Caligula Ep. 2: Just shoot your madness away

Again, on paper, the show sounds like it has potential. Individuals are trapped in a world in which they are forced to relive their high school years over and over. Not only that, J-pop has the power to turn your friends into brainless monsters. Unfortunately, once you get beyond the surface details, the execution of the story just isn’t very interesting. The direction appears to eschew substance for style, and rather than lean heavily on the psychological aspect of being trapped in a fake world, it quickly unveils the truth. I’m just tickled that the premise is all about escaping a generic high school anime series, and in order to do so, the hero must have generic shounen-flavored battles.

— If you’ll recall, last week’s episode ended with a graduation ceremony suddenly turning in an opening ceremony. Ritsu, the hero, suddenly snaps in front of all his classmates, so μ — I’m just gonna say Mu from here on out — suddenly appears out of thin air and starts singing. Her song sends certain students into a frenzy, and they begin attacking the “awakened” ones like Ritsu.

Speakers even appear out of thin air to play terrible J-pop. What a ghastly world this is.

— Shogo, some guy two two-toned hair, tries to aid our protagonist, but Ritsu acts as though it’s Shogo who can’t be trusted. This is the part that confuses me.

— Ritsu nevertheless tries to escape with Marie, but she can’t even see the “Digiheads” that are chasing them. Shogo tells Ritsu to just ditch the girl. She’s gonna be fine, because she’s still stuck in the cave. But we pretty boys gotta stick together.

— Individuals like this guy sit on the sidelines and offer vague commentary. It’s such an anime storytelling thing to do.

— But despite this being a virtual world that Mu can control, she’s not omniscient. You can actually hide from her. As a result, Ritsu and Shogo eventually manage to elude the Digiheads. They then proceed to stare deeply into each other’s eyes. Look how fabulous they look. This is what you get when you put an idol — even a virtual one — in charge of a world.

— They then butt heads, because why not!

— Ritsu wants answers, but Shogo is dancing around the explanation for some odd reason. I have no idea why he won’t just explain it. Sure, Ritsu might not believe him, but so what? What does Shogo have to lose anyway?

— This goddamn cutesy mascot then appears out of nowhere, and she doesn’t offer up much of an explanation either! All Aria reveals is that she was the one who called out to Ritsu in last week’s episode. Remember how he heard a voice in the middle of listening to Mu single? Welp, it was this girl, and she now wants Ritsu to help them rescue Mu. Rescue Mu from what, though? Again, people suck at explaining anything in this show, so Ritsu just walks away from the scene.

— Despite the fact that he just saw people turn into monsters — and despite the fact that he just literally saw some chibi mascot magically appear in front of him — Ritsu starts running through all sorts of convoluted explanations for what might be causing this “phenomenon.” M-m-maybe it’s a pandemic! Maybe I’m crazy!

— Meanwhile, Shogo and Aria discuss the fact that other people woke up along with Ritsu at the graduation/opening ceremony. Some of them weren’t so lucky. But a few did manage to get away. We soon cut to two such individuals. This is Kotaro and Suzuna. I’ve no clue what role they play. I just know that they’re also trying to run away from the Digiheads.

— When Ritsu returns home, he finds that there’s a huge static-like distortion on his poor pupper’s head. His mom also has the same problem. I guess we three types of people in this world. We have normal guys like Ritsu. Normal guys can either try to escape and be aligned with Mu. Then you have Mu’s footsoldiers. They seem normal enough on the surface, but when Mu starts singing, they turn into Digiheads. Then finally, we have the NPCs that don’t matter. They just have static for heads.

— The focus then turns to Mifue. In last week’s episode, all we saw was how her NPC mother kept trying to feed her. The girl now decides to run away.

— Meanwhile, Ritsu tries to get in touch with his friends, because he wants to conduct an experiment. While they are on the phone, Ritsu plays one of Mu’s song. Instantly, his friends turn into Digiheads. Welp, he can now cross one possible explanation off the list.

— We now see Mu talking to a black-haired girl in the middle of some ominous looking room. Mu is despondent at the fact that she can’t keep everyone happy in this shitty world in which you’re always stuck as a high school student. The black-haired girl then stands up and proclaims that she and her group — the Ostinato Musicians — will show troublemakers like Ritsu the way. Great. We have a name for the enemy faction.

— Mu starts singing, and Ritsu’s friends instantly track him down. But luckily for him, Shogo shows up to save the day again. But does Ritsu thank the guy for saving his ass twice now? Nope. He doesn’t even stop to talk or ask any further questions. He just… leaves while Shogo tells him where they can meet up.

— We see Ritsu get on a train. We also see Kotaro and Suzuna hop onto a bus. Mifue has caught a taxi and intends to leave for Tokyo. She reveals that she wants to try and find her real mom. Okay then. Basically, all four kids want to just ditch the city. As viewers, however, we know better.

— When they reach the border of the city, they all get kicked off of their chosen modes of transportation. Mu suddenly appears to them, and apologizes that she hasn’t gotten around to creating more of the world. Nevertheless, she’ll try to keep them happy if they would tell her what she wants…

— Sadly, this is not an anime-flavored The Truman Show where the hero slowly questions his sanity and then tries to escape his surreal world. Imagine if the storytelling had been a little more patient. Imagine if things had slowly gone wrong for Ritsu instead of going nuts instantly at the end of last week’s episode. But instead, he’s just going to join the forces of good and do battle against the forces of evil with like… power levels and shit. What also sucks is that Mu is just another misguided maiden who the hero needs to save. I don’t mind the fact that she doesn’t fully understand that what she’s doing is wrong, but the fact that Ritsu has to save her instantly locks us into the blandest path possible for their future relationship. There’s no ambiguity here. She’s too cute to abandon!

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