Caligula

October 7, 2018

Everybody knows about that famous Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar. But not many know about his great grandson, Caligula. AKA Gaius Caesar Germanicus. Me included. Heck, I thought this series was going to be a historical anime about that emperor. How wrong I was. The complete opposite. Caligula is a sci-fi futuristic virtual world that I don’t even know where to start and comprehend. Oh boy. Why do I even let myself watch such sci-fi series when I don’t even know what is going on from the synopsis? Maybe the cool looking promotional poster drew me in… Even though I know I’m going to suffer from all the incomprehensible stuffs later on…

Episode 1
We hear Ritsu Shikishima talk about one of his psychology books he is reading, Johari Window. Not that I understand or is interested anyway. Then he talks to his friends on some psychology aspect in which they somewhat ‘turn the tables’ over his theory because I guess all those psychological terms are too hard to understand so they bust it with their normal everyday perspective. Yeah… Later he goes to his usual bookstore and books a book on philosophy. He believes it will be good to expand his perspective. And spam us with more nerdy stuffs? At night on his bed as he is listening to music supposedly to the nation’s most famous idol, Miu, he hears a strange sound from it and a voice pleading for help and to stop Miu. Next day at school, weird things begin to happen. Ritsu sees Shougo Satake beating the crap out of random people. Even some of Ritsu’s friends go to fight but gets knocked out. Maybe Ritsu can’t fight so he’s like, “Okay, screw this I’m just gonna turn a blind eye”. Now he starts thinking about this based on the Johari Window and Freudian theory of whatever crap I don’t understand. What self-punishment is he talking about? I am more confused than he is. During the school’s graduation ceremony as Kensuke Hibiki makes his speech, he gives the signal for Miu’s song to be played. Some students turn into dark monsters called Digiheads and kill other normal students. While some managed to escape, some cannot see this phenomenon like Marie Mizuguchi. Ritsu is still shell shocked over what he sees as he takes Marie and make a run for it. At the school gates, he sees Shougo pointing a large gun embedded to his hand. He fires at the chasing Digiheads behind him.

Episode 2
Shougo takes them to run as he fights off more of those Digiheads. Naruko Morita records and uploads their actions online. Eventually Shougo tells Ritsu to abandon Marie because since she cannot see them, they will not attack her. At a safe place, Ritsu tries to explain things but because he sucks, his chibi avatar, Aria tries to. She sucks too. No wonder I don’t understand. No wonder Ritsu doesn’t trust them. By the time Shougo and Aria blame each other for their bad explanation, Ritsu is gone. Shougo notices Naruko’s posts online and remembers there were others who escaped and wants to gather them. Suzuna Kagura and Kotarou Tomoe are among those who escaped and they are hiding, confused about all that is happening. Another one is Mifue Shinohara who is packing her bags trying to get out of this place. These people including Ritsu are in for another shock because now they cannot see the faces of other ordinary people. There is some sort of interference censoring it out. Ritsu calls his friends to meet up. When they do, Ritsu isn’t around. Instead, he calls them again talking weird stuffs like outbreak and hallucinations. This is his ploy to ascertain something from this experiment. As Miu’s music plays, his friends turn into Digiheads. He realizes he is not the one who has gone mad. Meanwhile Miu is sad things turned out this way and she just wants to make others happy. Thorn assures her that Ostinato Musicians, they will show them the way. So please sing. Ritsu’s friends get the better of him but thankfully Shougo saves him once more. This time he won’t force Ritsu but if he feels like changing his mind, he can come to the music room inside the old school building. Ritsu and those survivors try to leave town but they are shocked there is a barrier. End of the road. Miu says she has not created anything past this place yet or anything farther for Mobius. But in exchange she’ll create something else for them. Ritsu now believes this world is mad.

