So I’m a spider. Well, not really, but so what?
This is an anime that has been on my radar for some time now, mainly because it was originally slated for last year but got delayed due to production issues. Covid-19 must have not helped things there as well. But we did eventually get this year in the stacked winter 2021 and pretty much got overshadowed by Re:Zero season 2 part 2, Mushoku Tensei and Slime season 2. But I definitely thought to myself that I should not sleep on the spider isekai, especially as more episodes aired as time went on. And of course, I’m writing this review to tell you that you should also not sleep on the spider (mainly because you’ll squash it) but because it’s definitely one of the more interesting narratives that I have watched recently, even if it is burdened of being an Isekai. Which honestly, wouldn’t have worked anywhere else.
So get your drink, put your feet up, sit back, relax and don’t squash that spider next to you as I present to you the anime review for So I’m a Spider, So What? Let’s begin shall we?
A great catastrophe strikes a school and kills everyone hit by it. But fortunately for some, they get reincarnated to a fantasy world. Some even more fortunate than others. Like one of our main protagonist Shun who gets reincarnated as a son to the king and his brother (or one of his brothers) being designated the hero of the kingdom as well as reuniting with some of his former classmates and appreciates the life he have. But one was not so lucky. Kumoko was reincarnated as a weak spider at the bottom of a labyrinth with dangers from all over the place. Alone with no help, Kumoko must adapt and get stronger to survive the horrors in the labyrinth.
The story does start off quite slow and in a rather typical Isekai fashion with our characters learning about their surroundings and the fact that there is a RPG like system that helps make people stronger and uses that system to get stronger themselves. It’s the standard Isekai affair to get viewers comfortable with something familiar but the problem with that is that it does make the first few episodes rather boring because it very much feels like we are going through the motion to get us introduced to the series and characters.
Now, the real meat occurs around episode six and where things start to get interesting. I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say that the thing that kept me most interested in the story and the show in general was how Kumoko and Shun’s story were connected to one another. Throughout the show, we are given clues and leads as to how this connects to that and how this one action can affect the other story. It was essentially playing connect the dots to see how these two stories connected to one another. It did make me engage with the story a lot better than it did to begin with because I wanted to see all the little details that can have effect on the show overall. After an episode finished, I didn’t immediately move on to the next show I needed to watch, no I sat there thinking of what could this mean in the future. It got me thinking after the episode was finished and made me want to find out what happens next to see if I am right with my thinking. The show does a great job with how it leaves clues and hints to keep you theorizing and get you hooked to watch what happens next.
What also helped with this was the show’s good world building. It’s not amazing but it was solid enough to help me understand the world better, especially as we get more episodes and more things are explained due to the situation going on in that episode. As well as the RPG like system that helps tell how strong an individual is. Although the walls of text you have to read when looking at the skills is just ridiculous. But the show does highlight the skills and titles that are important to the story so you won’t get swamped or confused when trying to read that wall of text.
I want to start with the characters from Shun’s story because honestly, I didn’t care too much about them but still enough to be interested (So a sort of middle ground). I mainly was interested in them and their side of the story was to see how they were connected to Kumoko’s story and vice versa. They all have a role to play in the overall story and I will admit that they do a solid job when it comes to it. Some of them I do like more than others like Sensei who who definitely has some secrets to hide behind that lively personality. By the end, I was interested to see what would happen to them and if they make it through alive. Although I will admit, I don’t remember all of their names but their personality (as well as their designs) do help them distinguish one another.
The star of the show though was obviously Kumoko (mainly helped by a great voice acting performance by Aoi Yuuki). Being alone and no restrictions with the harsh environment she’s in and well, being a spider, she does a great job at being entertaining and try to have a positive outlook on things. What I like about her character though is her growth but not by sheer luck or by just being born overpowered. Through strategy and thinking quickly on her feet, we see how she progressively gets stronger, both mentally and physically. While she does get really strong as we go through the show, she’s always having to go against characters and monsters that are clearly stronger than her or not being simple pushovers and having to adapt and stratergise makes her fights more enjoyable than the ones in Shun’s story because of them being well paced and fleshed out to be more engaging. In fact, more attention was put into Kumoko’s fights and Shun’s fights but I will get into that in the animation section.
