In Caligula episode 1, Ritsu Shikishima is a bright high school student who’s intensely interested in psychology — even though his friends don’t get it. He and his friends do normal high school stuff, like eating at a ramen restaurant their classmate Naruko Morita recommended. He begins seeing signs that his life’s unraveling, though. Things like the odd behavior of the crowd during a fight; unusual garbled lyrics during a new song from the popular virtual idol μ; inexplicable reactions from his friends. Then, at the graduation ceremony, he finds that not even his worst fears could touch what really happened.
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- Have you ever had the experience where your favorite subject was completely uninteresting to the people around you? For me, it’s pretty common (I know — you’re shocked, aren’t you?), so maybe that’s why the scene where Shikishima tries to introduce his friend Marie Mizuguchi to the idea of the Johari Window was so interesting to me (2:19). This scene appealed to me several different ways. First, Mizuguchi clearly isn’t interested, but she listens to Shikishima describe it anyway. Are they just friends? Do either want something more? Second, the Johari Window is actually a thing, and he describes it pretty well. Not only that, the conversation shows Shikishima has intellectual interests. I appreciate an intelligent MC! Finally, it makes me wonder how the concept of Johari Window will play out in the context of this show and its premise. I thought the scene was an excellent way to kick off the show — ending, as it did, on Mizuguchi’s question (3:39), “Also… the hidden? Couldn’t that be something even you don’t want to know?”
- By the time we’ve gotten to my second favorite moment, we’ve already seen μ ask Mifue Shinohara if her life is “fun” (9:48), as well as her mother’s subsequent “change” (11:32). We’ve seen Shikishima react to the “glitches” in μ’s song (11:03) and his friends’ and bystanders’ wildly bizarre reaction when he asked them about it (11:57). So by the time Shougo Satake begins fighting with number bystanders (12:54), we know all is not well in Shikishima’s world. More and more people try to join in the fight, and Satake puts them all down — even one of Shikishima’s friends! The scene raised so many interesting questions, like who is this guy? Why are so many people acting like zombies? Why is Morita seemingly unaffected to the point where she’s excited to report on the incident? These are the kinds of questions that draw me into a show, because it’s clear that they’re deliberate foreshadowing. That takes us to my third favorite moment…
- We get confirmation that the world’s not what it seems to be at the graduation ceremony, beginning with μ’s performance. It was strange enough that speakers and concert lights appeared out of nowhere (19:41). It was unfathomable that an idol would zoom around in the air singing to the students (19:56). And then things got really strange. Some kind of bio-mechanical growths began to infect many of the students (20:17). Not all of them; but the majority morphed into creatures that attacked the remaining students. Shikishima tries to rescue Mizuguchi, who doesn’t seem to be able to see what’s going in, and they get free of the auditorium — only to notice that several of the mutated things are chasing them (20:57). All of that sets up my third favorite moment. As they try to flee, they come upon Satake, partially transformed in a way that looks similar to the mutants chasing them. His right arm has transformed into a very, very large gun. He points and shoots, but not at Shikishima and Mizuguchi. He shoots the pursuers. Turning, Shikishima sees them consumed by flames. Our main character, already established as intelligent and inquisitive, already shown to study the mind and its reactions, seems to completely give up. Almost as if he’s ignoring the insanity around him, he focuses on the most understandable piece of the situation, and he calls Satake a murderer (22:10). I thought this was about the most realistic reaction I’ve ever seen to a character being immersed in an insane situation. It’s the moment that convinced me I was going to review this series for Spring 2018.
I wonder if the flowers mean something? Shikishima has a flower in his tie; Satake had flowers on his collar. Flowers seem to figure prominently in the ED, too. Hmmm…
Loved the music, too!
Did you notice that there seemed to be three ways for students to react to the event at the end? The largest group seemed to be in on it, in that they transformed into whatever those mutant/zombie/bio-mechanical hybrids were. The seemed to attack the next group, which were students who could see them as monsters but did not themselves mutate. From what we could see, those people were terrified! Can’t say that I blame them. I’m not really sure how I’d react, though I do hope I’d do more than stand and stare in a terrified sort of way.
I think I get those two groups. If this is a story about one universe intruding on another, then of course we’d have those who are already indoctrinated and those who are not. They’ll naturally come into conflict if they meet! But what I can’t understand is the mechanism behind the third group — the group to which Mizuguchi belonged.
Did it seem to you that Mizuguchi could see Shikishima and the mutating students? But that it seemed she didn’t perceive anything unusual with the latter? I also found it interesting that at least one other pair, Kotarou Tomoe and Suzuna Kagura, were in a similar situation, though I got the impression that Kagura could see the mutated students. In a sea of strange, it was surreal to see Mizuguchi sitting in her chair with a bland expression. Her greatest concerned seemed to be why her friend was standing up during the ceremony! I wonder what that means in the context of the show’s premise?
Sometimes, a show just bombs me with questions that confuse me. This show seems to be hitting me hard and fast with questions that invite me further into the world to learn more. That’s exactly what I want a first episode to accomplish!
What were your favorite moments in this episode? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit Discussion: Caligula Episode 1
- Anime Feminist: [Review] Caligula – Episode 1
- Moeronpan: A First Impression: Caligula Episode 1
- Anime Kingdom: Caligula Episode 1 – “When you lose your composure, you cannot reach the truth or reality”