There were some fairly hefty revelations this month so if you’re waiting for the anime/behind on the manga maybe give this one a miss.
It’s impossible to judge anything on it’s very first step as is the case with the first anime of a new season. For me, the first episode has to have something to grab you, or at the very least make it interesting.
And Juuni Taisen certainly grabbed my attention.
It’s been a somewhat underwhelming season of anime this summer both on a personal and more general level. Writing my dissertation meant that I didn’t get a chance to really get into most of the shows I started (New Game!! and Katsugeki Ranbu being the best examples). It was also the first season I’ve had a reason to get really angry with Netflix for their handling of anime release (Fate/Apocrypha this time). So I’m only up to date with two single cour shows from this season, one of which is Classroom of the Elite.
A show that could have been mistaken initially for a Oregairu clone, Classroom of the Elite is, like the former, a social commentary through intensely intelligent characters. Koudo Ikusei Senior High School is a school where everyone who graduates is guaranteed a sparkling career and great fortune. However, the show focuses on class D – the class used to ridicule the worst students in the school using a points based currency system. The two main characters are Ayanokouji and Horikita – two seemingly emotionless students who don’t share most of the characteristics of the rest of the class. The twelve episode season follows class D as they attempt to climb the school hierarchy.
Whoever wrote Classroom of the Elite must be quite the cynic. Everyone has more than one side to them; everyone has something to hide, and usually it’s not something good. This cynicism actually leads the story down a strong route though, pitting members of class against one another in realistic scenarios whilst also introducing new characters with purpose into the story. The show also does well to show that the world does not revolve around class D, and the other three classes also have their own issues to deal with that in some instances can be just as concerning.
All of that said, the plot is ultimately a let down. Despite the well timed character introductions alongside the well managed conflicts the events that surround these moments are badly thought up and seemed to be aimed at the lowest common denominator. For example, episode seven is set a the school pool. Of course, this is a common troupe in anime and doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Whatever constitutes a good pool/beach episodes was not passed on to the writers here though and episode displays the boys of class D’s attempt to set up a camera in the girls’ changing room, only to be foiled by Ayanokouji in the final moments.
As I’ll come onto, I like Ayanokouji’s character but he does often seem to take the place of deus ex machina. If I was trying to be sympathetic to Classroom of the Elite, I would argue that for the most part the show goes for a mystery vibe – creating problems for Ayanokouji to solve. The problem is, there is never any suspense as we know that Ayanokouji will always fix the problem in favour of whoever’s side he is on, and if he doesn’t, it was because he couldn’t be bothered or had no interest. This is seen to it’s fullest in the final four episodes where the classes are tested in a desert island scenario. The writers go to great length to point how class D are falling apart and all the other classes have done so much better. This technique can work, but really, you have to give your protagonists something or it will become obvious that you’re setting up a big turn around – and then no one is surprised when it actually happens.
I liked the characters in this a lot. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the characters in Classroom of the Elite are what makes the show watchable in the face over underwhelming writing. Perhaps though, the class system is the true strength here: although we see the story through the eyes of class D, Ayanokouji manages to interact with members of each of the other classes in some way and thus we are quickly given an insight into the way each class ethos. Sakayanagi, the leader of class A is cunning and full of planning; Ichinose in class B is probably as intelligent but would rather make alliances than go it alone and Ryuuen of class C is a thug, yet commands the respect of all of his classmates.
Let’s talk about Ayanokouji though. We’re not meant to be in any doubt that he is very intelligent, despite being in the bottom class. It also isn’t meant to surprise anyone that he is a troubled sort of person who suffered from a peculiar sort of upbringing. In this season he had all of the answers when the plot required them, and although this could sometimes feel frustrating it does go someway to building his character.
Horikita could be brandished with the same brush – cold and emotionless, yet a strong intellect she is driven to get into class A. In truth though, she is manipulated by her class mate on many occasions which leads to the revelation that she is far less self centred than we assumed, instead having a bit of a brother complex (who also happens to be the student council president.
The other character of note that should be mentioned is Kushida. The ‘Yui’ of the piece, she seemed as if she would be more important than she ended up being based on the opening couple of episodes. If the show does get a second season, I can see her coming to fore again as I would guess the author intended a lot for his favourite split personality.
Art and Animation
I’m not really sure if this should go into the ‘art and animation’ section of a review, but Classroom of the Elite is guilty of being all of the things everyone who doesn’t like anime cites as a reason for not liking anime. Strong female characters are time and time again undermined for no other reason than being female – whether it being the ‘panty incident’ in episode ten and eleven or the consistent levels of fan service present through the show. Faces are unnaturally out of proportion (even for anime) with everyone’s eyes being too big and too bright.
That said, the production values are exceptionally good. This show just looks like an anime should in terms of lines and movement – there is only so much you can do in a school anime but Classroom of the Elite, manages most of it.
