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Wonder Egg Priority Episode 4

Wonder Egg Priority was the first anime project by Nojima, known for writing several live-action television dramas. Nojima became interested in writing an anime series as he desired to reach a younger audience than he had been able to previously and to write a story which would not be feasible to achieve in a live-action production. He conceived Wonder Egg Priority as a coming-of-age drama that would blend the realistic feel of live-action television with the more exaggerated "fantasy" qualities of anime. Series director Shin Wakabayashi, in his first time directing a television anime, was recommended by a producer at Nippon TV as an ideal director to realize Nojima's vision for the series. Wakabayashi recruited numerous other young animators, often with minimal or no experience in directing television anime episodes, to join the production staff.

Wonder Egg Priority Episode 4

Upon commencing its broadcast, Wonder Egg Priority received critical acclaim from English-speaking reviewers, with praise for its high production value, elaborate narrative, characters, themes, and handling of controversial subject matter. However, reviews of the series after the conclusion of its broadcast have proven more polarized, with the eleventh episode's focus on the backstory of a previously unseen character and the special episode's conclusion to the story, often seen as unsatisfying, being particular objects of criticism. The series was also widely noted amongst industry experts and anime-focused publications for facing significant production challenges due to its small and inexperienced animation team coupled with an unaccommodating schedule, leading to the production falling behind as the staff struggled to maintain the anime's high production value. Later in the production cycle, hobbyist animators from abroad were recruited via the internet to help finish some episodes on time. Some critics correlated their polarized responses to the troubled production.

Shinji Nojima, a well-known writer of live-action drama television, first conceived Wonder Egg Priority when he observed that live-action dramas had recently been less popular with the younger audience that he wanted to target with his next story.[13] Nojima was attracted to the medium of anime due to his interest in reaching its engaged fandom that would often express their own interpretations in fan works, and his desire to tell a story that would not be feasible in a live-action production. Feeling that many anime leaned too far towards the fantastical, Nojima desired to find a middle ground between the realism of live-action dramas and the more exaggerated qualities of anime.[13] As Nojima lacked familiarity with the anime industry and did not know who would be best to realize his vision, a producer from Nippon TV connected him with Aniplex, Cloverworks and Shin Wakabayashi, who would come to direct the series. Nojima said he did not consult Wakabayashi and the animation team about the scripts, as he was confident in their ability to realize his scripts as a high quality animation, and placed his complete trust in them to realize the story as they felt best.[13] The difference in the half hour timeslot typical of late night anime as opposed to the one hour timeslots for live-action dramas that Nojima was used to was not a major creative consideration for him, as he was confident in his ability to pace the story effectively and therefore instead focused on the number of episode scripts. However, as the plot grew in complexity, he realized it would not be possible for him to finish all of his envisioned narrative in only twelve episodes, and thus some of the plot was cut from the final scripts as a result.[13]

Wonder Egg Priority's visual style was frequently compared by critics to the works of Naoko Yamada;[16][19][20] Wakabayashi had previously worked with Yukiko Horiguchi, who formerly contributed character designs to K-On! and Tamako Market, both directed by Yamada, as she also provided the character designs for 22/7.[16] Kevin Cirugeda of SakugaBlog said that though many directors, most recently inspired by Yamada's 2018 film Liz and the Blue Bird, had tried to emulate her style, Wakabayashi's collaboration with Horiguchi enabled him to replicate that style more accurately than any other director who had previously attempted such.[16] Cirugeda did note, however, that Kyoto Animation's unique production pipeline inevitably made a perfect replication of Yamada's style nearly impossible, but that for Wonder Egg Priority, Wakabayashi and lead animator Keisuke Kobayashi had settled on a distinct style of "over-articulation" that was perceived as having "raised the volume" to distract from the small imperfections.[16] The series marked many young animators' debuts in certain production roles, as Wakabayashi and his team recruited such new talents as Yuki Yonemori on episode 3, in his first time working as an episode director,[21] and Yuzu Hori and Yuichiro Komuro, performing episode direction and storyboarding duties, respectively, for their first time on episode 4.[22] Episode direction and storyboarding work on most of Wonder Egg Priority's episodes was delegated to a single animator, which Cirugeda believed was ideal as the team "dyed each episode with their own unique flavor," although he noted the possible drawback of overwhelming the inexperienced animation talents recruited to the production.[22]

