「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.

Final Impressions

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.

27 Comments

  1. Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room.

    You delayed this for over a week for “production issues” and this is what it looks like?

    You know, I’ve only looked into the LNs a bit. I’ve not read them, but only researched some to try and see what I was missing, so I’m not going to sit here and claim that this was some great masterpiece that was ruined, but…it at least deserved better than this.

    It’s not just the animation either, though that was as clear and evident and awful as ever here, it’s the writing and the direction. Every part of this episode felt forced, rushed, and clunky. Just like the episode where they staged the coup, what seemed like should have been really important moments, just felt like they fell flat. I mean, the elf girl’s “death”, revival and explanation, are all handled in seconds, as is the teamup between kumoko and the demon lord. This is supposed to be one of the most important plot details of the entire series, that the elfs are in the wrong, and they’re in the right, and these pervious mortal enemies are now agreeing to be a team to stop them, and it’s basically just tacked on in the final seconds.

    Man, this series sucked, and it had so much potential early on too.

    So disappointing

    hjerry
  2. Oh, and something that I did want to ask for anyone that knows, because the anime was really vague on this point. OK, I get that the elfs are “evil” and are going bring about the end of the world. The demons and their allies are uniting against them to “stabilize” the world or whatever and save it. I get that.
    My question is, why did they have to give those powers to Hugo, help in a coup, and kill all those humans? If the elfs are evil, why not just go after them? Why did they have to do all these things that made it seem like they were the evil ones, and then try and argue that they were the “good guys?” If they were in the right, why not leave the humans and their issues to them? It makes it really hard to side with them and sympathize with them, after all the horrible things they did in the human kingdom. Did I miss something there?

    hjerry
    1. Spoiler Free but some hints to Ariel’s thinking to answer to your questions:

      Point 1:
      If a big boob Elf Onee-san comes to you and say “help the demon army is attacking the Elf Village, save us” and a demon ask you ” The elves are evil and a plague to the world come help us genocide them”, who would you help?

      Point 2:
      Ariel just want to genocide the elves, followed by killing as much people as possible For reasons, read Light Novel.

      Mechmech
      1. So, without a lot of reading, my take there is the demons aren’t really the “good guys” so much as they’re just in the right about exterminating the elves. They can be plenty evil in their own ways.

        I can respect that (from a writing pov I mean)

        hjerry
    2. I was wondering the same witnessing Kyoya’s nonchalant reaction after he accidentally killing the half elf servant of one of his best real world friends. If he’s supposed to be a good guy, then the way he showed it was seriously lacking.

      boingman
      1. Sorta spoilers at this point
        No one but shuns group ever claim they are the good guys, In fact in the LN/web novel, it’s basically presented that kumos side are basically benevolent villains. And shuns side are simply pathetic puppets of potomas. Basically Kumo is hero the planet needs not the one it wants, because she is going to kill everyone and everything she can on the way to her goal, and O the more people who die the longer the planet has to live hence the wars she and Ariel start.

        Ishkander
      2. Let’s just say Kyoya’s had a really shitty second life, and the kingdom that his best friend is the prince of is to blame. And I can’t blame him either. For the sake of their so called “security” they did some real heinous things to him and his family. It’s a shame they didn’t get into it in the anime, but if you read the novel you will 100% understand why he 100% doesn’t care if he kills citizens of the kingdom.

        heiro one
    3. basically, there is a global shortage of MA enegy. Kumo’s plan to save the wrld is to conduct a genocide so that the MA returns to the world. The is a war to cull the population of demons and humans. Hugo is also a convenient tool to initiate the Crusade

      Theoria
  3. So we have finally confirmation: Shiro IS Kumoko.
    Oh well, I did expect some spooky necromancy-like magic on Potimas end…
    but no freaking army of cyborg clones with realtime backup of “persona;lity” to be downloaded into fresh one in case one gets destroyed…
    Kumoko making truce with Ariel was quite surprising, but understandable considering personality changes wrought by AFKABB (Artist Formerly Knonwn As Body Brain).
    Magical Demon Girl Ariel-chan made me laugh maniacally…
    Would love to see more of the series albeit perhaps done by other studio…

    ewok40k
  4. Earlier in the show, it mostly still looked okay, but using CG for human characters can’t be good. Maybe if production had taken a break between cours, we wouldn’t have gotten those dreadful looking final few episodes.

    As for the plot, I actually also enjoyed Shun’s side of the story, although it contained a few annoying stereotypes.

    Star of the show was of course Yuki Aoi as Kumoko. Amazing versatility.
    Supposedly, LN vol. 6 is where the story continues, so I’m tempted to start a bit earlier at vol. 5.

    boingman
  5. She did pretty much jump at his sword. If he lived a life of violence in the new world, he`d be less affected by death and this one was more of an accidental death, rather murder. And he might have reasons to dislike elves, like Sophia does, considering her childhood.

