Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wonder Egg Priority Episode 1, “The Domain of Children,” now streaming on Funimation.
In a very busy season of anime, the strangely-titled original anime Wonder Egg Priority might have flown under the radar of many anime fans. That's about to change, as Episode 1 of the series has demonstrated so much potential that it could very well be the next Madoka Magica or Anohana. Wonder Egg Priority combines elements from both aforementioned masterpieces, but with its own flair, backed by some incredible production values.
The protagonist of Wonder Egg Priority is a 14-year-old girl named Ai Ohto, who was bullied by her schoolmates for her heterochromia and stopped going to school. One night she hears some strange voices that lead her to pick up a gacha egg that looks like a real egg. She is then transported into a dream/nightmarish world. In this world, she is given opportunities to save others like her in order to bring back her only friend Koito, whom she lost to suicide.
This is an original anime, and since Episode 1 is still setting up backstories and world-building, there's a lot we don't know yet about the story. The script is written by Shinji Nojima, who wrote some of Japan’s most popular TV dramas in the '90s. While this is Nojima’s first foray into anime, he's written extensively about sensitive subjects relating to teenagers, including bullying, abuse and delinquency. Nojima’s writing has lightened up in tone considerably in recent years, but he has never stopped focusing on controversial issues, and Wonder Egg Priority probably follows the same trajectory. Expect more dark but piercing social commentary about teenage life.
Visually, the anime contains some of the best art and animations on TV, demonstrating a perfectly seamless blending of real and fantasy elements. The real world feels lived in, naturalistic and extremely detailed even down to each tiny insect. With the vibrant and bright coloring of the series, the visual style is reminiscent of Makoto Shinkai’s films.
The dream world looks and feels just as visceral as the real world but stands out with surrealist abstract imagery. Horrifying creatures add to the creepy atmosphere in the dream world. The layered sound design and the mesmerizing background music also contribute greatly to accentuate characters’ emotions and the fantastical world-building.
Wonder Egg Priority moves at a fast pace, already revealing its main themes about bullying and remorse in the first episode while still leaving subtle clues for viewers to figure out. There are already so many questions raised in Episode 1 hinting at a bigger story. Some of the questions include the origin and purpose of the eggs, the identity of the mysterious figures known as “Aka” and the reason why Koito committed suicide.
There are many elements that seem to be quite similar to Madoka Magica, including the mixing of art styles to portray different dimensions, the shift between light and dark tones and mysterious figures that recruit young girls to carry out missions in the dream world. Whether or not there is a bigger conspiracy behind these figures like Madoka Madica’s Kyubey is still something that needs to be uncovered.
All in all, Wonder Egg Priority's first episode excels in every single aspect that makes a great anime. Of course, it's possible that the story or the animation could stumble in the future, but hopefully, it will continue to meet the high standards set by its premiere episode and become this season's masterpiece.