On the surface, Koudo Ikusei Senior High School is a utopia. The students enjoy an unparalleled amount of freedom, and it is ranked highly in Japan. However, the reality is less than ideal. Four classes, A through D, are ranked in order of merit, and only the top classes receive favorable treatment.
Kiyotaka Ayanokouji is a student of Class D, where the school dumps its worst. There he meets the unsociable Suzune Horikita, who believes she was placed in Class D by mistake and desires to climb all the way to Class A, and the seemingly amicable class idol Kikyou Kushida, whose aim is to make as many friends as possible.
While class membership is permanent, class rankings are not; students in lower ranked classes can rise in rankings if they score better than those in the top ones. Additionally, in Class D, there are no bars on what methods can be used to get ahead. In this cutthroat school, can they prevail against the odds and reach the top?
Using a pretentious question as an opener is common in Light Novel adaptations. It's a fast way to both grab the attention of the inexperienced viewer and to introduce the general intentions of the show. However, questioning the equality of the entire human race is a comical idea. The question itself only functions as a rhetorical question and even then, you gain nothing from the inevitable “no” as an answer. It is a question that serves no purpose, a problem that is reflected throughout the show’s entire runtime. Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. Welcome to the Classroom of the Elite
is not just a show that suffers from purposelessness but also from a poorly constructed setting and plot, a less than stellar presentation and from being bound to generic LN formulas.
Fair warning: This review contains spoilers!
While I might already have voiced my opinion on the initial quote, I have to give credit where it’s due. Unlike many other LN adaptations that also start off with some vapid quote, Elite Classroom chose one that actively represents one of the key parts of its own setting: Assigning students monetary worth through points based on merit, and dividing the classes by said merit. This is where the first glaring issues pop up. Now, leaving the whole classes can only advance as a unit thing (which is stupid) aside, the point system is inherently flawed. Reason for that is the sheer universal usage of said points, they can basically be used to buy anything you need: Games, gold teeth, a deluxe meal, you name it. There are close to no boundaries, it goes as far as being able to not only buy old tests from upperclassmen (which are exactly the same as the ones you’ll have), but even test score points. This creates several problems: tests you can buy from upperclassmen have several times the worth of the price, as they guarantee a significant growth in your own monthly points which paired with buying test points makes it impossible to drop out of school because of said test scores - a threat that just in the beginning was announced with much fanfare. Apart from promoting to a higher class, the points seem like they barely matter. Premium meals may cost more and you won’t be able to live a king’s life, sure, but it seems like whether or not you have many points doesn’t make much of a difference. You can still visit the school leisure pool, and I’m sure there are other free activities on campus, too. The sheer absence of tutoring upperclassmen, people selling used products on student markets or similar events and the like make it feel as if the setting and its rules weren’t thought through and make the whole school seem lifeless. There are also some rules which seem to have been added in hindsight because the plot demands it. If you have someone’s device number (Phone number? Seemed like it was some kind of machine all students get?), you can search their location via GPS. Because nobody could possibly have a problem with not just the school but every student that knows your whateveritis number being able to learn of your whereabouts whenever they feel like it. Also there are security cameras. But some buildings have none. Because plot reasons.
The school itself is also poorly realized. It is funded by the Japanese government in order to nurture the future elites of the nation. Scratch that, they aren’t just funding the school, they are blowing about half of their nation’s wealth at the school: A gigantic mall plus employees, a luxus ship cruise, a fucking island. They somehow have the money for all of that (and more) and still make positive returns, which seems nigh impossible considering who these supposed “elite students” are. If you forgot that the school in this show is supposedly the top school in all of Japan, I don’t blame you. It mostly feels like just an average school academically apart from the utter morons that are Class D. Now, I get that they are supposed to be the lowest class, but please. This is the single top school in all of Japan and there are people failing tests although they know exactly what questions will be in the test? Some of them are on the top school in Japan to play sports? Attempted rape, frequent violence between students, heck Class C is a group of organized delinquents. Don’t even get me started on that 20-something year old black man that can only speak the most basic and broken english. It’s like the setting itself is treated like an afterthought just 2 episodes in.
Another thing that’s treated like an afterthought is creating an opportunity to get invested in the show. The main reason for that being the characters we could possibly get invested in that, sadly, all without exception are no more than the mere prescription of a “fictional character”. They are neither relatable nor likable. In a story like this you’d want well-developed, human and likable characters with well-constructed motivations so you can root for them, but the show instead presents you with an empty shell of a human being as a main character and another multitude of characters that consists - without exception - of character tropes that you’ve already seen more times than you can count, but with a “twist” added to them. These twist are also treated like an afterthought for the rest of the show, seemingly randomly reappearing as if the author forgot they even exist. It feels like they are just a superficial way to create a feeling of depth and complexity when it isn’t actually present, they are played like cliffhangers and then never expanded upon and it just grows even more frustrating every single time.
