Instead of exploring the backstories for the cast and making them more than paper-thin archetypes, Caligula decided to introduce a new character to its already overstuffed cast.
Episode 9 picks up where 7 and 8 left, with the Go-Home club making their way to Landmark Tower to confront the Musicians. At the tower is a portal for the Go-Home club to use to return to the real world. The cast find this out because apparently Aria has regained some of her powers since µ fell asleep. During their ascent, the gang hear the screams of people so Tomoe goes to try and help the various victims around the Tower. As it turns out, they’re the victims of one of the Musicians, Shadow Knife, who has taken the form of the hero from a television show in the real world.
There’s a clash between Tomoe and Shadow Knife, who were both bullied in the real world, but in contrast to Tomoe, who goes around helping people as Rescue Man, Shadow Knife decided to exact revenge on his bullies in Mobius. What a twist.
Meanwhile, another Musician, Wicked, decides to detonate some explosives where the Go-Home club members are, which causing Shadow Knife to fall to his death. Aria explains that dying in Mobius leads to death in the real world (such a twist!). As a result, the Go-Home club, wary that they have a traitor amongst their number, each returns home. Meanwhile, Ritsu Shikishima ominously accesses the gateway that the Musicians use to enter their headquarters.
It’s not exactly compelling, but the narrative plot beats read better than episode 7, the dreaded hot pot episode. So exactly why was this episode such a train wreck?
Partly because it was all so contrived.
Tomoe running off to save random people was such a forced development that offers no new insight into who he is, or why he is so hell bent on saving people. In fact, it was done mostly just to get him to run into Shadow Knife, one of the last Musicians we had seen little of so far. Yet, the confrontation was still largely pointless – the twist that he’s exacting “revenge as justice” was telegraphed very early and its reveal feels hollow to the audience. Even worse, when Tomoe gets confronted with this truth, he acts shocked but there is no exploration of justice and what it means to be a victim (not that I trust Caligula to do such an exploration properly, but this aspect of the episode felt hollow of even trying).
Shadow Knife’s death is hilariously bad, with the voice acting falling quite flat with little to no inflection or desperation in the actor’s voice. It sounded far too plain for someone to have just had his ideal of justice being shattered when he, a “good guy”, is subject to dying like a villain.
On the other hand, Shogo’s voice actor went too far with overacting. Shogo has a scene where he gets confronted by Thorn (after Shadow Knife’s death, so the rest of the club is with him) – when Thorn falls, similar to how Shogo failed to save the girl who fell from the roof in an earlier episode, he falls to his knees and acts shocked and dismayed….but instead of sympathy, my only reaction was laughter; his face was so contorted that it was laughable, and his voice was so over-the-top it was ridiculous.
This episode also had the worst animation I had since in the series, with many of the characters appearing off-model and the actual movements feeling extremely stiff. Caligula was never a pretty show to look at, but in the environment of a construction building, its monochrome colors made everything feel flat and lifeless (ironically, last episode was very bright and colorful…but it also felt flat and lifeless with such limited animation and shading).
From a structural stand point, this episode was also the worst offender in its lack of appropriate scene segues and transitions. Characters pop up into the scenes without a sense of them traveling from point A to B, they just show up. Events just happen out of nowhere (such as Thorn showing up to torment Shogo), and while this could work as a “shocking turn of events” in a more competent title, coupled with the poor writing and animation, it just looks lazy and slipshod.
I haven’t even mentioned how silly it seems that there’s still no proper motivation for KagiP to have switched sides from Musician to Go-Home club, how Aria suddenly has some powers back due to µ falling asleep (I could hand wave it, but it felt too convenient), or how Ritsu Shikishima is still a blank slate of a protagonist whose “mystery at the gate” feels more boring than anything. However, those things pale to Caligula deciding to introduce a new character. Yes, instead of exploring the backstories for the cast and making them more than paper-thin archetypes, Caligula decided to introduce a new character to its already overstuffed cast.
The new Musician, Wicked, might’ve been seen at the end of episode 8 amongst the group of Musicians. That still doesn’t justify shoehorning her into the episode (or anime as a whole for that matter), as it still takes up screentime that could’ve been used to develop the rest of the cast. Then again, considering how episode 8 tried to “develop” the Marching Band Reject (IkeP) and Minazawa (the fencer), maybe throwing more things into the pot might be the only thing the show can do now.
The show has become increasingly bland, and whatever potential I saw in earlier episodes is absolutely trashed now. The episode preview started to state that the next episode would be the final one, but a disclaimer at the last minute said it wasn’t the finale. I wish it was though, I wish it was.
- Caligula was slated for 12 episodes total. The horror.
- Shadow Knife’s theme that plays during the episode is called “Sin”
- Looking into the Caligula wiki, it seems that the characters in the game were just as shallow as they are in the anime. What a shame, some of the issues plaguing the characters could’ve been used to explore some great ideas.
- Using this for SixTAY days, but it’ll be posted here in AniTAY first before getting shared to the regular TAY. For the rest of the series, it’ll get shared to regular TAY, but any future reviews/recaps (summer season!!!) will be primarily be on AniTAY.