Caligula ep 7: C 

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I wanted to like this episode so much, but there were too many times when I just wondered “wtf are the writers thinking?!”

After five weeks of hazily establishing the digital reality of Moebius, as well as hinting at the backgrounds for the cast of Rogues, last week saw the series’ first big battle between the Rogues and the Ostinato Musicians, the formal establishment of the “Go-Home” club and a hint that there’s some sort of history between µ and Ritsu Shikishima. It was a pretty exciting episode, so how does episode 7 start?

With a time-skip of a month ahead and the Go-Home club sitting down to have Hot Pot in the club room.

I understand that there needs to be some sort of peace after a large battle, especially one that resulted in destruction of the cityscape (which is being repaired by NPCs, who work slowly) but was Caligula really going to dedicate an episode to the majority of the Go-Home club sit down to have hot pot?!

The answer is yes. Where other shows have a typical plot structure, Caligula opts to forgo the easy route and instead clamber for something out of left field. There’s little to no reason for it. Yes, we get some important plot beats, but they could’ve been reworked so that it doesn’t seem that the cast is just…sitting on their asses.

Despite the virtual nature of Moebius, it’s evident that the cast still need to eat, sleep and do regular biological functions. That is presumably the reason Shogo opts to work in an accessory shop, with a mildly chuckle-worthy montage of how inept he is (though it veers more toward cliché than anything…the stoic guy sucks at working a department store), and why the cast is eating a poorly animated but nevertheless delicious looking assortment of food.

There’s a couple of minor nods toward Mifue and Naruko’s real life issues; Mifue ate a lot (which sounds weird but this is the girl who fat shames remember?) and Naruko is still seeking attention through her blogging; but two of the bigger hints are toward Tomoe and Shikishima (who I’ll start calling Ritsu from now on because it’s shorter).

Over the course of the episode, Tomoe repeatedly ducks out of the club room, and there are short asides to the escapades of “Rescue Man.” Initially, I thought it was some sort of show the cast were watching, but nope, the end of the episode confirms Tomoe is Rescue Man, who goes around doing good deeds for people in Moebius. This is a really weird development, as while we’ve seen Tomoe want to protect others before, it was never to such an extent.

However, last week had a brief flashback for Tomoe to some sort of Rescue Worker, so putting this and that together, we can presume that Tomoe is trying to live out his “fantasy” or “dream” of being in a career that physically helps people (e.g. like a policeman, emergency medical technician, or a fireman). Just that, as a teenager, he does the smart thing and goes Super Saiyaman for it.

The other person who gets a much more straightforward (as straightforward as character backgrounds have been) back story is Ritsu. While alone on the street (apart from NPCs), he gets “transported” to have a solo talk with µ, which hints at who he was in real life, but it’s still confusing as heck. Was he a patient for a psychologist, a researcher, or a bit of both? We get a basic breakdown of what “happiness” means and entails (tl;dr it’s different for everyone, but ultimately it’s making the best out of what you have) and how µ misconstrues it to simply being “giving what people want.”

Last week, I theorized that Ritsu was the person at the start of the premiere talking to µ, but now it seems that he’s the person behind Moebius itself? Hmm.

Aside from the much needed backstory for Ritsu, the sequence where he finds and talks to µ was gorgeous to look at, with minimal but great animation that combined basic shapes and water colors to establish a dream-like state. It was very aesthetically pleasing, but that was also in part because the rest of the episode looked bad. Quite a few shots had off-model characters, and there were a lot of shortcuts taken to hide animation, whether it was Aria handing out the food, or covering Mifue’s talking mouth by having an arm in front of it. While character close-ups were fine, the stilted animation for everything else marred the episode, though the plot beats were already quite strange.

Oh and one of the Ostinato Musicians has switched sides and is now with the Rogues.

Look, I give Caligula a lot (and I mean a lot) of credit for dropping hints about backstories, or having a (brief) clash of confronting versus running away from reality, but having…whatever his name is, suddenly appear in the club room and presumably be a double agent for the Rogues is too far a leap of logic. Yes, we had a couple of scenes where *maybe* the Musician was questioning if Moebius was worth the fuss (tea on top the skyscraper and when he looks at the havoc µ is causing), but he has always very much been a villain. Him switching sides is a case of Caligula adhering too closely to its source material, where he joins the Rogues after his defeat (I think as the first boss?).

Last week’s episode had serious issues with transitions between scenes or plot beats, but the Musician changing allegiances really takes the cake. In addition to other plot decisions and the shoddy animation, this week definitely approached episode 5’s level of crap, which is a shame because the stuff with Ritsu and µ was the sort of stuff I like in Caligula! In the end, I wanted to like this episode so much, but there were too many times when I just wondered “wtf are the writers thinking?!”

Rating: C

Miscellaneous corner

- I liked the episode preview this week, but it was so very cringe worthy. Name dropping your competitor (Persona 5) is fine, especially given Caligula’s writer, but it’s also important to establish your own worth. Say what you will about the Persona adaptations, at least their games are freaking popular – Caligula, you are not.

- That being said, I applaud the effort.

- While the link between Tomoe’s will to protect others and him becoming Rescue Man isn’t entirely out of left field…it still doesn’t feel like a very natural progression. Damn it Caligula...kudos for being liberal with the source material, but we need to talk proper plotting!

- I can’t believe they talked about leaving the meat in the hot pot for so long that it gets too tough. Um…it’s (really nice) beef; you swirl it about for a few moments and then take it out! Medium rare! Medium rare!

- This show is driving me nuts for its waste of potential.

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