Chapter 12 – Fungus: Eternal Life
Chocoimo shows up to summarize the previous episode in place of Fabula, though Fabula shows up to foreshadow the episode to come, which includes a recording of an actual, real-life mushroom for some reason? Weirdness aside, this is the start of my favourite two episodes of the show (a two-parter), and I really mean it: aside from the usual FUF troubles of acclimatizing yourself to the voice acting, this is genuinely good TV for the genre. While that may mean that it’s all downhill from here, we might as well enjoy ourselves while we’re at the top!
We begin in Gaudium, where the Earl is holding a Crystal shard of Omega, shaped like a star and about as big as his child-fist. We learn that Oscha brought him the shard, and he’s not alone, as Herba, Pist and Makenshi arrive with even more Omega Crystals, Makenshi’s biggest of them all. The Earl is happy to see this last one, and promotes Makenshi to a proper Lord of Gaudium, which makes things even worse for Fungus, who’s still small and so hasn’t found a piece of Omega on his own. The Earl ends the scene with a veiled but obvious threat in Fungus’ direction.
We get a brief scene with the party to remind us that they’re still around (and that Chobi stayed with them at the end of the last episode) and then return to Gaudium, where Oscha creepily sneaks up on Fungus to give him some advice. He tells Fungus that Crux has found a place that will “increase the power of [Fungus’] strength,” but refuses to explain himself right away. This is followed by a largely pointless cutaway to Kaze, where he declares that hunting Makenshi is more important than Omega, and… look folks, I swear this episode gets good eventually, don’t blame the opening.
We rejoin Fungus and Oscha, who have used Fungus’ mushroom airship to get to a part of Wonderland filled with fungi. Oscha reveals that when Fungus’ homeworld was originally destroyed by Chaos, a portion of it was absorbed into Wonderland and has become this place, right here. This revelation goes a long way to explain the disjointed nature of Wonderland and its inhabitants: it’s literally made up of fractured parts of other worlds! What a great premise! Fungus tells Oscha that he’s been working for the Earl strictly to restore his homeworld and his people, and he zealously declares that he’ll begin here, and in so doing, somehow gain the power to capture Omega.
Naturally, the party arrives in this mushroom field in the very next scene, and Chobi uses his new powers to fly them into the middle. Unfortunately, they haven’t explored long before they’re found by Fungus, and Kaze arrives seconds later. We’re finally getting down to business, and despite all the clutter in the opening minutes, this is actually pretty fast for FFU!
Kaze opens fire on Fungus with his shotgun, but it doesn’t do any damage, like nearly every other time it’s used. This thing is a BB gun, I swear. Fungus begins to boast that everything here in this section of Wonderland exists to “feed his power,” and he begins to inhale a cloud of spores that the party has been kicking up, causing him to grow to giant size. Lisa announces, “All these spores in the air are fighting for him! That’s his power.” Naturally, Lisa only said the words, “That’s his power” so that Kaze could segue to saying, “Soil! Is my power!” as the Magun thaws.
The soil charge triad to use on you has been decided!
The sleep that envelops death: Steel Gray.
From the bubbling and boiling blood: Hot Crimson.
Wait, hold on.
And finally, the power that penetrates darkness: Lightning Yellow.
Hold on, this is just the summon from Episode 5! Except… translated differently?
Roar! I summon you! Ixion!
It’s not even a very good Summon for this situation, to be perfectly honest. Fungus even calls it “a Magun-spawned pony,” which is stilted, but still funny. Still, Ixion makes a big mess of things, forcing Chobi to transform and evacuate the party.
But as Ai predicts, Fungus survives. I mean, he’s got a big hole in him, but as we watch, he reconstructs himself out of the spores kicked into the air. Genuine failure on Kaze’s part! If only we saw it more often! Fungus orders some of the mushrooms to form into a giant club for him, and gets another laugh out of me from an otherwise stilted line by bragging about his homeland, and declaring: “The graveyard in which to rest your bones has been decided!”
But Kaze does not give up:
It is you who will rest in your grave! The soil will soon claim you!
The origin of all things: Mother Black.
The heat that will scorch the world: Fire Red.
