Caligula Ep. 6: What happened to personal choice?

Mu’s an idiot, man. 

— She wants Thorn to promise her that the Musicians won’t be mean to the Rogues. Isn’t this her world? Can’t she see what’s going on in her own world? Like, for instance, how her songs violently turn people into Digiheads? And then the Digiheads threateningly pursue their targets to all corners of Mobius? For a creator, Mu is goddamn clueless.

— Mifue locates her first mom, but she finally realizes that the woman is just an NPC. Welp, I guess she had to see it with her own eyes.

— Unfortunately for Mu, fights have broken out all across Mobius. Kotono and Mirei are still going at it. Shogo is being chased by a kid with glasses. Meanwhile, Mifue and Naruko have to contend with the ramen freak again. Last but not least, Suzuna and the new guy is being confronted by a wannabe pretty boy with guns. How mean.

— Mirei tells Kotono that the girl should just be content to swim in her aquarium. The latter replies, “Real fish want to swim in the real ocean.” Mirei immediately counters, “Can you still say that when the ocean is filthy and filled with sludge?” So it’s kind of an interesting debate, but it’s done in the most simplistic way possible. Yeah, most animals do not want to be locked up. So that’s one point in the Rogues’ favor. People don’t want to live in a false paradise. At the same time, however, certain species might not survive in the wilderness. This is why certain programs will take in these endangered species and try to ensure their survival. So that’s one point in favor of “captivity.” Therein lies the problem, though: why does Mobius have to be so fake? Why can’t its subjects simply be told that they’re living in the virtual world for now because the real world is so terrible? Why not tell them the truth? What is the point of all this deception? What purpose does it serve?

“Well, you see, if they knew that the real world lies somewhere out there, then they might want to leave!”

Okay. What’s wrong with that? Why are the Musicians so hellbent on keeping everyone here? Why is Mu so hellbent on keeping everyone here? Can Mobius only sustain itself if every single person currently in it… stays in it? Like, I don’t get why this is even a problem. Why can’t people just choose to stay or leave?

— Look at ramen freak rain arrows down on Mifue and Naruko. Guys, c’mon, stop being mean.

— All Ritsu can do is stare at everything in front of him with a slack-jawed impression.

— Oh hey, Mu can tell that everyone’s in pain. But then Thorn tells her that this is all for the best, so the girl just goes back to her stupid singing. Look, she’s an idiot! Unfortunately, she sits at the center of this entire story, and it’s apparently Ritsu’s job to eventually save her at some point. That’s so lame.

— Back to Mirei and Kotono, the former exclaims, “If I stay here, I can live an elegant life the way I used to.” So in the real world, she must have been someone who recently lost her wealth. But fine, stay here then! Again, why does it matter to her if Kotono wants to leave? If there’s a legitimate reason for the Musicians being such dicks to the Rogues, then why haven’t we been told said reason after six episodes?

— Naruko’s real world counterpart seemingly wants attention. On the other hand, Kotaro feels powerless due to a failure of his in the real world. What was he? A first responder who couldn’t save people in time? But that’s not important. What’s important is that the Rogues are determined to leave Mobius, so this causes Aria to shine. As a result, she becomes a star that they can all follow. Everyone starts to scream as they embrace the darkness with them. Yeah, it’s really that corny. And before you know it, they’ve all undergone their own Catharsis Effect. They’re all ready to fight.

— So uh, what is Naruko’s weapon? A torn backpack with… what? A computer in it?

— Meanwhile, Mu continues to be confused, because she doesn’t understand why no one wants to stay in her fake ass world. Again, why don’t you ask them?

— So a huge fight breaks out between the Rogues and the Musicians. Shogo calls himself a murderer, and we’ve seen that he’s traumatized by visions of a girl committing suicide. Maybe he drove her to it, who knows?

— The only person not fighting for the Rogues is Ritsu, because he hasn’t awaken to his powers. His counterpart appears to be Thorn, because she isn’t helping the Musicians out either. She’s just chillin’, I guess. Chillin’ and watchin’.

— Ritsu doesn’t understand his buddies’ feelings. I dunno, maybe ask them. I know it sounds crazy! I know it sounds like madness! But there’s this cool thing you can do where you communicate with others, and in doing so, you understand them! Granted, he hasn’t had a chance to get to know everyone, but with that being the case, y’know, maybe he should chill out and just let things play out for now.

— All of a sudden, a giant portal opens up, and Mu emerges while singing one of her shitty songs.

— She starts to rage out some more. She demands to know why everyone hates her world and won’t listen to her, but as soon as Aria tries to talk to her former partner, Mu tells the chibi idol to shut up. I… I’m just speechless, dude. This girl is an idiot. I wouldn’t want to save her.

