Episode 21

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 21 of
ClassicaLoid ?

Schubert's episodes have historically been the best episodes of ClassicaLoid. They're usually also some of the weirdest—remember the one where everyone turned into fish? Episode 21 more than fits the second bill, especially in its final minutes, but I'm still undecided whether it's on the quality level of his previous days in the sun.

ClassicaLoid has done some version of "this character feels underappreciated" over and over. Last week, we had Mozart driven out over his housemates not appreciating his pranks. He ended up escaping the house, which Schubert also does this week. Schubert doesn't have his own room, and because of this, he feels like others don't care about him. They don't notice him when he's gone—even the Arkhé members forget him when listing the Otowokan Classicaloids. This leads him toward a journey of self-discovery around the world.

Schubert's angst is much more profound than Mozart's, so his journey is given more focus by the narrative. This is good, because it feels even more out-of-left-field. Sure, Schubert was the odd one about his Musik. It never manifested of his free will (which makes sense, since it has a habit of causing unfortunate side effects). Otherwise though, I've never seen this "neglect" and "outsider" status that he complains about in this episode. Mozart has irritated others with his pranks plenty of times, but since when is Schubert so friendless and alone? It feels like an invention of this episode. Most of ClassicaLoid's episodes are stand-alone, but character-building ones should have more to support them.

Regardless of its origin, ClassicaLoid develops Schubert's feelings plenty within the episode. After he wanders town dwelling on his true purpose, a kite picks him up (?) and flies him to a distant town, presumably in America. (But then again, he visits an outdoor oden stand? Oden isn't easy to find even in large, diverse cities. And this stand is run by street thugs?) In America, Schubert runs into Kyougo, Kanae's dad who created the Classicaloids. They have a profound heart-to-heart that gives Schubert hope, even if the talk isn't that substantial. Kyougo discusses the importance of having silly, small things to give life meaning, like the avocado he eats with his oden. It's hard to see how that connects to Schubert's dilemma or even answers his question about why Kyougo made the Classicaloids, but it clearly has an impact on our protagonist for the final act.

The plot-ball-kite appears again to send him reeling back to Otowokan, which is when stuff gets weird. The other characters are all focused on patching up the roof, not realizing that Schubert ever left. This sends him into a rage and finally gives him the ability to activate his Musik! The song this time is Erlkönig, Schubert's vocal setting of a poem by one of the most famous German writers, Johann Wilhelm von Goethe, about an evil forest elf who abducts children. Schubert's song is a masterpiece of text-painting, or using the music to illustrate the lyrics, but you wouldn't know that from ClassicaLoid's version. Instead, the episode shunts its melody firmly into the background, with Schubert's rapping dominating the song. Yes, rapping. His Musik also turns everyone into a graffiti cartoon as he angrily raps at each of them, making this the second Schubert Musik that shifts the art style completely.

Maybe I'm just frustrated that I could barely hear one of my favorite Schubert pieces, but I wasn't sure this scene worked. Yes, Schubert spent some time in an American city where rap music was blaring, but what about that explains his newfound fascination with the genre? Most of the rap fans he encountered were hostile toward him. The avocado lines make a bit more sense, even if they mostly highlight how random that idea was in the first place. It might make sense as just an aesthetic choice; I love when ClassicaLoid gets a chance to try on new art styles. Still, it's clear that Schubert's love of the hip-hop aesthetic lingers, since he's still dressing and acting that way the next day. Like the whole premise of this episode, I'm not sure where it comes from or if it will continue. There needs to be more to this story.

So this marks a low point in the Schubert focus episodes, but it's still highly entertaining and plenty weird as ever for ClassicaLoid. The emotions feel sincere, even if you're not always sure where they came from. Most importantly, this episode shows that ClassicaLoid is still willing to take chances. There's nothing stopping this show as it launches further and further into the realm of the weird. I just wish it would find something to anchor its writing better once in a while. I love these characters, and ClassicaLoid could be doing so much more with them. That's especially true of Schubert, the strongest and most emotional character of the bunch.

Rating: B

ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose's favorite Schubert songs are the ones from his moody song cycle "Winterreise," which you should check out if you liked "Erlkönig." Follow her on her media blog Rose's Turn, and on Twitter.

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