「まだ蜘蛛ですが、なにか？」 (Mada Kumo Desu ga, Nanika?)
“So I’m Still a Spider, So What?”
Marred with having to redo much of the outsourced animation, the final episode’s delay is endemic with the numerous issues that come from treating animators like workhorses and expecting them to automatically understand responsibilities they never expected to take on. But as the anime makes it to the finish line, was the adventure worth all of the pain?
The delay seems like it was trying to make up for how much manpower it must’ve taken to try to make a predominantly 2D episode for a studio that is more familiar with 3D animation. I don’t want to be harsh because I know the conditions must’ve been heinous to get any of this off the ground, but the poor quality of the animation went from bad to worse as time went on.
I’m glad that the western anime community has started to question the animation conditions more than just chalking it up to “blowing the budget” or “mediocre studio is mediocre”. But it doesn’t feel good to watch any of this go down because you can tell they’re really trying to pull all of this off with candles lit at both ends. Who wouldn’t overlook quality concerns if you were told to power through two cours at once because the outsourced animators hired to take on a demanding animation style needed backup?
Maybe we’re the problem for constantly patronizing studios and acting as if they owe us the best of the best when it only pushes greedy execs to drive their animators to an early grave. Wonder Egg Priority’s hospitalizations, the entire situation where MAPPA’s animators are working themselves to the bone, Akutani Gege needing a break because of how much they’re crunching themselves to finish Jujutsu Kaisen, and the passing of so many mangaka who end up having their work catch up to them. If people have to suffer and crunch just to produce anime that looks like it’s the product of animators who are being tortured for a living, maybe it just isn’t worth it.
But really though, the less said about Shun’s section, the better. In fact, let’s just make it clear that I won’t be discussing the action sequences in his section or Kumoko’s because you already know it’s bad. It’s been bad since the start. Whoever in Millepensee decided to adapt this show resents their employees and wants them to suffer, whether it be through having to stitch together quickly done animation at an even brisker pace or through whatever social media maniacs try to track them down and blame them for the exec’s failings.
Shun’s section came and went like a wet fart, but it helped to introduce Kumoko’s humanoid form, and that was nice. More specifically, the best part of the episode was also (and always) Kumoko, who had finally been able to manifest a cool new body that is more presentable. It was cute to see how, even though her new form is a lot timider than her spider version, she still has the gestures and mannerisms of her old form on occasion.
It was weird that the anime just ended with Ariel deciding she was out-of-line for automatically wanting to fight Kumoko when Kumoko had no beef with her. It felt like they were trying to make some grand Avengers style ending where we finally see everyone on Ariel’s team together, but the hopeful music is kinda weird when it’s being played for the demon lord’s army and you can clearly see Hugo prepping himself up to kill Shun and anyone who supports him.
Much like the Wonder Egg Priority, we are left with many questions about what is happening in the story, but with the added lack of certainty on if we’ll have the answers any time soon. The elf machinery was always questionable, but this episode also revealed that Potimas made numerous cyborg clones of himself that allows him to carry on his legacy and objectives from body to body. Shun also had quite a bad reaction as his body started to get ravaged by a Taboo spell he gained out of nowhere. It adds some food for thought, but the plus side is that the light novel exists, so the anime might help to stoke interest in carrying on with the series without needing to demand for a second season.
Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka? had the potential to be so much more than this. Considering how much effort writer Okina Baba placed into the light novels, it’s neat to hear about how they managed to weave a web that encompasses the past, present, and future ramifications of Kumoko’s journey as a spider. At the same time, anyone who could attempt to condense such a story into anime format would have a massive undertaking facing them, and I don’t think this was quite the right project for Millepensee.
If you were to completely forget that their CGI Berserk anime existed, you might be able to see where they were coming from by taking on Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?. 3D animation does more justice to expressive monster models, so when you take Kumoko’s dungeon crawling into consideration, they’d be a pretty decent choice on paper.
In fact, their work from Kumoko’s perspective was pretty awesome with how they were able to create natural, seamless transitions between digital and 3D animation for Kumoko. Not to mention that the movements and design for Kumoko as a CGI cartoon spider didn’t look horrible, which meets the prerequisite for any studio planning on making this anime.
But Millepensee’s failings are more apparent when the anime shifts into Shun’s point of view. Because they make an earnest effort to adapt most of Shun’s story in 2D, almost every shot you see is a close-up or a disjointed zoom-in from their forehead to their shoulders.
It makes for a very claustrophobic viewing experience to keep up with. And the less said about the action sequences, the better because if they aren’t practicing the same philosophy with incoherent 2D action scenes, they are the all-too-familiar 3D battles you know and love from their Berserk adaptation.
The light novel’s quality does all of the heavy-lifting for Shun’s perspective considering how it came into its own by the second cour. While Shun’s side started off as a slog, I was kinda anticipating parts of Shun’s perspective during the second half as he has to navigate around being the world’s new Hero while his old rival Hugo ropes together a merry gang of demons and vampires for a scorched earth war against the elves and reincarnations.
But the real star of the show is Yuuki Aoi, the multi-faceted voice actress who turns Kumoko’s story into a one-woman show. Not only does she do well capturing the frantic, manic side of Kumoko, but she’s more than capable of pulling off conversations with herself as Kumoko hashes out what her next move should be.
It’s hilarious to hear her riff on Kumoko’s ordeals, navigating through each scene. It’s the same infectious frenzy that Robin Williams’ Genie from Aladdin had where she’ll be on several different tangents, each with a humorous examination on some of the craziness she has to put up with in this RPG-inspired universe. You can definitely tell that it was a ton of fun for her to alternate between the different voices in her mind as they all converse with each other and weigh in on the obstacles they must tackle.
You could tell that, underneath the animation, Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka?’s plot is a labor of love that has a ton of neat twists and turns that bob and weave throughout Kumoko’s journey. Admittedly, I would’ve likely dropped it near the start of the second cour to free up time, but I started to get more hooked in by Shun’s arc as it kicked into full gear once he was out of the academy.
Likewise, it was cool to see Kumoko make it to the outside world, and eventually, find her fate connected to the powerful vampire Sophia as she navigated around the Demon Lord Ariel. Not sure what the odds are of a second season, but it would nice to see more of this story fleshed out in the future considering how it was interesting to learn more about the universe, how each faction in the human world operated, and how the reincarnations will come into play once Kumoko starts to get even more insanely overpowered.