Gekidol is a post-apocalyptic mess, and you shouldn’t watch it

A popular trend in anime criticism is where a reviewer intentionally watches anime they know they won’t enjoy for the purpose of making fun of it. I’m not sure where it started — probably with MST3K — but I and those that came before me played a role in popularizing it in the podcasting scene.

After a decade of practicing this review approach, it began to feel stale — lazy, even. Many times it’s not even a review; it’s just a plot summary with edgy commentary. It was also beginning to affect my ability to appreciate things. When viewing the world through the lens of potential comedy for your podcast or blog, you start looking for things to riff on in every experience.

It’s a weird way to live, and I had to stop doing it. Working in the film industry also gave me a newfound empathy for the creative staff. Now when watching anime I don’t like, I try to consider the circumstances that led to its imperfection. I think about the staff and how they might feel when confronted by a mountain of misguided negativity.

Gekidol is not one of those shows

Episode summary

Your guess is as good as mine. I was six shots deep when I watched this, but I don’t think being sober would have made a difference.

In the world of Gekidol, there is a virtual reality version of live theater called the Theatrical Material System. Although, it might also be called Super Material Theater. The Funimation sub uses both names indiscriminately, so I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe they’re competing companies. I was too drunk to care.

From what I can tell, TMS/SMT is just like regular theater, except you can interact with the characters…I think. It’s a cool idea on paper, but in practice, it’s a parasocial nightmare. 

Case in point, our protagonist, Seria Morinoi, becomes obsessed with TMS/SMT after her first experience. When approached by a talent recruiter for the Alice in Theater group, Seria suddenly decides that acting is her passion and goes in for an audition.

Episode review

I have to give Gekidol credit — it was dumber than I expected.

During the episode, they keep hinting at something more sinister going on. Part of Tokyo has been destroyed. Like, obliterated. But not enough to inconvenience people and stop them from going to the theater. It’s similar to what we’re going through right now.

If this were the only weird thing happening, Gekidol wouldn’t be worth writing about. However, when Funimation launched the series, it was presented as a double episode with out of context zombie survival horror OVA Alice in Deadly School.

From a canon perspective, Alice in Deadly School is a play that exists in the Gekidol universe (Gekiverse?). An opener like this can work — like when The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya debuted with the short film episode — but it’s nonetheless bewildering. Combined with the strange PR surrounding Gekidol from 2016 that promised a medium-length film, it’s apparent that they had no idea what they were doing.

Alice in Deadly school is an incoherent mess. Ostensibly, it’s about a group a high school girls stuck on the roof of their school, hiding from a zombie attack.

It drops us in the middle of the story, which is fine. In medias res is a perfectly acceptable storytelling mechanism. However, there are so many time cuts that it’s difficult to follow what’s going on. Things continue to escalate until the episode ends without resolution.

This wouldn’t be a problem if this were the first episode of a longer series, but it’s not. Is a weird bonus OVA, which, while technically canon, feels incongruous. Will there be another Alice in Deadly School? Possibly, but the way that anime is released in the US is mysterious. There’s often zero information about something until it’s released.

I don’t think I can blame Funimation for this one either. Sure, they could have prepared viewers better for what’s going on, but I have a feeling that even they don’t know what to make of Alice in Deadly School.

You shouldn’t watch this. I wasn’t going to watch this, but news of the weird release piqued my interest. Don’t make the same mistake I did. This isn’t so bad that it’s good. It’s just bad.

I’m going to keep watching it. Fuck my life.