The Fall 2016 Anime Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Community score: 3.4
What is this?
Kanae Otowa used to live in a fabulous music-themed mansion with her paternal grandmother, thrilling to the old woman's stories of when balls were held and the great organ in the hallway played. Since her grandmother's death, however, her father has taken off for parts unknown, squandering the family fortune, and her mother has abandoned the family. Now Kanae thinks she wants nothing more than to sell the family mansion, but her father has sent two strange young men to board there – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig von Beethoven. Kanae can't get them out of the house (or her friend Sousuke to get his stuff out), and the wrecking crew is on its way to demolish it. That's when the true identities of her house guests reveal themselves in the most amazing way possible, as Kanae realizes that maybe she isn't ready to give up her grandmother's home after all. ClassicaLoid is an original anime work and can be found streaming on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 7 AM EST.
How was the first episode?
I'm not entirely sure what I just watched, but I know I loved it. ClassicaLoid does for composers what Bungo Stray Dogs does for authors, that is brings the beloved creators of earlier pop culture into our current pop culture scene, in this case by having modern incarnations of said composers inhabit a fabulous mansion in a rural town. Not that they appear to be aware of who they are – Mozart, who calls himself Motes, is a freewheeling daredevil sporting pink heelies, while Beethoven (or Beethes) has an obsession with cooking the perfect gyoza. The owner of the mansion, high school student Kanae, can't understand what they're doing in her house, why they won't leave, and why both they and her childhood friend (and aspiring musician) Sousuke are so upset with her that she's ready to move on with her life. For her, the mansion is just a reminder that her grandmother is dead while the composers serve as reminders that her dad has taken off and squandered his inheritance doing goodness knows what. It makes sense that she' ready to move on.
What makes less sense is that her plan is to destroy the mansion. I wasn't entirely clear whether the house had been repossessed by the bank, sold, or if she had determined to demolish it herself, which is a sticking point, because that could have some serious repercussions down the line. Also, it's a fantastic place – build in pipe organ in the hall, cello-shaped pools in the courtyard, stained glass windows…seriously, why would you want to destroy that? Presumably it comes from the attitude that “newer is better,” or possibly is an indicator of how deeply upset Kanae is. Fortunately for her (and me), she feels regret at just the right moment, sparking Beethes' transformation back into Ludwig von Beethoven, and he casts a musical spell on the house and grounds.
That was, hands down, the best part of the episode. It's a psychedelic explosion of techno-classical music with dancing ghosts, crazy colors and effects, and the amazing sight of the hall organ transforming into a robot and waltzing with the wrecking ball, which has also transformed. It's the kind of scenario a child might come up with playing with their particular mix of toys while her parents play classical music in the background. It's a bit hampered by the usual stilted anime waltzing – the mechs dance more smoothly than the human ghosts or Sousuke with the spoonbill – but the sense of something bizarrely magical makes up for it. It's just fun, which is true of the whole episode.
It is a bit of a Slow Start, however. After opening with a montage of the characters' activities, the story slows down enough that Motes gets annoying in his antics and there's a worry that this is going to be weird for weirdness' sake. It may still go there, and with the addition of more ClassicaLoids this series does run the risk of being too aware of its own wackiness. It's also not likely to appeal to classical music purists, because we rarely, if ever, hear an unadulterated version of the songs. But if you're looking for something less frenetic than Nanbaka but still absurd and shiny, this is definitely worth checking out.
Come on, rock us Amadeus.
With all the mundane manga and light novel adaptations we review here, it can be nice to get a reminder that children's shows are often where the real craziness is at. ClassicaLoid lives in crazy town from minute zero, where we're introduced to versions of Beethoven and Mozart that are more interested in roller skating and frying gyouza than composing masterpieces. As thunderous orchestra plays in the background, Beethoven fries up his latest rendition of the dumpling snack, only to be crushed by one more burnt final result.
That absurdity, and the energy with which it is expressed, lies at the heart of this episode's best moments. That energy is also extremely take it or leave it - I at times found myself more aggravated than charmed by this episode's hyperactive characters, something that also often happens with children's shows. But when it all comes together, you get sequences like an organ and wrecking ball each morphing into giant robots, crashing into each other, and then suddenly shifting to ballroom dancing.