Okay this is going to open some unnecessary can of worms because I actually do think the CG looks good. Not top tier but good enough. Monster designs look good and some of the human looking cgi models like Ariel look good as well. And then there are the fight scenes which look fun, fast and has plenty of action without it looking jarring at all; making for the best fights of the show. Kumoko looks great as well, skittering along like a spider and her expressions are quite funny. What I also like is that while Kumoko’s perspective, she is a cuddly little spider, but from everyone else’s perspective, she is a scary ass spider that has the ability to kill you just by looking at you. Though that being said, they kind of phoned it in at the end, especially during Shun’s story segments. It looked rough and did not have the same polish as before.
That’s where I think the animation budget went to because the traditional animation just looks really sub-par with the exception of the character designs as they do look good and do transition alright into CG. Compared to the CG fights, the 2D fights don’t have near as much attention put into them and sometimes boils down to still images that seem to be poorly ordered as well as to how the fights transpire. Episode 14 is the peak of this. Anyone who’s watched that episode can agree with me that the main fight scene looks janky as all hell and was difficult to keep up what’s going on. It’s weird that that the CG animation looks better than the traditional animation.
It was clear near the end of this show that there were some major production issues going down relating to this show. And while we did get confirmation about what happend, it didn’t change the fact that it caused the animation to suffer by the end.
I didn’t really care much for this show’s soundtrack in all honestly. It’s not bad but it’s the usual standard fantasy orchestra you hear from other shows with little to make it stand out on its own. The only exception to this is any ost that relates to Ariel as it does help with her menacing and overpowered presence. It’s the only part of the ost that stood out to me because it does help set the tone of dread that Ariel has her sights set on you. In fact, all of the haunting tracks do a good job at being, well, haunting and setting the tone. So it ain’t all that forgettable.
Really, the standout thing when it comes to the sound department were its OPs. Both, "Keep weaving your spider way" by Riko Azuna and "Bursty Greedy Spider" by Konomi Suzuki are both very similar as they both have great songs, great visuals and are chock full of spoilers. Considering both seemed to be tailored for this anime, they both nailed it out of the park for getting you pumped and ready to go to watch the episode. So it really comes down to personal preference as which one is the best and I would give it to “Keep weaving your spider way” because I like the fast craziness the OP provides with a little bit of a dark undertone to capture what the show is like from Kumoko’s perspective.
I would group both endings together because they are basically the same and something I would believe Kumoko would do given the opportunity and are appropriately sung by Aoi Yuuki herself. "Ganbare! Kumoko-san's Theme” and "Genjitsu Totsugeki Hierarchy,” are both fast paced and crazy EDs and relay to us how Kumoko feels about her situation while still acting like her usual self. I actually did like them because they do rub off Kumoko’s personality well and they are fun to listen to and watching them as well.
I really liked, “So I’m a Spider, So What?” The way the narrative is structured combined with its solid cast made it turn from a show I was ready to dismiss to a show that I want to see more of. It gave me incentives to keep watching and to find out how the two narratives connect to one another. It was the main hook that kept me going and wanted to find out what happens next and to see if I was right. As well as actually having good CG; which most modern anime out there can’t really say. Yet despite that, it still has some noticeable flaws. The narrative was slow to begin with and it started tapering off in its last few episodes, Shun’s cast of characters could be better but are thankfully not bad, the 2D animation was sub par and the ost could’ve been better. It’s a show that has plenty of flaws that prevent it from being a truly great show. But it didn’t truly affect my enjoyment of the show. Again, the interconnecting narrative was the core of what made this show so enjoyable and thinking about how this relates to that while waiting for the next episode made this show so engaging to watch.
There is clearly more to be told and more that is going on so I really want to see what happens next. But given this show’s past production issues, we might not get it and if we did, it might not be for a long while yet. Which would be a shame because there are plenty of things to work with here that could lead to one of the best narratives for any Isekai anime. One that actually gets you to think about what it all means instead of it being strictly another bog standard power trip fantasy or light hearted comedy (Not to say they are all bad, but there are quite a lot of them). It is an imperfect show, I will give you that, but I found this show better than I thought it was going to be and something I would eagerly wait to see if we get any more of this show (Or you know, go read the light novel or manga but where’s the fun in not waiting with anticipation?)
My Personal Enjoyment: 8.5/10
Overall Score: 7.1/10 Recommendation: Watch it