The Wandering Witch is Standing on a Million Lives

Posted on Dec 23 2020

Welcome, all, again–and happy holidays(!), of whatever flavor you prefer. This time around, we’ll be looking at I’m Standing on a Million Lives, a show that has me puzzled but nonetheless entertained. Simply put, this is a show that should be about gaming but isn’t, although it seems to offer all the right tropes. You have ordinary middle school students surreptitiously recruited into a questing party who gain and lose points in a fantasy-style world of magic and swordplay, but they haven’t been given a full explanation of the rules binding them or the paradigms bounding that world. And these details are of extreme importance, given that these kids can allegedly die for real by dying under certain circumstances while in character. Yes, in character. In keeping with the gaming theme, they spin a wheel to determine their individual roles in the party, with the opportunity to spin again and change roles as they level up. Assuming that they level up. Assuming that they don’t crater and lose points. (Remember that I said the rules hadn’t been fully explained?) Right.

Yuusuke Yotsuya is just a regular guy trying to not hate school too terribly much. He’s something of a loner and–like so many kids his age–filled with that peculiarly gloomy adolescent angst that comes from a self-indulgent ignorance of just how demanding and indifferent the real world will eventually prove. So he should have known immediately that things were about to get messed up when not just one but two pretty girls started giving him the eye out of nowhere. In nature, when a social creature leaves the company of its own kind to pursue a different sort of creature, its motives are generally predatory. Unfortunately for our guy Yotsuya, he apparently wasn’t paying attention during that particular biology lesson. Oh, he realizes that something’s wrong and that the natural order is being blatantly violated, but he’s just not smart enough to run away. Too bad for him. Because these huntresses have very specific designs on Yotsuya, and he’s in for a world of suffering.

Budding model Shindou and cute, quiet Hakozaki have been stalking Yotsuya like a pair of hungry mountain lions after a small child lost in the woods. And once they spring their ambush, catching him alone, he is sucked into the very trap they themselves inhabit–a fantasy world in which they are required to complete quests. There are rules, of course, explained incompletely by an incomplete humanoid being who acts as “Game Master.” They are a party and are judged as a party. As visitors to this new world, they are called “heroes” and are resurrected when killed–should the environment allow. But if all party members die at the same time, they die for real–no resurrection, no return to our world, nothing. Dead as dead. And as terrifying as that sounds, what’s even more terrifying is that many more rules seem to exist; they just don’t get explained until violated. Rules such as losing points for injuring other humans, despite the combat-prone fantasy setting, or finding out that you can only wield implements associated with your assigned character role. For example, a farmer cannot pick up a fallen warrior’s sword–and, yep, the agressive Yotsuya spins “farmer.” Hakozaki, perpetually ill in our world, remains emotionally delicate in her warrior character and shuns combat, while athletic Shindou finds herself physically weakened as a low-rank wizard. Not the best arrangement for success–and then Yuka Tokitate arrives to crash their party with her doom and gloom. And let’s not overlook the revelation that their progressive success as a party only sets them up to ultimately fight a supremely powerful monster in our world, with untold lives at stake.

I’m Standing on a Million Lives is an engaging story in which your standard fantasy characters are given an isekai interpretation and each saddled with what handicaps him or her most. Thus it is of great interest watching how these characters overcome the challenges of their increasingly difficult quests and furthermore how those experiences shape their understanding of both the worlds which they inhabit. Still, the series has thus far gathered only four “players,” although episode 12 introduces at least one more character chosen to join their ranks–he just doesn’t know it yet. And even more will follow. Episode 12 also answers the question of whether or not the Game Master can directly influence our world. Indeed, episodes 11 and 12 recast the entire tone of the show. But don’t let that little caveat cause you to worry about the storyline’s cohesion and continuity; episode 12 concludes with the announcement of a July 2021 release of a second season. And Yotsuya? Well, he might wind up having to share the harem, but playa’s always gonna have his own hoe!

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