Ayanokouji as the main character makes any possible investment in the show incredibly difficult. While he was commonly compared to Hachiman from Oregairu, that comparison is like comparing a highly modern army jet to a pedestrian. Ayanokouji at his very core is just another boring self-insert protagonist, albeit not as annoying as the irritatingly popular whiny harem protagonists. Not only is he incredibly smart, skilled in martial arts and literally another “lab rat”, his absolute skill earns him the respect and affection of every major character in the show. Be it the hottest girls in his class, the student council president or even teachers. Everyone wants a piece of the Ayanokouji. While first presented as a snarky, judgemental cynic, he quickly devolves into just another LN wish fulfillment protagonist with nearly unlimited powers. Powers so incredible they can bend our very perception of reality and reason (because it totally makes sense that you can constantly monitor the whereabouts of any students whose number you have, especially if that solution is presented the first time AFTER you’ve already used it. Nice Deus Ex Machina, Aya).
As is tradition, the reasons for the female characters’ affection towards him is the result of several arrays of coincidences.
Case 1: Ayanokouji is just casually taking a walk in the evening when suddenly he sees Horikita and her brother beating her. Being the distant and self-serving dude he is, Ayanokouji quickly rushes in to save her, displaying his high proficiency in both martial arts and witty one-liner responses in the process. Over the course of the series, Horikita gradually grows to like Ayanokouji, or rather gets increasingly “jealous” of other girls spending time with him or being treated well by him. While the conflict between Horikita and her brother is underlyingly present throughout early parts of the show, it quickly gets neglected and serves only as momentary shock instead of as a part of a meaningful narritive.
Case 2: Kushida forgets her phone and Aya is fast enough to see the elevator Kushida took descending, although it should be ascending. He follows her and of course just when he arrives, Kushida first unleashes her “other personality”. Kushida stays around Ayanokouji because she doesn’t trust him to keep this secret, although there is no reason for him to tell anyone and he has nothing to gain from it. Kushida then grows to like him over the course of their less than healthy relationship, but her “second personality”, how it came to be and why its existence is important is never explained. This is a trend.
Case 3: Not only is there an entirely random fan of Sakura in the shop she visits to have her camera repaired, he also is a crazy, delusional stalker. When he sees Sakura alone in the mall, he follows her. Sakura, being the highly intelligent elite school student she is, quickly runs into the darkest alley possible and the dude tries to rape her. Ayanokouji again saves the day using Sakura's GPS location which is somehow possible because he has Sakura’s whateveritis number, a concept which only gets introduced in hindsight. Sakura, having been saved from rape of all the things that could possibly happen in a tightly secured elite school, falls in love with her savior. Not only is rape used for its shock value, but also to create a feeling of affection. It’s horribly executed and terribly cheap and distasteful.
Having characters you can get invested in and root for is detrimental to the story that Elite Classroom is trying to tell. In this fierce competition for class points, we have to grow to like the students in the class we are supposed to root for. For there to be any stakes in this story, the goal to reach class A needs to be supported by a strong cast of characters and for expulsion to feel like a real threat, we need to first be invested enough in the characters to not want them to face expulsion. Expulsion, unlike quickly disproven by the point system’s flaws, must be strictly carried out for it to feel like the potential and everpresent danger that it is supposed to be. Elite Classroom accomplishes neither of both and thus turns from a potential engaging experience into a boring slog that just keeps dragging on forever. This, however, is not the only shortcoming of EC’s story.
While the first half of EC can be summarized as “messy school shenanigans with Ayanokouji”, this does not apply to the second half. What it is, however, is the figurative aftermath of shit hitting the fan. The shit is all over the place. We go from a plot twist at the end of episode 6 instantly to a pool fanservice episode and a mission to peek on girls in the changing room, then jump on a luxus cruise to a survival island. On that island we get to see thrilling mysteries like whodunnit - panty thief edition. Great. Ayanokouji’s backstory, him being an ex-lab rat and all, sometimes gets thrown into the mix in the form of flashbacks, instead of, you know, actually developing that even remotely interesting storyline that could provide a commentary of Nietzsche’s idea of the Übermensch. We get students horsing around on a survival island that they could just leave any time they feel like instead. Honestly, at times it feels like the original author hasn’t even read a [insert name of any of the episode titles authors’] 101. I’m by no means an expert on philosophy but so many opportunities to provide a quality product are wasted on instead focusing on generic and pointless LN filler.
