While the showcase of why the villains choose to live in Mobius was desperately needed, its execution was sloppy as hell and wastes the show’s premise.

After last week’s episode where the Go-Home club had hot pot, I was ambivalent about what the show would do about this week’s episode; on the one hand, the bar was set so low that practically anything would be better (except for another episode 5), but on the other hand, would Caligula effectively waste its remaining runtime with more meandering?

The result is mixed, though it definitely leans more toward “bad” than “good” (though the show has arguably never been universally “good” but it has its moments). Episode 8 is effectively the other half of episode 7, this time showing things from the perspective of the Ostinato Musicians.

On paper, it sounds a lot better! We got a few scenes with the Musicians last week, but having this episode being dedicated to them could do well to flesh them out more, show why they want to live in Mobius, and really drive home the idea that running away from your problems is not the way to live – even if it means running away into a virtual world where everything you want is given.

If only Caligula didn’t center the episode around IkeP.

Why was the episode centered around him?!!?

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It makes sense to showcase him and his “rival”, as we know next to nothing about them…but the result is so shallow. The episode opens with IkeP getting fawned over by the women of Mobius. His popularity with the opposite sex is, apparently, extremely important to him, so much so that he checks the popularity rankings in a magazine to ensure he is #1. Unfortunately, one of the Go-Home club members, Izuru Minezawa, is #2. In addition, IkeP’s popularity seems to be fueled by µ’s control of Mobius, so that while µ is still asleep, IkeP’s popularity slowly slips away while Minezawa goes up to #1. IkeP eventually gets angry enough to confront Minezawa over it, with the two having a clash where Minezawa “reflects” on himself and decides to…cut his face with glass shards.

This guy. No characterization before, and now this. Yep.

Yes, apparently in the real world, Minezawa turned to cutting (his face) with glass for some reason, but it was a conscious choice he made. When he came to Mobius, µ healed his face so that there were no scars; this goes against Minezawa’s wishes however, as he is determined to have his scars and thus wishes to return to the real world where he can regain his true self (scars and all). Such a thing makes little sense to IkeP, whose good looks are also a given by Mobius and they are his pride and joy (that and his popularity with women).

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I wasn’t kidding when I said it was shallow.

The other musicians have their own troubles as well. Mirei, the drama queen who was accustomed to the life of the rich, lives in a broken Sea Paraiso and no longer has unlimited funds when all (and I mean all) her credit cards are declined. Meanwhile SweetP is having trouble fitting into her clothes, finding that they’re all bursting at the seams (literally).

It’s shallow as heck, but it could’ve been done so. much. better.

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Oh, and the Traitor Musician (KagiP) has a scene where he’s talking to Ritsu Shikishima, but it still doesn’t explain why he becomes a turncoat.

In the end, when µ wakes up, she and the other Musicians (including one we have seen very little of) congregate on top a building, soon to be met by the Go-Home club as foreshadowed last episode.

I could surmise that the writers wanted to have a bit of duality with the two episodes; one has the Go-Home club relaxing and being happy, while the other sees the villains slowly fall into worry and outrage. Except both episodes had such little narrative payoff and a lot of wasted scenes that they could’ve put the two together and not waste an episode slot. It doesn’t help that the animation is as stilted as ever, and the music was absolutely forgettable this episode. Speaking about the animation, it looks as though it’s becoming increasingly flat. I’m not sure why it does, perhaps it’s due to the stilted animation, but it’s increasingly distracting.

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The biggest flop to the episode though is how it handles the Ostinato Musicians’ motivations. There have previously been hints as to how their real lives are unpleasant enough that they sought solace in Mobius, and they get mildly explored this episode as described above.

That’s the issue though; what I wrote is, effectively, how it was shown in the episode. We, the audience, never get the opportunity to really see what happened to them and that severely hurts how we interpret their motivations. While the showcase of why the villains choose to live in Mobius was desperately needed, its execution was sloppy as hell and wastes the show’s premise. For example, Mirei becomes angry when she runs out of her usual tea leaves, and when her credit cards are declined she starts spiraling downward. While we can surmise similar circumstances occurred in real life, it falls flat because there’s a lack of desperation in what is shown. We could’ve had flashes to real life where we see Mirei tie her sense of worth to her fortunes, and when the fortune was lost (for whatever reason), she turned to Moebius to run away from reality. Yes, her reasoning would be (or is?) shallow as heck, but given the proper writing and direction, you can still draw sympathy out of it.

Likewise, SweetP’s issue of not being able to fit into her clothes is effectively akin to her losing her ideal self image. Now, I can understand if some people would see SweetP being a girl in Mobius (as opposed to an obese, male food critic in real life) as a sort of wish fulfillment, but it could’ve been a great character study into gender dysmorphia, where SweetP gets her dream of transitioning into a female in Mobius, and at the series’ end she could start taking those steps to do so in real life.

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However, after watching eight episodes, I don’t trust Caligula’s writers to handle such a subject with any class or respect. I don’t know what the source material was like, but the show has already shown that it can take liberties with what transpired in the game (e.g. the first episode being 90% anime original). However, to be fair, something like the above (about SweetP) would require a severe reworking of the story structure to provide enough screen time for the character.

I realize I sound like an angry fan boy or a naïve fan fic writer, but I’m just putting forward ideas on how Caligula could’ve made better use of its premise. It’s a virtual world where you can have whatever you want! It’s basically the Matrix except there is no ignorance (on the part of the Musicians), you are choosing to live in a bliss built on a false reality! The social commentary on the use of entertainment as escapism could’ve been amazing, but instead…we get a below average anime.

And that is a huge waste of potential.

Rating: C-

 

Please...no more hot pot.

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Miscellaneous corner

- The tiny scene of “fan service” with SweetP was there, and it made me cringe a bit, but I didn’t think it was noteworthy to write about.

- We get some returning characters by way of the three gluttons from SweetP’s tea party. Yay?

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- So IkeP’s problems in reality were….he was laughed at by women at work?....I try to be empathetic for things in my life, but if he ran to Moebius because he felt that he was being rejected by – ok not even going there.

- After two terrible episodes...what can Caligula do next? Somehow, the next episode’s title is more apt than ever...