Caligula Episode 8: A Different Perspective and Treating the Symptoms

Quick Summary

In 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,” we go over the same timeframe as last episode, but from the perspective of some of the Ostinato Musicians. Ike-P enjoys the attention of many of the women in Mobius as the self-proclaimed most attractive man. He’s aghast when he sees some of his adherents defect to Minezawa Izuru, one of our heroes. Other Musicians are watching bits and pieces of their happiness disappear, like when Mirei’s credit cards are declined or Sweet-P’s favorite foods become scarce. It’s all due to μ still being unconscious. In desperation of losing to Izuru, Ike-P attacks him, but Izuru’s reaction is unexpected — and horrifying to Ike-P.

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

What’s In This Post

Quick Episode Summary
3 Favorite Moments
Related Posts

this episode actually made me feel sorry for the villains! But they’re still villains… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

This episode did something unexpected but pretty cool: it made me feel sorry for some of the Ostinato Musicians. We got some hints early on that all wasn’t well in Mobius because μ was asleep. The damage from the fight at the end of episode 6 still hadn’t been repaired because without μ’s power, the non-player characters (NPCs) had to do all the work as if they were in our world — slowly and laboriously. We get to see Ike-P enjoying his popularity, but we see that something’s amiss. A more clear indicator of the state of Mobius is that Mirei’s resort is still in ruins. What drove the point home for me was the pitiable way that Sweet-P lamented that many of the deserts she loved were disappearing (4:38): “At this rate, everything cute and everything tasty will soon be gone.” It was almost as if they were being slowly denied their coping skills. It was a subtle point, but maybe I’ve know too many people whose coping skills kept them going. Seeing these villains being threatened with their removal was heart-breaking.

I might sympathize with the Musicians like Kagi-P, but I don’t trust them. There’s a reason he wants to join the Go-Home Club, and it’s not a good reason for our heroes. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Do you have any idea what Kagi-P is up to? I want to go on record as saying I don’t trust him. I don’t think he’s flipped sides; and to be fair, he never really said he did. What he did say, though, really caught my interest: he seems to know who Ritsu Shikishima really is back in the real world (7:35). Shikishima himself doesn’t remember, but Kagi-P does. The way their isolated conversation played out, I have to wonder again just who Shikishima is in relation to Mobius. Did he create it? Is he a patient within it? Is he the doctor or other official running it? I enjoy how this show lets out just enough information to generate questions — questions that are appropriate for this stage of the narrative. I see that as a sign of solid plotting and world development.

Ike-P gets credit for putting aside his desire for adoration to help the clerk get to his feet. Multi-layered villains are cool! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

By the time the episode was a third of way over, I was already feeling sympathy for the Ostinato Musicians. If they’re really holding the Rogues (our heroes) in Mobius against their will, they’re still villains, but they’re villains whose motivations I can understand. But something happened with Ike-P that cemented my sympathy: he came to the aid of a store employee who two women were taunting (9:17). He even had flashbacks to similar events he experienced back in the real world. He helped the clerk gather the dropped closes and even helped the man to his feet. Ike-P is arrogant, and he needs constant attention to keep himself going, but he’s just like the rest of the characters we’ve met: he’s scared and is running away from his world. That makes him very, very relatable.


Girls fainting at the slightest gesture from Ike-P or even Izuru? I thought for a moment I’d stepped back in time…

Who knew a science fiction anime called Caligula would speak to me in such a personal way? I’m not going into details because that’s not what this blog’s about, but this show’s depictions of psychological afflictions and their impact on peoples’ lives rings true. It also gives me hope.

A Twitter user by the handle @PJ_Palits recently posted some of the visible impacts of mental illness on those who endure them. If you are living with such an affliction, I recommend you read the post (it’s pretty extensive) to see you’re not alone. If you’re fortunate enough not to have that experience, I still recommend the post. It may help you understand a perspective that’s difficult to gain without being on the inside, so to speak.

Seeing how the Ostinato Musicians clung to their coping skills — and how fragile was their grasp — made them incredibly relatable and sympathetic. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What I find so compelling about Caligula is that it presents mental illnesses not as something that drove people to become villains. Nor is it something that only heroes have to, well, heroically put up with. It’s something all of them share. It’s a part of their human experience and condition. In other words, it’s not an isolating condition.

And it looks to me like the world of Mobius exists to treat them.

Certainly, Mobius is a work in progress. When Izuru began to gleefully cut his own face in this episode (18:32), I cringed. That turned to blissful suspension of disbelief as he explained that he craved those cuts and scars — why, we still don’t know — but that μ’s influence kept healing him as soon as he inflicted them. Those scars were there by his own choosing. I’m guessing he has some disorder that pushes him to self-harm. A robust treatment would address the underlying cause, but μ and Mobius only treat the symptoms.

This scene hammered home an important point: Mobius is only treating symptoms, not the cause. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

My suspicion is that is why Shikishima opposes Mobius — because it’s not working as he intended it to. I’m not sure why he couldn’t fix the issue from the outside, and I hope the show either proves me wrong or explains this point. But given its subtle and realistic treatment of mental illness, a subject painfully underrepresented in media, I’m optimistic that the show will come through.

Why do you think Shikishima decided to fight Mobius? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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