Big Order is an anime that, from the outset of Japan’s spring anime season, promised to be an experience, the type of show that is rarely ever produced in this day and age. Big Order appears to be a show so terrible, so inept in its storytelling, so earnestly rotten to its fundamental core that it can’t help but be entertaining in its own horrific way, a trainwreck of an anime to stand alongside similarly terrible classics, such as Tommy Wiseau’s The Room from the west. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what ended up happening, and this unfortunately results in a weird paradox when you realise that Big Order would be better if it was worse. And that it so clearly wants to be worse makes it all the more tragic.
From episode one, narration from our main character Eiji informs us that at some point, a supernatural entity named Daisy began granting wishes to anyone who wanted them. Those who had their wishes granted would gain a superpower called an ‘Order’ related to that wish. Ten years prior to the story, Eiji, inspired by a children’s cartoon, wished for world domination. Unable to control his power, or ‘Order’, this resulted in the destruction of the world, but society has since continued to function normally despite this apocalypse. Eiji is left with the power to dominate the world around him, which includes not only people, but gravity, air pressure, and anything else that’s convenient at for the narrative at any one moment, such as his own severed limbs.
To explain any more of the plot would potentially bring sense to what is otherwise an extremely thin and schizophrenic plot spread thinly across ten episodes, the substandard length for an anime series, which usually runs somewhere around twelve episodes. The direction and overall structure makes it very difficult to tell what is going on in any given episode, and the overall tone and narrative of each episode can fluctuate, making it easy to think that you’ve missed an episode or a key detail. The first episode, example, holds back on informing the viewer just what Eiji wished for to cause the ‘great destruction’, treating the reveal of ‘he didn’t wish to destroy the world, he wished to dominate it’ as some sort of grand, cliffhanger reveal despite that distinction having no real impact. Furthermore, the show has an ugly attitude towards violence and women. Violence will be shown for its own sake and presented as awesome to the point that people having their limbs severed becomes a mundane sight. Since the characters can fix their own wounds immediately, either in the moment or off screen, the violence has no impact. Rin, a crucial character in the series who hates Eiji because his wish killed her parents, is ‘dominated’ in episode one with the use of Eiji’s Order to become his loyal servant. As a result, Rin slowly falls in love with him before being forgotten for the majority of the series. While it could be potentially interesting to explore weather Rin’s feelings are genuine or simply a result of her mind control, the show never so much as lightly addresses the idea, assuming that her feelings for Eiji are nothing but completely genuine.
But none of that is what makes Big Order truly frustrating. The Author of the manga the anime was adapted from had previously written a manga localised as ‘Future Diary’ in the west. Like Big Order, it too is violent and bleak with an ugly, juvenile core. However Future Diary was coherently constructed, was given more episodes to breathe in the anime adaption, and it went all in on its ugliness to present a truly unique show. The grim, gritty, and juvenile anime to make young teenage boys feel edgy and awesome for discovering it. In short, Future Diary had personality, presenting a female lead in Yuno Gasai who defined an entire archetype of cute psychopathic girlfriends in anime for years to come.
For whatever reason, Big Order decides to bog itself down in a mire of typical 2010 onwards anime cliches that dominate the entire story. The most offensive of these cliches is the character of Sena, Eiji’s little (step, so that they’re not technically related, which totally makes the incest fine) sister who at first is presented as a motivation for Eiji, as he needs to find the cure for her terminal unspecified illness. The climax of the story in the ninth and tenth episodes of the series revolves around Eiji and his father, serving as the antagonist, fighting to determine how best to remake the world in a way that will make Sena happy. As is frequently the case in anime, Sena is presented as the perfect cute and adorable sister who can do absolutely no wrong, and the motivations of all the characters revolve around protecting or harming her. She is presented as angelic, despite the fact that the show spares no time to develop her relationship with Eiji, her father, or anyone else. She spends most of the series asleep, serving as little more than a convenient plot device. It’s also revealed that as a child, she had wished for the great destruction that Eiji supposedly caused, which Eiji decided to take the blame for using his own wish. Despite causing the apocalypse, she still cannot be presented as anything other than flawless.
There’s a bath scene, there’s a final showdown against god, there’s a third female character named Iyo who falls in love with the generically nice but bland as cardboard protagonist. There’s a male villain with long hair who tried to use science to tamper with forces beyond his understanding, who is given a last minute and half assed moment of redemption. At the end of the story, the world is reset to the status quo, Sena is cured of her illness, and the world has remained as it was. Nothing is lost, nothing is truly gained. Big Order has absolutely no teeth. No matter how inept, violent, shocking, or, god forbid, creative it tries to be it never really aspires to be anything more than just another generic anime among hundreds. The best time I had watching this series was when I exclaimed disbelief at the idea that Iyo, a shrine maiden, could get pregnant when a man touched her red cloth bunny ears. Which is exactly what happens in the third episode, accidentally. It’s not every day someone decides that would be a good idea to put in their story, and sadly, the show needed more stupid ideas like that to be a worthwhile watch.