Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: High-Rise Invasion

Original Air Date: February 25, 2021
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Action, Mystery
Based on the Series Created By: Tsuina Miura and
Takahiro Oba

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for High-Rise Invasion. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Yuri Honjou (voiced by Haruka Shiraishi) wakes up to find herself in a seemingly abandoned world filled with interconnected high-rises. Before she can make sense of where she is, Yuri is attacked by a masked madman who appears intent on killing her. Through sheer luck, Yuri manages to escape and learns the horrifying reality of her situation.

She has been brought to a world filled with beings who she dubs the Masked. The Masked push their victims to levels of despair so deep that suicide is the only way out. Yuri refuses to let that happen to her.

On her journey, Yuri learns that her beloved older brother is also in this world. She sets out to reunite with him, and along the way, she befriends the lone Mayuko Nise (voiced by Shiki Aoki).

Together, Yuri and Mayuko two fight off the Masked, learn the mysteries of this horrible place, and gather allies to ensure their survival. However, one misstep could lead to a sudden and bloody end.

Series Positives

Ultimately, yes, High-Rise Invasion was enjoyable. Initially, though, no – not in the slightest.

You’re going to need a bit of faith if you wish to see this show through to its end. Although this series does, eventually, become fun, it only does so past the point where an average viewer can be expected to care. I’ll explain more later on in the review, but know there is a payoff when everything’s all said and done.

Once High-Rise Invasion finds its footing, it revels in its ridiculousness. This show embraced the absurdity of its world to great effect. You’ll see things that will make you think, “There’s no way in hell that should have worked, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t cool.”

For example, there was an instance where our main heroine, Yuri Honjou, tied her shirt to a guardrail and her ankle; she then dangled over the edge of a building to reach a busted out window (one that was several stories high); once there, she expertly shot a Masked several times in the body and head while upside down and smiling.

So that happened.

Despite being utterly ludicrous, that was the moment I realized High-Rise Invasion might actually be worth my attention. Once that finally clicked, a lot of other elements fell into place.

There is no denying this series was goofy. High-Rise Invasion was not a hard-core, dark-as-night survival story that had to be taken super seriously. That said, things never became happy-go-lucky either. Danger, death, and savagery were never too far away. At any moment, things could go south for our heroes, and there was no guarantee any of them were going to get out alive.

High-Rise Invasion did a fantastic job with establishing the Masked as a threat. And so we are clear, I’m not saying a group of Masked posed a problem; I’m saying ONE did. As the show progressed, Yuri and her partner, Mayuko Nise, got pretty good at taking out these enemies. Eventually, they could even clear out a room full of them and make it look easy. But they had to work to get to that level. Be that as it may, they were pushed to their limits when they faced higher-tier Masked.

Hell, Yuri and Mayuko were among the exceptions to the general rule. Most humans in this world were like cannon fodder. Even in this series’ late-game, a Masked attacking a group could be devastating.

As a viewer, you could never take things for granted. Thus, it was hard to guess which direction this story would go. Upon hitting episode twelve, High-Rise Invasion was exciting. I was shocked by how invested I was in this show despite being on the verge of disregarding it at the start. Here was an anime that dug itself into a hole and then managed to pull itself out of it.

And aside from the action, creative deaths, and insanity, High-Rise Invasion successfully saved itself because of its characters. Specifically – and this is important – this show saved itself by having its characters be together. There was no one – except Sniper Mask (voiced by Yuuichirou Umehara), who was a blast – who could, by themselves, hold this series together during its more subdued moments. Most everyone needed a fight scene or some kind of battle to be worth anything. Granted, not many characters had the chance to disprove what I just said, and the ones who did (Yuri) almost killed this show.

However, when there were groups or pairs of characters, there was a lot more strength. Once Mayuko teamed up with Yuri, many of the latter’s more annoying qualities were off-set and better balanced. Yuri needed someone to give her focus.

And I suppose that was the thing. Once High-Rise Invasion had a goal other than just survival, the bleeding stopped. I won’t go so far as to say you’ll eventually begin to care for the characters. That notwithstanding, they were one of the necessary pillars that turned things around and made this show worth watching.

I know for me – and I did not think I would say this after episode one – I can’t wait for a season two. And given the slight cliffhanger ending, there better be a season two.

Series Negatives

The animation wasn’t good; there, I said it. Nothing was fluid, everything was stiff, and at times, this show simply looked ugly.

I’ve seen Netflix produce anime that are simply beautiful to watch. Unfortunately, for High-Rise Invasion, I’m not sure where its budget went.

Now, if you’re wondering, what is the point of mentioning this series being a Netflix original? Fundamentally (and traditionally), there isn’t much. After all, you might end up watching this show from another source. However, with High-Rise Invasion prominently carrying the Netflix brand, it does highlight many of this show’s faults.

And who are we kidding? Netflix, other streaming services, and marathon viewing sessions have become so entrenched with our idea of entertainment that they should be taken into consideration.

As I’ve been saying throughout this review, High-Rise Invasion did not have the best of starts. This show was unimpressive, underwhelming, and a tad full of itself. There was no wow-factor to get you hooked. It wasn’t until episode three that this show finally produced some teeth.

In the past, when all anime released an episode a week, a viewer might stick with a subpar series because options were limited. Therefore, a show could (and the good ones never did this) sink into you further down the line. For a Netflix series and everything comes out the same day, failing to grab right at the start can be disastrous. Unlike before, if what you’re watching isn’t holding your interest, there is absolutely something else that will.

High-Rise Invasion dropped the ball in this area, and it would not surprise me if people admitted they stopped watching after the first two episodes. I don’t blame them; I would have probably done the same thing if watching anime wasn’t something I do regularly.

And this series stumbled in two places: Its fanservice and Yuri Honjou.

Now, fanservice won’t necessarily save a show. But bad fanservice can break one. And by fanservice, I, of course, mean all the sex appeal (anime boobies, awkward upskirt shots, innuendoes, etc.), which I personally find distracting and often grossly unnecessary. However, I am also referring to the more brutal side of fanservice: the blood and the gore.

High-Rise Invasion had plentiful quantities of both elements throughout its run. Admittedly, I would consider this series to be relatively tame in this respect, but they are crucial selling points. Except not in the first two episodes.

For some reason, the show felt constrained; there was no spark. This was unfortunate since the fanservice could have been a useful distraction until we got to the real meat of this story. Instead, we were left with the Yuri Honjou Show, and that was not good.

At the start of this series, Yuri made no sense. She was a walking contradiction that appeared to bend to the story’s will. If something needed to go a certain way, Yuri would become a naïve crybaby. Then, when the plot had to go another way, she would become this badass marksman who could snipe headshots with a handgun.

Yuri survived the opening moments of this series not out of skill or even luck. Instead, it was due to her title of “heroine” that meant she could not die yet. Yuri did not instill confidence, she was often annoying, and she did not make you want to continue with this show.

This situation changed when Mayuko partnered up with Yuri. At last, Yuri was given something to work towards, and the story solidified who she was as a character. She was someone who could and would do whatever it took (no matter how stupidly dangerous an action might be) to protect the people under her care.

If you make it to that point of High-Rise Invasion, you’ll find this series to be more fun than you initially thought.

Final Thoughts

Although patience may be a virtue, it doesn’t make for the most glowing review.

This show starts rough; it sets itself up for failure. However, against all odds, everything turns around in the end.

What you’ll eventually get is a series filled with exciting action, absurdly entertaining fights, and a story you want to see continued.

So even with its faults, High-Rise Invasion does earn a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise High-Rise Invasion? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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