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Well this sure looks like a totally normal anime

Haruto wakes up to find himself in a strange, dream-like world, inhabited by bizarre and dangerous creatures. He is chased by a woman calling herself the Witch of Thunder, but escapes due to the help of a white-haired girl who calls him Brother. From there, he meets a talking cat named Katsumi who explains the rules of the world. The dream world is controlled by powerful witches, who kidnap, torment and even kill dreamers who are not careful. The white-haired girl, Lily, is one of the legends of the dream world, who has been encountered by only a few people throughout history. Katsumi is in fact a human researcher who studies the dream world by willingly entering it.

Haruto and Katsumi search for the blue door, which serves as the exit from the Witch of Thunder’s dream world and will allow them to wake up. However, before they can find it, they are captured by the Witch. She is obsessed with games and cuteness, and wants to keep them forever as part of her collection of cute toys and animals.

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Pretty cool design choices, though

Lily appears and allows Haruto to see images of the Witch of Thunder’s “real world” self. She was a serious girl named Yuko who was the frequent subject of her classmates’ cruel pranks and “games”. Lily reveals that all witches are women who have suffered in the real world and succumbed to a condition called Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, from which they will never awaken unless they are killed in their dream world.

Haruto duels the Witch/Yuko, saying that he understands her loneliness and bredom. He encourages her to be less serious and allow herself to have fun. The Witch regains her original Yuko form and is able to wake up from the dream world without being killed. Haruto finds the blue door and escapes with Katsumi – but it seems that only Katsumi was able to escape the dream world, while Haruto remains trapped.

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Just this once couldn’t the mysterious girl have like…neon purple hair?

18if is another show that I didn’t really have high expectations for, as it is a tie-in anime made to promote a mobile puzzle game. While it definitely has its flaws, I actually ended up enjoying the first episode more than I thought I would. It definitely seems like the show will be episodic, with each episode focusing on a different witch (and being directed by a different director, to boot) but it still managed to come across as more than just an advertisement for the accompanying mobile app.

Haruto as a lead character is pretty bland, and Lily is a fairly standard “mysterious white-haired girl who is more of a plot device than character”. I felt sympathetic for Yuko’s plight, but wished that we could have seen more than the single brief scene of her “real world” self that we got. The idea that a generic male high school student will be able to understand and solve the problems of various suffering women also isn’t that interesting as a premise.

That being said, the show had one major element that did catch my attention despite its flaws: the dream world. The design of the world is unique and fascinating (if occasionally bordering on the pretentious). The design is unafraid to play around with space, proportions and gravity, nor does it shy away from less than “pretty” imagery such as Katsumi being turned into a cake and eaten by Yuko’s “toys”. From the preview it seems like each witch’s world will sport its own distinctive design. That may even be enough to keep me watching the show despite not really feeling a connection to any of the characters (except Katsumi – I hope we learn more about him and why he chooses to research the dream world so intensively.) It probably won’t be the show I’ll blog, but I might keep an eye on upcoming episodes.

Given the show’s fairly balanced mix of strength and flaws, I give it a Dio score exactly in the middle. Out of 5:

diodio 1/2

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Katsumi was great

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