    Kessler
    1. Mostly because the rearranged the Manga for shock value their animation couldn’t deliver. But also the Manga rearranged the light novel, and the the author rearranges the light novel from the web noval as basically a v2.
      But as someone who has read all 3 I can see what they were trying to do. But shuns parts were meant to be little snippets spread over kumos. Basically a 9 parts kumo 1 part shun. They have taken every shun part except those from the last few chapters of the web novel and crushed them into what would be the first few light novels. It could have worked if the animation didn’t suck.

      Ishkander
  6. This episode explained a lot of things but also left a lot up in the air. Very glad seeing Sophia’s story, but ending Shun’s side like that was rather strange. Perhaps it was inevitable? At least from the spider’s perspective it ended in a high note.

    Sophia’s story really tied everything together. Also showed that she was in a worse situation than Kumoko. Her last resort was really the only thing she could have done. Tip my hat to the lord’s aide for his loyalty and perseverance.

    Of course the star of the show is Kumoko. I have to say, I loved her Aracne version. It feels a lot more expressive. It also makes it more apparent that all that talking was in her mind.

    The thing I really enjoyed about this show was tha VA (I’m sure almost ecery one agrees) and the mystery. Learned a few more Japanese names checking out that roster. It was a fun ride.

    One thing I’m not sure about is why Wakaba’s dead in Sensei’s skill. Is it because Kumoko got annihilated, even though she managed to transfer to another body? You die if you are killed?

    theirs
    1. Having looked into some spoilers myself, I can tell you that the reason why sensei’s skill shows Wakaba is dead, is a really big deal and a key point to the plot of the entire world they’re in. To reveal that would basically be to explain how that world works.

      I never planned on reading the novels, so I wasn’t bothered to learn, but if you plan to, then I wouldn’t want to give it away.

      hjerry
    2. There’s some more big twists left in the story that didn’t get adapted, and Wakaba not being on the list is central to one of the larger ones. There’s some other clues here and there as to what exactly is going on there, even in the anime, but still, they didn’t actually get to the reveal of it.

      heiro one
  7. Impressive final episode and a very good ending for what was the best part of the light novels. The animation studio has done a really impressive job of taking an extremely complex light novel and making it a coherent and enjoyable whole, marred only by the problems with the outsourced animation.

    As a light novel reader, I was very impressed by what they achieved. Even despite its flaws, this maintained good pacing and storytelling throughout, and in some cases transcended weaknesses of the light novel. The voice acting was also tremendous, and Kumoko’s CGI throughout was excellent, even if a few of the monsters were weak.

    The main problem going forward (aside from any ill will due to the outsourcing issues) is the fact that light novel pacing becomes very bad in novels 6-11 (I don’t think viewers would like the equivalent of 6 episode stretches with no kumoko and the disappearance of half the cast for dozens of episodes while they indulge in stuff like novel 11). But that’s a challenge for the future. For now this ended very, very well!

    The light novels take six

    DP
  8. This is the kind of anime to show to animation students on what NOT to do. Mostly the fault is in the storyboarding. These initial compositions are supposed to guide the rest of the pipeline. The way they had giant character drawings overlapping each other, absolutely wallpapering the frame, was like they had no confidence in the background art or any idea of how perspective works. It would be fascinating to learn more about their behind-the-scenes blunders.

    Kuwabara
  9. Here on RC comments, i was calling out terrible, looping gif type, horrendous 2D action animations since episode 3, everyone was casually glossing over it like it was just normal thing, discussion the episode, suddenly episode 22 everyone’s finally up in arms about this horrid disaster of an adaptation, you think this is bad? Come back to this in 5 to 10 years, few minutes in and you will close it and just read LN or something, CG does not age at all.

    Kyle
  10. Kinda felt like there were two timelines. The white haired girl who appeared throughout appears to be Kumokos final evo.

    I guess we just see how she gets there before shifting to human form Kumoko

    Lyfe
  11. Looking back over the series, they should have just stuck with Kumoko’s story and left the others alone. It tried to do too much and ended up wasting a lot of episodes on different characters, subplots, and backstory that just didn’t have the impact, development, or entertainment value that her’s had. You can always tell the other’s stories in a spinoff series or movie.

    Shutaro
  12. I love this series! Too bad the animation didn´t do justice to the story. I`m looking forward to seeing this handled for another studio. In the meantime, I will buy the novels and the announced PVC figure, draw a couple of fanarts and create a change.org petition to make this story animated again for Ufotable or KyoAni. Keep weaving your web Kumo-chan!

    Kingdragun

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