I think the cover image sums up my feelings about this anime so far really well. Welcome to the weekly recap for Caligula the anime.
After last week’s action-infused conclusion, the episode picks up right after with Shikishima (our protagonist) and Mizuguchi (his friend) on the run with Gun-chan while the song Peter Pan Syndrome continues to play. While they try to hide from their pursuers, a monster ambushes them. Gun-chan manages to kick him away and seemingly “kills” it (or him, or her?), much to the surprise of Shikishima.
We’re treated to the opening with some extra animation at the opening overture before it continues with familiar footage. It’d be nice if the opening would change as the plot progresses, perhaps omit the villains (?) as they’re taken out in the story, but that’s asking for quite a bit and is the rare occurrence (The Bizarre Adventures of Jojo does is extremely well! David Productions definitely spoiled us with the openings for season 3 and 4).
One thing that I noticed (but unfortunately didn’t note) was how *calm* Shikishima’s friend was during the chaos of the opening ceremony. In fact, she even calmly tells Shikishima that they shouldn’t get involved with Satake/Gun-chan, because she’s heard from friends that he’s a fighter. Miss, do you not see the monsters chasing after you?!
The answer is no. Well…that just raises more questions! Why can’t she seem them? Who else can? What is going on? I’m sure the answers will come as the plot thickens, so no qualms here about tossing ominous warnings into dialogue (yet).
Shikishima and Shogo abandon the girl and run into the streets to find safety, while the monsters seemingly run by Mizuguchi to pursue their prey.
Meanwhile, someone with a camera’s eye spies Shikishima and Satake running away from other students, not monsters. It’s the fan favorite gossip, Narukonne!
Who promptly uploads the footage she took. She notes that the other guy with Satake (Shikishima) was the bloke that caused a ruckus at the ceremony, which further paints how blind some of the other students are to the current situation.
This gets further compounded by the guy who seemingly started the entire concert fiasco from last episode, who’s chilling out on a pole watching our intrepid duo get chased by monsters. He subscribes to the “ignorance is bliss” mentality, though I suspect it’s easier to do so when he’s the one in power.
When the coast is clear, Gun-chan de-guns back to regular Satake and starts talking about how he and Shikishima have noticed something weird about their environment. Turns out Satake’s was the only one who noticed things going haywire before Shikishima did, so at least he has company now.
So why Shikishima noticed things aren’t quite right in the world but his friend Mizuguchi hasn’t? Turns out it’s because of the track he was listening to last episode, when he heard someone shout “stop µ!” interlaced in the audio. That voice was courtesy of Aria.
Aria implores Shikishima to save/help/stop µ, but isn’t quite clear what happened to µ in the first place. In fact, Aria’s power, body and memory have been lost, so she can’t offer an explanation for why µ is doing whatever she’s doing. From the way the dialogue plays out, it also implies that Aria’s voice could only be heard by a number of individuals listening to the song, but it isn’t clear if there’s a reason for that – I’m going to guess it’s random chance if you hear Aria’s voice or not.
Before long though, Shikishima disappears off-screen, going off to try and figure things out on his own. He gives a call to Mizuguchi, checking in on her, and she says that Narukonne the gossiper has posted a video of the pursuit. He starts to see that the monsters chasing him and Satake were other students, though it also cuts back into the monster visuals intermittently.
Reading the comments, he notices that what people are saying is incongruent with his thoughts/perspective; is it mass hysteria*? Or is it the simpler explanation; he’s just gone insane.
We cut back to Satake and anime-Navi, who also notice the post by Narukonne and anime-Navi pokes fun at Satake about making lots of enemies. Satake helpfully points out that there were other students that reacted to the monsters during the opening ceremony (you know, the runners), and they should find them.
Which is the perfect time to check in on other characters! Two of the characters who ran together last episode are hiding in a department store, trying to figure out if they’re the ones that have gone crazy or if there’s some sort of virus infecting everyone. So far the dialogue in this episode is a lot more plain than the premiere; it feels much more average and pedestrian. To be fair, the premiere didn’t exactly have stellar dialogue, but at least short talks about psychology concepts was interesting.
Thankfully, the neat factor amps back up when Shikishima heads home.
A lot, and I mean a lot, of people’s heads are starting to look like digital messes. The duo in the department store and Shikishima both run away when confronted by these “humans,” who greet them as if nothing is wrong – though they keep repeating a phrase like robots without receiving a response.
In any case, the effect gives rise to really cool scenes such as this.
The animation takes a small hit unfortunately, as the pedestrians look like they’re literally floating up and down, but it’s still a neat effect and further emphasizes how alien and isolating the world has become for some of our characters.
Beforehand though, we cut back to a scene of Mifue seemingly back up some of her things.
Unlike some of the other characters who panicked and ran, Mifue decides to just run. After all, her mom’s different, and new-mom has a digitally messed up head, so best thing to do is haul ass out of there.
Shikishima meanwhile is walking around, trying to figure out how to determine if it’s everyone else that’s gone crazy or himself. So, he calls his friends and asks if they saw anything weird. No, no they did not. In that case, he tells them to meet him at the train station in an hour.
In another part of town, the department duo (Tomoe and Suzuna, whose names are briefly mentioned once) are walking around while digital heads are everywhere. Again, neat effect, but this scene is so short it’s almost inconsequential except for the fact that Tomoe notes that “The guys back at school aren’t the only crazy ones” - implying their realization that everyone else has gone mad.
