Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Satelight
UEDA Reina
Ritsu Shikishima is a high school student with an interest in psychology, but even he can't explain the bizarre things that have been happening recently--like hearing a strange voice within a song, seeing weird things, or a wild melee at a graduation ceremony. What they all seem to have in common is a link to μ (Myu), a popular Idol.

12 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 8 7 7 6 5 5 Ggultra2764 [series:3514#1552]
Considering this is based on an RPG video game, I'm under the impression that Caligula had a larger story to tell considering its premise involving characters being in a virtual world due to personal traumas they wish to escape from in the real world. While the premise has its potential on paper, the large cast of characters and haphazard handling of its story derail what potential this plot could have offered since it felt like the series was tossing around random story and character elements from the game to pad out the runtime instead of properly taking the time to flesh things out and have its developments resonate with its audience. Then again, probably wasn't the best idea to try cramming all this into a 12-episode TV anime. But I'm guessing promoting the video game source material was more the main goal of this series than trying to create a competent adaptation. Unless you're a fan of the Caligula Effect game, I probably wouldn't waste your time dabbling into this series.

Last updated Monday, January 16 2023. Created Monday, January 16 2023.
Watch Stretch [series:3514#628]
(Watch+ or Rent-)

(All episodes watched):

Caligula is a show with an interesting premise which, unfortunately, tells its story in a very confusing and frustrating manner. Episode one doesn't really explain the premise all that much, but it seems safe to say that Shikishima isn't going insane and instead will team up with some fellow teenagers to take on μ, who seems to be some sort of AI driven virtual idol. The show seems to be based on a video game. I was somewhat confused about what was real and what wasn't. About all I knew at the end of episode one was that I was curious and would watch at least one more episode in order to get a better grip of just what exactly the premise was. Episode two went well; I was left intrigued by all the mysteries underway here, like why seemingly normal people may attack you when music by μ is played, why most won't but there's still definitely something wrong with them, and why some people are unaffected. μ is definitely involved but she doesn't seem to mean harm to anyone, which suggests the plot will have sophistication and a healthy complexity. Considering the confusion I felt during episode one, episode two did a good job of making a semblance of sense of what's going on.

Well, episode one confused me, episode two made more sense and seemed cool, and episode three--well, it confused me again. What was the deal with this tea party business? The conclusion Shikishima has reached is (if I am understanding this more-or-less correctly) that this whole world is an illusion created somehow by μ. I wish this show would either confirm that I have gotten it right or make it clear that I haven't. That seems to be the basic problem with Caligula: numerous questions are raised, but we seldom get definitive answers to them. Instead we get half-answers or no answers at all. Even at the very end, I was still wondering who exactly μ is. Where did she get the supernatural powers which she would have needed to pull the tricks which she does? Was this revealed at some point, but I missed it, because it wasn't made clear that it would be important?

Episode four clarified things a good deal (it seems that early on even-numbered episodes make things less confusing in this show and odd-numbered ones make them more confusing). Spoiler: Mobius is an alternate reality created by μ (and someone else--Aria?) as a refuge for people who are troubled in the real world. It is somehow powered by the happiness of people enjoying μ's music. People who realize that it isn't real are not welcome. 'Musicians' are thinking enforcers who employ non-thinking 'Digiheads' to hunt down such people and brainwash them. Musicians were once real-world fans of μ who carried 'deep darkness in their hearts'. So there you have it. What with all the confusion Caligula seemed to stagger along rather than move at a brisk pace, and at this point I was still trying to make sense of it. The psychological battling in alternate reality reminded me of the concurrent running anime Persona 5. the obvious question is how does a person take down this realm (and, perhaps, should they?)?

On the bright side, the characters have more-or-less likeable personalities, even if I couldn't keep track of them all. I was pleasantly surprised at the effort made to flesh out the villains--the Musicians--in episode eight. They know that Mobius isn't real, but they hate their real-world lives so much that they dread the prospect of having to return to them. In other words, you can't completely blame them for fighting against the good guys/girls, the 'rogues', and that makes for a much more engaging and interesting story. And the exploration of the perks they enjoy in Mobius was fun, too. Ironically, it's not until episode ten that the good guys get the same treatment, that is, we learn their real-world problems and why they nevertheless want to return to it. It might have been a good idea to have done this earlier. It was a little jarring to realize that their real-world selves bear little resemblance to their Mobius ones (apparently we've been in Mobius since the first instant of episode one). The characters we've become accustomed to are basically the equivalents of video game avatars of people we until now knew virtually nothing about. You have to stay with this show for a good while in order to discover all of the quality that is hidden within it.

And the confusion continues. The trick that was used in episode nine to undermine the morale of the Rogues didn't make a whole lot of sense; if someone was trying to lead them into a trap, why weren't all of the Musicians waiting for them, rather than just a few? When episode 11 begins we find ourselves in a completely different situation (a real-world flashback?), and I had to check to make certain that I had watched episode ten because there was such a disconnect. Stuff like this is probably why Caligula got the second lowest rating in the ANN poll of Spring 2018 series. The concluding episode, number 12, was difficult to follow (as usual) but even if, like me, you don't completely understand how things worked out the way they did, you can tell that this is a more-or-less happy and satisfying ending. Again, Caligula was a show which had an intriguing premise but definitely doesn't go out of it's way to make the story easy for us to grasp. If this show hadn't had a certain degree of coolness to it and hadn't intrigued me to a certain extent, I would have given up on it long ago rather than watching it to the end. Along with the confusion one thing which remained constant was that I wanted to know what would happen in the end: how would this deceptive alternate reality be defeated? What would become of the unfortunate people who rely on it, and of μ?

Last updated Wednesday, July 11 2018. Created Sunday, April 15 2018.

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