device of exceedingly futuristic design and he put Rinne in it to save her. Having gotten this closure Rinne and Setsuna frolic on the island for a couple of days while a cloying sweet duet plays over their cutesy love montage. They then endeavour to leave the deserted island only to be struck by a storm. Setsuna awakes to find that Rinne died at sea trying to get home and he cops the blame from Rinne’s mourning mother Kuon. Setsuna is obviously distraught, having lost the love of his life but Kuon has a plan and so with the help of Karen’s mother’s research assistant (the spunky redhead we met briefly in Episode 4—I can’t remember her name and I’m too lazy to check) they go to her laboratory on the mainland and voila—it’s the high-tech machine from original Setsuna’s flashback. Turns out the machine is a stasis pod that halts any aging for whoever is in the pod while time moves normally outside, allowing the occupant to move essentially travel through time! Setsuna gladly volunteers to enter it with the intention to find Rinne (somehow) and bring her back (again, somehow).
…Okay then. That’s quite a lot to digest! Exactly as I was saying, it’s all terribly interesting and emotional stuff, Setsuna’s grief is palpable—especially after the sweet time he and Rinne spent re-connecting on the deserted island. The way they tie the stasis machine (it’s basically like the cryogenic chambers from Futurama) into the mystical and historical elements of the Island’s folklore is genuinely interesting. But having all this squeezed into 20ish minutes (and the episode knows it’s too much as it forgoes both OP and ED to fit it all in) just ends up making a lot of it feel short-changed. Like I can’t help but imagine how much more devastating it would have been to have spent an entire episode on the deserted island only for the episode to end with the revelation of Rinne’s death. Then spend an episode on the aftermath of that with the wake and him coming to terms to his place in this world and more scenes with Kuon and Karen and Sara. And then have a third episode dedicated to returning to the mainland and learning about the machine and go into more depth about how exactly Setsuna intends to save Rinne from the future… or the past… or whatever he’s going to end up doing!
And you weren’t going to talk about how you would improve this show… as if you could resist! You joke, but I kinda hate doing this! It’s arrogant of me to think I know how to write a better adaptation of a source material I haven’t even read/played! But at the same time I kinda adore this show—especially its characters and the overall ~mood~ of the series so it pains me to see it fall into the kind of adaptive traps that come with condensing so much material into so little run-time.
But other than that, great episode? Haha… yeah, yeah. Pretty much, I often say I’m only ever overly critical of things that I love because I spend more time thinking about them and thus more time wanting them to be perfect… I’ll stop now because this review is getting long, but I’d love to hear what other people thought about this particular episode! Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
Previous Island Reviews:
The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
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