Caligula Episode 1 [First Impression]

Rear window seat. Protagonist material confirmed.

This is what happens when you get too into psychology, kids. Never go full psych. In the spring preview, when I mentioned I’d be taking this show on, I had an unshakable feeling that this would be taking on a very complex plot. I truly wasn’t let down. Whether it will be successful is an entirely different story, but let’s focus on the 1st episode for now.

My first reaction is that I instantly regret reading the synopsis for this show. This is only episode 1 and I’m sure the truth will come out in the next episode or two, but already knowing what the Mobius system is and why/how it happens really takes the edge off. Being thrown in without your wits about you seems like the most enjoyable way to watch this show.

The Johari Window, what is happiness, a logic puzzle about a fish and a glass wall, discussing complex thought paradoxes, and reading Aristotle for fun to broaden your perspective. In 20 minutes. That’s not even including the matrix-like symptoms that occupied a significant portion of the episode as well. To summarize my reaction in one sentence, I think I would say the pacing and material they’re trying to take on seems overwhelming and like it’ll lead to an unfulfilling, unsatisfying ending if it keeps up. As you can see, I’m a very jaded old man when it comes to this type of stuff.

Checking MyAnimeList, the number of episodes is still marked as unknown. With 24 episodes, this could be a solid piece of animation exploring some of the intricacies of psychology and the ‘self-punishment’ aspect that we see mentioned. With 12 episodes, this could be a solid piece of forgettable material that tries to do a whole lot and ends up doing nothing.

Shikishima (at least the way he was for the first 90%) is not someone I would ever want to be friends with personally. After his bros get jealous of the boys hanging around the popular girl, he brings up how ‘sometimes bias causing myopia’, just a unnecessary way of saying shortsightedness, and then launches into a very random experiment about fish and a glass wall which is instantly ‘disproven’ by his friend’s heart-warming dedication to ramen. Bless his heart. Shikishima seems like a know-it-all who reads more for bragging rights than anything else. Or maybe he’s just innately curious and enjoys it and I’m just bitter and jumping to conclusions. Who really knows.

Obviously, we know that his real life is probably very different and that’s where I see a lot of potential in this show. The idea that this is the Shikishima that he wants us to see, his self in ideal form, and is completely made up really lends itself to the show. In a way, seeing what he aspires to be shows us more about his character than maybe a regular self-introduction would have. Maybe?

The prospect of breaking out of this artificial world is exciting. So is seeing the true colors of Shikishima and the real state of the world he lives in. Is it just a normal city and he’s in a psych ward? Is it a dystopic world that has run wild with virtual reality and is on the brink of collapsing? Probably not, but maybe. That guy at the end had a really big gun. Maybe it mirrors the matrix in more than just the idea of a simulated world.

Escaping fake worlds has kind of been done to death recently, but the angle of psychology and heavily leaning on perspective offers a (hopefully) fresh take on this recycled plot.

And the virtual, flying idol. What up with that? The matrix didn’t have that at all. Solid music too. I’d download it. What role could an idol be playing in all of this though. Is her goal just to spread happiness and she’s just misinformed/gone AWOL? Or is she a sadistic AI that wants to rule the world? Well, I read the synopsis, so I know the answer to that already…

I want to keep this short since I’m still trying to process the episode in its entirety. To recap, I am highly suspicious that this show will derail at some point and lose itself. At the same time, I really do enjoy psychological, thought-provoking shows and this could also do that very well. Complacency, self-punishment, molding your ideal self, these could all be interesting facets to explore. For now, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Naturally, I want to be along for the ride so I plan to continue covering this show in the future. I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

Possibility of Covering: Imminent.

APlus

A weeb, an otaku, or something else entirely? No, no. It's probably one of the first two. Avid watcher and, now, writer of all things anime, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Though our waifus and husbandos may differ in the future, I'm hopeful we can remain friends or, at the very least, not become bitter enemies. It's a pleasure.

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4 Responses

  1. MidnightDevont says:

    I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this show in the slightest but I watched it out of curiosity and yeah, the first episode was pretty solid. I agree with you, I almost feel like i’d be happier if I hadn’t read the description in the preview. I’ll look forward to watching and reading your reviews.

  2. zztop says:

    The Caligula title apparently refers to a psychological term, “Caligula Effect”, the desire to see/do forbidden deviant things.
    http://www.adinnerguest.com/tricks-of-the-mind/what-is-the-caligula-effect/

    The Western port of the game renames the title to ‘The Caligula Effect”, so the meaning behind is more apparent.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Caligula_Effect

    Game reviews say the story isn’t bad, but suffered from a lot of poor gameplay mechanics.
    A PS4 remake of Caligula debuts in Japan this May 17, 2018. The anime is likely to build up hype for the game.

    On episode length, one way to see it is that unless explicitly confirmed, always assume a regular anime will run for 10-13 episodes.
    Anime production committees usually consider those runs a safer, low risk investment in which they don’t have to invest too much resources into. Especially if the anime can’t recoup production costs.
    The anime studio is just the contract worker that executes the show according to the higher up’s rules.

    (More popular titles like Hero Academia are considered safer projects that deserve more risk, and so more episodes/seasons.)

    • APlus says:

      Yeah, I always expect 12 episodes when something not crazy huge comes along. I’m just mildly worried about them pushing out a story with so little time. In the grand scheme, 12 episodes is only about 4 hours of watch material!

      I’m glad the story was given the OK, even if the game mechanics were a bit under-par. Thankfully that doesn’t apply to the anime.

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