Episode 06 – “Kurumi and the Teddy Bear Kingdom”
Childhood. For most of us, these days are long gone by and with it, the imagination, excitement, and fear. Although we continue to experience these emotions into our adult years, there’s a certain uniqueness to them when we’re kids because the world and everyone in it just seems so much bigger and scarier than us, and I think this episode of Phantom World beautifully captures that childish sense of creative wonderment and frightened anxiety.
Kurumi’s resolve to cross the street without stepping outside of the white lines is such an endearing childlike quality. When I was little, I would always play similar games with myself like avoiding the cracks and lines on the sidewalks, and it’s that kind of logic that really only makes sense to kids. So it’s actually really refreshing to not only see a young character act like a real child, but think like one as well.
I almost feel compelled to spend most of this impression talking about the symbolic shots in this episode, namely the one of the crosswalk covered with puddles. The water reflects the sky and, appropriately, makes each puddle look like a portal to an entirely different world. The crosswalk itself is clearly representative of a metaphorical obstacle or challenge, specifically the bridge to adulthood and the coming of age, and the entirety of Kurumi’s adventure in her fabricated Teddy Bear Kingdom happens in this one spot.
Even though some of the character episodes have felt shortchanged, I really love the pacing of the series so far, particularly in regards to how each episode is framed. Humorous psychology lessons act as bookends and summarize the purpose of each episode without feeling too overt or forcefully directing our eyes, resulting in stories that flow naturally. While these characters have over-the-top personalities and superpowers, the way they deal with their issues is a lot more real than what I’ve seen out of other anime in similar genres.
“If I can cross the road without stepping outside the white lines…” ~ Kurumi Kumamakura