「小さいルルの大きな夢」 (Chīsai Ruru no Ōkina yume)
“Little Ruru’s Big Dream”

Another character episode this week, and most likely our last one, since we’re out of major cast to feature. I actually thought we had already passed through the major cast, and had nothing worthwhile left to cover there. What they did have, though, was Ruru, which was an unexpected angle for me. Now, I generally use ‘character episode’ as a shorthand for a character focused episode, with a character expected to drive most of the narrative for that portion, and in return receiving depth and development. The thing about Ruru, though, is that she’s entirely a gag character—or, even more, she’s a gag mascot character. On what strength can she drive the story, and what need does she have for depth and development? Now, it’s possible to elevate a purely comedic character into a dramatic role, either to—

—Wait, what am I doing? I was actually going to get into a serious discussion. I promised we weren’t going to have to do that anymore, didn’t I? This is Musaigen no Phantom World. Why are we trying to be serious about it? This has got to stop. Tell you what, I have an idea.

I have to get my brain into Phantom World mode.

I have a Taser.

Don’t try this at home, kids; Passerby is a trained anime professional. Here goes.


Wooooooo. What are we doing? Right, Phantom World. Let’s just talk about something stupid, by which I mean something genius. I just came up with it; I call it Passerby’s Greater Theory of Anime Dialogue. It goes like this:

Any anime is great up until somebody opens their mouth.

It’s a revolutionary new idea that came to me while I was watching Phantom World. My huge sample size of one show is irrevocable evidence for a fundamental law anime, that the most compelling quality of any given anime character is silence. Take Koito for example; she’s cool right? She’s the stoic type, very sharp, has superpowers. But when she opens her mouth? It’s ‘aaahhhhhhhhh’. Yeah, that’s not a flattering addition to your brand. Same deal for Reina; when she opens her mouth, she literally sucks (*badum tish*). But hey, at least it somehow amuses me every single time, so I forgive her.

So take this week’s temporary new character: the Phantom witch person. When is she at her most compelling? When she first appears, just silently walking along. At that point, she’s just weird hair and a cool hat. It can only go downhill from there. Surely, she didn’t have to talk to confirm that she’s the fairy godmother of a magical girl story. In fact, when she talked about how her wish granting had no strings attached and then immediately started to list the strings, I thought this was going to be a Madoka Magica sort of magical girl story (actually, I first thought of Princess Tutu, but mentioning that show would make me look old, so I won’t), and mind you, that may actually have been more interesting. And without the dialogue, would you be able to tell either way? No! And that’s for the better!

That’s the magic of Passerby’s Greater Theory of Anime Dialogue: if nobody ever said anything, never tried to explain the plot, never revealed their motivations, then the story is as good as you can interpret it to be. You think this episode would work better as a heartwrenching drama? Done! Or do you think it’s all one massive parody? Also done! As nobody ever says anything that can contradict you, it’s good. In fact, try watching this episode again with the sound turned off, and no subtitles. You won’t really be missing out on that much at all. A testament to Kyoto Animation’s continual visual fidelity, at the very least? Nah, I rather chalk it up to my scientific brilliance. Go on, test Passerby’s Greater Theory of Anime Dialogue. It’ll make for a much better watch.

Or, just fry a part of your brain. I think it makes for a similar experience.


  1. I thought this episode was a fast improvement over last week’s but it was still nothing to really get too excited. the SLIGHT ship tease was fun, thought it would have been more effective had Ruru actually blown up with that firework. Also, is anyone else getting the vibe that this’ll have a dark ending of “Haruhiko suffered brain trauma and this is all an illusion” or is that just me?

    1. Summaries that I’ve read seem to give a Charlotte-like plot impression, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

      The problem is that unless KyoAni is already dedicated to making this two cour and not relying on ratings/sales to decide whether they will do a second cour or not, then I wouldn’t expect this to get another season.

      1. I think a second season would depend also on how much of a boost the light novels receive, especially given that Kyoto Animation publish those too. They have the advantage of having an additional source of revenue to benefit from.

  2. I’ve realized that this is clearly marketed towards kids and that nothing of value will be found within it’s not even turn your brain off fun at this point I just watch because I’ve done it for 10 weeks already it can’t get much worse now can it

    1. @I’ve realized that this is clearly marketed towards kids

      Not really, they wouldn’t be able to afford the BDs/DVDs. This is more an all ages show that would appeal to fans of the fantasy genre that don’t want something plot heavy, and just want random fun.

  3. While I stopped watching this show around Episode 1, I’m still eagerly reading your reviews. While I can safely conclude I’ve missed nothing whatsoever, I can also conclude that your reviews are actually better than the show! I think KyoAni should just hire you to write about shows that never really happened. It would be a better budget use.

    1. the Problem here is, Creating life (writing in advance for the Episode) and review an Episode, are two different things (i do not mean any harm, Passerby and pals)

      it is not that easy to invoke Life

  4. This was probably the best episode so far, although that does not say much. I actually chuckled at some of the gags during the first half (Ruru jumping out the window caught me, I have to admit).

    The whole thing becomes ironic too when it’s remembered the episode is anime original (correct me if wrong). Might just be me, but you would think there’s a problem when the anime original material (personified by a character functioning purely as comedic relief) is better than the source material itself. It really begs the question that what the hell KyoAni was aiming for adapting this. With every passing episode, however, I grow increasingly confident that a team of exceptional grad students with a top rate prof and limitless time/funds could never put together a thesis answering that very question.

    1. I agree, to be honest. As much as I dislike most of the show, this episode was actually pretty okay. The basic premise was decent, it was actually genuinely funny for once (the window-jump caught me too) and Ruru wasn’t as annoying as she usually is (which would have destroyed this episode). If I had to taser myself, there’d be better episodes to do it at is what I’m saying (like Kurumi’s ep, ugh).

      I mean sure, the episode’s still predictable from beginning to end and there’s still not an iota of plot to be found (or any meaningful development, for that matter) but hey, I’ve long since given up having any expectations of this show. ‘Not boring me’ is now a grand achievement for it.

      As for what Kyoani was aiming for when adapting it…tax breaks. That’s my guess. They’re following in Uwe Boll’s example.

    2. While I wasn’t irked by the comedy (even though I never cared much for Ruru as a character), I still found the writing, er, mind-numbingly bad. But that’s a ‘serious’ concern, so I’m not going to let it bother me.

  5. ehi, Passerby, thanks for the review, as always more entertaining than the show itself. That’s actually the biggest part of the reason I’m sticking with it, the rest being the pretty kyoani girls and the fact that it didn’t get so bad that I wanted to drop it. This original episode was even sort of ok, I (moderately) enjoyed it, but just to be sure I’ll make it to the end of the season, I got a taser. I never had one before but I’ll figure out how to ma-@4!y83q9*$k*#ud^D(Ji88$h

  6. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh………………………………………………………

    (*tased brain, but did it a little too well*)

  7. It’s a shame because I really love the bright colors, character designs, and animation here. The story just sucks beyond belief, though. The only enjoyable thing about this show is looking at the screenshots.


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