Gekidol – Ep. 1 & Alice in Deadly School OVA (First Impressions)

This season, I decided to opt for a more encompassing editorial for First Impressions as opposed to writing a bunch. However, I don’t want to make a full transition to this change just yet so I’m making some exceptions for one reason or another, primarily in case I do pick it up for coverage. Why is Gekidol one of the exceptions? Well, this premiere is more or less two episodes in one so I figured whatever I write will be a bit too long for the First Impressions editorial (and I ended up being right). I also can honestly see myself covering this all the way through depending on how the show pans out. Believe me though, I know this post is random.

I went into this show under the impression that it’s an idol anime and judging by the ending of the premiere, it very much is one. To my surprise however, the idol part of Gekidol (how do I pronounced this?), is actually a bit tacked on. What’s actually more at the foreground is stage acting. In fact, the main characters of the show are members of a troupe called Alice in Theater. They just happen to also be performing as idols. Why? I have no idea and I have feeling there’ll be no good explanation provided by the show either.

Leading the main cast of Gekidol is Seria Morino (Hikaru Akao), a young girl with a budding interest in acting. By chance, she meets a senior member of Alice in Theater named Kaworu Sakakibara (Kana Hanazawa) who invites her into the troupe. Despite objections from her possessive friend, Makoto Higuchi (Sarara Yashima), Seria decides to join. From there, Seria shows her acting chops to the other troupe members via a scene from a play that she happens to know by heart. Though she struggles with acting on the fly, she’s more than capable at memorizing and reciting lines.

What really stands out in this premiere are some bizarre background details. The first and most glaring is the fact that the show takes place a couple years after a disaster where cities around the world were mysteriously decimated, leaving behind a massive crater. One such crater exists in the area where the gang lives. Another detail is the presence of holographic technology which various troupes, including Alice in Theater, use to augment their performances. Finally, you have one of the troupe members possessing what appears to be cybernetic eyes. Either those or implants or this girl is not actually human. There’s an implication that Seria is somehow at the center of all this. After practice, Seria glances at the member with the cybernetic eyes which causes her to experience visions or flashbacks before fainting. What exactly that entails however is something the show will have to elaborate later. For all I have to say is, “What the hell is all this?”.

There are three ways in which the setup could pan out. First is that the show is so out of its mind that it vexes and annoys the viewer. Second is that the insanity makes for some decent fun. Third, and call me a skeptic but it is unlikely, the show has everything thought out and it ends up having a genuinely good story. Naturally, I’d want whatever I’m watching to be good but if I want to be both optimistic and realistic, the second route is what I hope to see. At the very least, I just don’t want the show to be boring, not when it has such a crazy setup going for it.

For the record, I watched the New Year’s Special version of the premiere which includes an abridged edit of Alice in Deadly School, an in-universe OVA that tells an apparently acclaimed play that Alice in Theater famously performs. The plot centers around a group of girls, the two most important being best friends Yuu Sumio (M.A.O.) and Nobuko Momomura (Chihira Mochida), surviving in their school during a zombie outbreak. All the characters are voiced by the same cast members as the parent show, further hammering in the in-universe nature of the OVA. I’m not entirely sure what exactly got cut out in this specific version. My only guess is the ending as the special does cut to credits abruptly, leaving a cliffhanger as a result.

On paper, it’s neat to have an expanded look at what the characters are doing in the show. Unfortunately, the OVA is actually the duller part of the Special edit’s two parts. Simply put, there’s no arc of any kind in the story. Events are loosely stringed together and they play out with little consequences. Equally problematic is that none of the characters are developed or memorable. They’re so forgettable that I had to look up the two main characters’ names so that I can write them in this blog post. If this story really is Alice in Theater’s most famous and best play, it really does not show in this Special Edit.

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