by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 13 of
This may be the weirdest and silliest episode of Classicaloid yet, but it's also one of the most enjoyable. I was completely glued to the saga of Schubert the Fish, as he struggled to reverse his circumstances, then adjust to fish life, and then found himself back at the mansion again. Oddly enough, it was thrilling from start to finish.
Classicaloid is full of bizarre twists and gags, but this one isn't as random as it seems at first—it's actually a music reference! As the show explains at the start of the episode, Schubert actually wrote two pieces called "Die Forelle," German for "The Trout." They feature two of his favorite genres: lieder (German art song) and chamber music. The lyrics of the lied "Die Forelle" use trout fishing as a metaphor, warning girls about boys who will try to seduce them "with their tackle." Schubert then re-used the melody as the fourth movement for a piano quintet. (That's piano plus four other instruments—violin, viola, cello and bass—not five pianos.) This Trout Quintet is one of Schubert's most famous works.
So Schubert turning into a trout makes a lot more "sense" than, say, Beethoven's obsession with gyoza. That still doesn't make the episode any less unusual, even for Classicaloid. The show didn't have to reference the Trout by having Schubert turn into one! It could have just had everyone go on a fishing trip or something. There are also plenty of other Schubert lieder and chamber works with programmatic titles that could have made for more "sensible" stories, but ClassicaLoid has always preferred to go for broke. It's one of the reasons I love the show so much, even through its rockier episodes. Classicaloid is never afraid to take chances, to be as weird as possible. I'll pick a flawed but unique show like this over a solid but boring one any day.
This episode works well because of how straightforward it is in other ways. The writing is extremely focused, as it follows Schubert's quest to make sense of his transformation, and every other character's actions revolve around him. Either they're trying to turn Schubert into food, help him escape (god bless Sousuke), or end up joining him in his predicament. Recent Classicaloid episodes have lost their way a bit with too many plots, getting overstuffed with focus split between too many characters. Even if there's a "focus" character, there's often a B-plot with another one under their noses. Classicaloid proves that it's much easier to loosen one aspect of your story if you can tighten another, finding that sweet spot of risky and solid at the same time.
Classicaloid also took some real chances on the art style this week. In the last few minutes of the episode, Schubert's Musik transforms everyone into fish. Previously, Schubert and Beethoven were shown as realistically rendered fish, but in this segment, everyone is a Disney-esque cartoon fish. I remember worrying near the episode's climax that I wouldn't see everyone's "fish form," so I'm so glad I was proven wrong. All the fish fit their personalities exactly, from Liszt as a flamboyant lionfish to Chopin's shy eel who hides in the sand, to the ever-unlucky Sousuke as a snail. My favorite was Beethoven as a stern black bass. He even retains his thick eyebrows in his cartoony version. This episode also might feature the most interaction between Schubert and Beethoven to date. For all of Schubert's slightly creepy fanboying, they clicked pretty well. It didn't take long for him to calm down and for Beethoven to adjust to the situation.
It was a fairly predictable episode otherwise. I don't think anyone ever thought that Schubert would become dinner, even when he seemed resigned to the prospect. (The segment where he says it's his dearest wish to be eaten by Beethoven was a little over-the-top, but it was funny to see just how far Classicaloid would stretch that joke.) Even so, "Die Forelle" managed to take plenty of risks and pull them off beautifully, packing in even more jokes than usual. The best gag was when Schubert had trouble thinking up a plan because of his short fish attention span. Classicaloids manages to teach kids about fish and music!
This might be my favorite Classicaloid episode yet. It was a goofy comedy episode with just a touch of heart, perfectly blending Classicaloid's various tones. It took a huge risk premise-wise while smoothing out its story construction. Best of all, it showed just how weird this show can get while still sticking to its educational mission. Classicaloid is all I ever wanted in a composer-themed anime, and then some.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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