The anime SukaSuka, also going by the ridiculously long title of Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka?, is set in a postapocalyptic world where humanity caused the destruction of the Earth’s surface by summoning the Seventeen Beasts. The other races took shelter on floating islands, mostly out of reach of the beasts' fury. Willem Kmetsch, the only surviving human, takes up the job of weapon storehouse caretaker; he soon discovers that the so-called weapons are actually Leprauchauns, living beings identical to young human girls. Their only defining trait is their absolute lack of regard for their own lives, which enables them to use mighty swords to their full potential. Indeed, to defend the islands, they are often ordered to unleash the swords' ultimate ability by sacrificing themselves. Willem quickly becomes a parental figure to the young warriors, and develops a strong bond with the older girls, and one of them in particular: Chtholly Nota Seniorious, who is scheduled to sacrifice herself in a few days.
First, I’ll tackle the primary reason which led me to watch this show: it uses the famous traditional English ballad Scarborough Fair in its first and last episodes, and I absolutely love it. Such a great song can only be paired with a great anime, right? If only. What’s more, the celtic, ancient vibes of the song helped me delve into the show’s universe. The final lyrics of the song coupled with the aerial shot of the floating island gave me goosebumps; it felt irresistibly exotic and fascinating, and I wasn’t even ten minutes into the first episode. Likewise, when the song played in the last episode, it truly gave a sense of closure to the anime. I have many things to say about its ending, and they’re not all laudatory, but the song’s timing was undeniably well thought out. Then again, Scarborough Fair is already a beautiful piece of music.
Unfortunately, the rest of the soundtrack didn’t particularly strike me. The OP and ED are somewhat generic although by no means bad. As I listen to it again right now, I realize that some songs are indeed beautiful, but I did not find any to be memorable. However, I usually scarcely remember soundtracks I only hear once. Given the impressive number of songs for a 12-episode anime, most were probably not used more than twice so it is not that surprising. I will still recommend Call you, 過去への後悔, エルクの空間, 伝承される魂 and 最終に向かって. Also, I do not know how I failed to recognize this Carmen variation but now I find it actually hilarious so I’ll add it: 過激にキュート.
One of the best features of SukaSuka has to be its worldbuilding. While the anime itself did not have the time to develop it as much as I would have liked, the universe felt well designed and the progressive unravelling of the lore was finely paced. I expected the mystery of the beasts to be heavily expanded upon in the last episodes; surprisingly, it didn’t, but the few clues unveiled at the end as to their origin were arguably enough.
The art is colorful, vibrant and overall pleasant to the eyes. I have no qualms to express here.
Now, let’s talk about the story and characters. Most of the cast is more or less unidimensional at first glance: Willem seems like a generic light novel protagonist, Ithea is the energetic and witty girl, Nephren the silent type, Nygglatho the onee-san figure and so on… Chtholly however seemed rather normal to me. While that may seem like a bad thing, it enables the viewer to quickly differentiate the characters between themselves. Furthermore, the show did manage to add layers of depth to some of the characters on the road; I was pleasantly surprised by the revelation of Ithea’s secret. I will not touch the characters' names which do sound quite peculiar and are nearly impossible to spell correctly on the first try: I assume they are inspired from Irish mythology whose names all possess the impressive quality of being worth at least 49 points in a game of Scrabble (hello Cú Chulainn).
The romance betweeen Chtholly and Willem, for once in anime, does not feel contrived. On the contrary, it feels refreshingly natural, all the more so as Willem is not as dense as most other protagonists and Chtholly actually has guts and confesses quite early in the show. I however do have problems with the author’s choice to make Leprauchauns be young girls: I do not see any justified reason for Chtholly to be only fifteen when Willem looks substantially older. A quick search in the wiki revealed that he is actually eighteen, which makes it a bit more acceptable, but even then I can’t help but think this decision is motivated either by morally questionable wish fulfillment or by a desire to appeal to the Japanese light novel readerbase. Also, I would have loved to learn more about Willem’s past life, but the show did not quite have the time to squeeze it in.
Where the show did disappoint me was in its regrettably rushed ending, which even Scarborough Fair couldn’t totally salvage. I do not know whether the problem comes from the adaptation or the source material, but it just fell flat to me. Here, what happens is that Chtholly asks her other personality to let her regain control of her body one last time to save Willem and bid farewell to him. Granted, it does sound dramatic enough, but something doesn’t sit right with the way it was handled; I would be hard-pressed to say exactly why though. To be frank, I was just… detached from what was happening. As if nothing was really at stake. And yet, I did grow fond of the couple overtime, so I am having a hard time explaining why the ending disappointed me, other than expressing the lingering feeling that this show could have been so much more impactful than what it turned out to be.
In conclusion, SukaSuka is a refreshing stroll on the border of common anime tropes. Despite a few questionable choices, it offers a well-built universe and bittersweet romance which does manage to make your heart flutter. “What matters is not the destination, but the journey” is a commonly cited piece of popular wisdom; you would be well-advised to remember it if you choose to watch SukaSuka: the ending might leave you with mild disappointment, but the episodes leading to it surely will have brought you enjoyable entertainment.