This contrast of the supposed smart story and characters and the generic LN formulas it is presented in is also reflected in the series overall presentation. It is hard to take a supposedly serious and smart story seriously if almost all of the main female characters have breasts as large as soccer balls and they are repeatedly the focus of the camera. If you act like you can present a mature take on authoritarian education, society and social mobility, why bother with an episode of losers trying to record girls changing with hidden cameras and act as if that’s funny to anyone smart enough to grasp the former concepts? The episode titles at times get so tryhard they use the quote “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” for the introductory episode of the island arc, a place that you can leave whenever and where the worst result you could get is not gaining extra points. If anything, the quote seems to address the viewer, because anyone who genuinely believed the series could overcome the hurdle that is forgetting the previous fanservice episode should by now also have lost hope for the rest of the series.
I will admit that I am by no means the target audience of this show. Elite Classroom is just another rendition of the generic high school LN adaptations that have some spacey plot later on in the novels which you will obviously not see in the anime. If you, unlike me, are not yet fed up with these fast-food-LN adaptations and think adding a certain “smart and serious” spin to said formula is an interesting take on the genre, EC will by all means satisfy you. To me however, watching this show was more of a chore than anything. I find these archetypical LN stories to be both boring and bland, and EC is no different, but with an additional stamp of “failed attempt” on top.
Welcome to the Classroom of the Elite is a failure. The weak, badly written plot forces generic LN formulas into its narrative which makes the serious “smart” tone of the show seem pretentious. The setting is poorly constructed and its rules are so full of holes they contradict the story’s goal and make investment into the show nigh impossible. The characters are walking tropes and for the most part unbelievably unlikable. While there were some few good attempts at foreshadowing and some okay dialogue (although most of it seems unnatural and forced), they aren’t even close to enough to make watching this show worth your time and as such I cannot recommend watching this show unless you are a High School Light Novel enthusiast.
Please note this review assumes that you have already finished watching Youkoso and while care has been taken to minimize story spoilers there may be spoilers in character analysis
In Society are humans really treated equally or are they treated according to the standards in society
Based off a well-known light novel series of the same name Youkoso gives us the opportunity to ask one of the fundamental questions that most teenagers would ask as they enter High school. In society are all human beings treated equally and does this by introducing us to a prestigious high school that has an impressive record
of providing excellent students for society. The first episode itself made a pretty good impression on me and looking back at it im glad that I decided to stick with it to the very end.
Taking place in near future Japan the anime is centered on Koudo Ikusei senior high school a well-known and prestigious high school that was created by the government to help nurture and develop the next generation into skilled adults that will benefit the country. Having both state of the art facilities and freedom unknown to high school students the school can be said to be a paradise but this is far from the truth. But while having the best of facilities at their disposal the pressure that the school puts on its students that it sees as its lifeblood is intense and far more than what one would expect in a normal school. For the students that are lucky enough to get admitted into this prestigious school they must work twice as hard as their grades while also defining them also affect the amount of points that they get each month. In this school, full of elite student’s competition, subtle plans and mind games are rife where every mistake can cost you points or worst cause the whole class to be punished. In this environment where classes see each other as mortal enemies only those with conviction, creativity and adaptability can hope to survive and prosper.
The overall story for Youkoso follows the life of Kiyotaka Ayanokouji a high school freshman that upon the start of the school year finds himself assigned to the schools Class D the lowest class of the school’s class system and widely regarded as the worst class and seen as a dumping ground where the school sends people that it has believed that it cannot control but cannot expel without good reason. Here he is joined by an intense and quiet girl named Suzune Horikita an ice queen that aspires to join the prestigious class A and Kikyou Kushida a popular and cheerful girl that’s widely seen as the class idol. Together these three and the class must do what they can to survive in the intrigue’s that take place between the classes.
Kiyotaka Ayanokouji voiced by new voice actor Shouya Chiba is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A high school freshman that in the beginning of the series was assigned to Class D Kiyotaka from initial appearances was a person that was quiet, laid back and indifferent and is someone that seems to be prefer to remain in the background and not draw attention to himself. Despite his moody and rather indifferent nature Kiyotaka is shown to be someone that can be responsible and kind and is shown to care a great deal about his friends and allies. Though not someone that has a sense of justice in him Kiyotaka is someone that hates seeing people that he knows being out in danger and would try to help them when that happens. While seemingly laid back and indifferent towards others it is noted that Kiyotaka when he becomes serious and motivated can come up with some really interesting and smart ideas that make use of his good perception skills and showcase one of his more prominent traits which is his cunning. Despite his averse to getting involved in troublesome situations Kiyotaka is shown to be very good at dealing with and managing various difficult situations which is an interesting trait about him that hints at his true personality.
