WARNING: The following contains spoilers for So I’m a Spider, So What? Episode 4, “Monkey, Wha-?,” streaming now on Crunchyroll.
So I'm a Spider's Episode 4, “Monkey, Wha- ?,” delivers the first all-out battle of the series so far -- between Wakaba and a hoard of malicious monkeys. After defeating a monkey that abruptly attacked her, the creature's death cry alerts its comrades, revealing Wakaba’s current location. Wakaba, unaware of the monkey’s ability to call for its kin, confidently resides in her temporary new home until danger comes knocking. As scary and gruesome as the ensuing war is, the call to action makes Wakaba realize that sometimes, one must risk it all to protect their own life.
But even as Wakaba keeps outsmarting her opponents, their ability to learn in battle makes the fighting drag on while also inflicting life-threatening injuries on her. But, you know what they say -- what doesn't kill you...
At first, it seems like Wakaba has the height advantage when the battle begins in Episode 4, but the monkeys change this, utilizing their surroundings to unleash long-range attacks while others climb the walls to surround Wakaba. They then start throwing rocks, which is not necessarily deadly or life-threatening in itself, but it’s quickly evident that their true objective is to distract her. The monkeys operating as a team highlights the advantage of battling as a group, but Wakaba is able to come up with quick webbing schemes to counter this strategy.
Wakaba’s webbing is her most versatile weapon, but the monkeys are able to adapt to its structure and even sacrifice themselves to allow others to climb over their bodies so they won’t get stuck. This self-sacrifice for the greater good of their kin shows their ability to work as a collective whole, rather than satisfying individual needs. Wakaba is caught off-guard by this and loses part of her leg as a result. The fact that her legs are ripped off so nonchalantly not only demonstrates the monkey’s individual strength, but also the brutality of battling monsters that only have one collective goal: kill their prey.
The motivation behind the hordes' attack is predominantly revenge -- they reacted to the death cry of their fallen kin. Wakaba is able to survive, and just barely, by leveling-up from constantly defeating weaker foes, but when one of the evolved versions of these monkeys shows up to the brawl, the battle begins to take a different turn.
The lower-leveled ones use themselves as sacrificial pawns while the evolved monkeys take different approaches to expose Wakaba’s weaknesses. The evolved foes are able to throw large boulders and move way faster than their lower-leveled counterparts. Wakaba defeats a couple by utilizing her new poison synthesis ability, but that alone is not enough.
The battle, overall, is very bloody, filled with many life-or-death moments. Wakaba pulls off some devastating moves, such as pulling the whole cave wall down to crush the monkeys that are grounded. But the most impactful moment comes not in victory but in near-defeat: Wakaba loses half her body after suffering a bite from one of the evolved monkeys. Seeing Wakaba in a bloody mess instills emotional turmoil not just in her but also in us as an audience, all while making the battle feel true to life because of these heightened stakes. So I’m A Spider is clearly not afraid to show the dark side of isekai, and delivers some very grotesque outcomes in this episode.
Although the gory battle takes place between encounters with bigger monsters, it lays the groundwork for future encounters with the anime's human cast. Since the monkeys were able to learn from battling, this only leads to the potential for similar greater cognitive development in other creatures that Wakaba will face.
Episode 4 of So I’m A Spider levels the playing field for all of its characters. Ultimately, though, it will be their will to fight as fiercely and cleverly as Wakaba that will set them aside from the monsters that threaten their world.