#1 Among Us – The Anime
They Were 11 is a sci-fi mystery story very akin to movies like The Thing or games like Among Us.
After enduring a series of brutal entrance exams, the thousands of applicants for getting into prestigious Cosmo Academy have been filtered down to a mere handful of people. For their final test, the space cadets are put into groups of 10 and tasked with operating a real spaceship as they undertake a mission. Tadatos “Tada” Lane is one of these applicants, but as his team enters the airlock and the lights come on, they find that an 11th person has mysteriously appeared.
They all arrived wearing full spacesuits and none of them have ever met before, nor will any of them fess up to being the extra. An innocent mistake, perhaps? That seems unlikely, as problems soon begin haunting the ship and most appear to be the result of blatant sabotage. People are wounded, some nearly killed, and soon a situation begins to develop that threatens to kill all everyone onboard. They could hit a button at any time to contact HQ for help, but doing so would mean abandoning the exam and throwing away their entire future.
It’s a clever mystery story that gives you ample reason to think & puzzle along. The characters actively debate over who they think may be the culprit and it’s fun seeing how these wildly different people let this conundrum shape the basis of their relationships. There’s friction between those that just want everybody to get along and cooperate, and those who form their little factions for protection and certainty.
Tada himself becomes a key suspect, as he mysteriously finds himself possessing knowledge of the ship and its past. When strange things happen, Tada is usually either around or the actual cause, raising suspicions about just how trustworthy the mild-mannered esper truly is.
#2 Fascinating alien species
They Were 11 is a film with a small scope that still implies a large, complicated universe. You get the impression that the author wrote way more of the story than we actually get to see, and all of it seems really cool.
The main method through which we explore this lore is through the characters that make up the team.
The cast covers a wide range of people from different social castes, species, and backgrounds. There’s this one dude from an independent planet of people with lizard-like features, who are very serene and spiritualistic, but live tragically short lives. Human-like characters are in the majority, but even among them there are vast differences. One is a sub-species of Humans that are exceptionally beautiful, but hails from a far-off rural planet that’s independent and very standoffish towards authority. Another human is this giant dude whose body is itself a science experiment, used to find a cure for an endemic disease that has gripped his people.
Since They Were 11 is only a 90-minute movie not everybody in the crew gets as much spotlight as they deserve, but what we do learn of the characters and how that ties into the events of the mystery plot had me very intrigued.
#3 Old school aesthetics
I love the aesthetics of science fiction anime from the 1980s. It was a magical era that gave us fantastic works like Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Toward the Terra, among many others. They Were 11 is right at home in that line-up when it comes to visual flair.
The environments and character designs scratch that itch for beautiful sci-fi universes that I rarely get to experience these days. I’ll let the screenshots speak for themselves.