As the series goes on and as Kiyotaka and the members of his class deal with one crisis after another it becomes clear that beneath his normal self Kiyotaka also has a personality that he hides and conceals from the others including his friends. In this personality which is perhaps his true one Kiyotaka’s personality is drastically different from the one that he normally exhibits. In this personality Kiyotaka is shown to be a calculating and manipulative person and also a smart one that is not above using people for his own ends. In this personality Kiyotaka’s strong intelligence and observational skills that he had to keep hidden in his default personality is now much more visible and more readily used when Kiyotaka gets serious. As a character, I felt that Kiyotaka was an interesting character whose dual nature in the form of his two different personalities are what actually define him. The contrast between the two different personalities I felt were well done and while some of the traits of the two do pass between the two personalities from time to time like his fast thinking nature it’s when we see Kiyotaka in his true personality that his character truly shines. While Kiyotaka may have villainous tendencies due to his manipulative personality it’s important to note that this is a result of having an in-depth knowledge and understanding of how the real world actually works. Overall the character of Kiyotaka I felt was a well-designed one that showed that careful observation and rational decisions along with a little manipulation can ensure that what they all hold dear can be protected. I felt that Shouya Chiba actually did an excellent job in his first main roles for me.
Suzune Horikita voiced by new seiyuu Akari Kito is one of the main characters of the series and is the main heroine of the series. A 16-year-old high school freshman and a member of class D Suzune is a quiet, well-mannered but distant person at the start of the series. In the beginning Suzune exhibited the classic ice queen type personality that’s commonly seen in animes. In addition to exhibiting the quiet and unapproachable nature that’s the key point of the ice queen persona Suzune in the beginning was also a thorny person that preferred to act using her own judgement than rely on others showing that she was also someone that did not trust others easily. In the beginning Suzune also had a rather curious view on friendship in that she did not see a need for it in the beginning. As a result of her ice queen like personality Suzune in the beginning was seen by many within the class as something akin to an oddball and not widely trusted by her classmates. Indeed, at this point in time she was also the same as well as she regarded friendship and bonds with something akin to disdain. As the series goes on though thanks largely to the efforts of Kiyotaka and Kikyou Suzune’s personality gradually starts to change as the class begins to suffer from assaults from other classes. Though reluctant at first Suzune gradually becomes friendlier to others but still keeps a certain distance from others. Though still dismissive about friendships Suzune begins to understand that friendship and unity within the class will be important if they were to endure within the school and starts to care more about her classmates advising and helping them when needed until she is satisfied that they are safe. In this we can see that Suzune’s starting ice queen personality gradually starts to be thawed out as she begins warming to several of her classmates and trusting them the most prominent of them being Kiyotaka.
As Suzune’s ice queen personality thaws her true personality eventually is gradually revealed to us. While still quiet and preferring to stay logical Suzune is shown to be a very determined person that also has great conviction and is not the type of person that will back down from arguments especially when engaged in arguments with others. Suzune is also shown to have very good decision making and analytic skills that when combined with her excellent perception skills make her formidable in defending the class in meetings. Suzune’s most prominent trait without a doubt is her truthful and direct nature in that she is someone that hates being dishonest and unlike Kiyotaka can be relied upon to state the cold hard facts of something quite readily. Despite being a very determined and strong person from initial appearances beneath that mask it can be said that Suzune is actually the opposite in that she’s lonely and vulnerable and wants to rely on someone that she can trust. Within the series this acts as the main focus for the relationship that Suzune has with Kiyotaka which is also one of the main parts of the shows story. Though their relationship started off rather poorly over the course of the series their relationship gradually improved and Kiyotaka become one of the few people that Suzune trusted. As a character, I felt that Suzune was a well-designed character that showed some excellent character development as the series went on and in the process becoming one of my favourite characters. The gradual change from an ice queen to someone that stood as one of the best defenders of Class D I thought was a change that was well designed. I felt that her seiyuu Akari Kito really did an excellent job portraying the character of Suzune in one of her first main roles.
