A recent release on Netflix, High Rise Invasion is survival and psychological anime. The anime follows the story of a high school student, Yuri Honjo, as she enters a world surrounded by skyscrapers. However, every entry that leads towards the ground is closed. The only way to move around is by using the rope bridges that connect the buildings. All the more, the situation gets worse for Honjo when she realizes that there are masked killers, often referred to as Masks, who pose a threat to people. They don’t kill them but pull people to the edge of despair till they force themselves to jump and take their own life.
Netflix worked together with Zero-G studio to bring the manga by the same name into motion. The art is set brighter than the darker art illustrated by Takahiro Oba in the manga. However, overall the anime was pretty cool, with many mind-boggling units. Although some parts of it were a bit predictable, there were also enough surprises to keep the viewers interested. The manga in itself was a good hit, so fans were happy to finally see it animated.
High Rise Invasion: Overview
Yuri Honjo notices a tall building that seems to reach the heavens when she is at school. The next thing she knows is that she has been teleported to an entirely different world. She finds herself on the roof of a tower. Unable to grasp the situation, she calls her brother, Rika. Rika reveals that he too has somehow arrived in this world. However, it seems that he was teleported before her and in a different location. He has gathered some information that he shares with her. Yuri is told that people wearing masks are not normal humans. They drive people to their limits of despair till they commit suicide. However, if the mask breaks, due to some unknown phenomenon, they end up taking their own life.
As they are talking, Yuri encounters a Mask, who breaks her phone. She manages to survive, only to encounter another Mask. Two policemen come to her rescue. However, things get worse when the younger officer pushes his colleague down the scraper to molest Yuri. To survive, she does as he says but he is killed when a sniper wearing a mask shoots him. Nearly escaping the sniper, Yuri takes over the dead cop’s weapons and decides to fight and survive.
In the series, Masks are a major part of the world. The masks contain certain codes, that rob person of their will. Once a mask is worn, it is impossible to bring the person back. The mask hacks the person’s brain and takes command over it. People wearing masks have no other choice but to obey the commands. Their very consciousness is replaced by these orders. The mask has only one rule: “Deliver the human into despair and make them commit suicide by falling.” If the mask breaks and they try to disobey the command, they are commanded to kill themselves.
There are many types of masks and they all have different meanings. There are emotionless masks that do not attack but deliver food and supplies at venues. There are smiling masks, that attack people. Angry masks are Guardian Angels that keep track of everything and everyone. Lastly, there are mouth-less masks that make the wearer a God Candidate. Later, it is revealed that the Masks are called Angels. Once a person wears a mask, they lose all their memories. However, even a single crack can bring their awareness back. Though, they remain under the obligation to obey every command.
Most Masks cannot speak. Guardian Angels seem like high-level Masks who can talk. However, almost all smiling Masks are unable to speak unless they gain consciousness, like the case of the Sniper Mask. Angels that have been sealed by God Candidates can acquire the ability to speak if they match their Candidate’s wavelengths can
However, there are some faulty masks too, such as the one gained by Mayuko Nise, who gains all the abilities of an Angel but does not lose her will.
The Realm and God Candidates
The realm that these people have been teleported to is a facility to create God. People who wore the mouthless mask become God Candidates, who have heightened abilities. They can also seal Angels (Masks) if they can match their wavelengths with them. Aihara Kazuma, who introduces himself as a God Candidate, implies that to become a perfect God, they must be the last one standing.
While Angels are always seen killing whoever they see, we have seen that they cannot kill God’s Candidates. The command indicates that they do not need to eliminate anyone who has power close to God. The first God Candidate introduced in the anime is Kuon Shinozaki. God candidates can also bring Angels out of hibernation, a state of Angels where they fall asleep as they try to defy the commands. If an Angel enters hibernation, they die within two hours if they are not cured by a God Candidate.
