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Musaigen no Phantom World – 12 »« Musaigen no Phantom World – 10

Musaigen no Phantom World – 11

「ちびっ子晴彦くん」 (Chibikko Haruhiko-kun)
“Tiny Haruhiko-kun”

I was fully prepared to watch this week’s Musaigen no Phantom World. The police confiscated my Taser, but I had a toaster and a superconductive fork that works almost as well. I had cleared a small spot on my desk all so I can better slam my head against it to restart my brain when it inevitably shuts down. And I also prepared a tall bottle of vodka. I’ve devised a clever drinking game for Phantom World. Every time something defies logic, taste, or causality, take a shot. Ten minutes in, or whenever you feel like it, chug the bottle.

Turns out, my exhaustive preparations went mostly to waste. Which really should be good news, but I don’t know what to do with this much vodka, nor this much toast.

I actually thought this episode was going to be something of a First of the North Star parody, and I was actually pretty excited because this was the point where I can fully pretend I was watching Excel Saga. Instead, it seems the Musaigen no Phantom World is actually turning itself back to its overarching narrative this way, and not with the plot coupon that it really doesn’t want us to forget about. I’m not concerned about that, actually; it being such a blatant device means that Phantom World will cash it when its good and ready. Plot device or not, it’s still a good time for Phantom World to get serious again if it ever was going to, considering how few episodes we have left and, shockingly, it seems that it actually wants to make something more of itself. I suppose it may as well, since it has all this setup just lying around, and even Excel Saga managed something in the end.

Remember back when Phantom World was still dealing with themes of childhood and family and isolation? Back in the days of yore when, in our weakest moments, we would be tempted to take this show remotely seriously? Well, everything old is new again as Phantom World digs up its narrative and reanimates it to dance for us once more. And hey, I liked it. Sure, the scenario is still utterly contrived, but it’s straightforward (hey, we want to show Haruhiko as a child. Let’s just revert him to childhood). And while in the end the best we’ll get in one episode is a poor man’s CLANNAD (keeping in mind who were behind the CLANNAD anime), it still made for a pretty good tale of a neglected child and the plights of a single mother (school, two part time jobs and raising a kid sounds about right). The drama didn’t drown out the gags, and the gags didn’t undercut the drama. Mostly. Your tastes will vary.

But then, litterbox phantom shows up, Cthulhu is somehow summoned with Judaic imagery, bleh. On a related note, straight vodka really, really burns. Never again. Necessary, but never again.

I think I’m going to miss this episode. For one, Kid!Haruhiko is a much more interesting character than his regular incarnation. As a child, he’s a relatively (relatively) realistic depiction of a precocious brat (for example, children notice things). As adolescent, Haruhiko is just the buttmonkey of the show (but, well, hello ladies). I usually have no love lost for children, because every generation hates every other generation that comes after them, but I’d rather keep the kid. He also draws out the best of Mai’s character, elevating her from just being the damsel/punches stuff/the damsel who punches stuff.

I would watch Phantom World does Usagi Drop, is what I’m saying. I would watch an entire season of it. Right up until the kid grows up.

March 17, 2016 at 7:54 am
  • March 17, 2016 at 8:50 amsosbrigade1991

    Haruhiko in his underwear? Whatever else happened in this episode is irrelevant. Just kidding, this episode was so nice. I really enjoyed it. Just goes to show how much better it could have been had they infused a little more nuance into the narrative. Still? Adorable underwear bumps this to an A grade anyways.

  • March 17, 2016 at 8:51 amDvalinn

    For one, Kid!Haruhiko is a much more interesting character than his regular incarnation.

    Yeah, funny how that works. Phantom World doesn’t have an original bone in its body, so I’ve seen the concept of this episode dozens of times before, but it’s rare when the kiddified protagonist not only manages to not piss me off, but is actually more endearing than the grown up thing. I guess part of that is the fact that grown-up Haruhiko is as interesting as a sack of potatoes, but still, I have to give the show props for actually getting me invested in this little plot. The fact that it actually shows a different side of a stale character (Mai) is just the cherry on top of the cake. Well done, you get a gold sticker.

    Sure, there’s still the cat piss monster and various other stupid moments (you’d think the characters would just think ‘Phantom’ immediately whenever something weird happens instead of dragging it out a bit every episode, but hey, gotta fill up those minutes) but this is Phantom World we’re talking about. I’m used to it at this point.

    Only two episodes to go now, I guess. Wonder what they’ll make of the plot – I’m betting it’s either going to be an utterly rushed mess in two episodes, or a massive anti-climax. I’m so excited to find out. Yay. Yippee. Yahoo.