Episode 3
Shocked Mifue now turns her attention to finding her mom. She notices an online post inviting cute girls to a tea party. This might be it. Meanwhile the Musicians discuss about the Rogues and can’t afford to let them awaken as Mobius is built from everyone’s dreams. For the sake of perfect happiness and Miu, they will correct all distortions. Mifue attends the tea party. Naruko is also there. Hosting it is Sweet-P and 3 chubby cute girls. Every time Mifue tries to speak about her problem, they change the topic either with lots of cuteness or eating. Eventually this gluttony snaps Mifue. She chides them for being fat and ugly and all they do is think about eating. It’s just disgusting! This has Sweet-P comment her hatred for fat people that she erased her own mother. You see, her mother is so skinny like as though she is anorexic as she is the type who gains weight even eating a little. Mifue’s is to eat with her mother so Miu made her mom into a beautiful slender figure. Sweet-P calls her selfish even after Miu granted her wish. She might hate ugly people but her heart is ugly. She searching for mom is only to satisfy herself. Mifue denies it all as Sweet-P tries to coax her into accepting all her heart’s desires. When the pack starts eating ramen, the way Sweet-P slurps them seems familiar. Mifue and Naruko recognize her as a ramen blogger, which is a chubby old man. Sweet-P panics as she tries to convince them she is the cutest Musician and everything until she bloopers herself. She runs away when Naruko tries to take pictures of her. The duo leave and Naruko freaks out for the first time seeing those static head people. Ritsu has been going around trying to find answers. None. Even barely escaping from Digiheads. I guess there is only one way left. He goes to see Shougo. He will explain everything in exchange for Ritsu working for him since they both realized Mobius’ structure is a nightmare they can’t wake up from.

Episode 4
Ritsu is told how the world of internet is overflowing with negative emotions (you don’t say) hence Aria and Miu created Mobius to alleviate people from suffering in the real world. Miu sealed their minds away here. There are some who can sense inconsistencies and hence Digiheads are sent to sniff out and kill them. As Mobius’ energy source is from the happy feelings from hearing Miu’s songs, it would be problematic if people like Ritsu grow in numbers and thus the Musicians attempt to restore them back to a state of unawareness. There’s also the explanation of Catharsis Effect. In short, a cool way to transform and use weapons like Digiheads. Because Miu still genuinely believes Mobius is a happy place, Aria wants Ritsu to help stop her. The smaller Aria gets, the weaker her powers will be. Soon, Mifue and Naruko see Shougo’s posting and they arrive at the music room. But they can’t help molest how cute Aria is. Shortly, Kotarou who has also seen the posting, barges in. He left Suzuna at the library and couldn’t contact her. It seems she befriends a guy, Komori as they talk about loneliness in Lord of the Rings’ Smeagol and the song of Lorelei. They go help him but as Kotarou keeps shouting out for Suzuna in the library, nobody bothers. Finally when she is found, they wonder who she is talking to. A doll! No wonder. Everyone here is a doll or at least spirited away. A cheap jump scare when Komori wakes up in his doll form and tries to attack Suzuna for betraying him, accusing her she wouldn’t get this far without friends. Ritsu reasons he fears interacting with others but since he couldn’t beat loneliness, the reason there are other dolls around. Before Shougo could shoot him, Suzuna comes in between. She starts singing. She too knows about loneliness and has her fair share of eating her lunches alone. She understands his pain and always wanted somebody to pay attention to him. She hopes to eat lunch with him. He returns all dolls back to their human form and leaves. He says his name is Shounen Doll.