Kikyou Kushida played by veteran seiyuu Yurika Kubo of High School Fleet and Urara Meirochou fame is one of the main characters of the series and is a classmate of Suzune and Kiyotaka. A 16-year-old girl and a high school freshman Kikyou is a kind, positive and well-mannered girl that’s kind to everyone that she meets and is widely regarded by many to be the class idol within the class. A considerate and understanding person Kikyou has a very direct personality and seems to be someone that values friendship and bonds quite highly as she cares a great deal about each one of her friends deeply. However, while she appears to be a simple-minded girl that’s not well versed in manipulation beneath his mask of hers is a different personality that Kikyou hides from the others. Underneath the angle like personality that she presents to outsiders Kikyou surprisingly has another personality that is radically different to her surface one.
In this Kikyou’s personality though still direct is very rude and is not afraid of voicing her true feelings about other people directly. She’s also shown to be quite manipulative and quite capable of using blackmail and lies to force people to obey her. Despite this radical change in personality it’s interesting to note that this side of her isn’t exactly evil by nature but rather seems to be a protective measure that was created to protect her from harm. Perhaps more so than in her default personality Kikyou seems to be in great fear of being isolated and being lonely. The character of Kikyou Kushida I felt was an interesting character that while supportive of the main characters and to the class emphasized one of the main themes of this anime quite well. The theme being that everyone wears a mask in society. The contrast in her personality I felt was interesting as was her relationship with Kiyotaka. I felt that her seiyuu Yurika Kubo did an excellent job in portraying her.
Honami Ichinose played by veteran seiyuu singer Nao Touyama of Asterisk Wars and In a world God only knows fame is one of the main support characters and is one of Kiyotaka and Suzune’s main allies in the series. A 16-year-old girl and high school freshman Honami differs from the two in that she’s actually a member of one of the classes that actually form the school class B in particular. Despite being from another class though Honami bears none of the malice and hatred that other students in the school have towards class D and instead treats them equally and with respect. A cheerful, positive and honest person Honami can be said to be Class B’s version of Kikyou as their personalities are very similar to each other. Kind, caring Honami is someone that seems to wear her heart on her sleeve being kind and caring towards everyone that she meets regardless of whether they belong to her class or to others. Her kind and caring personality ensures that within her own class to which she acts as leader that there are no fights between classmates and that everyone treats each other with respect thus also ensuring that they won’t start fights with other classes. Though a rule bound person by nature Honami is also shown to be flexible with rules and will happily bend them if it means that she can help someone in need. Though kind and caring in normal mode she’s shown to be stern and unforgiving to people that threaten her fellow students and openly despises people that do so. Honami I felt was an interesting character in that unlike the rest of the cast she did not seem to have a mask and her base personality appears to be genuine. Her attempts to help the members of class D with their plans I felt was a good indication of cooperation that can take place between classes. Nao Touyama I felt did an excellent job in her portrayal of Honami.
Airi Sakura voiced by veteran seiyuu Mao Ichimichi of Digimon Adventure Tri and Aoki Hagane No Arpeggio Ars Nova Cadenza fame is one of the main support characters of the series and is a classmate of Kiyotaka. A 16-year-old high school freshman Airi is a kind, quiet and timid girl that in the beginning of the series preferred to remain in the background and avoid getting involved in other people’s affairs. Though kind and well-mannered in the beginning of the series Airi wrestled with the distinct problem of having low self-esteem which made her jittery and prone to becoming nervous when people talk to her which manifested in her attempts to defend her personal space rather determinedly. As the series goes on it becomes clear that Airi like many other characters on the show actually has another side to her that’s just as unexpected as the others in that she was a model of some renown within her world. This mask of hers which is similar to Kikyou’s I felt was interesting as it grew out of her desire to avoid being lonely while at the same time being able to help those that may be in similar states to her. After a particular drastic event in the series Airi’s personality gradually starts to change becoming more open with herself while also trying to be more confidant in herself and more importantly trying to get to know people that helped her.
As a character I felt that Airi was an interesting one in that her struggle for equality was on a more personal level than other characters and was based on Airi’s innate personality traits notably her quiet and timid nature. The decision to use a model as an alternate side to her personality I felt was a good move as models in addition to showcasing products can also serve to help other people by their modelling as well. I felt that Mao Ichimichi did an excellent job in portraying the character of Airi.
