How would you rate episode 9 of
16bit Sensation: Another Layer ?
Community score: 4.0
“Now what?” It’s the most uncertain of questions asked after any momentous occurrence, good or bad. In the case of Konoha, at the end of 1999, she and Alcohol Soft completed the development of her dream game. But now she’s left with that uncertainty: How will the game go over? How will it sell? And most importantly, when will she be ignobly yanked away from all her friends and co-workers back to her own time? All that uncertainty hangs in the air over an episode. This is fair enough in a story about creating art that is also a product. It can’t ever really end; there must always be an eye towards the impact of what’s coming next.
As a potentially premature victory lap, this episode of is pretty fun. The hard work that brought the Alcohol Soft crew to this point is reinforced, this time with recognition of their enjoyment of the process and less glorified shots of them sleeping in the office. President Masaru even has some actual growth; he gets to contribute to the game’s soundtrack by jamming on his guitar—the wonders of CD-quality audio. Going gold, cutting deals for merch, and seeing the finished game in action are all satisfying, but what sells the accomplishment is the team getting to see their big banner on top of the Sofmap building. Art creation, for its own sake, is ever-noble, but there is something about seeing your name up in lights. Though, this marketing push is a do-or-die move for Alcohol Soft.
While the completion of The Last Waltz is monumental, the real point of this episode is in the effect that Konoha has had on 1999-era Akihabara, and vice-versa. If a unilateral Good End came out of all of this, then this would be the curtain call. Several of Konoha’s cohorts reach out to her to take a bow. Meiko expresses how Konoha’s direction boosted her confidence in drawing hentai. Toya makes another appearance to confirm that she’s starting up her own company for bishoujo game development and wants Konoha on the ground floor. Konoha has left an impact on the people and development of this point in time. Whether good or bad, that’s for the next episode.
It’s nice to feel the endearment that characters like Meiko and Toya have for Konoha, but at the end of this, our goofy gal-game otaku only has eyes for Mamoru. His coding is the glue that holds all the games together, to say nothing of him being the only one fully understanding Konoha’s chronic case of time-travel-itis. This episode also nicely confirms that Mamoru filled Konoha in on his quantum leap from the last episode. I might expect a self-aware anime like this to quash more blatant potential for misinformed misunderstandings, but it’s still cool to see it fully demonstrated.
Mamoru’s mostly a sounding board for Konoha’s development in this scene anyway, which is fine; she earned it. Her stated appreciation for Mamoru (alongside the others) marks her as the antithesis of Masaru from earlier in this arc, fully cognizant of the value of every member of a game’s team. She’s gotten to experience the joy first-hand of making her ‘dream’ creation, and if she can’t stick around to fully witness how it plays out, that needn’t intersect with her raw love for it. She’s thrilled at the growth and change she’s induced in this era’s version of game development, timey-wimey consequences be damned. That compliments, rather than clashes with, Mamoru’s earnest desire for things to stay the same. There’s comfort in how this pair have worked with each other, even as it’s caused historical releases to go up in flames and primed Akihabara for a premature revolution.
That’s the plot twist this episode leaves off on, ensuring that the generous atmosphere it led in with doesn’t simply trail off. There is still a very pressing “Now what?” that must be entertained, and it’s set up Another Layer as a true thriller in this season’s last stretch. A version of Mamoru does exist in this new future Konoha created, but did the Akihabara she knew and loved need to be sacrificed for him? I was honestly having a great time with this entry’s celebration of the success of the game creation process (something the base 16bit Sensation manga reveled in). Going full-bore with its time-travel elements after its more gonzo deployment last week ups the anime’s ante as something special.
- It’s quaint to consider Meiko’s concerns about being a woman who draws porny bishoujo art, given how many female artists have paved the way in the industry. For the sake of that point, Konoha helpfully name-checks here. That 2014-originating series made a surprisingly mainstream name off the back of a wholly fluffy, cute VN storyline that still included requisite sexytimes. It was all anchored by the cuddly kittypeople designs of female artist Sayori. The sentiment of the reference is nice, even if Meiko doesn’t get it.
- “The Dejiko Building” would be the Akihabara headquarters of GAMERS, otaku merchant supreme around the 2000s. While parent company Broccoli opened the first GAMERS location in Ikebukuro in July of 1996 (the same time Konoha was slinging doujins at Comiket back in Episode 4), their Akihabara location would become the chain’s main base of operations. Dejiko, the company’s mascot and irascible lead character of adver-anime , is the goofy green goober seen adorning the top of the building here.
- The store clerk Mamoru talks to while looking into Echosoft’s game references “The Saori Incident.” The basic version of this story is that the general Japanese public learned the kinds of adult material that could be contained in PC visual novels because of X-Shitei/FairyTale’s 1991 release Saori. The resulting controversy would see several eroge developers arrested, and a screening and rating system was formed over the bishoujo industry.
- It’s small in the grand scheme of all the other references this episode, but I find it amusing that Mamoru finds the product of his time-travel adventures shelved next to perennial classic time-travel VN YU-NO.
- The one time-travel-capable game left in Konoha’s collection is none other than Comic Party. The true power of this game will likely be demonstrated in the forthcoming arc, but its placement is already clearly no coincidence. The 1999 release by Leaf and AQUAPLUS was worked on by 16bit Sensation creators Misato Mitsumi and Tatsuki Amazuyu, based on their experiences creating and selling doujinshi. The very same experiences that Konoha herself has now been through…
is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris mostly knows many of these VN game characters from the fighting games they popped up in. You can catch him meditating on any amount of game, anime, and manga subjects over on his blog, as well as posting too many screencaps of them as long as Twitter allows.