by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 24 of
I've relished every episode of Classicaloid so far, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Even its silliest episodes have left me with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Still, few got me as thrilled or emotional as this penultimate installment. Classicaloid goes almost full hog into drama in this middle portion of its finale. And it works!
Usually, Classicaloid struggles with its dips into the dramatic end of the pool. It sells the emotions as completely sincere, but the subject is usually pretty silly. You can do the most heartfelt episode in the world about Beethoven's gyoza obsession, but it's still about Beethoven obsessing over Japanese fried food. There's only so far any viewer can suspend their disbelief before it wraps back around to comedy. Classicaloid avoids that this week by picking a more serious topic: the power of music and its place in society.
Bach wants to create a sort of musical utopia. This week, he finally gets a chance to realize that dream. He wrests control of the Octovas back from Mitsuru, now that her plan has gone completely awry. Part of this is because Classicaloids are doing a good job holding back the Bach-infected hordes at the mansion. (And of course, despite last week's cliffhanger, Schubert snaps out of his trance and starts using his Musik pretty quickly.) More importantly for the series' themes, Bach doesn't agree with Mitsuru's ideas. Mitsuru worships Bach above all other composers, wanting a world that is just him and his Musik—and dreaming of joining it herself with her own Bach wig. Bach, on the other hand, insists that Musik cannot be "but one color." The Classicaloids are supposed to represent eight distinct musical geniuses, to fit with the octave interval for which he named his super-powered organ. It's this variety of voices that set the tone for Bach's ideal world, where everyone has their own Musik. It's a world where music is the universal language.
Bach's vision has its own shortcomings, of course. It fails to take into account the extraordinary roles of music in our own world. Mozart, Beethoven, and Kanae explain how making music universal will rob it of those special meanings. Kanae shares a heartfelt story of listening to records with her grandmother, noting that her memory wouldn't be the same if music were not "special." I found her story less convincing than the ones Mozart and Beethoven had to offer, though—presumably a world where everyone "spoke" in music would still give Kanae and her grandmother their own musical expression. Mozart and Beethoven instead offer up the ways that non-musical activities inspire their own compositions. Beethoven, for example, says that making gyoza is its own form of "music" for him. He wouldn't want to live in a world where he couldn't take time away from composing to do that. In turn, making gyoza also inspires him to write more music. Mozart's version of this is "when he flirts with cute girls," of course.
This scene becomes a lot stranger when you think about which composers Classicaloid chooses to argue this. Bach wants this new world because he thinks composers are underappreciated in the current one, left to suffer in silence because music is seen as a fun distraction rather than a serious vocation. I appreciated that Classicaloid didn't try to suggest that this was something unique to the Internet age. This was arguably even truer in previous centuries than it is now. The idea of music as existing for its own sake, the pure artistic expression of a single soul, is only a few centuries old. For most of Western history, music served a primarily functional purpose, from religious devotion to courtly ceremonies. What's strange is that of the three composers represented in this scene, Bach is the one bemoaning the costs of the old system and calling for pure, context-free musical expression.
Bach was a musical genius who is rightfully beloved today for his dense, rigorous harmonies. He was somewhat obscure for the first century or so after his death, then "rediscovered" and celebrated again in the 19th century. None of this means that he was suffering in dingy attics during his life though, as his flashbacks in Classicaloid suggest. Bach came from a prosperous musical family and made a good living for himself as a church composer and organist. Even most of Bach's music (outside of the keyboard fugues) was functional in nature: designed for performance in church services, or commissioned by noble courts. It was only with the advent of the Romantic period, during Beethoven's later life, when the idea emerged of the "pure artist" making idiosyncratic works that the world around him didn't understand. Even so, Beethoven also prospered from the court patronage system during his time. Classicaloid doesn't ultimately come down on the side of the "tortured, isolated artist" as the only engine of "true art," and I appreciated that. Still, it chooses strange examples to make its point.
Classicaloid's point is that art is better when it exists with and engages in the larger world. The non-Bach Classicaloids are the perfect examples of this. Whatever their past lives were, the Classicaloids have found their own happiness in Kanae's mansion. Throughout the episode, we see how the various Classicaloids are musically motivated by their outside interests. Chopin gets in a good quip about bad cosplay as he battles the Bach drones, tying in his geeky interests with his own Musik expression. Even the human members of the household have their own roles to play in this "modest recital group," as Bach calls them. Or at least, Kanae does; Bach considers her the "conductor," keeping all their parts in line. I'm not sure what Sousuke contributes other than comic relief, which he still gets plenty of, even in this more dramatic episode. There's a great joke when he charges off to battle until the Classicaloids remind him that he's useless without Musik.
The whole episode ties every element of the show's main plot together beautifully. Each of the Classicaloids' individual personalities shine through, even if just for a moment in the mansion battle. Mitsuru's obsession comes to its conclusion. (Really, she's the character who needed more of a backstory episode. How did she go from a level-headed assistant researcher to her creepy Bach obsession?) Bach puts his plan in motion, and we learn more about his attitudes toward music. Even Kanae's father gets a cameo, as he pushes her to stop the Octovas before it's too late. I hope that Classicaloid keeps this together for its final episode, featuring a sudden alien invasion. It sounds like a flimsy excuse to get all eight Classicaloids battling on the same side, but if I've learned anything from this show, it's that it puts its all into even the strangest and weakest premises. That's why Classicaloid is so strong this week, when it's dealing with truly weighty material.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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