AMV (Animation &Arts/Music and Voice)
In terms of art I felt that the design of the school and its attendant facilities was done pretty well and indeed the school did give the feel of being similar to a small town or outlet rather than a high school. The uniform designs for the school I felt were also well designed and looked pretty smart as well. Character design I felt was also pretty good with each character being unique and well designed. In terms of animation I felt that animation was clear and beautifully detailed. In terms of music I felt that the series had a pretty good opening and ending themes with the ending being particularly strong. Voice acting for the series I felt was superb with Kiyotaka’s voice actor Shouya Chiba and Suzune’s seiyuu Akari Kito deserving particular praise for their portrayal of their respective characters.
Overall Youkoso was an interesting anime that had as its main strengths an interesting premise, story, characters and the underlying themes of society that it tries to address. The main premise of this show is of course the prestigious high school that the main characters attend in the story. The school while seemingly perfect both in terms of facilities and reputation is only a facade for within it hides a very strict school system where a student’s performance in their studies and exams determine their worth to both the school and to society. To reinforce this system the anime makes use of an interesting system that serve to underline the central purpose of this school. The system is an interesting concept in itself in that it acts both as a central resource for the everyday needs of the students but also an objective for the students for failure to do well in the school will see the number of points that they gain every month lessen. The idea to make this system a combination of not just a currency that can be used but also an indication of how much worth the school see’s in both the class and the students within was an interesting move and tied in well with the school’s unique culture.
One of the series main themes is that of equality which is best shown in not just the division of students into classes but also in the number of masks that characters must adapt as part of their personalities to exist in society. When combined with the personalities of characters that appear to be kind and unassuming on the surface the masks aspect works well to add more depth to the characters. This aspect of the anime itself I felt was pretty interesting. While the struggles between the classes served to highlight the differences in status between the classes with lower letter ones being superior to the higher letter ones and best seen in the disdain that class A and C members have for class D. Whats interesting is that the this isn’t repeated in all areas as Honami and Class B shown in their interactions with Class D showing that in the end it’s the question of perception.
The overall story for the series also plays a part in dealing with the theme of equality in that it pits the members of class D widely regarded by the school as outcasts against a school who is determined to make things difficult for them. This struggle against great odds by a class of misfits that make use of a variety of tactics to even the field to give them a better chance of victory I felt only serves to make this anime that much interesting. Watching Kiyotaka and Suzune work together to counter the plans of the other classes and the school sure was fun to watch. Overall Youkoso was an interesting anime that had not just an interesting premise and a great story but also great characters that it used to tackle a number of interesting themes that are really relevant in society and in terms of final score I think it definitely deserves a 10 in my books. The only lament that I felt about this anime was that it was only a half season so we aren’t able to see more of what Kiyotaka’s true personality is like.
I'm not claiming to be a veteran when it comes to watching anime, but I've seen enough where viewing shows with a typical high school setting just doesn't cut it for me anymore. Of course a lot of the shows in this genre come with a twist or two, and Classroom of the Elite is no exception. However just because an anime uses the classic school life formula doesn't mean that it will be successful. While it's true that some shows are able to effectively pull off the school life setting, lesser anime, like Classroom of the Elite, fail right from the get go.
Episode one dives right into explaining the setting and sets up the general story of the anime. Viewers learn that the school in which the characters are attending is a special academy where students are divided into four classes based off of skill and other criteria that is never really discussed (you'll soon learn that the lack of a proper explanation for things is a reoccurring theme with this anime). Unsurprisingly, the two protagonists, Kiyotaka Ayanokouji and Suzune Horikita, are put in class D, the lowest ranking class. The story is supposed to be about their rise from the bottom to the top of the academy's hierarchy, but there's one major problem; They make relatively no progress toward achieving this goal throughout the course of the anime.
Before I go into more detail on this, let me explain an unique plot element that the author introduced for the anime: a point system. These points are given to students and represent multiple things, including currency and class ranking. The students lose points for bad grades, behavior, etcetera and earn them by achieving various things, many of which are unexplained. Points are allocated after each month, and one of the first twists in the anime is that class D failed to earn any points after their first month at school (pfft. What losers), thus throwing them into a state of turmoil. Now this system could have been used in so many ways that would have easily benefited the plot of the anime. However the distribution of these points is so convoluted and rarely touched upon that in the latter portion of the anime I felt like their importance completely vanished. Characters would just go up to a chart and say things like "Oh look, our class has X points and the others have Y points. Cool." and then move on. The few exceptions are when Ayanokouji actually uses the points in an inventive manner to do things like purchase old test answers and boost the grade of a classmate's exam. Unfortunately, the point system wasn't nearly as explored as it should have been, and it failed to reach its full potential.
