by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 25 of
Going into Classicaloid's first season finale, the whole thing felt a little tacked-on. It basically concluded the ongoing story last week, only to have aliens show up at the last minute. It's like a reverse of the deus ex machina: rather than an unexpected, out-of-nowhere resolution, we have one that prolongs the story. (The Internet has cleverly named this a diabolus ex machina.) In a way, this ending fits both roles, because it allows Classicaloid to deliver the perfect finale, showing us heavily anticipated moments that the last two episodes denied us.
For example, all eight Classicaloids finally get behind the Octovas! The aliens want to hear Earth music after encountering the Voyager Golden Record, and the Octovas seems to be the only way to give them what they want. Luckily, Bach fixed it just enough after its destruction last week for one last deed. They pile into it and combine their music for a momentous performance, which even earns the release of all the humans the aliens captured. It isn't enough to appease their voracious appetite, but it gives us a cool visual that we didn't expect to see.
Let's talk about the Voyager Golden Record for a moment. Classicaloid's reference to it feels timely after the death of Chuck Berry, whose "Johnny B. Goode" is the only rock song included. The Golden Record was designed to represent Earth's images and music to the cosmos, on the chance that another civilization will encounter either of the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. Along with classical music, including works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Igor Stravinsky, the Golden Record includes various types of traditional music from around the world and popular music such as jazz and blues. It also has non-musical sounds, such as nature recordings and greetings in various languages. You can read about all of it on the Wikipedia page, and listen to some of it on NASA's SoundCloud channel.
Classicaloid clearly did some research on this, as they reference music actually included on the record. Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the source of the famous "Ode to Joy," is not on there (unfortunately, in my opinion), but they do include the "Queen of the Night" aria from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, which seems to be his Musik when they send Sousuke and Kanae up to the UFO. It's one of the most technically impressive soprano arias in the repertoire, going extremely high in the human vocal range. Even with lyrics about a mother threatening her daughter, I'd say it's not a bad way to represent human ingenuity to the cosmos!
In real life, it's extremely unlikely that any space culture will come in contact with the Golden Record. Space is big, with a lot of room between star systems The closest that either Voyager craft is expected to come to another one is almost two light-years, and that would be 40,000 years from now. Even if aliens discover it, they probably won't be paying us a visit any time soon. The spacecrafts only reached interstellar space a handful of years ago. Still, it's a fun idea for a science fiction premise. After Chuck Berry's death, I saw a handful of jokes about what aliens will do when they first hear "Johnny B. Goode." I'm surprised Classicaloid didn't go there sooner—but I also understand why they saved it for the finale. It's an idea with a ton of potential, and Classicaloid milks it to the max.
The final Musik scene is one of the show's most artistically stunning moments, despite the fact that the animation itself is a little shaky. It relies too much on distant off-model characters in shots where they'll be quite noticeable. (This is especially true of Kanae and Sousuke, who freeze with their mouths gaping open for much of the scene.) Still, the show makes up for it with the eye-popping, psychedelic colors and effects used for the Musik. It looks like a progressive rock album cover. The aliens' pulsating colors and scribbly designs might be the weirdest of all, but they perfectly fit their childlike enthusiasm. It was really easy to believe that these aliens were overexcited teens from another world. Like our teenagers, they sometimes go a little too far to get their way—destroying buildings to demand an encore, in this case. Once they get that encore though, it surpasses the original performance, and the aliens fix everything once it's over. Music brings civilizations together, just like the real Golden Record was created to do.
I appreciated that Sousuke got to deliver the autograph at the end of the scene. Sousuke's been the butt of jokes throughout the show for his lack of talent, and this episode is no exception. Sousuke gets one of the best jokes when he's abducted, tries to play his awful "music," and then gets dropped out of the UFO because the aliens hate it so much. They traveled many parsecs to get here; they won't settle for that garbage! Still, Sousuke's dedication to his musical dreams is admirable, especially against such high odds. It's nice to see him finally get a tiny piece of recognition at the end.
The final episode of Classicaloid beautifully ties together so much of what makes the series work, but it also shows why this show is not for everyone, with its wonky animation and extreme silliness that requires constant suspension of disbelief. You really have to be committed to Classicaloid to love it, staying ready for anything it throws at you. If you can stay along for the ride though, it will surprise and thrill you like nothing else in anime. It has wild, weird rock reinterpretations of familiar classical pieces. It has hilarious twists on familiar composers. And most importantly, it takes narrative risks that other anime won't. This strange alien encounter was the perfect way to cap off one of anime's most unexpected recent gems. I can't wait to see what Classicaloid has got up its sleeve in October.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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