Over the last few years, isekai series have exploded in popularity. Nearly every anime season has a tale of someone being transported to another world. For Winter 2020, we’ve got a few, but the newest among them is So I’m a Spider, So What? Based on a 2015 light novel of the same name, the series follows a young girl who awakens in an unknown land after her high school is engulfed in a bright light. But she’s not in the perfect isekai fantasy of her dreams; instead of waking up in the body of a hero, she’s been reincarnated as a baby spider. Not one to wallow in her own misery, our positive protagonist resolves to survive in this strange new world as best she can.
CG animation is becoming a staple of anime series, but they do tend to be a bit of hit or miss, leaving many fans apprehensive about them. I’m a Spider, So What? is a fantastic example of how to use CG well and really elevate scenes. There are some beautifully rendered shots of the spider scuttling her way through the caves, but the highlight was definitely seeing our baby spider facing off with her frog prey. From the gooey purple acid the frog spewed to the spider bouncing off the walls, the entire scene was so fluid and dynamic. Whereas this 3D animation is used for when our protagonist is on screen, 2D animation is reserved mostly for humans, as seen at the beginning and ending of the episode. At the moment, this clear divide does work, but when (and if) the humans and spider meet, it’ll be a true test of the animation design to see how these styles gel together.
A lot of this episode is dedicated to the Spider adjusting to her new life as, well, a spider. This in turn leads to quite a lot of monologues by the hugely talented voice actress Aoi Yuki who you may remember as Tsuyu in My Hero Academia and Madoka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Yuki does a fantastic job of pretty much carrying the entire episode and brought some much needed comedy and charisma to a creepy spider. Aoi also sings the show’s ending song in character, and it’s an absolute riot!
But while it’s completely understandable for the Spider to ‘talk her way’ through the shock and explore her new world, by about the halfway point I was ready to move onto something else. I suppose the crux of it is… we don’t have any idea who the protagonist is, not even a name. We get small scraps such as she liked playing games and kept to herself at school, but nothing to really connect us to her as a character. As we progressed through the episode I didn’t really have anything that made me feel invested in her development. As the episode reached its conclusion and we were introduced to other classmates who were reincarnated into actual heroes, I found I was a lot more interested in them (despite only five minutes of airtime) rather than following a spider in a gloomy cave.
The first episode of So I’m a Spider, So What? felt a bit like a mixed bag. I enjoyed the animation and as a concept I was certainly intrigued, but I’m not quite sure how invested I am in the character of Spider. She might be a character that grows on me with further viewing, but with so many other fantastic shows to watch this season it might end up being one that I put on the backburner.
You can watch So I’m a Spider, So What? on Crunchyroll.