Remember when I said that the goal in this anime (at least from what I could discern) was for the core cast to strive to become the best in the school? While its true that class D (with the exception of Ayanokouji at first) desperately want to rise to the top, we rarely see anything significant done by them in order to achieve this goal. At one point Horikita gave a commanding speech in which she warned the other classes to look out for class D. From my perspective, this was just an empty threat. In fact, more often then not, the anime showcases the members of class D struggling to simply earn any points at all much less hoping to compete against their rivals. The anime constantly presented us with many "tough" scenarios that were supposed to leave viewers impressed with the protagonists for finding creative solutions to them. The problem is that many of these situations were too lackluster for me to even care about them in the first place. These mediocre events ranged from trying to have everyone in the class pass an exam without failing miserably to finding a panty thief. There are literally no stakes, and this was deleterious to the anime's success.
On a positive note, I did sort of like Ayanokouji and Horikita. Ayanokouji's casual and disinterested attitude was sort of refreshing, and his along with Horikita's social ineptitude was interesting, especially when they were forced to interact with other characters. Now the primary issue that I had was that both of them have a similar personality. They're both social outcasts who have a hard time fitting in with the rest of the class. Granted, they each posses differing views on things like friendship and whatnot, but it sometimes got really boring hearing both of them talk to each other in their monotone voices all the time. Also, they each hardly interacted with the other characters (Horikita more than Ayanokouji) unless they were forced to, which left the rest of the cast terribly underdeveloped. To compensate for this, the producers would give the other characters (most notably Kikyou Kushida) random quirks in order to make them seem more interesting. This ultimately failed because I didn't really care for the characters too much in the first place.
The majority of the budget went into eyes and fanservice. The characters' eyes always seem to shine bright with vibrant splotches of color. While high in detail, the focus on irises makes everything else seem lazily designed in comparison. The only exception to this is when a character is used for fanservice appeal. During these sacred moments, the characters' bodies suddenly gain a ton of depth, shading, curves, and enlarged breasts (unless they're male, in which case they become overly muscular instead). Hallelujah for these ecchi scenes, am I right!? Seriously though, if the animation quality was consistently like the short and almost always unnecessary fanservice scenes, then I would have been really impressed with the show's visuals.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't despise Classroom of the Elite or anything. I was just disappointed by the show's laid back attitude. Everything felt anticlimactic or unnecessary and it seemed like the creators were too afraid to take any risks and instead chose the safe and easy path. And in doing so, Classroom of the Elite became yet another mediocre anime that will certainly be forgotten by most as time goes by.
When you think of the word ‘school’, the first words that come to mind might be textbooks, lecture, exams, and careers. Schools are designed to prepare for students for their future after all. However, that’s not entirely the case for Koudo Ikusei Senior High School, a school that tests their students beyond the academic level. Youkoso Jitsuroku Shinjou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e (also known as “Classroom of the Elite”) is an anime that explores how survival in the outside world depends much more than just your academic skills.
From my early impressions, this anime stood out from some light novel adaptations as it deconstructs the educational
system. This especially earns my attention as Japan already has a tough educational system so deconstructing that idea felt like a unique idea. In essence, this anime explores how the fictional Koudo Ikusei Senior High School takes initiative at preparing its students to survive in the real world. Granted by the government, the school has a budget system and students are supplied with points (100,000 every month). These points essentially translates to money as students are advised to use them wisely. The catch is that classes will receive points only based on their performance. Get the idea now? It basically exposes the idea of responsibility for these young teens as they realize what they’re in for.
The first episode introduces some of the main cast including main male protagonist Kiyotaka Ayankoji. It won’t take long to realize that he has a rather dry outlook on life and often try to avoid being noticed. My impression of Kiyotaka reminds me of the main male protagonist from Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru as both him and Hachiman has similar personalities. His isolated personality doesn’t make him stand out as a character on the surface but it gets really interesting when you listen to his thoughts about others. It’s further evidenced by his poor social skills as he has difficulty making friends with others. As such, Kiyotaka’s role in this anime feels different than from the usual light novel stereotype. As the episode progresses, I feel like some people can relate to Kiyotaka as well. Then, there’s Suzune Horikita, the unfriendly cold beauty that gets involved with Kiyotaka from the same class. Similarly, she has a personality that also appears to be unsociable with others although she purposely tries to avoid making friends. In her mind, friends aren’t necessary and holds her back. On the other hand, there are also very social people in their class like Kikyou Kushida. She’s like the antithesis of both Kiyotaka and Horikita. Unlike them, Kushida is very good at communicating with others and has a friendly personality. Yet behind her bubbly appearance also lies a girl that masks her true image. Either way, it’s shown that the main characters in this series all have the same objectives and that’s to survive at their prestigious school.