Finally, Mifue gets into a cab and asks to go to Tokyo. Her driver is digitally messed up, but she doesn’t care, she just wants to get out of town.
Our main protagonist is Shikishima though, and so we come back to where he’s supposed to meet his friends, except he’s nowhere to be found. He gives a call though, and talks through his deduction process about how he’s come to realize the world has gone crazy – not him.
There are no news about a viral outbreak outside the city and no media posts about it either, but there’s a huge difference between what Shikishima has seen and what everyone else has seen. In that case, maybe there’s an agent causing hallucinations for Shikishima only.
Until he starts playing µ’s song.
Neat. Shikishima correctly surmises that everytime µ ‘s song plays, people turn into monsters. He’s not crazy after all.
Ominously, we cut to a student telling µ that there’s someone her song hasn’t reached yet. Said student was seen last episode watching the carnage unfold from the balcony.
µ seems genuinely sad that someone hasn’t been reached by the power of her song (I can not believe I typed that) but the student tells her they, the Ostinato Musicians, will help. Just sing for them.
So this definitely changes a few things, which we’ll get into at the end. Meanwhile, Shikishima gets attacked by his friends as µ’s song plays, though they seem to be able to talk normally, despite, y’know, being hulking beasts.
We cut back to Suzuna and Tomoe running onto a bus to escape their pursuers, and they notice that those with digital heads are different from those that attacked them (the pointy-heads, Tomoe calls them, ignoring the black/purple crystalline bodies).
When Shikishima’s “friends” grab him, they ask him what’s wrong, they’ve been having fun right, so why run away?
He gets saved by Satake with his giant gun, along with Aria, who tags along. Notably, the monsters aren’t dead, they’re just incapacitated, with the black crystalline structure digitally floating off. Satake tells Shikishima that if he wants to talk (and presumably some answers), he and Aria will be in the music prep room in the old school building.
Satake then gives a line that is just too perfectly on the nose.
“But nothing others say can help anyone accept it. Until they confirm it with their own eyes, they have no way to understand the circumstances they’ve been thrown into.”
While its meaning is evident enough for its show (…though you’d think monsters and digital headed people would be enough…) it has greater meaning when applied to the real world. Personally, I find that in many cases, no matter what I say, people will take things only at face value. It’s only when they have personally experienced something that they take more notice. The easiest and likely most topical (for this TAY post) example I can think of is trying to get my friends to watch Made in Abyss. Just an all-around stand out show – it is brutal but hopeful, fantastic soundtrack, great characters, it was picked as anime of the year in the AniTAY awards 2017 ()
But nonetheless, none of my friends have seen it. Alas, perhaps my argumentation skills are lackluster (likely) but not a chance was given – which is a shame.
In any case, the episode ends with the three sets of running-away characters (Mifue, Tomoe and Suzuna, and Shikishima) reaching the end of the line, both literally.
I like the effects they used here, it’s not ground breaking or anything but it looks good.
In any case, µ is sorry, she hasn’t made anything past that point yet, she can’t make any new regions for Moebius, but she can certainly make anything else they would like!
Mifue comes to realize that she needs to search for her mom, while Shikishima realizes that it wasn’t him or his friends that have gone crazy, it’s the world.
Cue the credits, which feature 4 of the female characters involved in some sort of duality shtick.
So some thoughts….
- It seems µ is very much a benevolent deity, it’s just that she’s being manipulated by some of the students, who are calling themselves the Ostinato Musicians? This seems different from the game, where my understand was the Musicians were µ’s protectors and µ definitely knew what she was doing creating this virtual world (please no spoilers in comments, let’s ride this adaptation together).
- This episode started to feel more like a standard anime adaptation than whatever was happening in the last episode (up to the ceremony concert scene). Less psychology babble (which I liked, but not to everyone’s taste), less cuts to the “real world”/flashbacks which had strong implications about isolationism and mental health, slightly more action and more foreshadowing. It was pretty average.
- Anime adaptations of video games are a strange thing to me. Anime is, most of the time, produced as advertisement for its source material, whether it’s a light novel, manga, or toy line. Except part of the appeal of gaming (for me) is watching the story unfold. So while the anime serves as advertising for the new PS4 extended version of Caligula (link to news about Caligula Overdose), if the anime finishes the story, I have little drive to go buy and play the game (not having a PS4 also helps)…unless the story ends up a cliffhanger.
- The title Caligula refers to the Caligula effect, which is a psychological term that refers to wanting something more when it is prohibited. It does not refer to the Roman emperor (though it is most commonly associated with it), nor does it refer to the erotic drama about said Roman emperor starring a most foul-mouthed (NSFW) Doctor.
- *mass hysteria is characterized by irrational behavior by the masses, such as anxiety or excitement (or in Shikishima’s case, violence).
- My confusion: the premiere gave me hope that Satelight (the production company) would take the game and adapt it into something that was not a bog standard action anime – which this episode felt like. Guess we’ll need episode 3 to solidify exactly what Caligula wants to be.
- The episode’s title was “Anxiety, Irritation, and Other Such Negative Emotions Spread to Others” which certainly happened in the episode…but done so through each character’s individual experiences, not shared experiences. Here’s hoping we get something a bit more meaty next episode instead of more bog-standard setup.