By Hailinel 5 Comments
In The World Ends With You, there exists a very unique twist on the afterlife. Those that die are eligible to play what is known as the Reapers’ Game; a week-long contest in which the participants, those that have recently died, solve puzzles and battle monsters called Noise for the opportunity to return to the world of the living. The Reapers themselves are a highly structured organization with territories divided between different groups of that are themselves regimented by a strict rank structure. In Shibuya, the game’s setting, the Conductor is a Reaper named Megumi Kitaniji, who in the absence of his immediate superior, the Composer, runs the game.
But Kitaniji runs the game with an ulterior motive, and for most of the storyline, does his work from behind the scenes and with the aid of his lieutenants and Game Masters. He is the manipulative sort, constantly finding ways to keep Neku Sakuraba playing the game week after week despite the fact that normal entrants have only one shot at victory. It’s eventually revealed that he’s also kidnapped Shiki Misaki, the first week’s winner, under the false pretense of having restored her to life. Yet it’s his larger scheme that earns him credit in this feature.
Shibuya itself is a community of trends. Different people follow different fashions, genres, and styles. While it seems paradoxical, people seeking individuality through belonging to groups, individual choice and the will to follow what one desires are traits of free will. Yet, Kitaniji sees things differently; he sincerely believes that Shibuya will fall apart unless he can do something to save it. He makes a wager with the Composer that if given thirty days, he can save Shibuya. The Composer then leaves Kitaniji in charge of Shibuya for the duration, but not before the pair select Neku as their pawn in the games, as he is alternately used to not only further Kitaniji’s plan but also by the Composer as his primary obstacle to preventing Kitaniji's success.
And the crux of Kitaniji’s plan? The removal of all free will and individuality in Shibuya, from those that are still alive to the deceased players to the Reapers that serve under him. No trends, no desires. Only a singular, chilling mindset shared by all.
“To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption, that this place may become as paradise. What a wonderful world such would be...”
A wonderful world, indeed. In my own playthrough of this game, seeing these people possessed by Kitaniji’s red pins weirded me out something fierce, and I blazed through the final challenges ready to put a stop to him.
At the game’s end, Neku must fight Kitaniji three times. The first in order to free Shiki from his control. In the second battle, he takes his Reaper form. In the third, he captures Shiki, Beat, and Joshua (who is in fact be the Composer in disguise), and then goes full power to face Neku, who has to fight alone.
But it isn’t enough, and Kitaniji loses the battle, as well as his bet with the Composer. He is erased from existence, and Shibuya is freed from his control. And in the end, it truly is a wonderful world.