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Mayoiga (The Lost Village) ended two weeks ago, but one question still remains: What exactly is Nanakimura?

[This article contains massive spoilers for The Lost Village]

Mayoiga is the story of thirty largely unrelated men and women (ranging from teens to adults) dissatisfied with their lives who want to leave the world behind and start afresh somewhere new. Their drive is so strong that each joins a bus tour heading to the mysterious Nanakimura, a village straight out of urban legend where a utopian society is said to exist.

Yet when the tour group arrives at the intended destination, they find the town abandoned, as if everyone simply left a few days before. All too soon, group members start to disappear while others notice something lurking in the woods around them. And while no one can agree on what the “monster” is, the tour group knows one thing for sure: It won’t let them leave.

Over the course of the anime, many of the village’s mysteries are revealed and we learn the rules to how the village works. To start with, only those with serious mental scars can enter; those who are well-balanced and accepting of their lot in life cannot. Moreover, upon entering, a person’s mental scars are given form and begin to exist as a creature outside of that person called a Nanaki.

From that point, there are three ways the situation can be resolved.

The first is that you overcome and abandon your mental scars, returning to the real world free of them. This has massive side effects like premature aging and a dampening of negative emotions. After all, you are the sum of your feelings and experiences. Losing a big chunk of who you are throws your body and mind into chaos.

The second resolution involves accepting the darkest parts of your past as part of you and moving on with your life. This likewise returns you to the real world, and without any negative side effects. Of course, reaching this mental state is far from easy.

The third possibility is that after several days in Nanakimura, you become sluggish and resigned, yet happy. Even though your Nanaki is nearby, without the negative parts of you present in your mind, you soon begin to change like those who abandon their Nanaki. People in this state eventually disappear–as do their Nanaki–though not back into the real world. Where they go is a mystery.

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So while the anime lays out what happens in Nanakimura as well as how to get there (arrive at a certain time, with certain weather, and in a certain mental state), it never states what Nanakimura is or why it exists. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a theory.

Nanakimura is Purgatory.

It’s clear that the village exists apart from our reality as physical laws don’t necessarily apply. You can walk downhill forever and still end up back at the village. There also appears to be an infinite number of Nanakimura connected through tunnels. All have modern technology and ripe crops. The village is always ready for habitation–a habitation, as I see it, by the recently deceased.

What happens in Nanakimura is the key: It’s basically a way to cleanse souls before they move on, either to an afterlife or to reincarnation. Upon death, spirits are brought here and whatever has damaged the soul in life is separated out. Then, after a few days of “living” a peaceful existence in the village (and becoming more and more content thanks to a lack of mental scars), the soul becomes at peace, ready for the next step.

So when it comes down to it, Nanakimura is a place not for the living but for the dead. It just happens that sometimes the right conditions are met to allow a living human to stumble in.

The Lost Village aired on MBS, TBS, CBC, BS-TBS, and WOWOW in Japan. It can be viewed for free and with English subtitles in the US on Crunchyroll.

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