Oh, we’re doing this again too, huh?
And finally, the source of all energy: Burning Gold.
Burn! I summon you! Phoenix!
This one, uh… does have an impact. Just not the one Kaze was probably hoping for. Kaze fires into Fungus’ club, and Phoenix moves through it into Fungus’ own body. Just like it did to the mushroom monster in Episode 1, Phoenix causes him to burn up, also burning up the spores in the air, like one of those terrifying flour explosions you might have seen on the internet, or god forbid real life.
But to even my surprise, even this doesn’t stop Fungus, even if it might logically seem like it should. He once more reforms, if without his club. He declares that “this land is indestructible!” and, having finally tired of taking shots, begins to attack Kaze. The episode ends here on a cliffhanger.
Genuine surprises! Genuine tension!
Fungus opens the ep by plucking a new club, but after that we join the party, where Ai suggests they play their favourite card and run the fuck away. But Yu refuses, saying that for some reason he feels it’s important they stay around. Lisa decides to agree with Yu, asking the twins to stay out of Fungus’ reach.
Lisa takes to the ground and uses her Kigen Arts to hide herself and the wounded Kaze with spores, but Fungus quickly realizes what she’s up to, and snatches up the twins and Chobi straight out of the sky. When Kaze realizes that his Magun is once again inert, he pulls out his shotgun, but Lisa puts herself in front of him, shouting that he’ll hit the kids. The words are barely out of her mouth before Kaze starts firing anyways, but he doesn’t do any damage, and thankfully Fungus doesn’t bother to use the twins as human shields. Finally, Fungus imprisons the two of them under a fungal dome, though why he bothers is not immediately clear.
We have a brief cutaway to Gaudium, where everyone else is watching except for Makenshi, who wants to go to the scene in person. Towards the end of this cutaway, the Earl orders more food from Oscha, and Oscha replies with some masked hostility towards the Earl, and we get an ominous slow zoom into Oscha’s face!
Inside the fungal dome, we discover that Fungus has actually smashed Kaze and Lisa into a cave under the dome, full of mushrooms and spores that make it hard for them to breathe. Lisa argues with Kaze, begging him to show the kids some compassion. At one point she outright takes his hand, triggering another flashback to Aura. Unfortunately, besides the flashback, Lisa doesn’t seem to be getting to Kaze. He finally gives her a non-answer: “The battlefield is calling me.”
At this point, the cave, already full of spores, becomes full of fog. Lisa happens to refer to the fog as “mist,” which causes Kaze to realize that this is Makenshi’s doing, just like the mist he released when he attacked the Comodeen. He gets his gun out of his holster, but it’s too late: Makenshi has Kaze at swordpoint.
Makenshi tells Kaze that he never should have awoken. When he notices that the Magun is still inert, Makenshi reveals that Kaze used to be able to fire the Magun at will. Since he now knows that Kaze has no way out, Makenshi decides to reveal Fungus’ plan: the spores in the cave will soon kill Kaze and Lisa. Makenshi claims he’s going to “help” by putting Kaze back to sleep instead of letting him die, strongly implying (never confirmed) that he was the one who put Kaze to sleep in the first place. At this point, Makenshi attempts to summon his Sword Dragon, but Kaze anticlimactically shoots Makenshi’s bottle of summoning mist out of the air with his shotgun.
Back on the surface, Fungus has returned to regular size and returned to his mushroom ship, where he’s trapped the twins and Chobi inside of mushrooms, perhaps a weird shout-out to Super Mario RPG’s “Mushroom” status effect? Fungus tells the twins that he’s bringing them to be executed in front of the Earl, and insists that he’s doing this to maintain order in Wonderland. Fungus’ perspective is this: the Earl is in charge of Wonderland, and Chaos will keep absorbing worlds into Wonderland, which means that eventually the Earl will be ruler of all creation, effectively god. I should note that the Earl has made similar claims in previous episodes, saying that he should be the only source of order in Wonderland, and also that he’s also the only “god,” which seems to be a particular point of ire. During his speech, Fungus also mentions something called “God’s Egg,” but he’s cut off. This is the only mention of “God’s Egg” in the entire show, though it shows up once in supplementary material. For what it’s worth, “God’s Egg” doesn’t make much more sense in the supplementary context than it does here. Remember, the show was cancelled early! To tease at the supplementary material, “God’s Egg” seems to be some weird, alternate name for Wonderland itself. Maybe the term is meant to hint at Wonderland’s true nature? Was Wonderland somehow supposed to “hatch” a new god? We will never officially know.
