Pony Canyon hosted the world premiere of The Caligula Effect event at Sakura-Con on Friday. In addition to an exclusive look at Episode 1 of the series, two special guests, Chiharu Sawashiro (VA: Ritsu Shikishima) and Takanori Matsuoka (Series Producer) were also present. Additionally, it was noted that this was Sawashiro-san’s first time viewing the completed episode.
The Caligula Effect follows a virtual world known as “Mobius,” created by the super popular virtual idol μ (pronounced “Myu”). This world was created due to the fact that μ recognized the world as “sad,” and thinks she can save them. Only humans who are both suffering in the real world and relate deeply to her music are trapped in this new world. While the world is deemed “perfect,” many of the people trapped in it eventually want to escape.
Before the episode screening, both guests were asked the following question:
What should viewers be paying attention to while watching the show?
Chiharu Sawashiro — “I think the content is interesting, and the story intriguing. The show is big on music, and I think it allows you to immerse yourself. I would love for you to watch and enjoy the show.”
Takanori Matsuoka — “I’m sure there are people who have played the original game, but I think you should focus on the difference between the two. While the game focuses on the protagonist that you get to control, the anime focuses on the main character Ritsu. Thanks to this, you get to see and interact as both the protagonist and the character. We are only showing episode one, so I’m sure you’ll have questions about the story and characters. More of these will be shown as the show progresses.
I am very excited to hear feedback so that I can reflect on the show myself. Please support Ritsu and Sawashiro-san and enjoy the show!”
As previously mentioned by Sawashiro-san, you immediately know that music does, in fact, play a huge part in the series. At the very beginning of the episode (although I’m not sure if it’s the actual OP) there is an absolutely beautiful song sung by μ (VA: Reina Ueda). This transitions into the daily life of Ritsu, and then transitions into a monologue where he attempts to define happiness. One of the reoccurring themes in this episode (and possibly the whole future show) is its use of science to define humans and their actions. There is a lot of reference to sociology and philosophy as well as Ritsu’s direct use of quotes from Aristotle and other prominent figures.
One possible issue this could cause in the future of the show is the fact that the show almost feels like it’s trying too hard to be “deep” or “complex.” Past shows have suffered from this trait, and I am very interested to see if this trend of using scientifical explanations will continue. The best outcome for me personally, would be similar to how it was done in TsukigaKirei last year, with the frequent use of quotes from Osamu Dazai to define current events and emotions in the show.
Continuing on, Ritsu attempts to unwind with some music when he is met with an unexpected event. This occurrence is what leads to the main plot of the series. While previously oblivious for some reason, he begins to notice the harsher realities of regular life (we also flash to a scene featuring a female character and her issues with mom). Having it now been a few days since his life became less than happy, he continues to be confused by what was mentioned previously. Flash forward to some sort of graduation ceremony, this is when the prominent “glitch” happens that causes his life to change forever.
“This previously mentioned “glitch” is the visual effect The Caligula Effect uses (at least in this episode) to transition between reality and the new world “Mobius.” While very basic and overused, it hasn’t yet taken away from the rest of the show.
While not previously on my radar for this upcoming season, I am now intrigued to see where it goes. At the very least, I will enjoy the music this show introduces.
After the episode finished, a quick Q&A was held with the special guests.
“How was it bringing to life a “blank slate” character? (Reference to the original game).”
*NOTE: Sawashiro-san also voiced Ritsu Shikishima in the original game)
Chiharu Sawashiro — “It was much easier this time around because he already has interests and characteristics. He likes sociology and philosophy but I’m dumb, so I get to act the opposite.”
“How was playing this character different from your supporting roles?”
*NOTE: This is Sawashiro-san’s first role as a main character.
Chiharu Sawashiro — “While I was in those roles, I thought of the main cast as the leaders, and in turn, I was less than professional in the studio. Now that I have become a leader myself, I have to act more professional in the booth, especially while taking direction. “I have to be more like “Yes, I understand.” rather than “Yes yes yes! Of course! I’ll do my best!“”
*NOTE: All responses from special guests quoted in this article are paraphrased, due to the rule prohibiting recording. They should not be taken as direct quotes from the guests.