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Wonder Egg Priority – Episode 11

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I am both eager and apprehensive to return to Wonder Egg Priority, after an episode that at last revealed the original crimes of Acca and Ura-Acca. Like all of Wonder Egg’s malevolent adult villains, the pair saw young women merely as objects built for their entertainment, toys to be roughly handled and discarded when the interest had passed. However, they took this idle fascination a horrifying step further, actually designing the young Frill “just for fun.”

The audacity of their crime echoed across their lives, though the two remained untouched themselves, and clearly indifferent to the moral wretchedness of their choices. When Azusa and her pregnancy took command of their attention, they discarded Frill without a care, seeing her as a trifle whose purpose had passed. Fabricated nature aside, Frill was treated little differently from this series’ abused protagonists – and like them, she ultimately struck back against her jailers, stealing their new happiness by killing first Azusa, then her daughter Himari.

It is tragic but not surprising that other women paid the debt of Acca and Ura-Acca’s crimes. Even after all they had done to betray her, she still hoped to regain her fathers’ love, or at the very least to be acknowledged as a person. “Don’t pretend not to see me,” she begged. “I was born from the two of you.” But rather than acknowledge their daughter and their crimes, they chose to define her as a malignant, unreachable “other” – a detested symbol of female agency, now hunted by whatever other girls they can con into their service. Though they have saved their own precious friends, Frill remains trapped within the system Acca and Ura-Acca created, lashing out in defense of the only humanity she was ever afforded. Let’s see if our heroes can save her!

Episode 11

Our cold open sees Ai jogging up the park stairs in what appears to be the early morning, a sensation relayed through the cold colors and stark sound design. Wonder Egg Priority is always quite good at evoking the atmosphere of these lonely moments, a crucial strength for conveying the lived experience of Ai’s life. As a perpetual outsider, she is also a keen observer of others – this quality is what brings a sense of awe to the OP, and also what makes the felt experience of these moments seem so clear

The rest of the crew await her at the summit. The apparent chill of this gray dawn is ideal for this moment of clarity, as all of them realize who they’ve actually been serving

An interesting choice to convey their argument from a great distance, a slow pan towards the summit. On the one hand, it neatly emphasizes the estrangement they now feel towards each other, as we cannot even read their expressions. On the other, it’s also likely a symptom of this production’s desperate late-season circumstances, which ultimately necessitated both a recap episode and delaying the finale entirely

Wonder Egg Priority was always a bit of a moonshot project, spearheaded by young artists attempting to create something they considered genuinely meaningful, regardless of how it aligned with broadcast trends. I’d respect it for that even if it didn’t possess so many other strengths; the distance between anime’s potential as an artistic medium and realization as a commercial one is enormous, and we desperately need creators willing to push back against the trend of shonen and isekai being the “prestige adaptation genres,” two genres that almost by definition will never have writing to match their animation

Momoe refuses to apologize for retreating into her shell and not warning the others about the intruders. She’s had enough; in the wake of this new trauma, she is now denying even the solidarity of their group, their traditional defense against the horrors of this world

“Why did you call out to me?” A tragic question, implying she’d be better off dead than having suffered through this

Meanwhile, Rika is of course turning her fear and frustration into rage and a call for revenge, her usual method of sanitizing her least desired feelings

“Let’s leave together.” Neiru, the friend who was the hardest won, is also the most loyal to the end. Having passed through her personal gate of letting her friend go with Ai at her side, their bond remains strong

Ai continues with her egg trials, but now refuses to risk Leon’s life, so Acca releases him instead

But this time, the girl in the egg is Ai herself!

God, this OP is still so good. Few showrunners understand the depths of depression well enough to so clearly convey what a good day feels like in that context, a day when the world around you feels full of promise rather than regret. It is remarkable how well this OP conveys the experience of depression even through its absence, through one of those days where the dull pall has lifted, and everything seems so bright and glittering

Acca and Ura-Acca casually explain that parallel worlds split off from ours when we make or don’t make certain key decisions. I also appreciate how cavalier this show is about its mechanical scifi apparatus – the worldbuilding works purely in service of the characters, not the other way around. It thus allows for this remarkable conversation, where a version of Ai who couldn’t go on might just inspire our own Ai to keep fighting

“You don’t have to apologize. I understand.” It is not “strength” that makes us avoid that choice, and not cowardice that leads us to it. Life is difficult. We find what consolation we can, or we fail to – so it goes

Our Ai swiftly discovers what separates them: this other Ai never met Koito, and thus was never given a duty to fulfill that kept her going

This conversation feels like a variation on Shinji’s train conversations with his inner self. Many of our greatest modern anime are continuations of Evangelion’s discussions, like Flip Flappers or Monogatari

“So you’re happy?” Ai has tears in her eyes as she replies, “yep, super happy.” A clear contrast between them: the Ai who killed herself has basically no affect, having sunk into that emotionless void of depression, while our Ai still contends with the peaks and valleys of feeling happiness and sorrow, the pain of having something to lose

“Don’t worry, I’ve gotten stronger.” We see our first smile from this alternate Ai, as she realizes what she is truly capable of through our own Ai

