This Week in Anime
Babylon Has a Whore Complex

by Michelle Liu & Andy Pfeiffer,

The Babylon anime is on short hiatus as it prepares for its big finale. Micchy and Andy dig in to the show's philosophical conundrums on suicide and gender relations and come up with a lot of reeking garbage.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. NSFW Warning: Includes discussion and some graphic images of suicide.

You can read our episode reviews of Babylonhere!

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


Andy
Hey Micchy! I figured it's time for a change of pace. Lately we've watched shows that I'd describe as "competent" and "made by human beings." Then this week I watched Babylon.
Micchy
What, are you telling me that the show with a plot point about Ryan Toys Review running for city council to debate the ethics of suicide isn't a masterpiece of the ages?
OK, normally we wait until the end on whether or not we recommend things but I gotta get this outta the way first. I hate this show. But I didn't hate watching it. I encourage everyone to grab some note cards and watch the first 3 episodes. After each one note what the plot is and what motivation characters have. Then look at the cards, compare, and then throw them into a fire because fuck it the politics are made up and the characters don't matter!
Babylon starts off pretty benign, a fairly rote CSI-esque police drama about normal cases like election corruption and possibly sex trafficking. For a hot second, you think you're watching something competent, if perhaps a little over-directed. But then the politicians start babbling about a new world order, some guy declares suicide legal, and then a literal femme fatale starts swinging an axe around on Twitch, and I have thoroughly lost track of where any of this is going.
I wanna say the show would be way better if it were all about her, but it kinda is and that's also the problem. Because going in I didn't realize how deeply coded the title BABYLON was and now I wish I didn't. Like you said. the show starts off as a kind of interesting procedural until our main character finds a special note.

And from then on you can Pay Respects to any semblance of normal.
There's a few episodes of beating around the bush of what this cryptic dying message from a suicidal doctor could mean, but to cut to the chase, the source of all evil in this show is apparently

For all the waxing philosophical about the meaning of life and death, most of the show comes down to "girl hot, and that's bad."
Sometimes you set up a second Tokyo to be an Ayn Rand dream where you can remove all regulations and make a "perfect world" and then you rig an election to put a charismatic young man with no faults as the face of your new political party, and then oh shit he deregulated suicide.

Somehow this is all the fault of this very, very evil woman. But it comes off so hilarious as the show treats this as layers of conspiracy and intrigue but when it comes down to it it operates on Air Bud rules. "There's no law against legalizing suicide" is literally a sentence in this show as they seek to hold sinister young politician accountable for their big suicide chart.
I for one like how Itsuki announces his revolutionary new idea just as several dozen people jump off a building at the behest of a lady who ASMR'ed them into thinking that was the best course of action. Maybe instead of rigging elections and indirectly murdering people, Ai Magase should go into whispering pointless nothings into a microphone for the big bux.
I'd say make sure she doesn't get a youtube channel but she's already set up a live stream.

Now, you might think 'OK, the dumb civil politics in the show don't really matter compared to her politics.' And you could be right! Except that her politics are well, um,
Look, I don't know why we're supposed to entertain her "if respecting differences of opinion is so important, then why can't I tell people to run in front of a bus" bloviating. Like as intelligent and morally upstanding as our main character is supposed to be, he's mighty bad at figuring out the limits of free speech or whatever.
Episode 2 in particular is a masterclass in insanely dumb philosophy.

As well as weird framing and editing. Like what the hell is this shot?! There's subtext and then there's this kind of weird DO YOU GET IT from someone that feels like they don't really get coherent visual language.
Man, that entire interrogation scene spends its whole time threatening to be clever in its framing, and I just wanted it to stop.
I almost forgot to mention how straight up horny it is.

Especially for hand loving weirdos.
Surely there was a less clunky way of visually communicating that Magase invades people's mental space than just pasting her head in frame.
This show has an obsession with showing WOMAN and MAN as opposition in frame. Right after this disastrous interrogation our main dumb boy Zen Seizaki, who I realized I haven't name dropped yet, finally gets a new partner after his last one decided to hang out at his apartment rather than keep dealing with this shit. But uh oh, the new one is a LADY! They have an entire conversation where this big wall of boxes is between them and then does this:

THOSE ARE CONSECUTIVE FRAMES
HARD CUT
DO.YOU.GET.IT.
Not to understate the show's failure to deliver coherent philosophies or raise ethical questions that require more than two seconds to resolve, but it is worth noting that Babylon low-key uh, hates women. Of the two significant female characters in the show, one gets hacked to bits after doing next to nothing; the other is apparently the world's most evil person specifically because her ASMR voice is dangerously sexy.
I'll give "low-key" for the build up to the grand revelation of "Even if you legalize suicide no one would want to die... unless something made them want to... but what could... EXCEPT WOMEN." The show was being kinda shitty towards women already, but the illusion that it came out of nowhere was instantly dispelled once I realized why the fuck this show is called Babylon. Which is that our horrifically sexy, evil, adopted child cum sexy teenager cum uber hot shape-shifting ASMR lady who has the power to make people O-Face to death because she's just that god damn hot, Ai Magase, is the literal Whore of Babylon.

