This week was just a bad episode.
While Caligula’s overall plot moved quite slowly, the setting and sheer absurdity in each episode has always kept me entertained, making me be a bit more lenient about the lack of character development or snail-like narrative pacing. I was fine with Mifue being a massive jerk with regards to people’s body size, and ending a fight by interruption with song was hokey but built up from the episode (for the record, I suspect Mifue was projecting her feelings about plus size people due to her own insecurities at home, why else was her first mom so emancipated?).
Plus, at the end of last week’s episode, I hoped that one of the Ostinato Musicians would bring the fight directly to the ragtag team of heroes; she was standing on the roof of the library with a posse of Digiheads after all!
Unfortunately, episode 5 sees to toss all the potential away and what it puts in its place makes this week the weakest and most disappointing episode so far.
The plot this week sees Shikishima go out with Suzuna and Tomoe to some sort of amusement park called Sea Paraiso. What they don’t realize is that the park is currently promoting a romance theme, so the trio is a bit out of place. Things get strange when Tomoe and Suzuna stumble upon a student getting brainwashed, plus a beauty/men admiration contest arises between the Ostinato Musician Mirei (the one with the lion head on her shoulder) and Kotono, a familiar face that, over the course of the episode, would sometimes spot Aria, eventually realizing the reality of Moebius and achieving catharsis when she shouts about her desire to return to the real world.
There’s also a minor side plot involving Naruko and Mifue, who went out to look for Mifue’s “real” mom. Shogo meanwhile, is spotted trying to stop someone from jumping off a building but doesn’t succeed.
There were some positive aspects in this week’s episode: watching someone achieve catharsis was neat and the backstory for Kotono and how she ended up in Moebius has potential as it looks like she’s in some sort of co-dependent/abusive relationship in the real world. Examining how individuals seek escapism in their hobbies is always a potential gold mine to me. I could’ve sworn that some of the “couples” at the amusement park were same-sex couples, which was nice to see represented. Aria was less annoying this episode, though mileage will vary. In addition, we got a scene featuring some of the Ostinato musicians, which goes a long way to show how they’re one “united’ group of villains, as opposed to those of the one-and-done types of groups; heck, even Shonen Doll from last episode joined the tea party.
Unfortunately, the animation this week was quite poor. There were too many shots of off-model characters or poor movements that even I felt it was distracting, and I’m someone who doesn’t quite put as much stock into animation quality as other people*. I really hope things get sorted out for next week.
The biggest glaring issue this week though, was the reason for the amusement park trip. Why would Shikishima, who started to get more team mates and answers last week, decide to go to the amusement park with Tomoe and Suzuna?
It was because he had tickets to it and no one else wanted to come along.
Apparently in the game, the group heads out to Sea Pariaso because they were looking for clues as to what the Ostinato Musicians were up to. That’s a great, legitimate reason to go spend a day in an amusement park which just so happens to be the stomping grounds for Mirei. Going because you have tickets lacks the narrative urgency that the anime had started (key word) to build up! Despite whatever positives this episode had, the narrative reasoning and poor animation drag things very far down. This week was just a bad episode.
- This week’s episode title, “Everyone gets hurt. But those who don’t realize they’re hurting can’t be healed” might be referring to Kotono, as it alludes to her situation in real life. Perhaps she’s in a neglectful relationship but doesn’t realize it herself? I’m speculating, but there are a lot of people in the world in bad situations that they aren’t aware of, and need outside intervention to help them.
- This week’s track was Sadistic Queen by ChouchouP. It’s a fitting track for Mirei. In fact, that’s probably one of the show’s strengths, the variety in music.
- *with regard to not putting as much stock into animation as other people, I confess, I was not enamoured as everyone seems to be about Batman: Ninja. The story is atrocious and it really hindered my enjoyment of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, the animation is amazing, it is fluid and delightful, the character designs are equally amazing, but the story is horrible, it is absolute trash.
- I also wasn’t enamored about Devilman Crybaby. The music was phenomenal, and some of the changes they did to the original story were very good, but I could not get over the 80s aesthetic. Most of the time it worked, but when they reused the animation (as many anime do), it was very distracting. Everyone seems to praise the animation though, but dang, not for me I suppose.