From the cast of characters, Class D’s students are easily the most prominent compared to the others as most of the series revolves around them. It’s ironic since Class D is often looked down upon because of their grades and performance. Nonetheless, we get to see how they adapt with the school’s points system. Some characters like Kiyotaka and Horikita manages their resources well while others carelessly uses it to satisfy their own desires. Not to mention, Class D seems to always get involved in some sort of drama from the very beginning. These include the plot involving Airi Sakura, an inspiring photographer and a stalker. Ken Sudou (one of the 3 Fools of Class D) even gets into a complicated drama that almost had him expelled from the school. The anime showcases these drama as any of these events can be relatable and happen in real life. Later in the show, the school even tests their students with an actual survival test that really brings the reality of what it means to survive. To be honest, I think all these concepts brings the potential of this anime to light. It highlights what some of the main characters are capable of and how they influence others. Unfortunately, this anime is presented as a distilled adaptation so don’t expect a complete series. In other words, it leaves some important territories unexplored such as Kiyotaka’s mysterious past, Kushida’s darker personality, and among others.
Despite my interest of the main characters, the others in this series rarely stand out particularly those from Class B, C, and even A. The only ones that caught my attention occasionally are Mio Ibuki and Kakeru Ryuuen (Class C), Honami Ichinose (Class B), and Kouhei Katsuragi (Class A). Student council leader Manabu Horikita initially had my interest due to her relationship with Suzune. However, the anime doesn’t really capitalize on exploring their relationship. Most of Class A seems to stand out only by status as none of their key members gets important focus such as their leader, Alice Sakayanagi. There’s also not much focus on the school faculty except for Class D’s homeroom teacher Sae Chabashira. In essence, viewers coming into this anime will likely remember this anime’s characters mainly from Class D than any of the others. Background stories are vaguely delivered that holds characterization back as well.
With such a premise, expect this anime to really dive into drama often. If you’re not a fan of such genre, then it will likely make your heads turn. By drama, this anime explores social problems such as isolation, fear of anxiety, identity issues, and fear of rejection. Even the simple concept of trust is tested in later episodes. Not to mention, this anime seems to have hidden dark intentions from its character cast. In addition, do expect lighthearted comedy to pop up from here and there. Unfortunately, this show doesn’t escape from light novel pitfalls such as panty jokes, swimsuit fan service, and generic misunderstandings. As I mentioned before though, the humor of this anime can get distracting at times although it doesn’t hold the show back in general. Oh and don’t expect any actual romance like some gimmicky shoujo anime.
Adapted by studio Lerche, I must admit that the visual quality stood out compared to some of its other works. The characters look vibrant, colorful, and smooth with their appearances. This is especially true for Horikita as her character design matches those of a class beauty and Kiyotata’s stoic personality also matches perfectly with his face on most scenarios. Character expressions and body language is indeed important in this anime as it discreetly shows how characters behave. Luckily, the anime pulls that off. The setting also looks appealing as it looks visually impressive as an upper class community. However, the anime still relies on some fan service from the old book. Kushida and Honami are the guiltiest of these examples as the camera seems to focus on them suggestively at times. Oh and before you forget…swimsuits.
While it can be overlooked on occasions, character voice mannerism is an important part of the show especially with the main cast. Kiyotaka is perhaps the most noticeable as we observe his thoughts and words. The way he talks often lacks emotions but noticeable for the way he speaks. Similarly, Horikita’s cold personality is easily reflected by her tough voice and attitude. However, there are some character voices that I found annoying to the ears in particular with Kushida and occasionally the nicer guys in this anime. The theme songs has a J-pop style tune that while doesn’t stand out too much is stylish enough to carry themselves. OST of this show balances between its eerie and lighthearted tone depending on the circumstances.
To be honest, this anime can be a hit or miss for people. Some will enjoy it with the ideas it has to offer while others will discard it from their memories. However, I think this anime does do well to deconstruct the school system. Too often these days, our society relies on education to determine an individual’s social status. This show demonstrates that it’s not always about academic skills that matter in the real world. That being said, I think the story and main characters are what attracted me to this show. However, I can’t say that some of the other characters are noticeable for their roles. The story itself is also incomplete so it will feel like an advertisement of the light novel. However, I’d still give this show a try for this anime’s style and way of portraying its society. The fact that some characters can be such assholes and exploring social issues will wake up our minds to reality.