Moments ago, Yuri Honjo was sitting in her class. Now, however, she is standing on the top of a tower block watching a man in a mask attacking a woman with a sword. She jumped to her doom, but now he’s spotted Yuri!
High-Rise Invasion (Season One)
What did you watch?
It’s a known fact that I enjoy B List Horror movies. The more ridiculous the better. See my review of The Island of Giant Insects if you don’t believe me. So, when I saw the image for High-Rise Invasion on Netflix, I knew that this was going to be one of those shows that I enjoy. Admittedly, I did put it off for a while as I was busy with so many other things. Well, I had some downtime and dived straight in. I ended up watching the entire season in three days so read into that what you will. Oh, and there will be spoilers below, so proceed with caution…
Yuri Honjo found herself on top of a tower block, surrounded by tower blocks. She heard a scream and noticed a woman running across a rooftop pursued by a man in a mask with a katana. He stabbed her but didn’t kill her. She scrambled to her feet and staggered towards the edge of the rooftop. Yuri watched in horror as the woman chose to jump rather than face the masked man any longer. Then, Yuri received a call on her cell phone. It was her brother. He was in this strange world too, all be it at another rooftop. He quickly brought her up to speed with how he thinks things work here. He promised to find her. She just had to stay alive.
The masked man spotted Yuri and walked across one of the many rope bridges, linking the towers. All access to the ground had been cut off – stairs blocked and elevators sealed. Yuri fought off the man as best she could but he was relentless, hoping to drive her to despair. Waiting for her to throw herself to her doom. She was saved by two policemen. However, one of them then pushed the other off the roof and took the katana and Yuri as his prize. Luckily for Yuri, his maniacal delight was short-lived as a man in a mask shot him with a sniper’s rifle. Was Yuri going to be his next target?
What did you think?
So, this was a lot of fun. I don’t think it’s going to win any awards, but that’s not the point of these sorts of shows. It’s all about the carnage and some plucky teenager with big boobs rising up and fighting back. Seriously, that’s what’s meant to happen. I loved the action in this series and the masks made all of the attackers that much more sinister. Of course, there was a lot more to it than we first see as the masks convert people into angels who attack humans in the hopes of driving them to despair or elevating them to a point where they might become a god if they can overcome the odds. It’s not that complicated, but at times it seems like it. Anyhow, it’s crazy and entertaining, and a little more crazy.
What was your favourite moment?
There were a lot of great fights in this season and the final showdown was a particular highlight, but that seems too obvious, so I’m going to talk about an earlier one that showed us the sort of person Yuri Honjo is. She’d recently teamed up with Mayuko Nise and had been fighting a Chef Mask. They thought they had won but then he grabbed Mayuko’s ankle and pulled her over the edge of the building. Luckily, she hit a window and went crashing through. The Chef Mask followed and was gloating about chopping her up when Yuri swung down to the window. She was hanging from the railing by her sock that she had tied around her ankle so that she could take the shot.
It was an utterly insane moment, but it showed how far Yuri would go to help those that she gathered around her and how utterly fearless she is. I can’t get over how brilliantly ridiculous it was. Needless to say, there were a lot of scenes like that where everyone pushed themselves beyond what they probably thought they were capable of and that’s what you want to see for the people attempting to survive in a horrific place like this. Playing it safe is a surefire way to get yourself killed.
What was your least favourite moment?
I find I get unreasonably annoyed about continuity errors because it shows me that someone wasn’t paying enough attention or that they don’t care as much as I do. Anyhow, in episode one the Katana Mask stabbed Yuri’s phone and then tossed it off the building. Later on, Yuri borrows Mayuko’s phone to call her brother. That’s fine. Then, somehow, Mayuko and Yuri both have phones again, although Mayuko can’t call Yuri because she just crushed her “new” phoned with her bare hands. Where did this extra phone come from? I feel like the phone were purely there to allow for some exposition. There were better ways to deliver that information which wouldn’t bring in the questionable idea that the phones would still work here. Wherever here is!
Who was your favourite character?
Obviously, I’m a big fan of Yuri Honjo and she would definitely be my favourite character were it not for the most interesting aspect of the story – Sniper Mask. Early on, we discover that the masks are actually people who are being controlled. After Sniper Mask had a run-in with Yuri and Mayuko, his mask was damaged allowing some of his memories to return. That made him a target for other masks but didn’t stop him from needing to attack humans when he saw them. He wanted to work with Yuri but couldn’t look at her. He had a connection to Yuri’s brother, but couldn’t remember what. He was by far the most interesting character. Without him, it would have been a fairly standard slasher flick, but he added some much-needed mystery to it.
Who was your least favourite character?
Other than the main four of Yuri, Mayuko, Rika, and Sniper Mask the characters kind of fell away. There were some nice designs, but none of them really stood out in the same way. The worst of the bunch was Mamoru Aikawa, the villain and rival in their attempts to become a god. Of course, you have to remember this is a B-List style story and as such the characters tend to follow some fairly standard patterns. Mamoru is the villain that is lusting for power. He obviously knows more than most and has probably been at it for longer too which is how he can control so many masks. That said, I just wasn’t that impressed with him and would have preferred the villain to remain the masks and whatever was controlling them.
Would you like some more?
This story is far from over and I would very much like to see where it goes. The manga has twenty-one volumes and there’s no way all of that was covered here. So, at least I have the manga to fall back on if another season isn’t made. It’s hard being a fan of B-List horror because unless you get someone that is determined to make them all, they often are forgotten after one season or movie (see The Island of Giant Insects). Sure, there are massive franchises that have multiple instalments, but that’s not really the norm. Of course, I am hoping that there will be more, but I won’t be holding my breath.
What have you learnt?
I only really have one criticism of this series and that was how quickly it revealed things. Sure, there’s still lots and lots of stuff to find out, but we got a pretty big exposition dump from Rika, Yuri’s brother in the first episode. I would have liked to see Yuri struggle against the masks alone for a while, working things out for herself and then finding others. It would have made for a more thrilling and compelling story and given us more time to get to know Yuri and see the horrors of the mask in person.
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to take your time with the story. As an author, you know all the fun bits that are coming up and you want to get to that. You want the reveals because that’s what makes the audience gasp. It hooks them in, but too much too soon can have the opposite effect. No one wants someone to tell them all the answers. We want to work it out with the characters. We want to see them realise what they are up against, falter, find renewed strength, and overcome. This series missed that opportunity. Not completely, but it could have been that much better if it had taken a little more time.