    • March 22, 2016 at 8:31 pmvincent

      hey don’t diss’em potatoes you can make awesome stuff with them. fried’em, boil’em, mash’em. cook your heart out.

  • March 17, 2016 at 9:25 amWorldwidedepp

    seems like they found the Wood they where looking for with this many Trees in front of them. Lets see

    • March 17, 2016 at 9:27 amWorldwidedepp

      i try to help out:

      What will it be at the end? the cure of this “Phantom World” virus? or to continue to life in this world?

  • March 17, 2016 at 10:23 amstarss

    As usual I adore your writing.

    Can we keep the kid?? Just… keep kid!Haruhiko? He’s so much more interesting. N’ I wanna cuddle him.

  • March 17, 2016 at 10:30 amMormegil

    This was a good episode. Mai really showed her loving and caring side here.

    Also, Mai with her hair down. <3

  • March 17, 2016 at 10:37 amsonicsenryaku

    so was it sort of implied that mai’s mom is dead? she talked bout her in past tense and there was that anime-convenient glare over her face in the photo

    • March 17, 2016 at 5:14 pmPasserby

      What with her talk about having a situation similar to Haruhiko’s i.e. toughing it out alone, her mother is almost certainly dead.

      • March 17, 2016 at 7:14 pmsonicsenryaku

        yea; it’s crazy that the kyo ani staff can be so good at subtle character development yet also have a case of bad writing and missed opportunities syndrome at times; it’s mind-boggling.

  • March 17, 2016 at 11:22 amzztop

    How do the Musaigen source novels compare to the anime? Did Kyoani make any major plot changes?

    • March 17, 2016 at 11:39 amstarqo

      As far as I know, the majority of the anime is “anime-original.”

  • March 17, 2016 at 11:22 amdark

    kyoani try give to may a chance with the harubowl but so reset it before episode end ¬¬
    where are my cute lewd reina T____T by the way reina casual clothes are very lame ;_;

  • March 17, 2016 at 11:28 amHalfDemonInuyasha

    And Mai shows her full “onee-san” side. I do like how KyoAni made Mai, like they manage to do quite a lot with their females, look quite good without having to resort to any of the ecchi situations she tended to be in early on. Even her sleepwear wasn’t revealing at all and they didn’t exaggerate any breast movement.


    All it took was her caring smiles.

    So while still not delving (very far) into any major plot, I can say that this is probably my favorite episode of the series so far.

  • March 17, 2016 at 6:33 pmspikerman87

    Man is this episode too late.

    Instead of having one or two good episodes out of twelve….why not have all twelve be good and progressively better? That’s…how a show works.

    I laugh at the thought of this having a second season where things are finally “explained.” that’s not happening.

  • March 17, 2016 at 11:15 pmPetit

    At first I was thinking, “an episode about Oedipus Complex…?”
    And then when I reached the end, I started bawling.

  • March 18, 2016 at 8:50 ammike

    this episode was great didn’t have to listen to haruhiko’s usual intro. Probably the only relevant episode so far haha jk (but seriously though most of the episode should be something like this)

    other than this episode i enjoyed the one about the cat house and the bunny house

  • March 18, 2016 at 11:51 pmSv

    Where’s ruru in this ep?

    • March 19, 2016 at 6:26 amPasserby

      Peddling smut to children. Then getting out of the way.

  • March 20, 2016 at 4:18 aminfo600

    Maybe it was the fact that I just burned through the 11 episodes in one go, but I find the whole campaign was okay to watch without resorting to alcoholism and the like (unlike Comet Lucifer), since KyoAni can’t do (much) wrong with majority of its shows for the past several cours.

    Even though it might make sense to leave your brain on your desk while watching this show, since it makes a lot of acid trips; Heck, all those acid trips are its macguffin.

  • March 20, 2016 at 6:39 pmJekoJeko

    I rejoin RandomC’s comments and one of my favourite writers is compensating for the joyless void of Phantom World by writing reviews that are a joy to read.

    I guess I’m also enjoying writing about the show far more than watching it. The show seems to get out all my hope and hatred when it comes to all things anime. Seems we’re also pretty parallel on a number of points. It would be great if the themes of childhood and isolation were tied into all our past explorations of them throughout this series. But instead, all that has been forgotten about. The only content of thematic value to any episode is from the start of that episode to its end.

    Ultimately, all these plots are serving to do is make the romanceless harem more comfortable with itself. Themes are becoming part of the fanservice too. This is bad. Really bad.