by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 18 of
Is it just me, or is there a pattern in anime to do a self-contained comedy episode right before you kick off the plot? The tonal whiplash serves to firmly separate the last laughs from the rest of the story. That's certainly what happened this week in Classicaloid. We move from one of the strangest and funniest episodes of the show—last week's mandarin-fest—to a surprisingly (but not entirely) serious exploration of Bach, Otowa and Mitsuru's backstories.
If you've been waiting on more revelations about Bach's plans, we're finally here. Mitsuru broadly outlines Bach's plans: to build the ultimate musical instrument, which will have some ability over the Classicaloids. However, his main aim is to create something that goes beyond them. This makes sense when we learn more about what brought everyone here. Mitsuru studied with Dr. Otowa once upon a time, and she remembers how he described his magnum opus. His "ultimate musical instrument" had to be humans, because all music originally comes from humans. Perhaps because Bach is technically non-human, he rejects this, asserting that the future of music belongs to machines. Or perhaps his creation will be somehow even more "human" than the Classicaloids—but the way Mitsuru describes it, it sounds more like Option A.
Speaking of Mitsuru, I had never thought of her as a character with a backstory. I barely knew her name before this week; she was just "Bach's assistant," with little depth beyond that. It turns out that she has her own history with the Classicaloid project. She's been there from the very beginning, but what brought her to where she is today—assisting in Bach's goals by any means necessary?
On top of Mitsuru's surprising development is the return of Otowa. He makes his way back to Bach's lab, where Otowa used to work. We're led to believe there's some deeper reason, like concern over Bach's experiments. but this is still ClassicaLoid, so it's still all about the comedy, even in a more dramatic episode. It turns out that Otowa has returned just to pick up some money he saved in a secret spot. Without his old job, he's low on cash. Of course, it's still curious that he'd come strolling right back after he's been in hiding for years. Anything goes for the sake of a good joke—and an emotional confrontation.
So despite seeming dark on paper, this episode is run through with unexpectedly goofy comedy. The first big example of this starts with Bach, when his suit rips on wet paint. He needs any clothes he can find to cover up—and winds up picking a costume for Gyouna-kun, a gyoza-headed mascot. Unfortunately, this draws him a different kind of unwanted attention: excitable children. He makes it back home at the end of the episode, but not before getting caught up in another silly escapade.
The other comedy thread this week involves Sousuke. He gets captured when Mitsuru's robots mistake him for a "real" musician, but even his tone-deaf garbage can accomplish what Mitsuru needs: creating a pseudo-ClassicaLoid clone puppet with his "music." This robot takes over for the real thing at the mansion while he's stuck in the facility, and in classic cartoon comedy fashion, everyone falls for this. Robo-Sousuke looks completely robotic, and has a completely different personality than the real Sousuke, but everyone—even Kanae—is completely taken in by him. It seems like they're afraid to question why Sousuke is suddenly so helpful and hard-working, in case calling out his behavior will cause it to stop. It eventually does—but only from the robot overworking itself into a rampage.
This gives all the major composers the perfect opportunity to use their Musik, but only Bach prevails against Robo-Sousuke's destructive screech. His Musik this time is based on the "Air on a G-String," the second movement from his third Orchestral Suite. (The title refers to the lowest string on the violin, not undergarments.) Unlike the Rondo alla Turca, this easily adapts to a pop tune—unsurprising, since Classicaloid is far from the first to go there. I'm not sure if Classicaloid's creators thought about it this way, but it makes perfect musical sense that only Bach would succeed in subduing the raging robot. Both Beethoven and Mozart's chosen Musik are bombastic, energetic pieces, but the "Air on a G-String" is lyrical and tender. It's an inspired choice to restore serenity to this frantic scene.
Classicaloid usually ends these kinds of plot episodes more definitively. Everything is resolved so we can move on to another goofy episode next week. That wasn't the case this week though, which ends by pointing to greater forward momentum for the main story. Too many new questions have been raised to leave us here. Sousuke might be back at the mansion, but Mitsuru and Bach still have their plans. Kanae isn't happy to have her dad disappear again, and he isn't ready to leave his creations' schemes alone. I love silly and zany Classicaloid, but I'm glad to see we're back on track with this story.
As usual, I'm just impressed with how good this show is at juggling emotions and tones. Half the time, Classicaloid feels like it's written by throwing ideas at a wall, and yet it always feels cohesive and organic. Even the goofiest moments with Robo-Sousuke or Gyouna-kun feel like they flow naturally from the more dramatic events of the episode. It doesn't matter how weird it looks on paper; ClassicaLoid's wild ride always comes together in the end.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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