— Mu then starts to really go nuts, and Mobius begins to fall apart. The Musicians quickly hightail it outta there, because they’re in danger as well. The sclera in Mu’s eyes turns black, and subsequently, a black mass emerges from her chest. Aria explains that Mu had been holding onto people’s negativity this entire time. But now that she’s frustrated and distraught over the Rogues insisting on leaving, she’s unable to hold the darkness within herself any longer! Y’see, it’s our fault. Our dark energies and negative emotions are poisoning Mu. Mm-hmm!

— Look, nobody asked Mu to do this. Nobody asked Mu to be a martyr. She created this stupid world because she felt bad, then she shoved all these people in her stupid world because she felt bad. Whatever happened to personal choice? Whatever happened to personal accountability? If she’s suffering because she tried to absorb people’s painful feelings, that’s on her. If people have issues to deal with, it’s their responsibility to sort it out. In fact, it’s their right to sort it out. We become stronger by overcoming the obstacles in our lives. All Mu has done is robbed them of personal growth, and now we gotta pity her while she conveniently ignores every possible chance to communicate with the very people she’s imprisoned? Fuck that.

— Oh no, we can’t have that!

— Ritsu hasn’t undergone a Catharsis Effect, because whatever ails him isn’t quite as well defined as the other kids. He doesn’t have such a vibrant past to draw upon. So he gives Mu a good stare… he gives her a really good stare. And just like that, he’s reached a pivotal moment. He’s not determined to merely escape. He’s determined to save Mu. Pardon me while I barf.

— The guy then undergoes his transformation, and more importantly, he does so without Aria’s help at all! ‘Cause he’s special protagonist boi, and as a result, he must be distinct from all the other chumps.

— He whips out a pair of guns, and with them, he somehow cleaves the giant ball of negative feelings in half.

— As a result, Mu nearly passes out, but Thorn is just waiting to catch the idol and whisk her off to god knows where. It’s almost as if Thorn masterminded this whole event… or at least saw it coming.

— Mu summons the last ounces of her energy and calls Ritsu a mean ol’ baka. Such a meanie! How dare he shoot her black ball of evil?!

— After the dust has settled, Shogo suggests to the rest of the group that they should all join the club in order to conceal their activities of rebellion. Recently, we’ve gotten a rash of JRPGs where kids do cool stuff under the guise of a club. Tokyo Xanadu is another prominent example. This trend will die at some point, but it’s so hot right now. I blame Persona 3.

— Ritsu comes up with the official name for the team: the Go-Home Club. That’s pretty straight to the point. Shogo then nominates him to be the club president, because after all, he’s the special protagonist boi. He can’t ignore them, because they all just smile silently at him. Hey, in Tokyo Xanadu, the main character also becomes the club president even though he’s hardly the most powerful member on the team (shockingly enough).

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9 Replies to “Caligula Ep. 6: What happened to personal choice?”

  1. The whole embracing your dark part and the club, and the high school setting, kinda feel like a Personal game…I check and it turned out this game is only released in the West by Atlus USA, not developed by them.

  2. Okay, I’m gonna tell you straight this is absolutely a bastardization of one of the more interesting JRPGs made in the last five to ten years written chiefly by the brain behind Persona 2 (IS and EP).
    To the quick:
    Mu is half of the ethereal musical entity that drifts through the “MetaversES” (literally just the collective unconscious concept, can be seen in Persona) and created this place known as Mobius (get it? Mobius Loop lol). Anyway, she’s naive and innocent to a fault but it was fine since she had her “sister” with her always, Aria. Aria is the more mature one and Mu is the cute younger one – which is why she’s so easily manipulated.
    The reason Aria is a chibi and Mu is so popular is because Mu got in touch with a group she “blessed” to be her musicians so she could sing songs to uplift people’s hearts. That was the plan, to sing songs which people who are suffering in the real world would hear and, thereafter, get to be free from that pain for a time in Mobius to live out the lives they didn’t or couldn’t live irl.
    “For a time”, bro. That was the plan. Then the Musicians, given so much power and talent, turned on the group and began their usurpation through manipulating Mu. Thorn is key and the most intelligent, collected and dangerous of them all. In truth – which you already know because this anime sucks at revealing spoilers – Thorn is rather manipulating Mu personally above any of the others who each have their own reasons for remaining in the world.

    Problem? Mu becomes more and more famous, absorbing the strong emotions of the inhabitants of Mobius, and Aria loses the power balance and literally shrinks. She hardly has much power at all anymore, later relying on the emotions of the Go Home Club to accomplish anything. Without them, and the protag in particular, she’d be useless.

