It may have seemed like a normal mystery series on the surface, but there's more than sacrosanct sleuthing going on in the world of Vatican Miracle Examiner! This week in anime, we try to exorcise the madness from this truly bizarre show's first four episodes.
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how did we get here?
this was supposed to be like
a nice show about priests solving spooky mysteries at struggling conservatories in Juárez or wherever
and maybe at the end they pull the mask off a ghost and it's like "Father Bertrand! And the gardener was his accomplice!"
nice fun whodunnits like that
i don't understand what happened
In hindsight maybe we should have seen this coming when the show dropped this line
How are they...? Is it just in a petri dish or something? Growling at people? "Man that's one pissed-off hymen!"
I guess we do need to start at the beginning.
Vatican Miracle Examiner is the story of two vaguely homoerotic catholic priests whose job is to visit various sites of "miracles" and confirm if they're really holy or not.
When we say "vaguely homoerotic", we mean they stare at each other and lightly grasp hands in the name of the lord sometimes. These two holybros have basically no character.
Hey now, one of them has a brother with, and I quote, "Terrible Bone Cancer", so that's a character trait right?
And that surprised me, I mean you got four episodes to give them SOME personality, but all that time is just packed with mystery clues from the depths of Hades instead.
"The Virgin Mary statue is crying!" "But what's this, brother Guido is displaying signs of the stigmata and floating in the air!" "SISTER FAYE'S IMMACULATELY CONCEIVED CHILD WAS BORN WITH TWO HEADS." Just back to back to back...
Hey, if you can't write a good mystery, write like nine bad ones all at once.
So all these mysteries take place at like one boarding school/chapel?
Somehow, yes. See, it starts off investigating a supposed Immaculate Conception by a nun. But then people start getting murdered in ways that mirror the martyr'd saints in the cathedral's stained glass.
It's really not fair to the poor priests. "Uh hey, we were just supposed to investigate one suspiciously pregnant lady, this is hella unpaid overtime."
There's so much shit going on, they all just gloss over the fact that the students at a CATHOLIC BOARDING SCHOOL also frequently hold satanic seances for funsies. Like I admit that I never went to Catholic school, but I have to imagine that's frowned upon.
They don't seem to care! They're investigating why the statue was crying or something and it's like an aside: "oh look at the children with their ouija boards over there in the courtyard."
(hellish screams echo in the night)
"Boys will be boys!"
Our main Fathers don't seem particularly observant in general
yes, This Has Never Happened Before
Altar boys attempting to summon Satan, that's just a Tuesday, but sexual abuse in the Catholic church WHY I NEVER
But this is all small potatoes before we get to the real twist in episode 3. That's when they uncover the priesthood's undercover drug ring!
Also do I hear WAGNER in the background oh no
Yuuuuuuup, because then it turns out that drug ring is all part of a NAZI CONSPIRACY TO CONTROL THE VATICAN
Because South America you see. South America is at all times overflowing with hidden Nazis. It's like Where's Waldo but for swastikas (according to anime).
So you might be thinking this is all a scheme to get like, a nazi sympathizer installed as Pope. But no no no, that's way too small time.
The actual organization of the Catholic church doesn't have much to do with anything, I noticed. A lot of the set dressing and general symbolism is there, but the author doesn't seem to know how the church is structured as an institution, how people are tried or observed within it etc., despite plenty of research that's been done into the ephemera of Catholicism, things like the stigmata or the saints, all the juicy legends that anime is wont to adopt.
It's kinda like the inverse of black metal bands that incorporate satanic and pagan imagery into their songs and aesthetic. Considering some stuff that comes later, I'm beginning to suspect the original LN author has never so much as seen an actual church.
Nonsense, they all have labyrinthine cult basements underneath. That's where they hold them Wednesday potlucks and bake sales. Cookies for Christ, that sorta thing.
Okay so yeah the cult. Turns out the guy who founded the church, Mikhail Brown, was in fact Actual Real Life Gestapo Official Heinrich Müller, who used a German airship to fly his daycare of Hitler Youth to South America.
and everyone there just thought it was a UFO...
because NOBODY knows what a ZEPPELIN is south of the border, why it might as well be aliens!
