Caligula Episode 2: Well, He _Seemed_ Smart and Un-Rendered Maps

Quick Summary

In Caligula episode 2, “Anxiety, Irritation, and Other Such Negative Emotions Spread to Others,” Ritsu Shikishima can’t believe his eyes or the testimony of Shougo Satake — vague as it is — to explain his friends transforming into creatures — creatures that attacked him! Meanwhile, Kotarou Tomoe and Suzuna Kagura, while being no less incredulous, nevertheless accept that they’re in danger and try to protect themselves. Their results are mixed. Mifue Shinohara recognizes that her mom’s fake and tries to escape to Tokyo. But what can all of them do when they literally hit a wall while μ apologizes profusely?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

What’s In This Post

Quick Episode Summary
3 Favorite Moments
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3 Favorite Moments

Aria tells Satake off for not explaining the situation very well. Though to be fair, she didn’t do any better! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  1. If you’ve seen one “here’s the kind of magical/parallel universe/artificial world you’re in” talk, you’ve seen them all, right? Apparently not! After Satake leads Shikishima to safety, he tries to explain the world to Shikishima, but he stutters and mumbles so much that Shikishima says he can’t trust the man and starts to walk away (5:24). Instead of the expected info dump, I got an interesting character-based conversation! Even better — Frustrated at her partner’s (friend’s? acquaintance’s?) inability to explain the situation, a pint-sized floating sprint named Aria shows up and says to Satake (5:37), “Ah, jeez! Shogo, you suck at explaining!” I’m not sure what I found more hilarious: That she was so blunt with Satake or that she had this furious expression — and she was only about 20 centimeters tall! I think I’m going to like Aria. She’s tiny, but she’s fearless! As a side note, it was Aria’s voice that Shikishima heard in μ’s music in the previous episode.
Seriously, Tomoe — in what world are viruses exploding out of ant and spiders comforting? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  • Tomoe and Kagura try to hide in a mall clothing store. Tomoe’s not the reflective type. He’s not really trying to figure out what’s going on because he’s too busy staying in the moment to keep them alive. Kagura, on the other hand, is trying to understand what’s going on. She even asks if there’s something wrong with them (10:02). She’s beginning to panic, and Tomoe, being a nice guy, tries to say something to comfort her. He says (10:22), “You’ll be fine… I’m sure everyone just got sick! … There’s some kind of nasty virus in ants or spiders that explodes outward…” Can you guess how she reacted? Yeah, she wasn’t comforted at all. I think she was almost relieved when a salesperson interrupted them.
  • The facts were all there in front of him — but he just couldn’t pull it all together. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
  • I’ve read complaints that Caligula appears to be yet another story “about singular male geniuses…” (from Anime Feminist’s review of the first episode). I certainly can’t argue in favor of that worn-out trope, but the last scene in the first episode, where Shikishima rejects the logic all around him and calls Satake a murderer, gave me hope that maybe the writers were going to go beyond the cliche and give us something interesting. And I think they did! In this episode, we can see more examples of Shikishima’s genius not keeping up with events. Shikishima decides he’s really going crazy (8:40) despite the facts to the contrary. When confronted with his dog and mother with distorted electronic faces (“staticky heads,” as Tomoe put it (18:11)), he didn’t pause to consider and try to reason it out. Instead, he sprinted away (11:53). Not the act of a genius! But the clincher was when Satake saved him once again from the creatures — this time his mutated friends — and he just walked away, completely unable to deal with the facts before him (19:13). His intellect just couldn’t process what was right in front of him. It took μ showing him at the end of the episode before he got it. His intellect isn’t omnipotent — and I like that! He’s much more realistic that way.
  • Thoughts

    I have to say that Mai Fuchigami, the voice actor for Marie Mizuguchi, has the most amazing musical tones in her voice! It’s a treat just to hear her dialogue, especially the questions! I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since she also voiced Iona in Arpeggio of Blue Steel, and I loved that show and its cast!

    The last scene was a fantastic way to bring home the idea that they’re in a limited, artificial world called Mobius. No long, drawn-out metaphysical explanations. Just clear shots of the edges of a map — much like you’d see in Unreal Tournament or other level-based video games. As μ apologizes for her inability to make a better world, you get exactly what’s going on. Very cool!

    μ’s being deceived, and her own naive wishes are being used to trick her. She was honestly apologizing to our heroes! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

    I’m enjoying how this series uses “show, don’t tell” to get its points across. This episode showed us two key facts that I think are going to drive this narrative arc.

    First, we learned that μ is being deceived (by the Ostinato Musicians?). We don’t know why they’re deceiving her, but I think it’s a safe bet that it’s a power thing. Some human wanted power, and they saw μ as a way to get it. That’s one constant in human history, after all — with precious few exceptions.

    Second, they’re in a Mobius, a world of Mu’s making. She’s building out the world to look like modern Japan. Apparently, her motivation is to make people happy by giving them what they want, including new families and friends! It’s hard to deny that μ herself has a laudable intent, at least from her perspective as a virtual idol. That perspective, and its attendant naiveté, make her ripe for manipulation.

    μ seemed excited to give our heroes whatever they wanted — even new families and friends! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

    As an Aristotelian Thomist, having earned a dual degree in English and Theology, I’ve often wondered if some of the core philosophies and theologies that our institutions have foisted on us have a similar purpose? The idea that we should behave in a particular way and according to a particular code, or else we’ll be punished — doesn’t that sound a lot like what’s going on here? I’m speaking at a high level, of course, but I think we can all remember examples of an institution, whether it be a church, a business, or a government, propagating ideas to make their rule easier. Why oppress a people, or a congregation, or a society, when you can get them to oppress themselves?

    If my hunch about the Ostinato Musicians plays out, it’ll be a fictional example of an implication of this line of thought. Namely, that — speaking from the perspective of my Theology degree — I think we’ve been taught wrong. I don’t think we should be afraid of demons. I think we should fear humans behaving badly.

    Given our propensity to misuse power and inflict harm on ourselves and everything around us, I suspect that the demons are actually afraid of us.

    What’d you think of this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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