Original Run: January 8, 2021 - July 3, 2021 Number of Episodes: 24 Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Isekai Based on the Series Created By: Okina Baba and Tsukasa Kiryuu
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for So I’m a Spider, So What?. Reader discretion is advised.***
In a flash of light, the lives of an entire high school class are changed forever.
Waking up in a parallel world, a newborn spider (voiced by Aoi Yuuki) breaks out of its shell. In her previous life, the spider remembers her name as Hiiro Wakaba. Now, why she has come to this place can wait. First, she needs to learn how to make it in a world that wants to eat her.
Fortunately, the spider’s memories of video games and RPGs turn out to be a big help. This new world operates on stats, skills, and levels. Thus, using her human intellect, the spider quickly grows stronger, eventually becoming one of the most powerful beings in the land.
However, the truth behind why a Japanese girl was reborn as a spider has a much more sinister side to it than first imagined.
Before we begin, let’s acknowledge how So I’m a Spider, So What? (Spider) didn’t have the smoothest of runs. First, this series saw a delay in its initial 2020 release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually premiering in January 2021. Second, “production issues” warranted a rescheduling of this show’s final episode.
These issues were clearly evident in the final product.
Accordingly, we must appreciate any anime making it to air as a minor miracle. With all the moving parts and the anime industry’s notoriously horrific working conditions, it’s surprising cases like Spider don’t happen more often.
That said, ultimately, this series had problems. Although this show has built itself a bit of a following, don’t go counting me as one of its fans.
Putting aside its issues, Spider’s best aspect – “best” meaning legitimately good – was Ms. Aoi Yuuki’s performance as the titular arachnid, who from this point on we will refer to as Kumoko.
Now, as many of you will know, Ms. Yuuki is no stranger to the isekai genre, having voiced Tanya Degurechaff in Youjo Senki. And while Ms. Yuuki’s Tanya was one of the many great things about Youjo Senki, her stint as Kumoko was significantly more impressive. After all, this performance and this character carried Spider.
I will be choosing my words carefully because we are venturing close to spoiler territory. Unfortunately, it is hard not to hint at certain aspects of the story if we want to talk about why Kumoko was fantastic. I might not be enthusiastic about this series, but I not against upselling it either when possible.
In short, two plots were happening at the same time.
Spider was an isekai anime, but rather than an individual being brought to a parallel world, it was a group of people – an entire high school class. This is where our duel narrative stems.
One of the plots concerned the bulk of the class who managed to find each other after their rebirth.
The other plot focused on Hiiro Wakaba, who reincarnated as Kumoko. Her tale, apart from coming back as a spider (most of the others remained human), revolved around Kumoko having no contact with her classmates for most of this series. Therefore, when it was her story, it truly was HER story.
Thus, Kumoko – and, by extension, Ms. Yuuki – had very few opportunities to work off other characters. Instead, it was all her, and when Spider focused on Kumoko, that was when this show was at its most fun.
Then there was Kumoko as an isekai protagonist. By the end of this series, sure, she was as overpowered as the stereotype dictates. However, Kumoko had to struggle to get to that point. Whenever there was a fight, she took damage and came close to death several times. This show wasn’t an easy journey for her.
Switching our thinking to Ms. Yuuki, she had the energy to turn this into a one-woman (one-spider?) show. She provided a ton of much-needed personality to this series.
Eventually, Kumoko and Ms. Yuuki got some assistance when Kumoko leveled up enough to earn several parallel brains. In short, although they existed in the same head, these were separate Kumokos who could handle secondary tasks while her primary self worried about what was in front of them. Granted, this was, basically, Kumoko talking to herself, but thanks to Ms. Yuuki’s performance, four fully fleshed-out characters came to life.
As we prepare to move on, I can’t stress enough how night-and-day Spider was. As long Kumoko was on screen, regardless of form, this show was a ton of fun. Sadly, that same level of engagement wasn’t the situation with the other plot and the other characters.
Admittedly, it was an interesting puzzle figuring out how and where the two stories intersected. But, again, that was only so because it meant Kumoko was in the mix.
I recognize what I am about to say wouldn’t have worked because it would have fundamentally changed the entire show. Nevertheless, had this series only concerned itself with Kumoko, I think this review would have turned out differently.
In a word, Spider was “involved.” This was one of the more complex isekai stories I have ever come across. Sadly, I don’t consider that a good thing.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about the quality of the last few episodes of this series. Like I said at the top, the production problems this show went through were on full display.
I won’t act as if the CGI animation in Spider was ever great. Still, it was tolerable for most of the series to the point where you could ignore it. Then as we got closer to the finale, something happened. The visuals suddenly looked incredibly cheap, rushed, and barely finished. Although I know there was some sort of production issue (check out this article from Anime News Network to learn more), I can’t tell you more than that.
And while seeing the degrade in quality was a shame, it, by itself, wasn’t a deal-breaker for Spider. Too bad this problem also appeared at the worst possible time.
The most damning thing about Spider was its plot.
In the beginning, the two-plot set-up was annoying because any character that wasn’t Kumoko wasn’t interesting. The non-Kumoko story was a no-thrills isekai narrative, one that you’ve likely seen a thousand times. Its only saving grace was when this series confirmed that, yes, what Kumoko was doing influenced what was going on with everyone else. So, there was intrigue since this meant the two stories would eventually become one.
While that was nice in theory, in practice there was a massive problem.
The closer Spider came to combining its narratives, the more confusing things became. This was where the uninteresting characters from the non-Kumoko plot came to bite this show in the butt.
As we reached the end, this show kept introducing more and more characters. For those who were already part of the story, this was good since everyone knew who everyone was. Except, this series did jack all when it came to explaining who these new people were to us, the audience.
Plus, it did not help that for the characters who had been around since the start, there was no reason to care about them. Unlike Kumoko, who we saw struggling and growing stronger, that same growth progression did not apply to anyone else. This was unhelpful because there was no gauge to determine how powerful everyone was, including Kumoko.
That was why it was nice when this series finally had Kumoko interact with other humans. When that happened, we could, at last, get a sense that, yes, she was a force people could not ignore.
The big consequence of all this was a finale that had no punch. Since this series didn’t spend time getting to know other characters, it was impossible to root for them; since this series gave these other characters no opportunity to demonstrate their skills, there was no way to tell what sort of chance they had; since this series gave so much attention to building up Kumoko, the climactic final battle became nothing more than padding until our protagonist showed up.
For most of Spider, I was enjoying it; I thought this would be an easy anime to recommend. Too bad this ending was not at all satisfying.
Therefore, for people who were following this show, they had to wait an extra week to then be left with a disheartening “Cool, but so what” ending.
I’m not sure what to do. Had this series only focused on its main character, then I would probably be singing its praises. However, there was just so much fluff that held this show back.
But when this series was good, it was good.
To me help decide, I had to ask myself, do I want to see a season two? With the plots converged and with Kumoko as she is now, the answer to that question is yes.
Therefore, in the end, So I’m a Spider, So What? has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise So I’m a Spider, So What?? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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