Episode 5
Izuru Minezawa is looking for Shougo but apparently only Suzuna is in. Apparently Ritsu had tickets to the opening of Sea Paraiso but nobody was interested to go except Kotarou and Aria. There, they witness queen b*tch Mirei having all the masochistic guys under their thumb. Aria thinks Kotono Kashiwaba can see her. So when she brings Ritsu to go talk to her, she thinks he is using some lame pickup line to date her. This enrages all the other guys trying to date her as Ritsu is being critically hit in his heart. Because of that he decides to screw reality and go date some girls? You think they would be impressed with his psychology gibberish? They are! WTF?! Meanwhile Kotarou stumbles into a room doing some unholy act. While it looked like sex, the guy beneath seems to be wearing some knockoff NerveGear and experiencing pain. This is part of Toshizo, the place’s owner along with Mirei to do some brainwashing experiment. Kotono is one of the many girls employed as their brainwashing agent and since she is giving remarkable results, Mirei is not happy and wants a showdown with her. Therefore both ladies put on a swimsuit contest to win votes from the boys. It is a tie even after all the ridiculous events. The tie breaker all boils down to Ritsu. He has to decide who to choose. Of course he won’t and this upsets Kotono. Even more so when he tries to snap her out and make her realize that she has realized true reality. After all that verbal abuse but before turning physical, Kotono remembers her abusive past and snaps out of it. She hugs Ritsu thinking he is some man she loves and vows not to let him go. Because of her motherly instincts, all the boys vote for Kotono and leave Mirei in the dust. Kotono’s will to return to reality is strong that she initiates her Catharsis Effect. Miu’s song start playing and everyone else turns into Digiheads.

Episode 6
During that same time, Mifue with Naruko’s help has located the former’s real mom. But they have to split since Digiheads are after them. They are confronted by Sweet-P who starts trying to make Mifue feel guilty about telling her real mom why she hates fat people. Shougo is being chased by Digiheads and eventually clashes with Kensuke. Izuru and Suzuna are cornered by Ike-P. With Miu continuing her singing, all the cornered friends do not like one bit of this and prefer to return to the ugly side of reality. Hence Aria hears all their feelings and helps them power up and execute their Catharsis Effect. Except Ritsu who is just stunned and watching it all as he ponders what the heck is lacking or don’t remember like the rest. Our group of heroes fight the Musicians in a messy battle royale until Miu decides to intervene. She is very sad that both sides are resorting to violence. She will not listen to anyone (but oddly complains nobody listens to her) and still believes she can grant everyone’s wish and save them all. The Musicians retreat as Miu bursts into full power destroying her surroundings, signalling she has gone out of control with her negative emotions. At this rate she will cease to be Miu. This is when Ritsu has decided. He doesn’t know what is right but knows Mobius is wrong and will stand against it. He initiates his Catharsis Effect and of course this shocks everyone since he does it by his own without Aria’s help. He blasts Miu out of the sky (though she is collected by Thorn). In the aftermath, Shougo suggests working together but needs to hide their actions as club activities. Ritsu suggests calling their club Go Home Club and since it is his idea and everyone wants Ritsu to be club president, there you have it.

Episode 7
It has been a month since Miu went missing (actually she is ‘sleeping’) and hence the Musicians keeping a low profile. Apparently Mobius is undergoing repairs and thanks to those NPCs taking their slow time in rebuilding it. What a peaceful era. Go Home Club is now reduced to making and enjoying nabe while Kotarou runs around as a superhero helping those in need as Rescue Man?! I guess justice never sleeps. Also, Marie has been visiting the club more often but the other girls know it is because she is here for Ritsu. But since he isn’t here, she leaves. Speaking of him, he is wandering until he walks into a strange dimension where he meets Miu. She apologizes for the other day going berserk as they talk about real happiness. Because of that, Ritsu remembers something and it seems there seems to be some sort of relationship between Ritsu and Miu. Miu’s answer to everything is to create things that are happier than before. Ritsu tries to open her eyes but here she goes again, thinking everyone will be happy with her song. With that, Miu wakes up from her slumber and feels the need to work even harder. Oh boy. However Miu can’t understand why she starts crying. Ritsu returns to his club and finds the nabe party is over. Second round? But it seems Kensuke has defected from the Musicians and has joined the Go Home Club.