Mamoru Aikawa, a powerful God Candidate, has sealed 30 Angels. According to his theory, the realm had no God. So, God Candidates were summoned to become God. An emotionless Mask also tells Sniper Mask that the perfect God will do as they feel right. If they wish for chaos, there will be chaos. If they wish for peace, there will be peace in the realm.
Yuri Honjo is a High School student who is very close to her brother, Rika Honjo. She has a calm personality with quick reflexes. She is kind and refuses to kill humans. Mayuko Nise often notices how well she can control her emotions and take quick actions. Yuri is a very strong female protagonist. She is not only depicted as physically strong but also emotionally. She also respects her allies and can cross limits to save them.
She has quick reflexes. Her abilities include sharpshooting and having a good presence of mind, evident from her fight with the Chef Mask. After becoming a God Candidate, she gains more abilities, such as superhuman strength, speed, and agility. In the end, she also gains the skill to seal Angels. She carries guns and a scythe as weapons.
Her goal is to create peace in this world and go back home after surviving.
Status: God Candidate; alive.
Japanese Voice Actor: Haruka Shiraishi.
Before teleporting to this world, Mayuko was an abandoned child who was bullied at home and school. Having a traumatizing childhood, she loses her empathy and starts to hate humans. In the new realm, she does not flinch before killing any human, whether innocent or guilty. After Honjo saves her from Sniper Mask, Mayuko sees a new side to humanity that melts her. Ever since Mayuko decides to protect Yuri and becomes her faithful ally. She even goes to the length of becoming an Angel for Yuri.
As the series progresses, we see Mayuko getting closer to Yuri. Her previously sadistic part disappears and she starts liking Yuri. She also gets jealous when Yuri compliments Ein and when Yuri and Kuon get closer.
She uses a knife as a weapon. She has heightened abilities after turning into an Angel. She also acquires “Defragmentation”, a skill that lets her lay multiple attacks on her opponent.
Status: Angel; alive.
Japanese Voice Actor: Shiki Aoki.
Kuon Shinzaki was the first announced God Candidate of the series. She has silver hair. She has a very sweet personality and does not like killing anyone. Even after living so long, she has still not gotten accustomed to deaths. Before meeting Sniper Mask, she would try to talk to Masks politely since none of them attacked her. She is extremely sensitive as she is often seen crying.
She is not so strong physically. However, she has the most powerful weapon in the series, the Railgun. This has made her a target worth eliminating. Kuon does not have information about her abilities except her weapon and how to use it. She seems like an interesting character that has yet a lot to grow.
She starts harboring feelings for Sniper Mask and wants to grow stronger to keep him safe as well as bring peace.
Status: God Candidate; alive.
Japanese Voice Actor: Akira Sekine.
Brother of Yuri Honjo, Rika was often teased for having a feminine name before he was teleported. He cares deeply about his sister. Rika is also insanely strong. He sympathizes with Masks as they were human once. But, he feels obligated to kill them since they have no cure. He had a large hammer as a weapon but it breaks during a fight with a Mask.
Rika is very intelligent and like his sister, he can stay calm in the most stressful moments. During his interrogation with Kusakabe, he makes a deduction that she could read lies. He cleverly says the truth without giving out important information. He forms alliances with many humans and decides to protect them using the help of Yoshida Rikuya, another God Candidate.
Status: Human; alive.
Japanese Voice Actor: Junya Enoki.
Sniper Mask is an Angel who has lost all his memories as a human. He had no will until his mask cracks due to a grenade. He remembers that Kusakabe had forcefully made him wear the mask, which made him turn into an Angel. He is an expert marksman and is also afraid of heights. After meeting Kuon Shinzaki, he learns about the God Candidates. He is often seen encouraging her to get stronger.
Through the series, he keeps getting some fragments of his memories back. He remembers that he was a close friend of Rika and that his name is Yuu Makoto. He starts falling for Kuon as he tries to protect her till the end. A lot about his past is still to be revealed in the anime.
Status: Angel; alive.