I didn’t dislike Classroom of the Elite. Sure, the plot was patchy and Ayanokouji is far too intelligent for any show, but it all comes together to work quite nicely. The problems mean I can’t rate it particularly highly and I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve got a full plan to watch list, but Classroom of the Elite is certainly a form of entertainment for someone and will surely get better scores from other viewers.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
What did you think of Classroom of the Elite? Do deus ex machina characters like Ayanokouji bother you or is it just part of the shows appeal? Do you think/want Classroom of the Elite will get another season? Any thoughts on what might happen next (as long as you haven’t read the light novel!)?
The penultimate episode of Gamers! is thoroughly in the process of rapping things up. What’s best about this show though is that even though things are starting to work out for most of the characters, it still doesn’t take itself seriously.
As a final attempt to confirm that no one is cheating, Tasuku and Karen agree to organise a double date with Aguri and Keita. Meanwhile, Konoha eavesdropping gets Chiaki in on the day and the episode is all set to go.
We get a lot of anime every season and each year Autumn is the one where we get the most, but wow, this year is taking thing to extremes. Fall 2017 has a strong showing in sequels, originals as well as the usual splattering of new manga and light novel adaptations. As is the way with these things, I thought it might be a good idea to run through some of the shows I’m considering watching before the season gets going.
The Ancient Magus Bride
The biggest new title of the season, produced by Wit Studio with a very popular manga as it’s source material, The Ancient Magus Bride is one to watch. Although this would be easy to dismiss as a fantastical magic fest, I’m anticipating lots of slice of life coming through in this show. The marriage element makes me a little uneasy, but from what I’ve read it doesn’t actually seem to be a prominent aspect of the show. Prepare for episode one’s airing on October 8th by watching the three prequel episodes.
Fun fact of the day, did you know that this weeks episode title is also the name of the second Japanese opening for the original Digimon? Well neither did I, but now we both do.
You’ve got to give Fate/Apocrypha something, and that is that it isn’t lacking in action at the moment. In fact, it has so much action as it enters the final moments of the first half of the season, I’m not really sure where to look. The episode title would suggest Ruler is key to this episode, and I suppose she is as we get to see her use her noble phantasm for the first time in response to Berserker of Red going completely mad and using his own noble phantasm. It was a pretty interesting noble phantasm as well (on Ruler’s part that is), as, if I’m not wrong, it’s the first time we’ve ever seen a purely defensive function for a noble phantasm. Obviously, this is mainly because in a true battle royale attack is essential, while here Ruler serves as a check between the two sides – nonetheless, it was cool.
In the most interesting contest so far we got two confrontations between the two lancer class servants. Vlad is exceptionally strong because he is on home ground in Romania while his opponent, Karna, must be up there with Hercules and Gilgamesh as the strongest servants in the Fate universe, what with being the son of the sun god and all. The episode concludes here with Darnic setting himself up to command Vlad to use a noble phantasm that his servant ordered him not to – quite clearly something surrounding vampirism. We also get to see the greater grail here as well, as Shirou’s plan comes into action.
In my work crazed state I’ve fallen into a bit of Fate moment: watching Fate/Apocrypha as it airs, rewatching the first couple of episodes of Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works in preparation for the Heaven’s Feel movie in October and finally downloading the new mobile game in the franchise, Fate/Grand Order.
At the start of the year (it was actually New Years Day in fact) I watched the one off extended episode of Fate/Grand Order: First Order, before letting it slip to the back of my mind and promptly forgetting it. The anime adaptation of the prologue of this game was okay at best with a cast of characters that felt as if they should have been in a mobile game. Well, that’s the thing isn’t it – because they actually work very well in the real mobile game.
Only a brief post today just to fill you guys in on what I’ve been up to over the last ten days or so since my last post…
So until the start of September I’m going to be working on my Masters’ dissertation (that is twenty-thousand words on a very niche bit of Medieval British history), so I hope you’ll forgive me for not posting a lot until then. It doesn’t mean though that I haven’t had any time to watch any anime!
Because my time for watching has come a bit randomly I haven’t watched things as episodically as I would normally, but let me just run through what I have seen…
It’s not really surprising that Fate/Apocrypha is still introducing things in its second episode. With 14 (15) servants and, presumably (?) an equal number of masters to try to show off before things really get going, I wouldn’t be surprised if episode three follows suit – nonetheless, this episode did a decent job introducing lots of new characters, as well as giving us a taste of the kind of action we can expect going forward.
We see a little more of Ruler to begin with before rejoining the two factions who take turns in introducing themselves. The Black team do a full (and quite convenient) set of introductions led by their overly bubbly Rider.
Comedy, school, romance. Three genre tags that offer a whole lot of potential, but equally can make for a complete waste of a studio’s budget. Because of this, I had no idea what to really expect from Classroom of the Elite (Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e). After seeing that before this show started I didn’t really know what to expect. An optimistic bit of me saw a grumpy but intelligent male lead and an equally aloof female and thought maybe this would be some kind of reworking of Oregairu. Episode one has started to clear some of the fog from this season.
Ayanokouji has just started high school, Koudo Ikusei. In fact, it’s the best high school in Japan. Down side is, our male lead made a hash of his entrance exams and ends up in class D. Initially, this doesn’t sound like a massive problem with everyone in the class being given an allowance of 100,000 yen and access to the same facilities as all of the other students.