Episode 8
Taking place during Miu’s slumber, this time we see it from Ike-P’s views. He always loves it when girls swoon over him. But slowly Izuru is getting some of the girls’ attention. Ike-P knows at this rate is going to be bad. With Miu in slumber and Mobius being repaired by NPCs, the Musicians are losing their lifestyle. Meanwhile Kensuke talks to Ritsu about still not fully remembering his memories and his will to return to reality. He wants to join his club. Ike-P starts sweating when Izuru overtakes him as the number one hottest guy. It is evident that the more Miu sleeps, the more their lifestyle will be ruined in Mobius. Like Sweet-P who can’t fit into her dresses and Mirei is getting poorer. Then Ike-P’s ultimate nightmare happens: All girls now fawn over Izuru. Ike-P confronts and fights him. Izuru doesn’t want to fight and just escapes. Even the girls are swooning how cool Izuru is. Ike-P wonders why he wants to go back instead of taking advantage of his good looks. Izuru replies he would rather give away this face. When glass shards scar Izuru’s face, Izuru likes it and scars it even more! Ike-P is in shock. This is supposed to be his real face in the real world. With scars like this, he knows he is himself. But thanks to Miu taking pity on these scars, his face always regenerates back despite the scars are his very wish. He might sound crazy but this is his wish to regain proof of his own identity. Miu finally wakes up and repairs Mobius back to normal as Kensuke tells the Go Home Club about the Musicians’ plans.

Episode 9
Aria mentions that there is a door in the Musicians’ base that will lead back to the real world. But because Miu controls that door, looks like they have to convince her. When Aria hears voices of people screaming for help, Kotarou quickly goes to find them. Ritsu tells the rest to stick with the mission to find the door. Kotarou will be alright, right? After Kotarou destroys a few Digiheads, the victim gets even scared. The perpetrator is Shadow Knife and he can blend into the shadows and darkness. Kotarou can tell he copies his moves and lines from a well-known anime character. He finds it odd that despite that character being a hero, he is playing it as a villain. Their ideals on justice clash. Kotarou speaks from his own experience about being a bully victim. As they continue fighting, Kotarou saves another victim. It is revealed that Shadow Knife is also a bully victim and he is getting revenge by tormenting them this way. More differences on their justice ideals until Shadow Knife makes him feel guilty about his own shallow justice because since he saves everybody, he also saves evil. This means he aided evil and is himself evil. That was easy to throw him into depression. An explosion occurs before Shadow Knife could finish him. Both are hanging on the edge. Shadow Knife becomes sacred about dying as he laments both worlds are still the same. Full of crap. Kotarou’s attempt to save him falls in vain as Shadow Knife drops to his death. Apparently when you die in Mobius, your body in the real world also dies. Apparently our friends don’t know this and are shocked to hear this! So they think they’re immortal? Shougo gets visibly scared when he sees Thorn whom he identifies as Ichika Saotome. She plays on his mind by jumping to her death. Inside the Musicians’ HQ, nobody is around. Like as though somebody ratted them out that they were coming. Kotarou quickly accuses Kensuke as the traitor. This is part of Thorn’s plan to sew distrust among the group. I mean just like that they don’t trust each other anymore?! Yeah, they even go their separate ways! Shortly, they get a message to gather at the clubroom. They realize it is a trap because they think the other sent them this message to meet. Now that they can’t get out, they really think somebody is the traitor. By the way, they realize that Ritsu is the only one not in this room…

Episode 10
Because Aria is also not here, they think she is in cohorts with Ritsu. With Kotarou still insisting there is a rat, Kotono warns him not to take it out on them. Of course it all boils down to Kensuke as the suspect since he is the one who brought them info. The group is breaking down with all the distrust and even shocking the calm Shougo we once knew is now an emotional wreck. Marie is outside looking for Ritsu. It seems she can’t open the door too. As suggested, she goes to find Ritsu. With their trust level still low, they discuss that they never trusted each other from the beginning. After all, they led trashy lives in the real world and escaped to Mobius. Kensuke then suggests introducing themselves and tell their back stories to know more about each other and to learn who the mole is. Here we go…

Shougo: Ichika was his classmate and as outcasts, they fit each other. One day she asked him to commit suicide together. He became scared. Ichika killed herself by jumping off the tower. Although it wasn’t his fault, the fact Shougo did not even go to Ichika and try to help her makes him a killer too. He became scared to leave his house that day and only found solace in Miu’s songs. It helped him forget his bitter memories. However in Mobius, it soon got worse as Ichika’s suicide scene kept replaying itself. It drove him crazy. That is why he wanted to gather people alike to return to reality. In real life, he is actually 30 years old.