Fungus tells the kids about how his world was absorbed into Wonderland, and how this will happen to their world as well. At this point, Fungus gets egotistical and boasts that one day he’ll even use the power of his world to overthrow the Earl. But before he can get too pig-headed, there’s a burst of light and Makenshi busts out of the underground, Fungus revealing Makenshi’s name to the twins in the process. Makenshi cuts his way into his ally’s ship – because that’s the sort of person he is – and reveals to Fungus that Kaze is still alive, skipping over the fact that he just freed Kaze, seemingly on purpose! This prompts Fungus to grow right there in his ship, destroying the whole thing. It’s a wonder the kids weren’t killed, but the show soon reveals that Fungus has somehow lashed the twins and Chobi to his club.
While Fungus is out fee-fi-fo-fuming his way about the mushroom forest, looking for Kaze, Crux appears behind him and begins spreading a strange, black dust around the area, unseen.
Fungus has upped his game, and threatens to crush the kids and Chobi in his fist if Kaze doesn’t cooperate with him. Just then, Fungus is distracted when he realizes that he’s covered with rot! It seems Crux is spreading some kind of fungicidal mould around the area, killing off Fungus’ precious mushrooms. Fungus claims that this happened on the day his world was consumed by Chaos, and this prompts Kaze to enter another flashback to the death of his own world. Wow, I bet this reused flashback footage saves a lot of money, huh?
As Fungus’ club is also fungal, it breaks from rot, and the kids fall toward the ground. Lisa goes to their rescue, but it’s ultimately Chobi who saves them by transforming. The split second this happens, the Magun thaws. This isn’t a coincidence. The show won’t say as much until the last few minutes of the final episode, but I think I’m going to make the big reveal early it because it makes it easier to talk about: the Magun is somehow tied to the twins, and only thaws in their presence. This instance is probably the most obvious example. The trouble is: the show is barely consistent on the matter, and the Magun’s movements really do just come down to writer fiat. I don’t really know what to say?
Fungus is nearly necrotic at this point, and promises to crush Kaze, “with the last of my power.” Aw, FFU, don’t try to play the “my power” lead-in to “Soil is my power!” twice in one two-parter! …Ugh, fine. He’s going to “crush you with the rest of his power,” so you respond…
Soil! Is my power!
The soil charge triad to use on you has been decided!
The roar of the sky engulfed in flames: Horizon Gold.
The daggers of an angry rain: Arrow Black.
And finally, the light that drives a wedge into eternity: Photon Silver.
Destroy! I summon you! Meteor Master!
Urm, that’s not a… well, I mean, I see what they were going for, wanting to get FFIV and VII’s super-spell, Meteor, to end this unkillable boss even if he is rotting. But that’s not an established Summon! And for an FF player, especially someone like me who was playing along, trying to guess the summon, that really takes the kick out of this dramatic finale!
Meteor Master looks something like a Tonberry, and it summons Meteor to destroy the entire area, Fungus included. As he is dying, Fungus tells Kaze that it was “truly an honour,” and that Kaze might truly be “an Unlimited.”
Meanwhile in the real world, Kyle and I were blowing the entire day grinding in Persona 1 and Crisis Core, and would later remark that the only thing “we” managed to accomplish all day was to “defeat Fungus” during lunch.
Back in Gaudium, the Earl broods over Fungus only for a moment, before happily announcing that he feels full, and Oscha reports that Chaos too is “satisfied,” as though this has somehow gone all as planned. The final shot in Gaudium is a meaningful close-up on Oscha. This, combined with the fact that he’s Crux’s creator, implies to me that Oscha orchestrated Crux and the mould, although you could also suggest that the Earl gave the order. The final scene of the episode is of party resting after the cataclysm, with no sign of Kaze.
All downhill from here!