I'm surprised they didn't try to tie it into Roswell somehow
ohshit yeah, missed opportunity! too far north maybe, New Mexico and all
I'm pretty sure this show thinks both Mexicos old and new are part of South America so
But anyway, even THAT turns out to only be half of the insanity because, and I swear I'm not making this up: This whole church was founded so that Müller could impregnate his own daughter with *the sperm of Adolf Hitler's cryogenically frozen corpse*
Let me say that again in case anyone's brain understandably refused to process that sentence. They stuck a syringe into the frozen nuts of Hitler and tried to give birth to a new hitler.
Also this isn't the first time they've tried this. Hence the aforementioned two-headed baby.
Who they call Lord Janus because on top of being Nazis I guess they're also really into the Roman Pantheon. But their second attempt also failed, with the kid growing up to just be a nice christian boy, UNTIL they decided to try again with the aforementioned nun.
Right, then that nice christian boy becomes the de facto leader of the cult, because instead of being born with two heads, he gets two personalities. They keep creating a Splitler if you will. So they're third-times-the-charm-ing it for a not-bifurcated Hitler
Oh, and in all this I forgot to mention the school's also used drugs and virtual reality headsets to brainwash all the schoolboys into mindless zombies. So this all culminates with our two priests who have barely even factored into this story getting to stave off a horde of school kids and fight Antichrist Hitler Jr
To stop them from controlling the fate of baby hitler number three, who for all we know might be a perfectly nice baby who just grows up to have a truly unfortunate mustache.
Conveniently, this show with a cast of exclusively Catholic clergy sidesteps any mention of abortion. Don't want to get political, after all.
Not in the show with three Hitlers and counting, of course not. There's a time and place, Nicholas.
now let's get back to the part where one of the Nazi Priests turns out to be a secret agent for a Jewish society dedicated to eliminating secret Nazi organizations across the world
who was not foreshadowed in any way at all and does nothing up to this point, while our main two priests are fleeing for their lives and (my favorite part) throwing "holy water" on Splitler to freak out the cult as he melts before them.
Because it wasn't holy water, it's uh, actually sulfuric acid.
What the fuck, guys.
I'm no chem major but how does sulfuric acid set you on fire?
I must have missed that part, but I thought he started melting and then they threw a match on him or something?
Maybe it was holy acid.
No, a second viewing does not clear anything up.
That's somehow the weirdest thing to me.
IT'S NOT VERY CHRISTLIKE EITHER WAY
"we're just here to observe and report back to the vatican about this so-called ~miracle birth~"
(melts a man and burns a church to the ground)
I understand Jesus flipped him some tables over in the temple, but none of those tables had sulfuric acid on them!
I can understand crazy Nazi conspiracies and two-headed Hitler babies but these Priests seem to have zero faith in any of their holy powers. They see a kid who they think is possessed, they just wack him over the head with a bible.
Yeah they're performing an exorcism at one point, and one priest is like "yo, keep up the screamin about our lord and savior, I'll look for drugs in his desk."
AND YET SOMEHOW, the existence of pederasty in the all-boys conservatory is a shock to them. I'm convinced these jokers are just FBI agents who skimmed over one of those illustrated bibles at a local youth group real quick, donned some priest robes, and motored on over to South America to blow some shit up.
I'm just at a loss for where we go from here. There's presumably at least two more arcs after this. How do you top Triple Baby Hitler?
Their first solved mystery contains more nonsense than some mystery shows get out of their entire run.
It's like an entire Danganronpa
game shoved into 80 minutes
I guess the big question is would you recommend this insanity to anyone?
This is a terrible mystery but a hilarious god damn roller coaster. Just don't go in expecting to like, solve anything or figure out any twists. Go in and let it just spray over you like a car wash of canned cheese.
I kinda feel differently myself. It's all just a giant stack of clues with no character and little animation for the first three episodes, so I was really bored until the 4th episode came along. Which was transcendently magical, I'm not gonna front. But I guess the answer for me depends on where it goes from here. I'd say surely it has to scale down for the next two mysteries, but what anime ever does? So we'll see I guess?
That's fair. I have serious doubts that it can ever capture the magic again, but damned if I won't stick around to see if it does.
I want to see the priests go TO SPACE!
I'm personally hoping for Vampires
Vampires vs Werewolves vs Aliens
You've prepped us for nothing less, Vatican Miracle Examiner. YOU DID THIS TO US.