Kotarou: He is actually a middle school kid. His father is a big and strong rescue man. Unlike him, Kotarou is small and frail. It is his dream to become like him but his parents died in an accident. He was taken in by his relatives but the bullying continued and he did not experience any growth spurt and remained the same. Only Miu’s songs bring him relief. Although he had fun in Mobius, he realizes if he doesn’t go back, he will never become an adult and achieve his dreams.

Kensuke: Born to ordinary parents, he decided to be a music composer. His parents gave him the ultimatum to write at least a song. He couldn’t. It was when he was empty inside. In Mobius, he became part of the Musicians and could write songs to his content. His defection stems from seeing them struggle so hard. It made him realize he is still empty. It might sound trivial but everybody’s hell is different.

Mifue: Her real mom is actually very fat. She feared of becoming like her and didn’t want to eat, landing her in hospital. In Mobius, her first mom was frail and skinny. When she wished for a mom to eat with her, Miu granted her that. She might have apologized to her mom in Mobius but not her real one who is still suffering. That’s why she wants to go back.

Naruko: She loves trolling Miu’s videos. Her father is a newspaper journalist and her classmates often teased her as the daughter of the media trash. She decided to get back at everyone by gossiping and trolling anonymously. She felt good and thought she had been making friends online only to realize those friends are the same tormentors. She had fun in Mobius trolling people but realizes that recognition from others isn’t what she wants. She wants to return and put an end to the trolling. I hope she isn’t trolling us…

Suzuna: We all know from her story with that Komori dude that she has always been a loner and hoped to make friends. She is no different in Mobius but feels she can move forward now if she goes back.

Izuru: His mom controlled his every actions. Everything was decided for him. He accomplished nothing by himself. He had no liberty to choose. Except that one day where he took a glass and scarred his own cheek. It is proof that he is alive. Miu thinks it is a wound and always heals it. Without the scar, he cannot prove he is alive.

Kotono: Before we can hear her ‘stupid’ story. Marie opens the door. She has been eavesdropping and is sick of all their pathetic stories. She throws in a few grenades! BOOM! OMG! So badass!

Episode 11
Marie enjoys bombing the hell out of everybody. She planted bombs everywhere in school. She even calls on Miu to give her more powers. She loves it here as she can move freely and do whatever she wants to destroy things. But eventually Kensuke outsmarts her and bombs her legs. The rest escapes as the whole school blows up. But now comes the confusing part because in reality as we see, there has been a rise in cases of Astral Syndrome as victims suddenly lose consciousness and enter a coma. It is believed that the company Virtuadolls developed some gear that enabled this. Uhm, like NerveGear? The project leader, Shingo Tachibana was unable to give any comment, hence accelerating speculation it is correlated and earning the public’s wrath. Shingo thought he is being stalked but that person turns out to be… Ritsu?! He wants Shingo to give him admin privileges as he is blocked from accessing the system programme. It seems he wants to find a programme to patch the flaw in Miu’s programming back to the kind Miu she was. Ritsu narrates he is a social outcast. Only Shingo noticed him but it made him more miserable since Shingo was always sociable with others. It felt he was rubbing it in at times. Ritsu hates everything in this world but what he hates most is his own inability to fit into reality. Miu was all he had and he was glad she listened to his talk. The more he explains about happiness, the more curious she became. Eventually she ‘left’ to change people’s suffering into happiness. When people slowly started to become victims of Astral Syndrome, Ritsu thought his turn would be next but it never came. Miu never took him to Mobius and that’s where he decided to go there himself. He bade farewell to himself and became well-adjusted and well-liked. Hence the Ritsu in Mobius is taken after Shingo’s personality. Soon he realizes that Miu’s happiness is fake and can’t let her keep doing that. He needs to do this alone otherwise he cannot change. But hasn’t he already changed? Ritsu then hears a voice. Not Miu. But Aria. She invites him back to Mobius so he could tell Miu directly his feelings.

