by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Confession: I'm not much of a coffee person. I am a philistine who dumps tons of cream and sugar into my cup. Also, I've always been terrible at and hated dodgeball. So I wouldn't have much in common with Beethoven, based on the latest ClassicaLoid.
That's okay, because you don't have to love coffee or dodgeball to have fun with this week's episode. It's the latest variation on a familiar theme: "Beethoven obsesses over weird things." Previously, it was gyoza and tricked-out guitars. This time, it's coffee and children's sports. At least the coffee obsession makes sense for someone who spent his formative years in Vienna. (I'm not sure how it was in Beethoven's time, but the city is renowned for its coffee today.) When it comes to the episode's second half though, I've got nothing.
The montages of Beethoven obsessing over coffee in the beginning are new to this show. It rarely lets one character just go wild in their head, except through Musik. His fixation builds as he rejects other beverages to crown coffee as the king of them all (it was not hard to predict his eventual answer), giving us an original beginning that promises an episode unlike the others.
It doesn't really end up that way, since Beethoven's adventure relies on well-trod gag formulas. Take Beethoven's quest to make his perfect 60-bean coffee. Everyone gets in his way, causing him to try over and over, never quite succeeding. It's a very familiar type of slapstick, from classic Western animation shorts to anime. Even Beethoven finally finishing his coffee, only to learn that he lost one bean, is familiar territory. Still, ClassicaLoid manages to keep the audience on our toes with funny variations on the formula, like Beethoven's makeshift shelter. It seems foolproof, until everyone starts talking about numbers. The sound leaks through and Beethoven blows it up telling them to stop.
That fills the first half of the episode, which goes on to describe the rest of Beethoven's typical day. He goes to the local park and sits on the bouncy panda, which earns him the ire of the neighborhood kids, culminating in Kanae's punishment and a game of dodgeball. All the kids, as well as all his housemates—even Schubert!—side against Beethoven's childishness. He loses repeatedly, but defeats the kids with his persistence alone. They let him have the panda after all, but he gains a new obsession with dodgeball in the process. You win some, you lose some, and some victories end up more Pyrrhic than expected.
Speaking of Schubert, ClassicaLoid proves that it does have some continuity after all. Schubert is still in his hip-hop get-up from last episode. He seems to have chilled out a bit overall, but we still get some freestyle from him in the middle of the episode. When Beethoven is holed up in his bean-counting shelter, Schubert starts rapping about him in admiration. I appreciate ClassicaLoid keeping this up. Schubert needed more to his character than just being a Beethoven fanboy, and seeing him in his backwards baseball cap and baggy pants is nothing short of hilarious.
Episode 22, "A Discerning Man," mostly deepens what we already know about Beethoven. He was already obsessive and cared little about how the world saw him, but this episode takes it up to 11. The guy doesn't even care if the world sees him as a child, as long as he gets to sit on the perfect chair. This comes from the idea of Beethoven as an isolated eccentric, especially in his later years when he was completely deaf. The real Beethoven did keep his room pretty messy and demanded special attention as a composer. But the idea that Beethoven didn't care about or pay attention to the outside world is largely a myth. Still, I'm fine with ClassicaLoid running with this idea, if it continues to produce episodes as funny as this one.
"A Discerning Man" mostly proves that ClassicaLoid isn't out of ideas yet. It still can pull whatever it wants out of its hat and work it to the show's fullest potential. Even so, I'm glad to see that we're heading into the meat of the story. Episode 23 promises the first of a two-parter, focusing on Bach and likely returning us to the main plot. It couldn't come any sooner.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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