Girls Beyond the Wasteland sounds like the title of a show starring an all-female team, who travel across a desert, in a dystopian future. Sadly the series is more down to Earth than its name implies. What we have here is a twelve episode visual novel adaptation, about a high school club that have banded together to create a… visual novel. So, the source material is a visual novel revolving around the production of visual novels? Blimey, how Meta. If you ask me, my idea about babes navigating sandy dunes sounds way cooler. VNs are all the rage these days though (Steam and the PSN store are full of them) so perhaps the premise will resonate with some of you, more than it did for me.
Teenage student Buntaro Hojo is a jack-of-all-trades who is still deliberating what career path he should follow. Hojo’s extensive resume of part time jobs includes ramen waiter and amateur playwright. Although he is talented at serving tasty noodle dishes, it is Hojo’s skill at penning scripts that catches the eye of classmate Sayuki Kuroda. The younger sister of an established VN creator, Sayuki hopes to follow in her brother’s footsteps by producing a visual novel of her own. She enlists Hojo’s services and then proceeds to scout the school halls for other helpers, who will hopefully aid with the realization of her creative venture.
Hojo’s childhood pals Atomu Kai and Yuka Kobayakawa are hired for the roles of assistant director and voice actress respectively. Meanwhile first year student Uguisu Yuki is recruited to draw the game’s artwork, after it is revealed that she is a famous online illustrator. The person responsible for programming is a bespectacled lady named Teruha Ando. I guess Ando is qualified to code because she is a hardcore geek who attends conventions and reads boy love manga. For the record, not every otaku is proficient with computers. People assume, just because I play video games, that I can somehow mend their broken laptops. In actuality, I can’t even suss out how to set the clock on my oven!
My rating for Girls Beyond the Wasteland is two and a half stars out of five. The series would best be described as average. Not terrible enough to drop, but not great either. It provides a cursory glance at what visual novel development involves and can be amusing at times. Large portions of the show are however dull. Whilst watching the DVDs I kept pondering what else I could be doing with my time. Rather than sitting through a dozen episodes of mediocrity I could be doing something more constructive like tackling my PS4 backlog or ironing that pile of recently washed jockstraps. My mind kept wondering because the content onscreen was so generic.
Seasoned anime viewers will instantly recognize the uninspired character stereotypes that make up the cast. Yuki for example is the token timid girl, Ando is the overzealous fujoshi and Sayuki is the impassive beauty. At least Atomu stood out by having a dark side. Whenever someone describes him as “nice” a black miasma envelops Atomu and he flies into a furious rage. The word nice triggers painful memories, because Atomu’s ex dumped him for being too nice. Like they say, nice guys finish last. That’s why there is an endless supply of single gentlemen out there, whilst beautiful women queue up to become Chris Brown’s latest punching bag.
Things weren’t much better in terms of plot either. Every so often the club faces a hurdle that may wreck the visual novel project, such as Hojo suffering from writer’s block or Ando quitting in a huff. The drama gets resolved quickly though, robbing the narrative of any tension. We don’t even get a bit of romance to spice things up. Yuka seemingly has a crush on Hojo, but the potential relationship goes nowhere. She gets jealous over Hojo and Kuroda spending time together, causing her to sulk briefly, but in no time at all she gets over it. Perhaps she realized the futility of competing in a love triangle? Childhood friends seldom ever come out on top in those things.