by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 7 of
This week's Classicaloid was an odd one. Mozart regresses to a childlike state as he terrorizes the town as a "Mountain King." Normally, the weird stuff on Classicaloid makes more sense when you learn the musical lore behind it. That patterns holds true here—but just barely.
The "Mountain King" is a classical music reference. It comes from the movement "In the Hall of the Mountain King," from Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's music for the Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt. If you've ever seen an old cartoon where a villain creeps around, you've probably heard this one. Like other parts of Peer Gynt, it's a very colorful piece that is frequently referenced in film, especially animation. (Just give a listen to the whole first Peer Gynt suite; I bet you'll recognize all of it.) It was cool to see a shout-out in Classicaloid, even though Grieg is not a character in the anime. I hope we'll get more of these in future episodes, as the show expands beyond character introductions.
Mozart's mountain disguise both terrorizes and fascinates the local community. A TV program focused on urban legends features him freaking out a couple on a date and names him "Hamagon." This scares ordinary tourists away from the mountainside, while attracting urban-legend enthusiasts. Before long, they even organize a Hamagon-themed festival by the shrine where Hamagon "is believed to live." People are selling Hamagon food and organizing Hamagon games. Sousuke even gets into the fun, before being reminded by Kanae why they're there.
Of course, Kanae is not happy about all this attention. The group quickly figures that Mozart is the culprit when he goes missing, and then they catch him in the act. Kanae quickly starts worrying about how all this attention will negatively affect the reputation of her house. She might be a more developed character now, but Kanae is still a fun-sponge at heart.
The episode also features Schubert finally joining the group at Kanae's mansion, venting his anger at Mozart while gushing over Beethoven. This even plays a role in the central "Hamagon" plot: Schubert is on his way home to deliver gyoza to Beethoven when Hamagon-Mozart steals the food from him. Even Tchaikovsky and Badarzewska are part of the story, since Tchaikovsky goes hunting for Hamagon after seeing him on TV. Each of these scenes are small but helpful ways to tie the rest of the cast in with Mozart's story. Character-focus episodes can make the rest of the cast feel superfluous, and that's especially important to avoid with a plot this silly.
All this strangeness is ultimately tied into Mozart's backstory. While Mozart explores the woods, we see flashbacks to his childhood with his mother, as they bonded over fart jokes. (I wonder what Mozart and his mom would think of Keijo!!!!!!!!) When we later see Mozart despondent over a dead baby deer, we find out that when Mozart saw that the deer's mother had been killed by a hunter, it unleashed his "Hamagon" forest animal persona. Mozart also lost his mother when he was a boy, so he wants to protect these baby animals by playing "mom" to them. For the record, this isn't entirely true; Mozart was young when his mother died, but not a child. Maman Mozart passed away in 1778, when Wolfgang was 22. Let's suspend disbelief for this episode though, as it reveals some interesting sides to Motes' character. He was pure comic relief before, but now we know there's a sentimental heart under all that goofiness.
Finding the baby deer dead triggers his Musik, this time his famous Requiem. Mozart's Requiem is one of my favorites of his works, so I was more than pleased. Classicaloid's pop remix of it combines various different movements of the piece, most clearly the Dies Irae—easily the catchiest tune—and the Confutatis. If you've seen Amadeus, the latter is the movement Mozart dictates to Salieri from his deathbed. On that topic, the Requiem (which is a funeral mass) has a somewhat spooky history, central to the "Mozart vs. Salieri" myth. It's easy to see why: Mozart left it unfinished upon his death (one of his students wrote the rest), and the benefactor who requested it was left anonymous. It wasn't Salieri though, and there's no evidence that whoever did it was trying to poison Mozart like in the myth. In fact, historians now know who it was: a count named Franz von Walsegg who had a reputation for commissioning music that he then tried to pass off as his own work. He was a shady guy, but not that shady.
I thought it was a neat twist that the Musik powers involved magical fire that make people repent their sins. That's a huge part of the Requiem text: reminders that God judges all souls and pleas to him for mercy. Classicaloid uses this not only for drama, but humor as well, like when a food stall vendor repents for ripping people off. The giant skull in the sky was pretty awesome too. The madness finally ends when the flame hits Beethoven, who apparently has nothing to repent, so he literally knocks Mozart out of his stupor. That's when they find out the baby deer wasn't dead at all, but simply unconscious from shock at the thunderstorm. Mozart snaps out of his "Hamagon" persona and returns with the group, but it doesn't last—he takes on a dolphin persona later. At least the adventure seems to result in Kanae loosening up.
There's a lot about this week's Classicaloid that should not have worked, starting with the whole premise. In any other anime, it might have fallen flat. What sets Classicaloid apart is how good it is at wringing maximum emotion out of minimum plot. It also makes its weirdness meaningful, from Beethoven's gyoza obsession to this strange tale. Classicaloid may not always be the flashiest anime, but it's still carried by strong writing.
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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