Vatican Miracle Examiner
Episode 11

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Vatican Miracle Examiner ?

Of course it would be cocaine. Vatican Miracle Examiner is exactly the kind of show that could somehow take its most baffling plot developments yet, a veritable Gordian Knot of unadulterated nonsense, and tie it all back to a whole bunch of people getting messed up on coke. There was a time when I thought things would never outmatch the sheer lunacy of the Exploding Hitler Debacle, but VME has finally managed to top itself again. Apparently, all it needed was a wee pick-me-up from the old Bolivian Marching Powder.

Here's an early warning though, for anyone seeking another VME hate-watch classic. This new milestone in “cuckoo-bananapants silliness” only reads that way on paper. While this episode is about three times sillier than anything from the Hitler arc, it's only about ten percent as entertaining, if even that. Unfortunately, this latest tale just doesn't deliver the over-the-top schlock value of the show's first four episodes. This penultimate arc of VME made the mistake of going all in on a terribly convoluted and tragically boring central mystery, one almost impossible to follow using any semblance of logic or reason. When “Nazi Sex Cult try to call a mulligan on the Third Reich using an army of brainwashed Catholic high school students” remains the most comprehensible plot Vatican Miracle Examiner has yet unfolded, there's a clear problem.

I'm not even certain that the Decapitating Clown Story can be recapped in an understandable manner, but I'll try. Having arrived in a small Italian village to investigate the local Light-Up Jesus and His Trumpet Noise, Hiraga and Roberto wind up investigating two murders, one three decades old that concerns the found-footage death of a young woman named Teresa, and the other being the more recent slaying of an albino-looking boy in the Church of the Rainbow Christ. Both of these murders are somehow related to the Decapitating Clown, a figure of local folklore who is, unsurprisingly, a clown that decapitates people. So far so good, at least as far as VME is concerned.

Then, despite having neither reasonable motivation nor the legal authority or to do so, the Priests continue their investigation with the aid of Agent Bill Suskins and his little blond sidekick. Eventually the crew finds that Father Trones, who witnessed both of the Clown killings, was frozen in ice and tossed into a random barn from thousands of feet into the air. Naturally.

All of this leads the Catholic Scooby Gang to the sight of the original Clown murder, which somehow still has evidence lying around after three decades, in turn leading them to a well that leads into a centuries-old goldmine. This mine is home to dozens of sun-starved men who were bred and raised in underground captivity to manually mine gold for a powerful family of European Aristocrats, despite the soil long being stripped of any precious metals. We eventually find out that Father Julia, who is serving as the Bond Villain-esque leader of an army of evil cultists, essentially keeps these poor souls around out of boredom, using their isolation and psychological torture as a kind of social experiment. When Roberto and Hiraga ask Julia how he could possibly be alive, he reveals that the body found in Africa was actually his hitherto unmentioned twin brother. Throughout the course of all these events, our protagonists react with the emotional range of tourists being shown some mildly amusing local landmarks.

And then there's the Roberto's discovery of Father Trones' impossibly large cocaine cartel, which he hid by masking the sound of a dozen cargo trucks as the Horn of God. The Jesus statue's rainbow glow, as well as Teresa's psychotic breakdown, were all caused by cocaine-induced delusions. Father Trones attempted to escape his sins by stowing away in the cargo hold of a plane, which somehow froze him into an extremely literal block of ice to fall from the sky into the aforementioned barn. Of course.

If all of that sounds even remotely interesting, I assure you that this whole Decapitating Clown Arc has been the absolute furthest thing from fun. Where the original arc concluded in an orgy of blood and acid-induced explosions, almost of what I just recapped was painstakingly delivered via tedious dialogue and an overuse of poorly framed Dutch angles. When the camera isn't tilting every which way to try and force some life into the episode's dreadful dialogue, the characters are left to just wander around and talk each other to death in the dark. The Tale of Exploding Hitler Jr.'s Zombie High School Army was hilariously dumb fun, all things considered. The Chronicle of the Cocaine Clown and His Sad Crew of Albino Slaves ended up just being bizarre, stupid, and boring. There's only one episode to go for Vatican Miracle Examiner, and I couldn't be more thankful. A few episodes of terribly directed and borderline incoherent schlock are all well and good, but twelve straight weeks of the stuff is just too much. Much like the cocaine that caused all those churchgoers to hallucinate a violently colorful vision of their savior, Vatican Miracle Examiner is a dangerous substance to indulge in for too long.

Rating: D-

Vatican Miracle Examiner is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.

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