Episode 12
Miu can’t contain everything anymore. She is going berserk and turns into an evil Final Fantasy character? Ritsu tells Aria about himself and how he found solace in Miu. Because he didn’t know how to explain it well to Miu, the reason he ran away. He is to blame for Miu turning out like this. This time he will face her and tell her everything. Mobius is breaking apart. Good time for Kotono to tell her back story? She is a single mother with a son. She never treated him nicely and even hated him. She regretted all that and wants to go back and tell him she loves him. They are attacked by the Musicians who think eliminating the Rogues will stop this destruction. Shougo confronts Thorn. From the way she speaks, Shougo realizes she is Asuka Natsume. She hates him because Ichika chose him as a partner to die with instead of her. She blames him for letting Ichika die alone. But in this world, she claims Ichika is here and won’t let anyone interfere with their happiness. Before Thorn can kill him, here comes Ritsu. He is now in his Catharsis Effect form. Thorn goes crazy and tries to destroy everything along with Miu’s song. Shougo takes her out. He admits that his sin cannot be erased but he must face it back in reality. The other Musicians thought Miu could save them. Yes she could. By putting them all inside her! Great timing by Aria to whisk everyone away so Ritsu can have a proper talk with Miu. So uhm, talk on happiness this, happiness that. You know Miu isn’t listening when she stabs him. But he won’t give up and continues talking. So when you talk long enough, that person eventually listens? Works for Miu. Is this a bug? Anyway with her getting some of her sanity back, he tells her about the complexity and uniqueness of everyone’s happiness. Lastly, he is here to destroy this paradise. He manages to confess he loves her and then shoots her. Man, love is indeed complicated. IN the aftermath, all those affected by the Astral Syndrome are now awakened. As their statements are being taken, mostly they relate their experience as being in heaven. We see short clips of our characters coming to terms with reality. So far so good. And more happiness, harsh reality and the unattainable dream narration by Ritsu. This guy should be a psychologist instead.

This Ugly Yet Crappy World: I Came, I Saw, I Confused
Sad to say, I didn’t really understand what is going on except for the fact that everyone is trapped in this artificial and fake world that is so nice and close to perfect that is so outright artificial and fake. Hence these masochistic main characters decided to go back to the real world and face reality and overcome whatever pain and suffering they have under the excuse they need to move forward. Sure, you have your problems solved here but in reality it is still there. So uhm, is this series a bit like The Matrix? Except there are no evil robots to harvest our bodies and organs. As this series is based on the video game, I suppose it is unfair for me to criticise how confusing it is seeing I didn’t play the video game and like always, the video game would have more time and routes to flesh out everything unlike the TV series that is just so limited. Hence I believe that fans of the game could only appreciate and understand what is actually going on. Or be disappointed that this adaptation didn’t live up to their perfect standards. Geez, it’s hard to please everybody.

It goes without saying that with me not understanding the plot very well, the characters who are supposed to help drive this plot doesn’t even fare well. At least in my books. The first episode was already confusing enough with suddenly the norm becomes the weird. Throughout the series, we see more characters gather as they share the same goal of returning to reality. Sometimes it confuses me because suddenly a character joins the pack without much explanation. Like as though they popped out from somewhere. For example, Izuru. I don’t really remember but from out of nowhere he becomes part of the Go Home Club. We get a gist of the characters’ goal like Mifue wanting to reconcile with her mom but overall it is still insufficient. That episode which summarizes the past and goals of the main characters is good but coming in so late at that point I was already confused and starting to forget things. With everyone back in reality, I wonder if they will ever get to meet each other again. Yeah, it would be weird if they managed to organize an alumni of Mobius survivors and be shocked to see how each other looks. That’s reality for you.

