Onirism in media will always have a soft spot in my heart. The stories of dreamlike where the audience has to constantly question whats real and what isnt. The worlds that operate on their own internal logic which the viewer is first taught and afterwards challenged to keep up with. The ability to completely deconstruct any preconceptions and mold them in whatever shape envisioned. Dream scenarios are the domain of endless possibilities the ultimate blank canvas where you can do anything you want break any rules you wish to with no repercussions. And that is why a dream can simultaneously become a trapping. After all the allure of such freedom is hard to deny. For creators who might become addicted to the consequencefree working environment and become worse storytellers because of it. And for the audience who might partake in the littleknown phenomenon called escapism. The latter has become a staple trope in various genres from metafiction to comingofage stories. 220https://cdn.anisearch.com/images/anime/screen/12/12396/full/362710.jpg 18if is no different in this field. A boy named Haruto enters dreams of suffering girls to figure out the cause of their misery and do something about it if possible. The escapism motif gets explored in decent depth looking at different cases and various responses to diverse situations. Successful famous people yearning for simple ordinary life. Victims wanting to exact revenge on their oppressors. Unfortunate souls that experienced a trauma and cant move forward. The show asks the question: when is escapism OK? Why exactly is it dangerous and in what manner? But also can it help you and if so then how? But perhaps most shockingly it ponders what if its neither good nor bad? Why not just treat it as a lifestyle choice? While the individual scenarios are fairly simple and chliched the picture painted by the entirety of the show is slightly more intricate. In fact the worsted compiled by all the individual plot threads is so tangled that the series doesnt even try crocheting the final chapter out of it. Instead it abandons the topic of escapism and devotes the last few episodes to its internal mythology. Its a hard decision to judge and part of me wishes the show had just stuck with its major theme till the end. But in a sense such shift really does fit this kind of story. In the end the task of combining all the answers and extracting thoughts on escapism is left to the viewer. This isnt the only unusual story structure decision made by the show as some of the messages left by individual episodes feel contradictory as if they are meant to dare the viewer to disagree. In particular the episode where protagonist tells a character to give up on her wishes and stop escaping her destiny comes to mind. In that sense the series feels thoughtprovoking as it touches on big ideas but absolves itself from responsibility of moralising. Instead it just rummages the topic and leaves the task of cleaning it up to volounteering viewers. 220http://blog.tanuki.pl/wpcontent/uploads/2017/07/05.jpg What it does put effort into is maintaining the dreamlike atmosphere in all its facets. For example theres big focus on leaving things unsaid. Open endings and unanswered questions are one thing but whats more important are details such as the method in which professor Kanzaki enters the dream world or how he brought his device that allows communication with real world into it or the mechanics of what happens when Haruto falls asleep inside the dream world. None of that is explained or brought up it just gets accepted for what it is. In similar vein the show sometimes breaks one of the golden rules of storytelling when it connects consecutive story beats with dreaded and then rather than usually preferable therefore and but. This is the main tool used to make the dreamlike stories feel well dreamlike. After all dreams rarely make sense. They operate on their own internal logic that works while youre inside of them but is jarring from the outside perspective. Moreover characters will sometimes try to make sense of the worlds rules and question certain events but usually they just accept things as they happen which is another characteristic of specifically oniristic narration rather than fully abstract. The final piece of the puzzle is the use of different animation styles along with different directors for each episode. Between melancholic episode 3 fablelike episode 7 and narrativelyexperimental episode 8 every dream world has its own distinct feel immediately setting the tone of the story and telling us a lot about the type of person whose domain it would be. Solid pacing and good audio mixing further help in immersing us into these worlds and sometimes the series hits some serious highs. 220http://www.animefeminist.com/wpcontent/uploads/2017/07/18if1241024x576.png However I find it really hard to rank it. For instance I wonder whether Im giving creators too much credit by assuming that the hamfisted final was intentional. I also have to say that most of the series has very few interesting observations. It will make a funny comment about idol world here or bring up an unusual topic there but then it just gets acknowledged and show moves on making no impact on the way. Theres no doubt in my mind that there are plenty dream stories more worthwhile Paprika for one. But at the very least its rare to see one with monster of the week formula. Perhaps that is enough of a reason to check 18if out for yourself.
60 /100
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