It’s basically an extension of the show’s usual episodic bonds – these girls in the depths of despair being comforted by our heroes, who’ve been close enough to the edge to be genuine relatable confidants. Hearing “just get happier” from someone who has never suffered from depression never feels like encouragement – it feels like further condemnation, like you are being judged for some fundamental deficiency, or for a “lack of trying” or something. In contrast, hearing that things might get better from someone who’s actually been where you’re standing can inspire hope, since they at least can understand the true weight you’re carrying

As always, their final destination is the site of suicide, this time the school pool

Of course, Sawaki is the monster this time

Ooh, lovely cut back to this other Ai afraid of going to school, and her mother gently asking her to help with the house chores instead – an acknowledgment of her pain, and invitation to find some other way forward, some way she can usefully occupy her attention. This show really has a mastery of meaningful silences

“Art is an explosion!” Was that a goddamn Naruto reference, Wonder Egg

“People are easy to fool when you’re born handsome!” I suppose it do be like that

Both Ais fall beneath the surface of the pool. Our Ai reaches out as blue paint begins to saturate the water

Only one Ai rises from the water, led by an image of Koito

Sawaki’s speech articulates her alleged inner thoughts: her guileless love of her teacher, her repulsion at the “dirty love” of adults, and her determination to kill herself before such a transformation could happen to her. I imagine she’s still trapped in this Wonder Egg Sawaki’s poison, her mind infected by the same ideals of purity and desecration that compel these predatory men to see young girls as their quarry

Led to the edge by this false Koito, her mother’s voice calls her back, saying “I’ll support you no matter what, Ai.” It means so much to have those words actually spoken out loud, particularly within these deep wells of self-hatred. Not “you’re going to be okay,” but “I will always be beside you” – even if the road is ugly, even if we’re always broken like this, there are people who will still care about us

And with her mother supporting her, Ai has the strength to challenge this alleged Koito’s philosophy. Saying you’ll stay pure forever is nice, but “you regret it, don’t you?” That moment of clarity at the end, the view from halfway down – in that moment, you can see all the precious things that even in your despair you were taking for granted, all the bright roadside wonders Wonder Egg celebrates in its opening

“I regret it. I want to see Mom!” There is still something in this world worth living for

Fantastical apocalyptic imagery, a world-spanning retread of the first episode’s roof battle as Ai breaks through to her own isolated, abandoned self. And now they’re both wearing the school uniform, an acknowledgment of how alike they are – our Ai hasn’t actually escaped her own self-destructive feelings, but goddamnit she’s working on it

You could likely do a deeper dive on the significance of water in Ai’s story, given this Ai’s association with the pool relative to our original Ai’s association with that rain jacket. It served as a shield against the sorrows of the world, but now she stands unafraid, concealing nothing

“She was always worrying about me where I couldn’t see, so I wouldn’t know.” A heartbreaking admission by Ai – her mother didn’t wish to worry her, but that likely just made Ai assume she wasn’t thinking about her at all. Only honest communication can bridge the gap, and we must attempt it before we lose the chance

“I’m done with the me that craved attention. I’m going to believe! If I don’t, I can’t protect anyone! Can’t love anyone!” Such brave words! Rising from despair and dependence because she knows there are others like her out there, others who desperately need a hand to reach out to them. She’ll believe there’s a better future because she has to, because she knows her life is worth more than that, because she knows she can be important to others

Of course, choosing to believe we are stronger does not actually, instantly change us – it is simply the act of committing to a practice, a determination to keep walking forward. As such, when Koito disappears, it is crucial that other Ai is still here to comfort our sobbing heroine

Ai promises to become strong enough to be a true Warrior of Eros, to fight Thanatos and save this other Ai as well. In Wonder Egg Priority, it is not the existence of strength that is most crucial, but the belief that you can become stronger – that if you keep living, one day you might find a happier self

And other Ai promises to become strong as well, though as our Ai points out, they’re actually the same person. A goofy form of assurance that change is indeed possible, that she could one day feel different from how she does now

Another of Frill’s disciples appears, this one with a long name that Ai shortens to Kirara

Over at HQ, Ura-Acca accuses Acca of not actually caring about Frill, and only wanting to save Himari. They are united in their possessive contempt for women, but otherwise distrusting of each other at this point

And other Ai gets an unfortunate chance to prove her bravery immediately, as she protects our Ai from Kirara

And Done

God, what a brutal episode! What an uplifting episode! Both at once somehow! Though I suppose that makes sense – diving so deeply and accurately into the lived experience of depression and self-hatred, into that moment when you really feel nonexistence would be preferable to the continuous struggle for a reason to live, will necessarily make for a harrowing dramatic experience. But of course, the very intensity and acuity of that portrayal made Ai’s rise into defiant survival all the sweeter, as she recalled her mother’s quiet yet unerring support, and chose to make herself a similar hero for those living in despair.

Even then, the transformation wasn’t dramatic or consequential – it was simply a change in mindset, a prayer to keep going in hope that eventually your legs get a little stronger, your path gets a little easier, and maybe you find some friends to share the load. I was sobbing all through that episode’s back half, but I feel invigorated nonetheless, basking in that unique, irreplaceable warmth of feeling genuinely seen by a work of art. It is such moments that inspire me in turn, that serve as my own guide along this wandering trail, and that give me hope for the future. I’ve dedicated my life to sharing that joy, and I treasure every story that reminds me of how wondrous art can be, how powerfully it can acknowledge and celebrate every sad, twisted, and eminently beautiful aspect of human nature.

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

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