Everything would have been easier and mostly things solved had not Miu screwed up everything. Yup, I blame her as the source of not understanding everything. To a point where I think she is just stubborn and not wanting to open her eyes to reality and continues to ‘fix’ things the way she deems as correct. When things go wrong and not the way she intended, we hear her ‘complain’. Why this. Why that. Sighs. Feels like I want to slap her and tell her what she is seeing is so obvious. Sure, it is painful and undesirable but that’s reality before your eyes.

Unfortunately as much as I really want to blame her, she is after all just artificial intelligence as revealed. She is only as smart as the person who programmed her. Even if she takes on a life on her own and tries to understand what happiness is, can a virtual programme actually understand human emotions and especially what makes humans happy? This is the reason that stopped me from blaming that stubborn girl from everything and this is the reason why Mobius is such a crappy place. This is what happens when you let artificial intelligence decide what happiness is. So what Miu is doing whether it is for the betterment of mankind or just her selfish desires, is pretty up for debate. But I can’t believe that it is so easy in solving the problem of Astral Syndrome just by destroying the computer bug. Ritsu must have one heck of hacking skills to simply solve this glitch. Or was it the magical words of I love you that did the trick? Heh. Even computer bugs have feelings? Man, love is more complicated than programming. I wonder if Miu will come back in the future as an upgraded version 2.0.

The Musicians themselves do not fare any better than the main characters even as antagonists. They too have their problems and issues but are treated in the same way as the Rogues. Only difference is that they want to continue to be part of the dream and fantasy. You can blame them for averting their eyes from truth and hence taking the easy way out this way. But if you think about it, isn’t life in generally about escaping the harsh life so as to have a more comfortable one? Just that they have everything all at once at their fingertips. Even if it is all just virtual. I would have gladly joined those Musicians if I was a character here. But in terms of character development, theirs is even shallower and the most disappointing one goes to Shadow Knife. Suddenly out of the blue who the f*ck is this character? Sure, he was lurking in the shadows before but I bet not many would have noticed. And then his appearance in which he also dies. WTF?! And what happened to Shounen Doll? Last minute popping up to save Suzuna didn’t do him any good. At least not in Mobius. Why Kensuke defected was also very unclear to me. Basically it feels like having a Musician antagonist is like having a counterpart for the Go Home Club (Shougo-Thorn, Izuru-Ike-P, Kotarou-Shadow Knife, etc) for some drama or whatever plot it needs to but it fails to make it interesting.

Hence everybody in this series has their own issues to deal with. Although I do welcome the topic about the different interpretations of happiness and the harsh reality that everyone has to face, the subtly that perhaps everyone in the world where they dream of having the perfect life, such issues aren’t really dealt with in-depth. To be fair, this isn’t really a psychological class or mini documentary. It’s just trying to say that too much of something is never a good thing even if it is perfect. There has to be some sort of balance between dreams and reality because that is how humans live their lives. It’s good to have dreams and achieve some of them but only because we struggle to achieve even though everyone has different levels of progress and difficulty mode to achieve it. That’s why we play games for a while before returning to reality. Hence if you continue to stay in Mobius, your real life problems will never be solved. A classic case of sweeping dirt under the carpet. Well, well. Looks like I myself can be a psychologist too.

One of my favourite and interesting sections of the series is the mid-intermission eyecatch. Rather, the very inspirational and psychological quotes that they display that really makes you think. Actually, those quotes also serve as the title for the series. For example, “When you lose composure, you cannot reach the truth or reality” or “People who do not respect themselves will not be respected by others” or “Everyone gets hurt. But those who don’t realize they are hurting cannot be healed” or “Even if something has already happened, you can still choose what to do” and my favourites “Your life shouldn’t be built from someone else’s blueprint. No matter how unskilled you may be you should draw it yourself” and “People constantly seek out the right answer. Yet is being right really all that matters?”. This is one psychological aspects that I can think about. They are supposed to have a bearing in the episode but I guess I’m too dumb to make the connection. Nevertheless if I can’t understand how they are related to that episode, at least they can still serve as a good lesson in real life.

