First Impression: ESTAB Life: Great Escape

It’s a rainy day, and a Catholic funeral is being held (by a Bishop) outside a Gothic church. The blessings of Heaven are invoked over the coffin. The portrait of a blond girl is held by a mournful mother. Among the people in attendance, we can see a humanoid wolf, some anime girls of varying hair colors, and a rolling robot. The coffin is placed into the hearse and the mourners go their separate ways. But just as the hearse is about to cross the limits of the futuristic city, the supposedly deceased girl coughs. An army of drones instantly attacks, and our protagonists fight back. They are “extractors”, people who help others to infiltrate or escape the isolationist city-states of future Japan. After the rescue and the opening sequence, we meet the female members of the team in St. Yushima Academy. Feres, our blond gunslinger, tells the angelic Equa that she is quitting. Martes, the leader’s fangirl, is overjoyed. Equa is not. Her timing couldn’t be worse, as the next “client” is a Nietzschian philosophy teacher at St. Yushima’s…

What an uneven show! From minute one, there is a curveball for every fastball. The funeral scene is intriguing and well-animated, but turns into a mindless chase sequence with horrible 3D animation. Then, suddenly, every member of the team displays a unique ability, the 3D becomes bearable, and the action scene, more interesting—poetic even. A gunslinger! A samurai! A catchy theme! Future Japan turned into a network of city-states! Cut to a beautiful opening, a colorful city, a dreamlike school… and atrocious, uninspired, clichéd dialogue. Feres is a tsundere, Martes has a senpai crush, and Equa is an idealistic and pushy genki girl. Shoot me now. But then, their teacher starts quoting Nietzsche’s Thus spoke Zarathustra. Wow! Not so fast. The 3D becomes even more jarring, and it turns out that those who escape, do so because they are bored or suffering a mid-life crisis, and they will merely move on to another city very similar to the one they are abandoning. And what about the “extractors” that are attacking people and risking their lives? The funeral scene becomes quite outrageous in retrospect. And yet, the scene that closes the episode is kind of moving. Oh well. I feel… conflicted. Will I continue watching this, in the hope that the good elements will outweigh the bad? Who knows. As ESTAB Life shows, life is full of twists.

ESTAB Life: Great Escape can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

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