Neku wakes up in middle of the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, invisible to others and with a ghost-like ability to phase through people and vehicles (think Geordi and Ro in the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode “The Next Phase”). He can also read people’s minds while phasing through them. Frog monsters appear to attack the Neku and other out-of-phase people. A girl named Shiki offers to be his partner. They beat the monsters, called Noise, and Neku learns he’s a “player” in something called the “Reapers’ Game.” He’ll be “erased” unless he survives the next seven days by completing missions. Two Reapers appear and Neku passes out, only to wake up lying in the Scramble again; this time Shiki is there waiting for him. It’s now day two, and they meet a punk guy named Beat and his partner, a girl called Rhyme. A new mission starts and Neku tries to fight monsters on his own, even though the other three invite him to work as a team. The Noise are attracted to negative emotions (not unlike the Grimm of RWBY), and one possesses Neku. As a result, when the two Reapers from the day before show up and offer to let Neku out of the game if he just kills Shiki, Neku almost goes full Vader on her before a mysterious man intervenes. After the man extols the value of trust and cooperation, Neku passes out and wakes up in the middle of the Scramble yet again. Joins Shiki again and admits he can’t remember anything about himself beyond the name “Neku.” They meet two members of the band Death March, then defeat more Noise through the power of teamwork. Afterwards, several seemingly villainous people are shown hanging out at a bar, and Neku realizes they could interact with the two band members because they were actually Reapers.
The World Ends with You was originally an RPG for the Nintendo DS, released internationally in 2008 (I graduated college with my B.A. that year!). I never played the game, so I can’t tell you how closely the anime is following it, but that origin explains the anime’s visual style. If you look up the original game, the art of the anime is very much inspired by its source. I’m not certain, but I suspect that this adaptation is coming out now because a sequel to TWEWY is coming out later this year. So yeah, it’s based on an old game. Not sure what else to say. The theme of trust and relationships has potential, and the episode gave off enough of a sense of mystery that I’ll at least check out the next episode.
The World Ends with You can be streamed on Funimation.