I’m a big, big fan of survival horror. It’s one of my favorite sub-genres in both games and movies. So, I knew I had to do a (spoiler free) anime review of High Rise Invasion.

Tagged as a psychological horror, we follow Yuri, your average high school girl, who’s teleported into a strange alternative Tokyo, dominated by skyscrapers that are connected with rope bridges. But she’s not the only one here. There are other teleported humans and Masks.

Anime Review of High Rise Invasion Masked Chef says hello
Bonjour!

These Masks have two major commands: to physically torment any human they find until their victims commit suicide by jumping off buildings, or kill a human that refuses to commit suicide.

But the other humans teleported here might be even more dangerous than the Masks that hunt Yuri. With no other hope of escape, Yuri must unravel the secrets of this world, gain allies, and fight for her life.

The premise of this series seems promising as I first delved in. I adored Battle Royale, Squid Games, and Alice in Borderland, all movies and series that show just how far humanity can sink (and rise) when things get dystopic.

Pacing

For the first few episodes, the tension and pacing were perfect. The Masks are terrifying killers reminiscent of American slasher icons like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees who will follow you endlessly through the maze of buildings.

Even as the threat of Masks loses some of its luster later in this series, High Rise Invasion still manages to keep its fast pace with consistent fights and dangerous situations, right on through to the final episode. Pacing is one place where this anime excels.

Characters

The characters and their arcs were far less engaging. Within the first episode Yuri goes from bawling damsel to Certified, Gun-Wielding Badass. The men she meets along the way are one note. The women are more varied (though that doesn’t mean the writing is good), but you will see almost every single one of them naked at one point.

anime review of high rise invasion: yuri hanging upside down
This probably speaks for itself.

The fan service is over the top and atrocious. Even female corpses have an 80% chance of having their shirts ripped open. There’s an obsession with mingling horror and fan service, but in High Rise Invasion it never once added to the scene or tension.

Beyond that, I’d argue that there are far too many characters as the episodes progress. By the latter half of the series, we’re constantly jumping from group to group, and often it doesn’t feel like it was necessary. The constant split focus prevented me from connecting with any character or caring about the stakes of the battles they fought.  

That being said, the one character I couldn’t help but like is Mayuko, introduced in episode two. They put the most effort into giving her a backstory and personality, giving her the most depth out of anyone in the series.

Image of Mayuko Nise in episode 2
Best girl Mayuko.

“It’s just human against human in this death match.”

Story

The story expands from Yuri’s goal to find her brother, also trapped in this alternate dimension, into one with a far loftier ambition. And that’s usually what I’m all about. I love lore; I love high stakes; I love secrets! But every secret is handed down to us through some random exposition dispenser. Yuri never stumbles upon or earns a great secret. It’s just… told to us. Sometimes by something as lame as a Mask who’s handing out lunch. Masks usually can’t even talk.

It never feels like the ambitions of Yuri, or other relevant key players, are ever really expanded upon. It’s hard to root for their goals when they themselves don’t seem to have a fleshed out vision of what they’re pursuing.

What’s worse, though, is that there isn’t an ending. The series ends two or three episodes short on a “cliff hanger” that’s a set up for Season 2. I felt cheated. I felt robbed. That’s one of the lowest things a series can do.

Battles

What kept me watching for twelve episodes, other than masochism, were the fantastic fights. The Masks remain brutal killers throughout the series, growing stronger and stronger each time our cast encounters one. And that leads to some fantastic fights. Sure, there are moments of blatant plot armor, but even with that, the battles still seem close.

Mayuko fighting some schmuck.

These fight sequences are where the anime shine. And if you enjoy action anime, you’ll probably enjoy this, as they’re well sprinkled through the series.

Final Thoughts for anime review of High Rise Invasion

Ultimately, this isn’t Battle Royale or Alice in Borderland. It’s a discount Mirai Nikki / Future Diary with less interesting characters, plot twists, and high stakes. Even the fight scenes are better in Mirai Nikki.

But that’s not say that High Rise Invasion doesn’t fulfill a niche. Most survival horrors are depressing and soul crushing. But High Rise Invasion is essentially a light-hearted, panty-flashing frolic through a lot of blood and gore. It tries its best to marry levity with a serious premise… and while it fell short for me, I’m sure that this’ll scratch the itch for someone who wants something casual and blood soaked .

I can only give it 2 out of 5 Cthulhu Heads.

Watch Time: Approximately 300 minutes

Trigger Warnings: Attempted sexual assault in the first episode, graphic violence, sexualization of underaged girls