Throw them horns, queen of fornication and bringer of the apocalypse.
That's when you realize the entire plot about the suicide law and Itsuki's strawman platform of "suicide should be legal if weed is legal" are just a backdrop to the real threat: being horny for girls.

Yup, a totally normal way to talk about your 15-year-old niece, not weird at all.
It's amazing how many political strawmen they've had to write into this show to be knocked down by the equivalent of a Reddit post going "who's the real hypocrite?" It doesn't matter at all because apparently all of society can be torn down by a woman owning her sexuality. And boy is the scene of investigating her past real fucking gross.
Babylon would have you believe that the mere presence of a hot teenager would cause her fellow classmates to feel violated by her existence. Then doubles down with how evil she must be because her uncle wanted to do some incest too. It's one of the most aggressively sexist and hostile commentaries on how women are to blame for their appearance and how men treat them I've ever seen. That it tries to justify this by making her some kind of literal Antichrist figure doesn't disguise how awful it is. Plus side is that it gives us these amazing subtitles.
That's seven words!!
Yet another quirk of the show: When it wants to make some grand point the screen goes black. It's such a weird and dumb choice but it happens repeatedly, even for shit that isn't that impressive or important.
It's quite impressive how the show lets Ai's creepy uncle go on about how he felt aroused by his teenage niece and still expects us to see her as the bad guy. How many brain worms do you have to have to come to that conclusion, I wonder? His testimony even specifies that no, she didn't actually make moves on anyone, and no, it wasn't even intentional, but she's still somehow at fault because her uncle thought she was hot.
Well he could always check. Maybe his head is also full of brain jizz like this guy.
Kujiin, in his dying moments: "Hey did you know that suicide is a lot like sex? It takes a lot of buildup, it ends abruptly and messily, Ai Magase is there...."
A masterwork of animation. Also I've realized this scene aired during No-Nut November so that makes Magase at least twice as evil.
Speaking of corny visual metaphors, the livestream axe scene is absolutely priceless.
I was so mad when it finally revealed that Zen does indeed have a family, because the weird one-way phone calls were giving me such intense SamFlam vibes, but the ketchup disaster makes it worth it.
This is a blood splatter.
Really sucks that the show had to brutalize the one woman character for this. But I also can't let this scene go by without this other bit of amazing editing.

GUYS I THINK SHE HAS AN AX
JUST MAYBE
THE THING SHE'S HOLDING MIGHT BE ONE. THAT COST 5,800 YEN. YOU PROBABLY DIDN'T NOTICE
Of all the myriad plot twists in this show, why is the origin of the axe the one it takes such effort to explain? Why not, oh, how the hell she managed to track down the people investigating her, or where the hell the mayor scurried off to while vlogging about his newest political ventures? The answer is of course that none of the other stuff really matters when the primary goal is to establish that this woman is The Worst.
Air Bud suicide mayor is the most boring part of the show thanks to how poorly his opposition is written. We're supposed to think he's a political genius while he says shit like "Unjust laws cannot exist, because if they exist that means someone wanted them, and that makes them just."
The whole subplot about YouTube kid not wanting his dad to commit legal suicide culminates in the reveal that the kid is gasp THE MAYOR'S SON! We get some spiel about how he has a heart condition and suicide mayor wants to legally die and donate his heart. But then he will never allow his son to have anyone else's heart? That he'd rather the kid die than he not die for his son? And that even if it all fails he's still gonna kill himself to prove a point?
Meanwhile, our supposed smart heroes are like

All of this was a waste of time because Ai Magase was there posing as/is the mayor's wife? It's unclear. But she needed a way to murder 90% of the cast so that happens.
I didn't think it was possible to write a debate even more pointless than irl ones, but Babylon sure managed it with the mayor's "actually, suicide is like being gay" galaxy brain takes. Half a dozen established politicians in the room but apparently not one of them has the two brain cells required to recognize that suicide mayor's mostly talking out of his ass.
It was during that debate I stopped to check what the hell else this guy had written and make sure I wasn't just reading some transcribed Reddit posts and saw he's also behind KADO - The Right Answer, which I heard had some pretty bad writing. Good to see he's only gotten worse.
Well, both of 'em raise reasonably interesting philosophical questions that are rendered moot by balls-stupid plot twists, so yeah, that checks out. The thing is, with stronger arguments there might be a discussion to be had about the potential social value of death. But that question is ultimately irrelevant in Babylon because everything that happens in the show can be traced back to one indisputably malicious character who murders for the hell of it.
Which wouldn't be so bad if she had a point deeper than this garbage.

But she pretty much exists to be pointed at and go "isn't it scary how horny women make you while they're capable of this?"
Once you get off the rhetorical merry-go-round the show boils down to
But when you're swapping between "Legalizing marijuana bettered society so why shouldn't we let public spaces become The Happening?" and "Can dog lovers and cat lovers ever really get along? If so is war bad?" it all boils down to meaningless philosophical paste. In the end I'll let the show speak for itself.
in essence

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