High-Rise Invasion

One day, high-schooler Yuri Honjō is in her class and bored as usual – the next, she finds herself on top of a skyscraper in a world apparently consisting only of skyscrapers. What’s more, she discovers that there is no way to get to ground level, and that the only way to move between buildings is via rickety swing bridges that connect each skyscraper.  As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Yuri witnesses a figure in a mask drive another, unmasked person from the top of a nearby building – before the masked killer starts making its way toward her. Yuri is saved by the intervention of a policeman who has apparently also been transported to this bizarre world; but when the policeman is murdered by his partner, who has been driven insane by the amount of killing he has witnessed, Yuri is only saved from being assaulted when the mad cop is killed in his turn by a mysterious sniper. As Yuri desperately attempts to get her bearings and work out how to survive, she makes some interesting discoveries. Firstly, her older brother Rikka is also somewhere in this high-rise world, and is able to communicate with Yuri by phone; he directs her to start making her way toward the mysterious dark tower that appears to be at the centre of things. Secondly, the masked figures are zombie-like beings who used to be ordinary people but who, through some means of compulsion, are now forced to either kill unmasked people or make them commit suicide. Thirdly, there are other individuals who can control the masked figures and who appear to be at the centre of whatever is going on in the skyscraper world. Fourthly, the sniper who saved Yuri is a masked figure who has somehow managed to retain control over his consciousness, and who also has some unexplained connection to Yuri’s brother Rikka. With all this to contend with, Yuri befriends another traumatised girl, Mayuko; and, with a band of other survivors, they set out to find Rikka and end the madness in which they find themselves…

Based on the manga by Tsuina Miura and Takahira Oba, “High Rise Invasion” is a Netflix original series produced by anime studio Zero-G, first airing in February 2021. Vividly animated in a compelling mix of 2D and 3D CGI, “High Rise Invasion” stands in the same blood-soaked tradition as other “survivor” anime series like “Darwin’s Game” and “Future Diary”, with more than a hint of the in-your-face violence and hard-hitting emotional brutality of “Gantz”. The story takes a little while to bring all its various elements together, but the conceptual setup is nonetheless intriguing enough to keep the viewer engaged; as is the apparent dichotomy in Yuri’s nature, which is at one and the same time that of a helpless, terrified teenager who is also a brutally effective fighter.  Whether this duality has some significance for how the story plays out remains to be seen; as does the question of whether the budding romance between Yuri and Mayuko is a genuine attempt to portray a growing emotional attachment between the girls, or is just a cynical exercise in queer-baiting by the producers designed to generate ratings through prurient titillation. Criticised by some reviewers for the panty fetishism that makes its way into nearly every episode, “High Rise Invasion” is a confronting and violent piece of survival anime that is certainly not for minors, and which will either repel or engage depending on whether or not you are a fan of the genre. In any event, the show seems destined for a second series and – perhaps – a denouement that resolves the questions left unanswered at the end of series one.

Text ©Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.