by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Classicaloid seems to have settled on a distinct strategy for filling the last episodes of its first cour. It's time to give each of our main composer squad a second look. We had Mozart and Beethoven focus episodes, and it's now time for the next one in the line-up—Chopin! This episode is all about how his weird NEET personality leads to unexpected fame when it collides with memories of his past life.
I'm still really puzzled by the decision to make Chopin a NEET. There are a lot of other composers who actually fit the stereotype, but Chopin wasn't like that at all. He made his name performing publicly, and while he later withdrew from that lifestyle, he was always known as being pretty sociable. Even pulling from the composers featured in Classicaloid so far, Beethoven would fit the bill much better; the guy did spend a lot of time alone in his room and had some pretty disgusting habits as a result, like not emptying his chamber pot. Gross. Sometimes, having the kind of mind that makes you want to break all the rules means you end up breaking some that really shouldn't be broken.
Beethoven was also a very dramatic and intense guy though. That's the side of his personality most clearly present in his music, so that part of Beethoven stuck most in the cultural consciousness. Classicaloid is often more about how we think of these composers than who they actually were—even if it shares some biographical details along the way. Chopin was a Romantic-period composer who died young and had a famous affair with another quirky artist, and in ClassicaLoid, the "tortured Romantic" ideal seems to translate into being an anxious loner.
The other strange thing about this NEET characterization is that this doesn't exactly emanate from his music either. Chopin wrote some moody stuff from time to time (check out the "Raindrop" Prelude), but most of his music is light and playful. This includes the two pieces that Classicaloid displays this week: his "Grande Valse Brillante" and Fantasie-Impromptu. They become pop hits this week when Chopin creates a virtual idol, Jolly.
Jolly takes Hatsune Miku-loving types of the world by storm, and Chopin's not the only one who loves her. Sousuke is a fan too! Her program helps nerds translate their music into pop songs and put them online, so when Chopin falls in love with her, his Musik pops through the computer to transform her into an independently conscious star. His song for Jolly to the tune of the Grande Valse Brillante eclipses even Claskey Klasky among idol fans. Of course, this makes Bach and the girls none too pleased. They start scheming to overthrow Jolly once they realize that the Classicaloids are involved, but as usual, the situation resolves itself before they get there.
Jolly wants Chopin to keep churning out hits, but he starts withdrawing from the pressure, so she leaves him. This sends Chopin into a rage. He tries to use his Musik to go into the Internet, but draws in the other members of the mansion instead, who are already concerned about him. (There is comedy earlier in the episode when they try to "exorcise" him due to his strange behavior.) This results in some cool scenes of all the characters in the virtual world. We also see a humanized version of Sousuke's magic iPad, a blue-haired bishonen who's just as judgmental as he was in computer form.
When Bach's human assistant tries to hack into Jolly and control her ClassicaLoid powers, Chopin uses his music to try and save her before she dissolves, but it's too late. With her consent and to protect her from falling into the hands of the enemy, Chopin must delete her with another round of Musik. They have a tearful farewell, and Sousuke learns why Chopin is so smitten with her. She reminds him of Georges Sand, the famous writer who was Chopin's lover in his past life. I guess "Jolly" and "Georges" sound pretty similar to Japanese speakers, but this still feels like an eleventh-hour contrivance. I was willing to accept that Chopin was just lonely, and Jolly offered him the kind of companionship he had trouble accepting from his housemates.
Chopin still isn't really enough of a character to truly carry an episode. All the Classicaloids are goofy stereotypes to some degree, but Chopin is definitely the most one-note so far. This episode tries to add more depth to him, but it could have done far more. How did he become a NEET? It would be nice for the show to address that his previous life was different and use that to deepen his backstory in this life (like Beethoven's gyoza episode did for him). I'd also like to see more explanation for Chopin and Liszt's friendship. Sure, they were buddies in real life, but their newfound dynamic in this world could use more explanation. It's fun to put Chopin in the spotlight, but ClassicaLoid can't just do the same old thing with that spotlight, and then pull a backstory twist at the last moment.
Where this episode worked was with its humor. Classicaloid usually goes for zany jokes, but most of them were subtler this week. The moments where Chopin ate cake with Jolly and otherwise played at a relationship were nice nods to the silliness of "waifu" culture. The later reference to his real romance with Sand fell flat partly because it undermined the shallowness of his relationship with Jolly. The show is usually good at juggling comedic and dramatic tones, so that was disappointing.
I think it's mostly hard to watch episode 10 in light of the tour de force that was episode 9. It's easy to make a strong episode with someone like Beethoven, but Chopin is a much weaker character. That's just more reason for Classicaloid to do a better job developing him, so his focus episodes will stand out more.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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