Wonder Egg Priority – Episode 6

It would seem that Wonder Egg Priority’s shell is on the verge of cracking. After two episodes that held close to a traditional “monster of the week” model, each subsequent episode has driven new fissures through the show’s structure, as fantasy trials are fused together (like with Rika), contrasted against each other (Momo), or stretched like taffy into a kind of episode-fringing garnish (Neiru). This is no accidental process – though saving the egg girls is Ai’s ostensible quest, it’s been clear for quite some time that Wonder Egg’s “villain” encompasses more than just a few abusive caretakers. The burdens Ai and her fellow victims suffer from are systemic, and Wonder Egg understands that. Individual acts of bravery and solidarity cannot overcome a rigged game.

In light of that, Wonder Egg Priority has been gradually turning the lens away from the fantasy creatures Ai and her friends must face, towards the structures and guardians that gave rise to this system in the first place. So far, everything in this show has worked on the level of both narrative and metaphor, so I expect Acca and Ura-Acca to be the same – not just “bad guys,” but perhaps some irreducible reflection of society’s callousness towards the young. With the team assembled and the shell nearly broken, Wonder Egg Priority stands on a precipice. Let’s find out what’s waiting below.

Episode 6

We open on Ai in the midst of another egg quest, where “Seeno Evils” have now been replaced by “Haters.” By “making too much of a fuss” in this fantasy world, the more passive monsters have been replaced by actively violent ones. Acca further states that “envy and spite created Haters of you girls from among the Seeno Evils,” and that “they don’t have the guts to show their faces, but they’re strong in groups”

All of that works perfectly as an extension of the Seeno Evils’ initial metaphor. Their first form embodies the passive validation society provides for the true predators of the real world. Other people may not “actively” support the actions of an abusive coach or child molester, but they also don’t push back against them, and society as a whole will often work to protect abusers within entrenched positions

But beyond that general veil of “it’s not my problem” indifference, young women are also frequently the subject of “passive hatred.” People they’ve never even interacted with might hate them for their youth, for their beauty, for their naivety – for any number of reasons we’ve been socially conditioned to accept are fair cause to assign someone a term like “uppity” or “annoying” or “slutty” or whatever. In the age of the internet, it should be clear to everyone that women specifically don’t just suffer from structural disadvantages, or passive denial of their experiences. A lot of people out there really hate women, particularly women who step outside of their assigned social position. By fighting back against the Wonder Killers who oppress women, Ai and her friends are upsetting the assumed social order – and while the Seeno Evils would never step in to stop a Wonder Killer, some of them might just despise these girls enough to lash out at them for trying

“They’re after you. The ‘heroes in the limelight.’” Sometimes just standing out is enough to earn someone’s hatred. And a key element of the Seeno Evil mentality is the assurance that “everybody’s doing it” – you’re not uniquely bad in failing to reach out to someone suffering from abuse, because that’s just the way things go. If someone like Ai is out there actively fighting for these girls, that makes it harder to believe you have no obligation to help others – so you must squash her, and reaffirm that you are just as good as a person can be expected to be. See also the outrageous, outsized anger at Colin Kaepernick, or basically anyone who has asked a complacent public to see an injustice they’ve accepted as routine

For the first time, this episode literally pulls the camera back, revealing how Acca and Ura-Acca are viewing Ai on a giant monitor. Another strong hint that we’re at last dismantling what these overseers attempted to frame as the “authorial perspective”

God, this show kicks so much ass. It’s so angry and righteous and smart, while also being this beautiful and thrilling on a narrative and aesthetic level. We are lucky to have this one

The gang’s solidarity is emphasized again by Ai’s fantastic phone sticker

I like the staggered tempo of Ai getting woken by her mom. Combined with the delicate character acting, it all feels believably mundane and true to life

Ai’s mother wants her to “have a proper talk with Mr. Sawaki.” She’s quite the Seeno Evil herself

After that frantic opening, the slow tempo of Ai’s day at home feels even more pronounced. Additionally, this episode is far more desaturated color-wise than this show’s usual standard, with the grey skies essentially casting the whole world in Sawaki’s tone. The overall effect feels quietly yet intensely ominous; we’re building up to something terrible, but for now all we can do is wait

The other girls just bluntly commenting on Ai kicking a traffic cone around is wonderful. This show is so efficient in terms of its characterization and dialogue – the script is simultaneously naturalistic and drenched in personality, meaning just spending a few minutes with the team clarifies precisely how much they’ve grown together as friends

I love Rika’s comment on the Haters: “who asked them to see us as heroes? We’re not doing this for fun.” Of course her complaint would be that the Haters are misjudging her as morally invested in helping others, when she wants to make it clear that she’s only here for herself