There was also a strong attention to detail focused on the clothing worn by the characters, as Wakabayashi felt it was important for their attire to be realistic, as well as deliberately curated in order to express each character's personality and disposition. Rika's outfit was designed to suggest that she was "tired of caring about her looks" as a former idol, while Neiru's was meant to imply that she wore whatever expensive clothing was selected for her by her assistant.[24] Momoe's design was noted by Takahashi as the most challenging to create, due to her androgynous design and the idea that she curated her clothing according to her insecurities about her appearance and gender presentation, coupled with the need for the characters' attire to not be "too fashionable" in the interest of realism. Takahashi noted that she believed Momoe did not have many feminine-coded clothes in her wardrobe, contributing to her choice to wear only a dress when she is asked out on a date in the tenth episode.[24]

Although the instance of an episode not being finished on time was widely known due to the recap episode having substituted it, the series as a whole was plagued with issues in which episodes were normally finished only hours before being aired.[30] Several times, members of the series' production team were sent to the hospital,[30] most notably series producer Shouta Umehara who was reported to have been hospitalized two times in a since-deleted tweet.[32][37] Kevin Cirugeda of Sakugablog attributed the struggles to the production's limited pool of animation staff as well as the systemic shortcomings typical of TV anime production processes which he characterized as "incompatible" with the staff's creative ambitions.[28] Cirugeda suggested that such issues in anime tend to occur due to production committees not caring about the "quality of the product [or its staff] beyond its marketability", which he pointed out Aniplex of being guilty of due to "shamelessly ly[ing]" as the lead company of the Wonder Egg Priority production committee, saying "anyone paying attention could notice what they were trying to hide."[30] The troubled nature of the production was acknowledged by multiple English-language critics in discussions and reviews of the show, who attributed several of their criticisms to the production struggles.[32][38][31][39][37][40] The production's use of overseas animators led critics Vrai Kaiser and Mercedez Clewis to express concerns that it might pave the way for future anime productions to do the same, which they worried could lead to similar complicity by production committees in the case of other troubled productions.[32][31] Blou and Far, in being interviewed by Anime News Network about their experience on the production, advised readers that production assistants are "quite desperate" for help, often attempting to recruit foreigners with minimal regard for their skill in animation or art, and cautioned prospective animators to think carefully about their qualifications and be wary of the potential challenges and drawbacks of accepting any such offers.[29]

Funimation licensed the series and streamed it on its website in North America and the British Isles, in Europe through Wakanim, and in Australia and New Zealand through AnimeLab.[45] On March 30, 2021, Funimation announced the series would be receiving an English dub, with the first two episodes premiering the next day.[6] Following Sony's acquisition of Crunchyroll, the series was moved to Crunchyroll.[46] GaragePlay licensed the series in Southeast Asia and streamed it on Bilibili.[47] The series received a North American Blu-ray release on April 26, 2022.[48]

In English-language coverage, Wonder Egg Priority received near immediate acclaim upon beginning its airing. Reviews in Polygon, Anime News Network, Anime Feminist, and other outlets, were widely euphoric, strongly praising the high quality animation, soundtrack, music, voice acting, and narrative, as well as the handling of sensitive thematic material such as bullying, sexual assault, and suicide, which was generally seen as effective and captivating.[52][53][19][3][54][55][56][40] The series was commonly described as one of, if not the best, new anime of 2021.[19][4][3] Comparisons were positively drawn to the work of such directors as Naoko Yamada, Satoshi Kon, and Kunihiko Ikuhara, among others.[19][16][20][55][40] However, the darker story elements received some criticisms, with some reviewers expressing discomfort with the anime's difficult themes, or voicing concerns that the story could fumble the handling of such topics further down the line.[52][19][53][57][55] Discussing the production of the first few episodes, Kevin Cirugeda of SakugaBlog praised the quality of the animation, saying that director Shin Wakabayashi had made the most of his team's limitations in emulating Naoko Yamada's work at Kyoto Animation. Noting the "enchanting" first episode as one of the "best premieres" he had seen in recent memory, Cirugeda said it was unsurprising it had immediately attracted an enthusiastic audience.[16] 041b061a72


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