Girls Beyond the Wasteland initially invites comparison with Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend — a show that was quite popular but I didn’t get around to watching. Both are about high schoolers making bishoujo games, but there are some differences.
Watched 4/12 episodes.
For starters, in Saekano the project lead is an otaku guy, whereas in Girls Beyond the Wasteland the project lead is an otaku girl, the shy and cold Sayuki. Also, Saekano is based on a light novel series, whereas Girls Beyond the Wasteland is based on a bishoujo visual novel game itself (which, oddly enough, won’t release until 25th March), making it a little bit more meta in the way it explores the world of bishoujo game development.
I’m not sure about Saekano, but with Girls Beyond the Wasteland the source material does bleed through. Besides a single male friend, main character and scriptwriter Buntarou is surrounded by female friends making the game. It’s easy to see how this would translate into a romance Visual Novel. It’s also really, really slow. Sayuki doesn’t even ask Buntarou to get involved until the very end of the first episode.
It turns out she doesn’t have any other team members either. It becomes Buntarou’s task to hunt down other members, which happens in the next couple of episodes, both sourcing the talents of those he already knows quite well, and getting to know some new people from his school too.
It presents game development in quite an interesting and factual way, which contributes to its somewhat poor pacing and general slowness. Sayuki is always keen to explain in depth the things they need to do to make the game, and various terminology. Besides Sayuki, only one other member, Andou, knows much about dating games — so the show comes at it from a perspective of Sayuki helping the others understand what it means to be otaku and to make those kinds of games.
At the moment they are only trying to make a small game, and have already come a fair way — having set up a complete team, come up with a concept, and set a deadline. On one hand it’s hard to see how they will be able to make a whole game in the remaining episodes, but on the other it’s hard to think of how much they can explore about the development process that they haven’t covered already.
The rest of Girls Beyond the Wasteland will be walking that edge, though to be honest I’m not exactly expecting much so far. It’s interesting to watch an anime about game development, and for that reason I will continue to follow it for a while to see where it will go. But, it’s easy to see a lot of people dropping this early on because it’s just very, very slow. You’ll need to have your own reason for wanting to watch this, more than the show just giving you one. For some people who were already happy with Saekano it’s going to come down to whether this is able to offer them more of the same, or if it’s just doing the same thing as Saekano but not as well.
I can’t help but feel a lot of the appeal of this anime, and the way its paced, might mean those interested would be better of with a Visual Novel, though it does not release until March 25th, and there is no news of an English version.