“Those who stand out pay for it, at any time and in any world”

By way of apology, Acca and Ura-Acca present them with “power up” necklaces, that look quite a bit like Madoka’s jewels

They actually contain creatures of some sort to support them. “I hope my baby’s a hottie.” Goddamnit Rika

I like how each of them respond to Ai’s gloominess in different ways – Rika attempts to over-perform her usual energy, Neiru gives her more space, and Momo gently confronts her

They’re actually weird little animal pets! I still have no idea where they’re going with this conceit; almost nothing in this show has been a purely fantasy embellishment, they’ve all been extensions of the core metaphor

“Haters are their favorite food.” This has probably been Wonder Egg Priority’s funniest episode, oddly enough? Love this deadpan delivery, complete with that grotesque cut of a giant lizard swallowing a monster whole. And some animator clearly loves that surprised Ai expression

Yae, the current egg girl, says she killed herself because she could see things others couldn’t see, but no one believed her

Along with the desaturated colors, this episode has also used a consistent dripping faucet as a component of its melancholy tone – that sound was essentially the first sound of the episode

Sawaki has invaded her home, and is even staying for dinner

The character acting is extraordinarily precise in the leadup to Ai’s mother revealing the truth. Every element of this episode has been tensing up for this precise moment

And there it is. She’d like to start dating Sawaki. She not only trusts him over her daughter, she’s actually fallen for him

The sound design is so good! Incredible communion of sound and visual design here, as Ai’s trembling throat, and the congealing food, are contrasted against this harsh silence. You can vividly feel her choking on terror, unable to say a word

“I said I’d put them in a home and only visit them sometimes.”

Momo herself is embodying the Seeno Evil attitude in regards to Sawaki – in her world, he’s always been her nice uncle, and accepting Ai’s truth means losing her own. We will violently defend the realities we’ve come to love, even if they’re not the truth

Rika puts it even more bluntly: “Live-in boyfriends are always abusing their girlfriends’ kids”

Ai has no real accusations, just this lingering uncertainty regarding Koito. But because of her own situation, Momo can’t even respect that uncertainty. We see here how the system works in a variety of subtle ways – in a society where we’re all tethered by these ropes of affection and obligation, someone accusing a valued member of the community generally casts more doubt on the accuser. Again and again, this is how abuse works – abusers know the system will protect them, and that those who call them out will be vilified for their bravery. There are many reasons why abuse and rape are wildly underreported, and this is a big one

Neiru wonders if Ai likes Sawaki, too

At this point, the thematic meaning behind this particular egg girl’s problem is clear. This episode is all about the thousand ways society will quietly gaslight people into accepting the intolerable. This girl exemplifies that, having been abandoned by everyone for failing to agree with their description of her reality

“I didn’t ask to be able to see you.” Such a perfect line for this situation. Even Ai wishes the situation with Sawaki were simpler than it was – it’d be much easier to be another Seeno Evil, ignorant to the ugliness under the surface. Knowing the truth of someone’s nature can actually be a burden

And of course, the monster itself is invisible

And yet again, rather than Ai’s own weapon, it is this girl’s prayer beads that prove effective against this monster. Perhaps this reflects Ai’s growing understanding of their perspective?

“I’m telling you, I don’t!” It feels like Neiru’s accusations hurt the most – the worst perversion of her actual feelings, and from the friend she trusted the most

“I bet it was tough, dealing with these monsters all on your own.” Ai is able to give Yae the consolation and validation that no one is providing in her own life. The words she needs to hear for herself, she can at least give to Yae

At last, Ai flees her own home

Once again, the rainstorm facilitates the episode’s drama. After an episode literally and figuratively dominated by dark clouds, Ai rushes from her bath directly into the rain. Whether at home or outside, she is no longer protected from this world’s predators – but after she takes charge, the rain at last ends, and color returns to the world

Sawaki’s lines emphasize this. “The sky is clear and bright. It was a passing shower.” But of all people, can he be trusted to say that?

And Done

Oh my god, what an episode that was! Its formal construction was so goddamn precise – the use of weather and color, the smartly reserved sound design, the way Ai’s home became less and less of a sanctuary by the minute. And at the same time, it offered basically an entire goddamn thesis on the nature of gaslighting, and how passive disbelief and social custom informs and nurtures our Seeno Evil society. Using Ai’s own friends to illustrate this process was a cruel but necessary touch – these girls aren’t uniquely “above” society, or immune to the mentalities that have brought them such grief. This episode was incredibly rich in insight, yet also a masterfully constructed tonal experience. Even by Wonder Egg’s own lofty standards, that was one hell of a performance.

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