Developer – Spicy Tails
Translator – Sekai Project
Length – 2-10 Hours
[A review copy was kindly provided by Sekai Project]
[Sekai Project has had no input into the content of this review]
I’ve been waiting a long time to finally play World End Economica, mostly because I’m one of those people that likes to wait until something is finished so I can experience it all at once. The series boasts a scenario written by Hasekura Isuna, the same mind that brought the world Spice and Wolf, which managed to blend economics and interpersonal relationships into something really quite entertaining. I’ve decided to break up my review into three parts corresponding to the three episodes so you can follow my reactions to each instalment in order, which means you’ll have to wait for the final verdict!
To start off with, Episode.01 introduces us to the world of the Lunar Surface, which man has colonized and turned into an economic haven for those fortunate enough to have the start-up capital. While it’s obviously the first instalment, with production value ramping up later in the series, it also has the most charm due to its character relationships that span both genres the novel explores.
Yoshiharu Kawaura, Hal for short, finds himself living in an internet café furiously trading stocks day in and day out in order to realize his dream of setting foot where no man has gone before. The moon has already been colonized – his being able to trade shares on the lunar market was proof of that – which means his sights have set on the next frontier: Mars. Minors can’t live away from home on the moon, however, and in trying to dodge the law Hal finds himself taken in by Lisa, the next best thing to a nun on the predominantly atheist lunar surface. He also meets Hagana, another runaway with a brilliant mind for anything involving numbers, though less so for anything resembling social interaction. While the two hate each other from the get-go, Hal realizes that mathematics might be the key to the stock market and the dream that remains ever out of reach. All he needs to do is win the key over.
A story like World End Economica’s requires balance. Both romance and financial mind games have the potential for extreme excitement but if one eclipses the other it can leave a fair portion of the audience disappointed. Spice and Wolf is famous for a reason, and despite a slow beginning WEE’s first episode manages to get the balance right as well. The characters are all endearing in their own way and watching their relationships develop over time is greatly entertaining, while at the same time the novel had me engrossedly looking up relatively obscure economic terminology in the middle of the night. For me, at least, both of the novel’s foci hit their mark, and the ending was especially well done; it betrayed my expectations in all of the best ways possible.
The technical side of things may well have you bored, though – I can’t get away without acknowledging that. I completed study on economics till half way through high school, so I’m reasonably comfortable with the subject and that may have something to do with my enjoyment. It was at the right level for me: familiar but with new concepts to learn as I read. Spice and Wolf had the benefit of being set in an alternate setting to the current day, whereas I could easily see World End Economica’s level of modern-day jargon being too high or too low for any one reader.
I mentioned a slow start earlier and a big reason for that is a translation effort that is quite frankly horrid, with typos and nonsense phrases scattered throughout. Though the quality picks up in later episodes the first’s is simply not good enough considering it’s a commercial release with two sequels it needs to generate sales for. Especially during the beginning segment I was ready to write off the series due to entire scenes where the prose was so awful it was difficult to extract meaning. The art in the first episode is also the weakest of the three, though it’s by no means terrible. Character sprites and designs convey the feeling they need to, and that’s good enough for me. The BGM is variable, with some tracks that grated on my ears and others that suited their scenes well, so the novel breaks even on technical aspects other than localization.
Summary – World End Economica’s first episode is one of the few visual novels I’ve read that is directly let down by its translation. The poor localization emphasizes its slow beginning, though solid characters and balance between interpersonal relationships and economic adventure come together to make episode one worth reading overall. While neither the art nor the music are anything to write home about the ending stands out as one of my favorites due to its willingness to break from the norm. I’ll get into whether I recommend the series as a whole or not in later reviews but for now I can say I’m happy I picked up the initial instalment.
Score: 8/10 – Good