High-Rise Invasion Has a Pretty Gross (and Pointless) Fixation

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of High-Rise Invasion, now streaming on Netflix.

For the most part, Netflix's High-Rise Invasion paints a thought-provoking picture of what people will do to climb the ladder, following various groups trying to kill each other in an eerie realm filled with skyscrapers. It stars Yuri, a student who wants to reunite with her brother, Rika, and get others to safety, only to realize they're being hunted by killers in a game that's built to turn one mastermind into a veritable god.

This leads to Aikawa, the main tyrant controlling masks, or "angels," going after them, resulting in a high-octane and very gory game of cat-and-mouse. Unfortunately, High-Rise Invasion has a pretty gross, obscene, and ultimately, pointless fixation on objectifying women.

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The first season contains way too many upskirt shots of the teenaged protagonists, which falls neatly into that age-old stereotype about schoolgirls in anime. Yuri gets the worst of the perviness, as she goes through most episodes with her top ripped and skin exposed -- yet she never changes outfits, even when other characters do. Even when she's asleep, Mayuko gawks at her exposed body and, while it could play into a possible crush, that idea is never really addressed. And there are unnecessary, intrusive shots of Mayuko as well.

In fact, whether they're in battle together or separate from each other, distinctly lewd sequences in which they're barely more than sex objects are frequent. It's less queerbaiting and more outright exploitation, which is especially apparent in a scene in which Yuri goes for a shower. As she steps out of it, the camera focuses on her nude, by the sink. There's no need for this scene at all, as it adds nothing to the context of the story.

While the series does homage many '80s slasher movies -- the kind where such voyeuristic scenes were frequent -- it's important to remember that High-Rise's heroines are still teenagers, and this is definitely an irresponsible way to portray them. Even Kuon, another school-age character who's noted for her power, doesn't escape this treatment. Except in her case, it's even worse as she has a Lolita-like relationship with the Sniper Mask, which feels more than a little unsettling as it frames her as a sex-obsessive bent on fulfilling some taboo fantasy.

The most disgusting part, though, comes when Aikawa needs to destress and decides to bury his head in the bosom of Kusakabe, his war general -- his way of coming up with strategies. It more or less sums up how deep-set this problem is in the show. While High-Rise Invasion does many things well, its issues with over-sexualization (especially of minors) is a massive strike against it.

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