Caligula Episode 12 Review: A Dying World and the Courage to Act
In Caligula episode 12, “Destroy your ideals and self, and return to hell and reality“, the contradictions of Mobius’ inhabitants is driving μ insane, and she beings to lose control. Ritsu Shikishima returns to Mobius and shares his plan to help μ with Aria. It’s a simple plan, but like all plans, there are too many ways it could go horribly wrong. Meanwhile, Mirei and other Ostinato Musicians think they can stabilize the dying Mobius by destroying the rebels. But none of them expected what Thorn did next! Can Shikishima reach μ in time, or will a dying Mobius take all of them down with it?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- We got to learn Kashiwaba Kotono story this week (4:48): She’s a single mother who feels like she didn’t treat her son well. Though it wasn’t anything psychologically Earth-shattering, I thought it was touching for two reasons. First, the show treated the stresses of single parenthood seriously. I’ve talked before about how I am thrilled with his this show respects the various conditions it presents, and now I see it does the same thing with social conditions that bring severe stress and (too often) feelings of isolation. Second, it gave her a chance to say that she wanted to go back to reality to set things right (5:18). Her time in Mobius had given her time to reflect and to gather her wits, and now she’s ready to go back and make a difference. Whatever else Mobius stood for or did to them, one thing’s clear: Almost all of them benefited in some way.
- This episode had one of those moments that just perfects represents who a character is. Remember when Shikishima returned and saved Satake Shogo from Thorn’s killing strike (9:34)? Our heroes react to their President’s return with varying levels of relief and enthusiasm (especially Shogo!) until Tomoe Kotaro just blurts out (9:49), “Ha! I thought you betrayed us!” Most of the Go-Home Club were at least high-schoolers when Mobius ensnared them, so they had some sense of decorum. Kotaro, on the other hand, was a middle-schooler. I thought his statement was a perfect display of his character: straight-forward, honest, and socially clueless! And I mean that in a positive way!
- Shikishima didn’t give up on μ, or the love he felt for her, even though he had to destroy Mobius. As the other heroes were taking their first steps in reality, he apparently continued his programming. The last scene is my last favorite scene from this last episode of the series, and it’s of Shikishima and μ touching hands, even if it’s just through the computer screen (23:39). Can an AI really bring affection and belonging to a human? I think that’s the wrong question. I suspect the question should really be, why not? An AI is closer to a human intellectually than a cat or a dog, and they unquestionably can have a huge positive effect on humans. Of course an AI, with the right programming, could be a companion. And for someone like Shikishima, it might be the perfect companion.
Do you know whose resolution we didn’t see? We didn’t see what happened to Marie Mizuguchi. I would have liked to have seen what happened to her, given how she referenced her immobility in the real world. Plus, even though Aria got her powers back, we never really learned who she was, or what role she played in Mobius’ creation. The series was psychologically ambitious, and it was only 12 episodes, so I have to expect some loose ends. At least the core narrative around μ and Shikishima felt complete.
Some of the side stories seemed to get satisfying resolutions, too. We got to see Mifue Shinohara embrace her mom in the real world. We got to see Kagura Suzuna and Shonen-Doll meet for lunch. After Shonen-Doll saved her from Thorn’s insane attacks in this episode (11:26), and after their cessation of hostilities back in episode 4, I really wanted to see them get together in the real world, if only for lunch! In fact, we got to see most of our heroes taking steps, even if they were literally just a few steps out of their front door. It felt like a hopeful ending for them.
I really liked the look of μ’s deranged form! I feel a little guilty about that, because after all, its creation meant she was in torment. But it looked dangerous and bad-ass and elegant all at once. It reminded me a lot of Ikaros‘ Uranus System from Heaven’s Lost Property. Quite a bit smaller and lacking the Apollon bow of mass destruction, maybe, but still very cool!
I’m a big proponent of showing instead of telling, because in the majority of cases, it’s more interesting and dramatic. There are times, though, when the material is so esoteric, or the conflict so cerebral, that showing alone just wouldn’t work. I think that’s the case with Caligula, especially this last episode.
Consider the climatic sequence. Shikishima talked a lot, and there were minimalist images to support his speech. He spoke of how his first memories of μ were associated with the aroma of coffee; how their meeting at was pure happenstance; how she comforted him over a lost kitten. He highlighted the impact of her simple sentence, “It’ll be alright,” which was so beautiful to him that it was an epiphany.
We saw the series’ thematic foundation through their discussion of the meaning of happiness. When she asked what happiness was, he couldn’t answer her in previous episodes. But now, after his experiences on mobius, he at least had developed the courage to try. That set the stage for the end of Mobius. And as he exercised his courage, she reflexively tried to kill him, maybe through the AI-equivalent of a subconscious fear that he was getting too close to painful territory, even for her. But he didn’t give up until finally, μ puts aside her anger to lament her failure, saying of human nature, “It’s strange and complicated.” That gives Shikishima the opening he needed to explain himself and his feelings so she understood why he had to destroy Mobius. It was almost tragically sad when she asked (19:40), “Was Mobius fun?” Almost as sad as Shikishima telling her that he loved her and that her smile was his real happiness.
As he pulled the trigger.
Given the choice between a series that executes a simple premise well and one that takes on something amazing and ambitious but falls short, I’ll often prefer the latter. But I’m not sure this series falls into either category. A couple of the episodes stumbled, but overall, I liked its subtlety, its respect for psychological maladies, and its themes. I thought is animation was beautiful. I’m really glad I picked this series to review.
What do you think of the ending? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit Discussion of Caligula Episode 12
- Anime Q and A: CALIGULA EPISODE 12 – ANIME QANDA REVIEW
- Marth’s Anime Blog: Caligula Final Episode (12): That seemed a bit excessive
This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)
- Caligula Episode 1
- Caligula Episode 2: Anxiety, Irritation, and Other Such Negative Emotions Spread to Others
- Caligula Episode 3: Why do we live? The further we pursue the meaning of life, the more confused we become
- Caligula Episode 4: People who do not respect themselves will not be respected by others
- Caligula Episode 5: Everyone gets hurt. But those who don’t realize they’re hurting can’t be healed
- Caligula Episode 6: Looking forward doesn’t equal progress on its own. Understanding one’s situation is also an important step
- Caligula Episode 7: When you’re in a desperate situation, it’s all the more important to keep smiling
- Caligula Episode 8: Your life shouldn’t be built from someone else’s blueprint. No matter how unskilled you may be, you should draw it yourself
- Caligula Episode 9: Even if something has already happened, you can still choose what you do
- Caligula Episode 10: Caligula
- Caligula Episode 11: People constantly seek out the right answer. Yet, is being right really all that matters?