Islands float in the sky, above the desolate ruins of the world; now only inhabited by monsters. Willem is the last of his kind, a odd creature known as a "human", which were once plentiful on the surface world. The floating islands are inhabited by various beast men, most of whom dislike his kind. In fact humans were extinct until Willem's excavation. He'd been a wanderer with no place to belong, until he receives a job offer suited to his military prowess: watching over special weapons.
To his surprise, he arrives at an orphanage and the weapons he's to watch over are children. Among the older orphans, a girl named Chtholly catches his eye. There are more truths to learn: for Willem about the nature of the orphans, and for them to know what transpired on the surface hundreds of years ago.
Anime adaptations fail for a variety of reasons, but they most often go astray with a lack of focus. A few girls could be the romantic interest, but only one is featured here. No ambiguous open-options with the entire cast pandering to each girls' fans, it's clear who the featured character is (although clearly the other girls are fond of Willem too). A second common problem lies in the appeal for sympathy from the hardships the main girl will encounter. Bad writing, lacking character depth, and no focus in the story are the main culprits sabotaging what should be an endearing story. Chtholly however is developed well enough to like, and doesn't beg for pity from the viewer. She legitimately earns sympathy by being worthy of emotional investment.
Opposite to Chtholly, Willem's development is important too. He's far more than the typical blank slate, giving his relationship with Chtholly substance. There's a lot of depth integrated with his back story, which also develops the very interesting lore. As a couple I felt the two had a sincere romance on a level I'd say is rare to see in anime.
But what about the rest of the show? The art and soundtrack are okay, and it's pretty good for a fantasy anime. As far as the plot goes I'd actually say it's only average, however the amount of detail backing Willem pushes the story quality up quite a bit. Likewise it isn't anything new in the characters that makes them good, it's how Chtholly and Willem are skillfully utilized in just the right way which makes them excel.
In many respects World End is a fairly typical fantasy anime, done well. But I was quite taken with how well the story and characters were produced. Particularly I think the romance between Chtholly and Willem is a rare gem. As often as anime adaptations are botched, I often wonder why; if it's good enough to make into an anime, then why not let the strength of the source material show through? World End showcases how to do it right.
Willem: I'm telling you to not sell yourself short. Don't settle for just anyone
Chtholly: Buy me while I'm selling myself short! It's the basic rule of smart shopping.
Screen Caps: >