REVIEW: Wonder Egg Priority Both Astounds and Disappoints

Season aired: Winter 2021

Number of episodes: 12 + 1 special episode (13th)

Genres: Drama, Science Fiction

Thoughts: Wonder Egg Priority left me speechless in all the best ways and the worst ways. It somehow simultaneously became the anime I expressed the most love for in 2021 and the anime I felt the deepest disappointment towards. It’s like an artwork in the making that, while en route to becoming a masterpiece, didn’t quite finish its final brush stroke. Seeing something you love crumble to pieces in the last few episodes is never a good feeling.

Wonder Egg Priority starts with an incredibly strange premise. In the darkness of the night, Ai gives a burial to a dead firefly. Much to her surprise, she finds herself face to face with a creature who offers her an egg. Break the egg, it says, and it will grant a wish. Though Ai denies truly desiring anything, deep down, she knows what she seeks. Will she break the egg in pursuit of her wish? Or will she choose to deny her greatest desire?

I went into the series with caution, due to the project offering so little information. The official artwork gave little away, the trailers barely hinted at a storyline, and the title was an original anime with no source material. After the first few episodes, though, I found myself blown away. Aside from the gorgeous animation and cinematography, Wonder Egg Priority spots a story that attempts to tackle one of the hardest themes in life — an exploration of how society contributes to the suicide rates of teenage girls.

Episodic stories of suicide victims

The series begins in an episodic format similar to Natsume’s Book of Friends. Each episode contains its own story featuring different girls to “save” from trauma, while an overarching conflict hangs over the heads of the protagonists. Within these stories comes the chilling revelation of why each girl ended up in their situation, and how it ties back to society contributing to their heart wrenching decision to take their own lives. As Ai and three other protagonists — Rika, Neiru, and Momoe — help these suicide victims pass on, they also help themselves realize their own trauma as all four of them are inexplicably tied to their own ideations of suicide or death.

Wonder Egg Priority is an artistic critique of how little society helps teenage girls with their struggles, while at the same time, exacerbates their issues all underneath bright colors, enchanting music, and some of the best magical animation to date. The narrative style integrates each girl’s suicide story into the four protagonists’ own trauma, switching back and forth between helping suicide victims in a dreamlike world with real life memories in an absolutely seamless way.

The anime was perfect, until it decided to take a turn into science fiction.

Anime using science fiction in a story that starts out as fantastical or supernatural isn’t new. The Day I Became a God is easily the most recent anime that comes to mind. Anime, for some reason, really likes to try to explain the magic that takes place in a mundane world instead of simply letting them exist, and unfortunately, Wonder Egg Priority decides to do the same.

Science fiction elements did not blend well with the emotional heart

However, this doesn’t work because of the themes the story chooses to cover. By introducing imaginative science, starting in episode nine, the story goes from examining societal issues that contribute to teenage girl suicides to trying to explain the issue using specific scientific reasons and jargon. It completely overrides all the emotional stories the previous episodes had set up, and the anime decides to take a hard lean into this genre in the last few episodes — introducing not only artificial intelligence but also androids, parallel worlds, parallel selves, and surgeries where you can move your brain into manufactured bodies and live as an immortal.

It is also important to note that Wonder Egg Priority was not a smooth production process. While many people are aware of the terrible conditions plaguing the anime industry, this anime probably displays the worst of it. The originally planned twelve episodes got disrupted with a recap episode to buy whatever precious time existed. The thirteenth special episode came out three months after the twelfth episode, and tweets showed that the team still barely scraped by. With how abruptly it changed from a magically nuanced and heartfelt story to something that’s blatantly generic and nonsensical of the science fiction genre, it came at no surprise to read that the creative leads had friction and likely had conflicts on where they wanted the story to ultimately go.

When the last episode came out, I found myself heartbroken. I had held out hope, even with the inclusion of science fiction, that the anime would stick the landing in a finale that matched how strongly the anime had started. Wonder Egg Priority had the making of an actual masterpiece. Its animation, its music, its art direction that molded the fluid animation with the story, the story with its four important protagonists, and the themes it decided to confront — it was like filling all the spots on a bingo card for “outstanding anime,” except it missed the “perfect finale” spot.

One of the characters ruined by the finale

Can a finale ruin an entire series? Sometimes, they don’t. However, because of how easily Wonder Egg Priority’s story brushes aside the original relationship of teenage suicides and society with science fiction reasoning at the end, I would say that it did in this case. Looking back at the series from after the ending makes the girls’ struggles appear pointless because it seemed like science just held the key to everything rather than any personal emotional journeys. 

At the end of the day, Wonder Egg Priority has become a “what if.” What if the anime had continued with its emotional heart and critical look at society instead of brushing everything aside at the end? What if it had simply allowed the fantastical dream worlds to exist as is without science to explain it? What if the entire production process never suffered the way they had? We will never know for certain, but I believe the end product would’ve been a much better received story than what the series had decided to become.

 

Rating

Plot: 6.5 (Multiplier 3.5)

Characters: 8 (Multiplier 3.5)

Voice acting: 8

Art/Animation: 9

Soundtrack: 8

FINAL SCORE: 75.75

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