Caligula Episode 4: A Reference to Sméagol and Psychology as a Weapon
In Caligula episode 4, “People who do not respect themselves will not be respected by others,” Tomoe Kotaro is beside himself with worry when he can’t contact Kagura Suzuna by phone. After all, he had left her — alone! — in the library. Desperate, he seeks out help from Satake Shogo and Ritsu Shikishima, who have by now been joined by Shinohara Mifue and budding blogger/journalist Naruko Morita. Suzuna, meanwhile, is pleasantly chatting about Lord of the Rings motifs with a hooded stranger. At least, it seems pleasant to her — at first. Will her friends be able to find her in time? And if they do, what happens then?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s In This Post
3 Favorite Moments
- The Lord of the Rings (link to Amazon!) is a towering work of literature, and it has influenced countless works of fantasy, not to mention fiction in general. But you seldom see if discussed explicitly. That’s why I was at first really excited to see the hooded stranger mention Sméagol to Suzuna (0:15). I gave them even more geek points as they discussed the merits of interpreting Sméagol’s plight as a pitiful thing. As Suzuna’s reaction made it clear that she hadn’t thought of it that way, her phone begins vibrating (loudly in a library), and she ignores it (0:47). And all of a sudden, it’s clear: she’s facing one of the Ostinato Musicians. I thought this was a great way to start the episode!
- Despite frenetic opening (which I really like, by the way), the show’s turning out to be much more subtle than I expected. Take how Shonen-Doll (though we didn’t know the name by this point) discussed what Sméagol’s motives were in pursuing the ring, when all along, the real goal was to pinpoint the precise nature of Suzuna’s psychological weakness (9:05). After establishing that, Shonen-Doll’s goal was to slowly tighten the mental grip until Suzuna became just another doll. This episode conveyed a lot with simple changes in expression.
- After spending most of the first episode establishing how much Shikishima loved psychology, I’d begun to think it was either going to be an impediment to him (witness all the moping he did in the previous episode!) or just another character trait. So, imagine my delight when I found that he actually used psychology as a weapon (18:32). Okay, it might seem like a minor thing, but I get really excited when writers weave character traits into the plot. Shikishima used his knowledge of psychology to understand what he’d seen of Shonen-Doll’s behavior, then started asking questions that started to unravel the musician’s will to fight. In other words, he weaponized psychology! He also (maybe unintentionally) awoke Suzuna’s sympathy, which prompted her to stand between the two parties and effectively bring the battle to a halt. Psychological drivers appear wildly powerful in Mobius. That means Shikishima, among all of the characters, is poised to be particularly powerful.
We got a lot of interesting information the Mobius, including how Aria and μ started it together! I don’t even mind that the episode relied on exposition to give us that background. There are still a ton of questions, though, like is anyone “outside” aware that they’re in Mobius? Or are medical professionals (we caught a glimpse of some kind of pods at the end of the previous episode) working under the assumption that the patients are the victims of some kind of outbreak? How did the Ostinato Musicians come to power? Given how well the narrative’s progressing, I’m hopeful they’ll answer these questions or show me why the answers aren’t relevant.
Am I the only one noticing a strong Persona 4 kind of vibe here?
Mobius is founded on the idea of psychological happiness as interpreted by μ and Aria. The Musicians seem to perpetuate their rule by acting on their own perceived psychological drivers for happiness. I wonder if any of them have stopped to think of the magnitude of the task they’ve set for themselves?
We saw how Sweet-P’s need for the comfort of food while maintaining an adorable and “dreamy cute” exterior drove her behavior and fashioned the tactics she tried to use against Mifue (in episode 3). We also got to see those tactics backfire, and now Mifue is one of our awakened heroes.
This week, we saw Shonen-Doll’s defense mechanism against loneliness: make everyone else dolls incapable of feeling or thinking, just like Shonen-Doll longed to be. We saw that attack pressed against Suzuna, and it almost worked. Then Kotaro burst in wearing his heart on his sleeve and got her to be aware of her surroundings. Between Kotaro and Shikishima’s weaponized psychology, they gave Suzuna time to wield the ultimate weapon in this episode.
Her sympathy drained Shonen-Doll of all rage and justification for the attack, which was the same thing that Morita (accidentally) did against Sweet-P. Ultimately, μ and the Musicians seem to have missed something fundamental here. It’s completely understandable for μ, an artificial construct. It’s also understandable for humans, too. After all, we often miss the basic lessons of history. What I’m talking about is the ephemeral nature of happiness. How can you build a world on something that’s so fickle? So far, the Musicians have had two opportunities to learn that basic aspect of human nature. I wonder how long it’ll take for them to actually accept the lesson?
What did you think of this episode? What were your favorite moments? Please feel free to let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit Discussion of Caligula Episode 4
- Marth’s Anime Blog: Caligula Episode 4: Music Wars
- Anime Q and A: Caligula Episode 4: Anime QandA Review
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 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?
- Caligula Episode 12: Destroy your ideals and self, and return to hell and reality