Playing through the World End Economica ~Complete~ feels like that year of college when you simultaneously enrolled in Classic Literature, Business Economics, Psychology, and Philosophy classes. It’s a daunting trek where unhurried storytelling can let unfocused minds wander. But make it through and you’ll feel a sense of reward and perhaps glean a bit of insight into the human condition.
Platform: Switch, previously on PC
Developer: Spicy Tails
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release date: April 22nd, 2021
Price: $29.99 via digital download
Availability: Nintendo eShop
Created by Spice & Wolf novelist, Isuna Hasekura, World End Economica is the writer’s second journey into the world of stock trading, following the Billionaire Girl manga. But it’s a far more ambitious work, boasting an intriguing context and a grand scale that allows for credible character arcs. The recent Switch release of World End Economica ~Complete~ collects the kinetic visual novel’s three episodes. By bundling the installments, readers are committed, which is a good thing since gratification can come gradually with Hasekura’s expositional style.
The Unhurried Evolution of Hal
Episode one introduces protagonist Yoshiharu “Hal” Kawaura, a runaway with an ambitious dream. To realize his ambitions, he plays the stock market, relying on instinct rather than a formalized education when making decisions. Urgency and aspiration prove to be a successful combination, and he’s able to accumulate a bit a wealth. But his day-to-day life still contains uncertainty, and when he’s pursued by the authorities, Yoshiharu is forced to take refuge with a devout woman named Lisa, who also provides board for mathematical savant/full-time tsundere, Hagana.
Had World End Economica been sold piece meal, there’s a good chance you might give up on the storyline during the first episode. While there are some pacing issues with detail seemingly squandered on unimportant matters, the bigger issue is the abrasiveness of both Hal and Hagana. Both are rather unlikable, making it difficult to identify with the lead and empathize with issues faced by the latter.
Characterization that Touts Complexity
But stick with it and devasting events radically shake things up. You will eventually realize that each extended episode is a mere act in Economica larger storyline. And while Hal’s self-centered demeanor and perspective will shift, it’s not the complete about-face exhibited by most character arcs. No, Hal still demonstrates undesirable aspects of his personality well into the second episode before maturing and showing concern for others. Remarkably, Economica rejects the simplistic dichotomies of most narratives, forcing us to come to terms with a cast that’s realistically flawed. More importantly, the novels divulges the details that influenced each character’s worldview.
Obviously, a lot of care when into the construction of both the cast and Economica’s world. Fascinating tensions are rooted in the beliefs of Hal and Hagana. While the former relies on intuition when making financial decisions, Hagana is wholly rational, believing every action hinge on research and rationality.
The Dark Side of the Moon
A much larger juxtaposition is established by the game’s settings. Set sixteen years after the colonization of the moon, the novel two settings are wholly divergent. Earth has succumbed to mass poverty and widespread pollution, while the Moon is a sequestered economic refuge where the fortunate chase their financial windfalls. Wisely, Economica eschews becoming capitalistic fan-fic, where the downtrodden chase and eventually realize their dreams. Instead, it’s a work born in a post-bubble, reminding readers of the precariousness of wealth and that worth is often founded in little more than reckless optimism.
This dual-world approach provides opportunity for dramatic tension and ingenuity. Earth’s stagnation is contrasted again the lunar colony’s prospects for prosperity. But the free-market mode of Moon operations has its weakness, with spirituality and emotions seen as foolishness that can only hinder profits. While Earth is a literal wasteland, the Moon is a moral one, fueling animosity from both citizens of both worlds. Yet, World End Economica isn’t all seriousness and find enjoyment in its settings too, with descriptions of Hal using the low-gravity of the moon to parkour his way around.
A Crash Course in Financials
Wisely, Economica habitually avoids being preachy or heavy-handed. Much like its characters, events are persuaded by a multitude of factors. There’s a sophistication to the plotting, that shuns the simple causal relationships of many visual novels. Thankfully, there’s also a healthy amount of explanation. Even if you’re a financial newbie with little knowledge of how futures or inelastic demand work, Economica provides detailed explanation. I’d expect many to have a richer understanding of financials by the time they read through the entire work.
While there are clever nods to older consoles and doujin indies, developer Spicy Tails also seemed to have wanted a timeliness to its work. Given that depictions of user interfaces in ten-year old films often seem comically archaic, Economica doesn’t dive into the details of technology. As such, readers aren’t shown many of the specifics of the world, forcing imaginations to fill in the details. Largely, that’s also a case across the trio of episodes. While it’s lengthy, don’t expect the number of emotions and CGs offered by more visually communicative VNs. But Economica isn’t your typical work, avoiding the kind of playful demeanor of harem romps. Sure, Hal will encounter some romantic interests, but don’t expect an emphasis on madcap flings.
While World End Economica’s early hours make for a pricky first impression, stick with it. Isuna Hasekura’s ambitions take time to ripen, but the protracted plotting permits for an expositional sophistication. Seeing Yoshiharu struggle and eventually mature is a fulfilling character arc with authenticity entrenched by the complexity of the novel’s characters. Undoubtedly, this is one of the better works of fiction found on the Switch.
World End Economica ~Complete~ was played on
Switch with review code provided by the publisher.