Also, one of the most light-hearted and funniest segments in the series is the next episode preview. Not really so much of a next episode preview, but rather a very comical yonkoma style comic about Ritsu and Shougo and other characters in chibi form doing and saying random things. Because it sounds so random and comical, perhaps it is the only part of the series I ‘understood’ although I don’t really understand it all. Because it’s just so out of place and random that is just funny for no reason. Yeah, racking my brains has caused me to find pleasure in this nonsense. Is this my happiness?

Although the art and animation looks pretty decent with some bishoujo and bishonen look to the characters, what I want to point out is the very floral shirt design that the school uniform has. Most high school uniforms are of a single colour but having this very colourful floral pattern as their shirt somehow makes it look weird. Like as though they are on vacation to some tropical place like Hawaii or Okinawa. Even more so, the floral colours are dark and while it supposedly fits the theme of the series, overall if you ask me if this is suitable as a high school uniform, I would say it is not. Sure, the beige blazers help cover it and not make the floral pattern obvious but still, to have such pattern just feels bizarre even if this is Mobius. The designs of the characters in their Catharsis Effect form feels rather okay. It gives them that edgy sci-fi look that makes them look more like professional assassins, swordsmen and even witches but the thorn part that sticks out of their body really looks like a sore thumb sticking out. In other words, weird.

Hence the action parts just feel average. Nothing really exciting and with a handful of characters each with their different abilities while in their Catharsis Effect, it should have been something exciting but it’s not. I don’t remember any memorable abilities from them aside from Shougo’s big gun that he only uses to shoot and nothing else. I suppose they didn’t want to drag out the fight since with quite a few characters on both sides, it could get messy with everybody fighting everybody. Like that part in episode 6.

Voice acting feels normal. Didn’t recognize anybody so here’s the cast list: Chiharu Sawashiro as Ritsu (Nishiki Sasa in Love Kome), Reina Ueda as Miu (Mira in Dimension W), Shunsuke Takeuchi as Shougo (Yamato in Nanbaka), Rie Takahashi as Mifue (Megumin in KonoSuba), Ari Ozawa as Naruko (Kirin in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Kotarou (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Minami Tanaka as Suzuna (Mary in Kakegurui), Yuichiro Umehara as Izuru (Mitsuhide in Akagami No Shirayuki-hime), Rie Murakawa as Kotono (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Asami Shimoda as Aria (Rin in Infinite Stratos), Shouta Aoi as Kensuke (Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series), Yuka Ootsubo as Thorn (Kyouko in YuruYuri), Emi Nitta as Sweet-P (Honoka in Love Live), Eriko Nakamura as Mirei (Fuurouta in Concrete Revolutio), Souma Saitou as Ike-P (Tatsumi in Akame Ga Kill) and Mai Fuchigami as Marie (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu). The hard rock opening theme, Paradigm Box by the voices of Ritsu and Shougo sounds okay for this genre while the ending theme, Hypno by the quartet of Mifue, Naruko, Suzuna and Kotono has a more dramatic feel to it. Miu also has a bunch of her idol-like songs as insert songs in the series but none really resonate with me. Maybe that is why I don’t turn into Digiheads? Thank goodness.

Overall, I wanted to give this series a chance and perhaps this is one of those sci-fi genres that would change my perception and overall feelings for the genre. Unfortunately it did not. That’s the harsh truth. And now that sounded more like an excuse than anything. Confusing plot and character development only serve to confuse the hell out of me even more and no dramatic effects could even save the series. It is one of those series that is difficult to understand if you are just an average viewer like me unless you are totally into this sci-fi stuffs and a hardcore fan of the game or series. Until then, I am still waiting for the day that Miu will invite me to Mobius where I can slack off with my harem of kawaii 2D maids serving me for eternity. But the truth is, damn reality is such a painful ass to deal with. Just like this anime who thinks it could fool you with all the nice things and twists but in reality it is just one of those crappy series. Told you the truth is harsh.