Find out why I’m throwing out my old retainer.
OVERVIEW (SPOILERS BELOW)
If only HiDive used a Netflix release model. Doreiku’s first episode does an outstanding job of emphasising the mystery surrounding its premise, which above all left me keen for more.
I technically have a rough idea of how the SCM mind control devices work now (scary retainers), yet at the same time I’m also confused in the best way possible. Where do SCMs come from? How many do most people own? Do you die if you leave it out? Seriously, how does this work? While my gut feeling is that the show’s sci-fi elements will become more prominent very soon, providing only enough details to get viewers hooked is a smart move for a premiere.
Doreiku’s characters are similarly shrouded in mystery, being largely defined by their interactions with each other as opposed to personal motivations. Unfortunately, this was where the episode’s ambition didn’t quite work for me, as I would’ve liked to have understood at least Eia or Yuuga by the conclusion; the dreamlike sequences where the former is surrounded by water were pretty, but too ambiguous for their own good. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that this ambition also made room for Lucie’s storyline, which shifted from disturbing to compelling and back again. If the ‘main’ plot is dedicated to introducing and explaining the theory behind the SCM, this subplot is designed to show it being put into practice, and it’s as haunting as it sounds. The episode even managed to genuinely leave me confused by interweaving Lucie’s scenes and those of Eia and Yuuga without warning, which heightened the suspense.
Although I’m repeating myself, I can’t overstate just how ambitious ‘Choice’ feels. For instance, the shots and shading were at times some of the most unique I’ve seen in a recent anime, even if this was not always to the show’s benefit (there was one set of intertitles that simply shouldn’t have been used). I also felt that there were hints towards discussion of the philosophy behind free will, which would not only be a great fit for the subject matter, but is just the kind of ‘thoughtful sci-fi’ I’m a sucker for. Speaking of sci-fi, it was incredibly satisfying when Yuuga revealed just how much careful thought went into the SCMs’ conditions of use; the writers somehow manage to make this seem both logical and inspired.
‘Choice’ takes a conventional approach to setting up its mystery, even using voiceover from Eia in its conclusion to foreshadow some sinister turn in her partnership with Yuuga. However, the suspense throughout the episode is so well-crafted that this is hardly a problem, and I felt that it paired cleverly with the curiosity that good sci-fi piques.
If Doreiku sticks to this style and quality, I’ll be choosing to watch every week for sure.