Technically, the second episode of Virtualsan – Looking (that title…) is out but Crunchyroll appears to be running on a delayed schedule so I only bothered to watch the first episode. Really though, one episode is enough. I owe Pastel Memories and Dimension High School an apology. This is the real WTF anime of the season.
Full disclaimer: I am not in the know with the Virtual Youtuber craze. Like, I watch the occasional Kizuna Ai video and that’s about it. So if you really want to be that guy and say, “Well, this anime is clearly just not for you since you don’t know these Youtubers” then sure, go ahead. You aren’t entirely wrong about that. I, however, am convinced that being familiar would not have helped with understanding what the fuck is going on in this show.
When I originally wrote this post, I came to the conclusion that there is no plot in Virtualsan. It’s essentially a string of really random, bizarre vignettes acted out by various Virtual Youtubers. And I do mean random, what with the toilet paper sermon, jumping gorilla clip art and preliminary sketches of a Goblin Slayer parody…just to name a few. Nothing appears to be connected apart from the recurring characters. In fact, some of the scenes sort of just begin and end out of the blue, making it difficult for you to buy into what’s going on, let alone keep track of it. However, someone later pointed out to me in the comments that this is apparently meant to be a variety show along the lines of SNL and that kind of justifies the structure of the show. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is all just improv. Get all the seiyuus in a recording booth, have them say whatever, and some poor intern at the studio will go ahead and animate over them. I can’t imagine there being a script written for this show.
Did I find any of this funny? Well, here’s the thing: I did laugh a fair amount throughout the whole episode but I was laughing at the show rather with it. I didn’t find any of the jokes funny in of themselves, not a single one but they just keep piling on that it starts to baffle me. In other words, I found it funny simply because I’m stunned that this is meant to pass for legitimate humor. Also, I’m sure the people behind this show, cast or crew, are working hard at their respective roles but so much about this production is laughable. Never mind the excessive weirdness, some of the voice acting is flat and in general, the animation suffers from stilted movement, physics clipping, and just general poor rendering. This kind of thing can maybe get a pass on Youtube but for something airing on television, it just feels amateurish.
Who will want to watch this show? If you don’t know any Virtual Youtubers then a whole show starring a bunch of them already won’t appeal to you. And even if you enjoy such strange humor, you’d better off with something else like, say, Pop Team Epic. I suppose this is just meant for the diehard fans of the featured Youtubers but that’s such narrow appeal if you ask me. Even if you happen to be such a fan, I’d like to know if this show is working out for you. It certainly didn’t for me.
OP: “AIAIAI ft. Yasutaka Nakata” by AI Kizuna
ED: “Hitogata” by HIMEHAMA
Thanks for reading!
VIRTUALSAN – LOOKING is officially available on Crunchyroll.
For all of my Winter 2019 First Impressions, check out this archive page!
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