The stuff in between those very silly highlights is a bunch of mediocre scene-setting. This episode tries to draw emotional resonance out of protagonist Kanae's relationship with her grandmother's home, but their scenes are all too generic to really evoke much sympathy. And when they're not contributing to big silly set pieces, Beethoven and Mozart are basically just gimmick characters - Beethoven likes gyouza, Mozart is a big kid, they each act on those qualities. On top of that, Kanae's childhood friend Sousuke doesn't really have any endearing qualities at all, making this first episode a regularly shrill experience. And nothing about this episode really qualified as a hook, either; we eventually learn that Mozart and Beethoven are on the run, but “this show will eventually contain conflict” is a pretty low dramatic bar.
Still, as far as children's shows go, ClassicaLoid certainly has a lively visual style. The show is colorful and distinctive, marked by thick-lined characters and plenty of solid animation. And if you're a classical music junkie, there's a whole lot more to love here, from the reliance on well-known symphonies (some of which are unfortunately conveyed through cheap-sounding guitar tracks) to the silly composer-based quirks of all the ClassicaLoid characters.
In the end, nothing really thrilled me about ClassicaLoid, but it was also perfectly harmless - and there's certainly potential appeal for those more interested in either the upbeat tenor of children's shows or the classical music gimmicks. It's not something worth checking out if you're not intrigued by the premise, but probably worth a look if either of those qualities sound appealing.
The first episode of ClassicaLoid gets off to a wonderfully insane start. Before we're introduced to the characters or even hear a line of dialogue, we're treated to a series of cartoonish antics edited and choreographed to stirring classical music. It's a delightful little scene that captures the elusive feeling of having no idea what's going on but being excited anyway. The remainder of the episode has its ups and downs, but I think that's one of the most compelling beginnings I've seen so far this season.
When it's firing on all cylinders, this episode is fun in a way that defies any serious attempt to make sense of it all. It bears an unlikely similarity to the first episode of Drifters in that way; where Drifters allows the audience to indulge in violent action for its own sake, ClassicaLoid does the same with unhinged musical creativity. I never felt the need to question how Beethoven managed to summon up a group of dancing ghosts or make a mechanical organ turn into a robot, because I was too busy enjoying the moment. It's colorful, energetic, and creative enough to work without an explanation, which is pretty cool.
When the volume isn't turned all the way up, ClassicaLoid becomes a much more mundane series. The modern incarnations of Beethoven and Mozart are so far over the top that they don't really fit into normal conversations. Kanae is a little too busy being angry at all the other characters to properly articulate her own goals, and her friend Souske is more annoying than anything else. They're just not a very compelling group of protagonists, and the potential storyline of other composers searching for Beethoven and Mozart appears pretty generic at the moment. This is not a series that holds up particularly well under scrutiny.
Of course, there's something to be said for simple, energetic fun. So many shows get wrapped up in presenting a serious narrative that they fail to stand out in any meaningful way. ClassicaLoid has at least remembered to do something unique, and that alone could make it worth watching if you enjoy its particular style of craziness. Even if the story and characters don't make a strong first impression, some of the more fantastic visuals simply demand to be seen.
ClassicaLoid doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I'm not sure that it actually needs to. It seems like one of those silly, free-wheeling concepts much more concerned with having fun along the way then actually getting anywhere, the kind of thing that might have once had a shot at appearing on Saturday morning cartoon blocks in the States back in the day. Of course, that also means that it's a departure from the more typical anime-like feel, even if the characters are speaking in Japanese and Ludwig “Beethes” Beethoven is more concerned with frying gyoza than anything else.
The story is a basic and straightforward one: a girl can no longer manage the mansion left behind by her beloved grandmother, so she's selling it and tearing it down. The freeloaders who carry the names of world-famous composers ultimately come to the rescue, using magical powers to thwart the effort. The freeloaders are, of course, goofy interpretations of said composers rather than literal ones, but they seem to have come from nowhere. At the very end of the episode we finally get some hint on that: they are the titular ClassicaLoids, and others are out there who are looking for them. So there could actually be something of a plot to the series after all, and we will apparently be seeing more of them as the series goes on.
Which is completely fine, as long as you're not expecting anything substantial out of this. The artistry for the series, courtesy of Sunrise, is bright, clean, colorful, and inviting, with Beethes and Motes starkly contrasting in style to the very ordinary-looking Kanae. The scene where Beethes finally discovers his magic and all sorts of bizarre things happen is unquestionably the visual highlight, complete with weird gimmicks like construction equipment turning into a giant robot which briefly duels another giant robot constructed from a large organ. Also listen for take-offs on various pieces of classical music – all of them associated with Beethoven, I think? – even in the opener.
So if you need a light distraction during a heavy anime season then this one looks like it might fit the bill.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history