English Dub Review: The Ones Within “ARE WE FRIENDS”

A group of livestreamers get kidnapped by a guy in an alpaca mask.

Overview (Spoilers Below):

Akatsuki is lost. Or stuck. Or both, really. Awakening in a strange forest clearing with a girl beside him, he has no idea how he got there. After befriending a giant panda, a man in an alpaca mask enters the scene to tell them that they’re in a Let’s Play. He gathers them together in a classroom with a bunch of other teens and informs them that they’re trapped until they attract one hundred million views on their livestream. The good news is that have an unlimited amount of time to make it happen.

The second challenge only requires four players, and of course Akatsuki is one of them. Despite the challenge involving a ghostly spector, he easily befriends the spirit and survives being thrown out the window thanks to his giant panda friend. Everyone might be able to agree that he’s annoyingly chipper, but he’s saved the day twice now!

Our Take:

The Ones Within is one of those ‘trapped inside a video game’ type shows, but with a slightly more modern day twist. Being forced to complete dangerous challenges in the real world while competing to make it to one hundred million viewers is a pretty good 21st-century nightmare. I’m a little tired of this type of show, but maybe it can put its own unique spin on things? So far it’s doing an okay job.

My favorite part so far has to be the characters. Really, just two of them. Akatsuki Iride is our main character. An observant guy who specializes in escape games and is also an idiot. He’s perpetually cheerful, much to the horror of Karin Sarayashiki, one of his fellow trapped participants. She’s a horror Let’s Player, and has plenty of attitude to go around. (She nicknames him ‘Ir-idiot’.) They have a super fun dynamic that I really like so far, and I’m glad it seems like they may be the two most leading characters of the series. The other cast members seem fine, but perhaps a bit bland. There’s people like Anya Kudou, a grumpy guy who likes to fight, and Yuzu Roromori, a puzzle and plant nerd. (She and Akatsuki hit it off when he uploaded a ‘bury myself in leaves at a park stream’!)

Mr. Paka is the ringleader of the operation that he calls The Ones Within – Genome. It’s hard to tell so far just how scared we should be of him. While his appearance is certainly creepy, there’s also something kind of sweet about choosing to cosplay an alpaca. His punishment for Kudou’s mouthing off is merely to give him a bunch of bell peppers at dinner, which seems easy going enough. But then he also claims to have kidnapped people before, and one of them is just rotting away in a cell. I’m interested in seeing just how Akatsuki’s attitude will rub up against Mr. Paka. How long until they come into confrontation? Akatsuki rarely gets angry, but it’s bound to happen sooner or later.

The dub has a few knockout VA’s and the rest are just average. The cast list hasn’t been posted yet by Funimation, but I really enjoyed Karin’s actor. She gives her a good amount of punchiness that fits her personality well. Also, Akatsuki does a good job projecting that innocent ingenuity he has so much of. Plus he gets to deliver lines like this: “It’s embarrassing, but I’m pretty much allergic to every type of pollen they have in Japan!” His reaction to the giant panda is very sweet: “C’mon, haven’t you always wanted to pet one?” Speaking of reactions, I love Karin’s when she sees the view count epidermal implant on her forearm: “Ew, what is this?” It’s rather ironic that a guy in the livestreaming business won’t even show his face: “Oh, no thank you, it’s far too embarrassing.” Finally, this may have been Karin’s best line of the episode, talking to Akatsuki: “You’re too happy.”

After a fairly strong first episode, The Ones Within is a show that manages to overcome its weird plot points by including a very likeable main character and a curmudgeonly sidekick. The premiere opens up a lot of questions that will make for interesting explorations later on. (Like what is Mr. Paka’s true objective? I mean, he might just be in it for the views?) The opening sequence promises a large cast of quirky characters and situations, so let’s all be sure to tune in to their livestream next week!

Caleb

graphic designer, writer, and animation addict. when i'm not writing words about my favorite shows, you can usually find me skulking about on Twitter. if you want, leave a comment or send me a tweet; i'd love to chat!

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