Should You Watch Classroom of the Elite?

Our Episode 1 Summer Anime 2017 Review
7
  • Anime
2017-07-12
classroom of the elite
Classroom of the Elite. (c) Lerche

Classroom of the Elite takes place in the elite Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing High School, a government-funded school and full private community where students are given 100,000 “points” each month to fund their lifestyle. The students spend their first month lazing about in class, purchasing baubles with their points and generally making the least of their time at this prestigious school, only to be told at the end of the episode that points are awarded based on performance only. If you don’t do well in school, you can’t buy anything and have no way to live your life. Oops!

Classroom of the Elite borrows from both Assassination Classroom and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU to set up its tyrannical meritocracy and cast of characters. These are biiiiig shoes to fill, which Classroom of the Elite seems to be aware of. This might be why we open with a Nietzsche quote and a ponderously dragged-out incident where a bubbly female student begs the folks on the bus around her to give up a seat to an old lady.

One student replies with a long, arrogant monologue about how it’s not illegal to sit in a priority seat, while our protagonist and another girl nearby look on in silence. Eventually, someone gives up their seat and puts the overlong scene (and its overwrought organ music) to an end. All the while, our protagonist, Kyotaka Ayanokouji, is going on and on mentally about the differences between people and whether or not equality is a nonsense idea. We get it, guys, you’re high-concept.

Speaking of our protagonist, Ayanokouji is a loner who sucks at communicating with people. While he’d like to make friends, it doesn’t happen, and strangely enough he seems at peace with this. There’s a moment where the class goes round doing self-introductions, and he mentally acknowledges that this moment may determine his ranking in the class’s social hierarchy. After totally bombing with a generic, monotonous speech, he mentally says in the same monotonous tone, “I faaaaailed.” I snorted.

Throughout the episode there are signs that the school may not be quite the utopia it seems to be on the outside. Ayanokouji notices that one of the stores allows students three free items, which seems unnecessary if the points are refilled every month. His seatmate Horikita Suzune, whose brother is student council president, is chary with her points - almost as if she knows not to use them all up at once. A group of kids from another school pick on a fellow Class 1-D member, then laugh as they walk away, talking about the “hell” to come.

A highlight is super-sexy homeroom teacher Sae Chabashira, specifically her impossibly stern yet sultry voice. Her cleavage forms a crevasse deep enough for all of Class 1-D to hang out in, but her vocal performance goes from silken to steel in two seconds. Permissive to the extreme at first, when she reveals the twist to the students at the end she goes full on dominatrix as she menacingly purrs, “You’re garbage.” Okay, Ms. Chabashira! Sorry to bother you, ma’am!

However, the strength of the setting can only go so far if we aren’t invested in the characters who populate it. I’m still on the fence about Ayanokouji, whose relentlessly monotonous delivery and shallow affect don’t appeal to me. He doesn’t feel like someone I want to root for. The girl who sits next to him, Horikita Suzune, has an even worse personality, cold and actively mean. Kushida Kikyo, the girl who tried to help the old grandma on the bus, is so cheerful and friendly it feels actively sinister. What do you want, friendly child?

Despite a pretentious opening that dragged a bit, I love a good dystopian school setting and I’m willing to give the characters more time to establish themselves. And despite my usual reservations towards fanservice, I’m in love with Ms. Chabashira and will sit through anything to hear her speak again. (Maybe it’s just panty shots that I’m over, since there was an extended and lingering look at Kikyo’s bust that didn’t bother me. It seemed natural for Ayanokouji to stare since she was almost pressed up against him at the time.) The character design is solid enough (Ayanokouji and Kikyo have especially pretty eyes), and the show is attractive overall. For now, Classroom of the Elite will be staying on my queue.

Do you agree? Will you be watching Classroom of the Elite? Classroom of the Elite streams on Crunchyroll Wednesdays at 12 p.m. EDT here. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

REVIEW SUMMARY
Classroom of the Elite
7
Should You Watch Classroom of the Elite?
Despite a pretentious opening that dragged a bit, the dystopian school setting seems deliciously evil. The characters have promise and the show is technically sound.
  • Chabashira's voice acting
  • Ayanokouji's loner monologues
  • Dystopian school setting
  • Smooth and appealing to look at
  • Opening drags
  • Pretentious monologues
  • "Heavy" subject matter
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