    Mu in the meanwhile has become thoroughly tricked by Thorn and the musicians into literally adopting all of the pain and suffering trauma of the inhabitants of Mobius with every concert she puts on. She is a pure heart and wants only to heal everyone, give everyone peace, but the musicians hide crucial information – information like how, if people began to leave Mobius, the world itself would weaken and eventually vanish. The Musicians have a vested interest in staying in this dream world and so they brainwash people to keep them there, making them like delusional living batteries living out their waking dream.
    Further more, as it is revealed later in the second dungeon of the game, there is a high price to pay for remaining in Mobius too long…

    Mu is enthrall to the Musicians like a child to a predator, hopelessly confused as to why Aria would want her to stop and end Mobius. These people came here because of their trauma. They need help, counseling – but Mu has been tricked into thinking what they really need is paradise, and so she gives them what she, in her naivete, would see as their paradise life, unwittingly dooming countless.
    So yes, Mu is stupid, painfully stupid, but that’s because she is literally like a child and needs Aria, yet predators have taken her place and convinced Mu that keeping things as they are is for the best – at any cost.

  3. That was a long post but trust me, there’s a lot to this little game that’s explicit and implied which the anime utterly bungles to a sickening extent. So much that needs to be explained isn’t, and what should be inferred can’t be because you’re given no information.

    For instance, in the game when the protagonist wakes up the plot has been underway for at least two loops if not longer.
    During that time the Go Home Club (literally everyone you see as the main cast excluding two girls) have been sneaking around, avoiding Digiheads, and trying to figure out a way back home. You, the protagonist, are late to the party.
    Yet when you arrive so does, by pure coincidence, a concert Mu is holding just outside, and she sees your anxiety and distress and tries to talk you down. Her interaction with you makes it possible for Aria, who has been searching for her (and a way to get to her without being intercepted by Digiheads or etc.) . Aria tries to convince Mu to bring this to an end but Mu refuses and runs away, unknowingly leaving you both at the mercy of a concert crowd of Digiheads.

    That’s when Shogo shows up and helps you escape, even knocking you in the head-butting you from panicking (he’s…yeah, it comes up later). Then Digiheads show up, Aria pops out of your jacket pocket and tells you to concentrate on the reason you’re in Mobius, on what your secret trauma or suffering is – and to channel that into power. From there it’s rather like Persona 3/4 with you being the first to use this power and the other teammates getting it as time goes on.

    I’ll stop here. I typed WAY too much. I’ll be more restrained in the future, but suffice to say most everything you have a problem with in terms of narrative is dealt with far better in the game. Also Kotono wasn’t anything like she is here, what with the men thing and the helping Musicians get brainwash victims.

    1. most everything you have a problem with in terms of narrative is dealt with far better in the game.

      Ah well, like I’ve said in a previous post, if the remastered PS4 version is ever localized, I’d give it a shot. Not too hot on playing Vita games.

      1. That’s fair. They revamped the cutscenes, animations and a lot more in the PS4 remake, plus adding an entire alternate route as well. I’d like to see what you think if it ever comes over.
        By the way, how was Tokyo Xanadu? I heard the translation was meme-y but it was decent overall.

        1. Translation is definitely odd. Not so much meme-y (there are a few instances, but not enough to bother me), but just different. Characters using words like “shitheel” or “fuckleducks” — words that I never expect to see in JRPGs. Beyond that, Tokyo Xanadu exemplifies all of Falcom’s strengths and weaknesses as storytellers. They do a great job creating such a huge cast of characters, each with their own mini character arcs to follow. The breadth and depth is quite impressive. Falcom games give you a reason to talk to every single NPC every single time something changes. Their dialogue always changes. It’s not that they always have something worthwhile to say, but it’s cool to see. What’s not so impressive is how tropey their writing is. It’s like a lame B-rated anime. Just lots of friendship will overcome, precious imoutos and childhood friends, awe-inspiring student council leaders who can do it all, so on and so forth.

          Also, it’s one of those rare games in which the normal ending is a whole lot better than the true ending… emotionally and thematically. It’s hilarious.

  4. Ack, one last thing: Shogo was the one to lead and name (if I recall it was him and not Mifue) the Go Home Club and you get put at the leader because you’re the first to the power and, well, they were only able to finally make a break through because of you and Aria with you.

  5. To be fair, I kinda enjoyed Dark Mu song better, it’s a shame that her dark transformation performance got interrupted by baka Ritsu, Btw, I laughed really hard at his transformation, I mean, it was soo big hmmmm, and he knows how to use it too.

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