Episode 8 – World’s End Harem

World’s End Harem plummets to tantalizing new lows this week, spelunking so deep into the psychological mantle of its embittered, entitled secondary protagonist that I’m going to need to don some protective gear in order to continue. This is a nasty episode, no two ways about it, with Doi abruptly pupating into a mask-off sexual terrorist supervillain. However, my main goal in writing these reviews is to have fun, and mercifully I can still do that thanks to how unilaterally incompetent the show continues to be. In fact, this total lack of artistry ends up giving Doi’s arc the exact kind of treatment it deserves: a shoddy adaptation of a shallow fantasy born from an interminably pathetic person.

Can we even call Doi the secondary protagonist anymore? As of this week, four out of the first eight episodes have focused on him, and his story has arguably progressed a lot further than anything on Reito’s side. Despite its sci-fi pretensions, it feels like the author of World’s End Harem just wanted to write another bog-standard high school porn fracas about a loser becoming the building’s cocksure king. Personally, I think I’d have a lot of fun mixing a bioterrorist conspiracy breadcrumb trail together with some silly serial sex antics, but WEH would much rather we forget that side of the story. This isn’t a matter of porn having bad writing, which is to be expected. It’s a matter of the series selling itself as something with the teensiest morsel of intrigue, and then turning around and regressing to meanness in one of the lamest ways possible.

It’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because Reito is such an ineffectual hero that even the single minute of runtime dedicated to him this week feels like too much. And a curse, because Doi is also a bad character and an even worse person. But at this point in time, Doi isn’t boring, and that’s enough to give him an edge over Reito, even if his edge is profoundly embarrassing. It helps that Doi is the only character in the show who has had an arc, which, like the episode distribution, tells you something about the series’ priorities. The guy who’s trying to reveal the truth behind the deadliest pandemic in history isn’t nearly as important as the guy who’s turned into a wimpy sex Joker.

And just to assuage my conscience, I’m going to put on my serious person cap and lay into Doi for an entire paragraph. I basically called this as soon as he was introduced, but even I didn’t expect the show to adhere so pathetically closely to an unimaginative revenge fantasy. He is the bullied nerd magically becomes the center of the universe and uses that incredible power to force sexual favors out of all the women who slighted him. It’s the kind of thing that might provide catharsis when written into a diary, but reeks fetidly of entitlement and obsession when aired out into the open. It is the profoundly sad wish-fulfillment of a small and disgusting creep. He is a victim of trauma, yes, but even victims have a responsibility, however unfair it may be, to pursue healing once they have the opportunity to do so. Doi abdicates all responsibility, blaming his fall on the world’s circumstances, and kindling his grievances and hatred into the dim flame of his cringe paper tiger autocracy. It’s “nice guy” hypocrisy at its most naked, revealing that underneath its cloyingly friendly exterior lies the ancient ugliness of misogyny. In short, Doi sucks absolute shit.

On a lighter note, with World’s End Harem Being as terribly put-together as it is, it’s impossible to say whether it excuses or condemns Doi’s actions. This isn’t to say art should be more didactic—I’m an avid proponent of the opposite—but it is a comment on how amateurish the writing is. For instance, the order of operations in the episode has Doi first manipulate Shion into rooftop public sex, and afterwards he turns Erika into his private thigh-licking drug addict slave. From a dramatic standpoint, this is the wrong way around—Erika was his actual tormentor, so she was the best candidate to instigate his descent into chud supervillainy. Shion was just one of many passive bystanders, so abusing her would have been more sensible as a way to depict his fall into further depravity. Not to mention, he fakes her out with the striptease request in the cold open only to turn around and do it for real a few minutes later. If I have to watch a tryhard dweeb cosplay As the Marquis de Sade, then the least the series could do in return is making the plotting less jagged.

To add insult to injury, the show also tosses in lighthearted harem antics in between Doi doing actual sex crimes. He’s blushing about measuring a girl’s waist right after he forcibly takes Shion’s virginity. He’s giving into that absurd shared swimsuit bullshit immediately after degrading Erika into his human pet. He gets a montage of poorly drawn and hellishly censored sexual conquests right before he taunts Erika with her withdrawal symptoms. Presumably, if someone were watching this for Doi’s chadification to extract some deplorable vicarious joy from seeing him turn the tables on anybody who ever looked at him the wrong way, then wouldn’t these dumb digressions distract from that? World’s End Harem can’t even be evil correctly.

Most exquisite of all, World’s End Harem won’t even allow Doi agency in his quest for venereal vengeance. It instead appears to be laying the blame at Karen’s feet for molding him into sexual dynamo fueled by impotent nerd fury. To her, he’s a little windup toy with a dick attached. I presume this is so the show can exonerate Doi for his crimes in the end and instead punish the evil woman mastermind who manipulated him. But really, this just makes Doi look more pathetic, and that’s why I love it. Intentionally or not, the show is fundamentally incapable of making Doi cool or likable. All we see is a nebbish twerp pitching a tent while he wraps measuring tape around a rip in spacetime. This is exactly what he deserves.

Rating: – 1


World’s End Harem is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve can be found on Twitter if you want to read his World’s End Harem livetweets. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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