One of my favorite things to do while playing an online video game is to study the handles of my opponents. Various references to anime, manga, television series, professional players of both sports or esports, and a variety of other media favorites meet to create hilarious and entertaining names.
Mayoiga (The Lost Village), is the story of 30 people on a bus tour to “Nanaki Village” a town shrouded in about as much mystery as internet rumors and urban legends can provide. These people of all ages have gathered together to “throw away their old lives.” The sentiment is relatable but the execution of the series is appropriately hammy for the premise, much like a 14 year-old whose account name is “xXxDarkfl@memasteRxXx.”
“I’m ‘Soy Latte.’ I’m just trying to get a fresh start in a new place and find my path.”
-Soy Latte introduces herself, Mayoiga, Episode 1
Take a moment to think about your first social media name, internet handle, or gamer tag. It likely reflected whatever caught your eye at that time, or a piece of media that resonated with you emotionally. My first internet handle included a Casablanca reference of all things — at the time I was making my way through the Criterion Collection.
Like a teenager in a videogame, Mayoiga appears to be taking itself about as seriously as possible, which could work in its favor if the series continues to play its over-the-top dramatic moments completely straight. The dialogue matches the oppressive use of ominous background music to the point where it all blends together and becomes perfectly hammy and ridiculous. There’s a danger to this type of execution. If the series falters even a bit in its commitment to kitschy horror it will simply become rote and boring, but for this first episode I found Mayoiga wonderfully funny in its absurdity. The moment where this bus of people who have embarked on an adventure to discover their true selves or restart their lives sing a silly song — “The Unlucky Hippopotamus,” with lyrics among the likes of “Little Bunny FuuFuu” — en route to the fabled Nanaki Village marks the apex of what Mayoiga is capable.
“I’m ‘Hyokutsu no Judgeness.’ I’ve made my piece with this shitty world. If you get too close, you’ll get frostbite.”
-Hyokutsu no Judgeness introduces himself, Mayoiga, Episode 1
However, the essence of Mayoiga is presented within the first few moments of the premiere episode through the introduction of Nanaki Village’s future inhabitants. Characters like “Soy Latte,” and the eye patch-adorned “Hyoukutsu no Judgeness” give their respective rationales for restarting their lives. These reasons range from boredom, parental pressure, societal pressure, terminal illness, and apathy towards others in general, all of which are legitimate reasons for wishing to escape or change one’s life.
Paired with oft-dramatic, sweeping introductions, or equally hilarious one-word responses sans description, the viewer can’t help but laugh at it all. Their emotions and situations are real, but it’s all caked in layers of melodrama and chosen internet names. The best part of the introduction sequence is when three women on the bus happen to have the same internet handle, “Yuuna,” and argue over which one of them should be allowed to keep it.
“‘I’ve already been Yuuna for over six years.’
‘I don’t think we should use seniority to decide who gets to use it! It’s exactly that kind of competitiveness in society that makes people want to leave! Oh, I’m also Yuuna.'”
-a conversation between two “Yuunas,” Mayoiga, Episode 1
Imagine trying to embark on your new life under your internet handle, and two other people in your new location already have the same name. It’s wonderfully incongruous, hilarious, and even sad, in a way.