Japanese Voice Actor: Umehara Yuiichiro.
Mamoru Aikawa is the strongest God Candidate so far and the main antagonist of the anime. Ō He has 30 Angels under his control. He has a maniac view of a perfect world, where the superiors live happily and the inferiors die. He wants to gain the power of the Railgun and is in search of the Candidate who operates it.
Not many skills of Aikawa are known as he has yet not battled anyone himself as of yet. However, he can also match wavelengths with the strongest angels and seal them. He is very cruel as his Angels are often scared of failing. However, he has a strong influence over them as they are also willing to die for him.
Status: God Candidate; alive.
Japanese Voice Actor: Jun Fukuyama.
High Rise Invasion: Ending Explained
The last episodes of High Rise Invasion cover the war between Yuri and her Alias against Aikawa’s Angels. Yuri, Mayuko, Kuon, Sniper Mask, and Anohara prepare as they sense the Angels approaching. They take positions and wait for them to strike. Great Angel, Kusakabe, and swimmer arrive at the location. (Great Angel is the strongest mask, who has a strong sense of justice and thereby believes in the elimination of evil). Sniper takes his position with Uzuki. Yuri, Mayuko, and Ein head on to close-range combat with the enemy. Here, Aikawa awakens Great Angel. He first provokes him by telling him how he sealed him then manipulates him to believe that Yuri and her friends are protecting Aikawa from him, thereby making him attack them.
Yuri fights Swimmer Mask and Mayuko and Ein go after Great Angel. Uzuki looks at Kusakabe and realizes she is his mother. During the battle, Mayuko also awakens her defragmentation in return for her alter ego created due to the mask. However, installation takes three minutes. During this fight, Anohara is also killed by Great Angel. Once the installation is done, Mayuko successfully inflicts damage on the Great Angel.
After some fights, Yuri manages to kill Swimmer Mask too. Kuon, who was with Sniper Mask starts feeling weak. However, after a few warm words from Sniper Mask, she gains her confidence. Mayuko jumps out of the building and shouts “I can’t take it anymore”, which was their pre-decided signal. On hearing the signal, Kuon fires the railgun and destroys the building where Great Angel was fighting. He somehow survives but he uses up all his powers to save himself. Using his remaining energy, he decides to kill Mayuko. However, before he can do so, Yuri arrives and defeats him.
Yuri finally gains the ability the seal Angels. Since her wavelengths match the Great Angel, she successfully controls him as she embarks on her journey to save her brother and end this world of chaos.
After the fight ends, a lot of conclusions send the steady flow of the story into a tremor. Kusakabe now knows about her son and her untold backstory has become a subject of curiosity. Rika is still a hostage of Aikawa, who has discovered about his relationship with Yuri. At the end of the last season, Yuri declares that she will save Rika with everyone’s help.
High Rise Invasion: Review
High Rise Invasion begins as a horror anime promising gore. Although the first few episodes have some horror, towards the end, the anime loses its track. While humor is a great element in many anime, it’s rather unsatisfactory if there is too much humor in a horror anime. Horror anime are fan’s favorite because they give heaps of adrenaline rush. In the case of High Rise Invasion, some scenes start very well with good vibes of horror but it is ruined in a few seconds after something funny is introduced.
High Rise Invasion has some great moments. But, its lack of darkness makes it less effective as a horror anime. It did start as gory and scary but somewhere towards the middle, it feels like a shoujo anime. Not that shoujo anime is bad, but simply that it is an entirely different genre from horror.
The concept of the plot is pretty common but its execution is unique. I like the involvement of elements such as brain-controlling Masks. Even if something like “race to become a God” is quite clichè d, it does not exactly bore you. I felt there could be more horror in the anime and less humor. Additionally, since the anime failed to adapt the illustrations of Takahiro Oba, the anime was too bright for a survival genre.
Either way, despite its shortcomings, I found High Rise Invasion a pretty entertaining anime. I would easily rate it a 3/5.