Wednesday, March 02, 2016

10 Second Anime - Musaigen no Phantom World - Episode 9

Team Haruhiko helps out the drama club to put on a Late Edo Period piece, but Koito senses a phantom may be at work nearby.

Episode 9 - "The Strange Tale of the Bakumatsu Phantom"


Bakumatsu, 幕末 (literally closing curtain), is what the Japanese call the ending days of the Edo Era, which ushered in the modern era of Japan opening its society to the larger world. It is a time of constant fascination for Japanese culture and used to hang themes of change, turmoil and revolution in popular media.

In the meta nature of the performance the phantom Ayumi ends up presenting to the audience, the theme of change in accepting phantoms as people like the Japanese had to grudgingly accept trade with the West was a touching one.

With that little bit of a cultural touchstone, the rest of the episode written around it was one of comedy about drama club nerds always having to grab the featured Scooby Gang to save a performance.

After the first episode, we've had five haremette girl of the week episodes and now three phantom of the week episodes. I figure the writers are still having too much fun with the complete Team Haruhiko to jam them into the season ending arc of that device Ruru found. Perhaps next week, we'll start seeing something deeper or an arc that will take longer than one episode to tell. 

Dat Ruru Swordplay

Note to Haruhiko: never ask Ruru to slice an apple for you.

Dat Ayumi Drama Geek

The conventional drama club short on members was given the phantom twist.

Especially funny was how easy it was to bribe Reina into joining up with free lunch.

Ayumi was a regular youkai in the sense that she was a manifestation of bad feelings, specifically, the frustration of the now disbanded drama club never making it past the regional contest.

Koito suspected her early on, as we saw with her serious glances toward Ayumi, but she was never harmful.

I did find it disturbing that she changed the students' memories to make them think she was one of them, but after the performance and the resolution, she probably was permitted to hang around the school as a harmless phantom like Ruru. Well, she's not that harmless with her grueling rehearsal schedule.

One funny bit of metanarrative was how Ayumi wrote the screenplay and in the middle of the public performance Haruhiko remarked that the story's pacing was quick and easy to understand. I laughed because it sounded like a plea from the writers of the episode to the viewers to see their effort the same way. They didn't have to beg so hard for a compliment.

Dat Mai Not-So-Leading Lady

Mai was not impressed with Ayumi's script.

Mai also didn't like that she was made the damsel in distress. Ayumi had a good answer for her because she was trying to cast against type to make a statement. I enjoyed the easy joke on Phantom of the Opera.

Mai is a terrible actress. Just terrible. The best part of that joke was when the phantom had made the setting realistic and she still gave that listless performance. Good stuff.

Finally. Mai got to rub herself to build up a strong climax to the encounter. Yeah, that sounded dirty. But it has been a few episodes since she smacked something.

Dat Koito Dere Dere

Koito still can't openly admit that she just likes being on Team Haruhiko, but Ruru is wearing her down.

Also, that scene above where Ayumi hugged her and called her cute was when Koito knew she was the phantom she had sensed.

The phantom was dealt with and yet Koito is still participating in the drama club. They're going to Nationals with this play, don't you know?

Dat Easy Comedy

Many times this season, I've compared Phantom World to Amagi Brilliant Park in my head. Both had the mundane acceptance of magic in their lives, but I think Amagi Brilliant Park handled infusing each episode with a nod toward the overall premise and plot better than Phantom World. The pirate episode captured the whacky energy of the last three episodes of Phantom World, but the countdown device at the end of each episode in Amagi Brilliant Park tied everything together. Phantom World has no such device, although it could have had one in the form of that mysterious thing Ruru found. Obviously, Phantom World is more interested in having funny episodes than telling a longer story. And they're making really funny episodes, so I'm not even complaining.

My favorite part of the action sequence this episode was how Albrecht was doing all the fighting for Kurumi even while still holding her script. Kurumi flailing wildly with her sword was just icing on that comedy cake.

We hadn't seen Reina freak out over a boy's touch in a long time, so that was a nice call back.

The audience participation and how touched they all were about the meta message of a phantom involved in a Bakumatsu Period piece was perhaps a hint at the larger world of Phantom World.

We've got three episode left, so is next week when we start bringing the larger story to some kind of resolution? This show handles sentimental stuff pretty well, but not any kind of dangerous drama, so I'm curious to see what kind of light touch they bring to maybe curing the Neural Errors virus, if that's where they go. I don't know. But I want to see if I'm right.

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