C³-bu, in a word, is confused. It doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a slice-of-life about cute girls shooting cute guns? Is it a story about how the main character loses sight of what's really important while chasing a dream and how she works to gain it back? Is it a tale of the supernatural link that a girl has with an ancient Japanese warrior and how she uses her power to change the world? The answer is none of the above. It is instead a jumbled mishmash of all three. Due to their radically
different themes they end up coming together like chocolate, steak, and curry in a blender.
The slice-of-life episodes have little to comment on. If you like cute girls and/or airsoft then watch them, they're well-done for what they are.
The supernatural element has only one major episode, number 4. It's brought up again twice near the end but never mentioned throughout the large majority of the series. The fact that they included the paranormal theme at all is mind-boggling. When they brought it up in episode 4, the watcher is led to believe that it will be the focus of the show. Yet it in fact makes absolutely no impact on the plot whatsoever. However, it's still done beautifully, and is in my opinion the best episode of the show.
The plot-driven episodes are quite good. Yura and Sonora (and to a lesser extent Rento and Rin) get some character development, and although the other characters are just there to fill out the cast and are underdeveloped it doesn't detract much from the plot progression. Although its end is less than fantastic they're worth a watch.
You may read this and think "This all sounds pretty good!" Well, that's because it is. Each individual element is good but they don't mix together very well. You may be wondering why all of these differing ambitions seem at odds with each other in the show. (Note: the following is speculation.) This rampant disorganization is likely due to C³-bu being Kawajiri Masayoshi's directorial debut. With no offense meant to the man, his filmography outside of C³-bu consists of only one lone entry - doing background art for Dantalian. However, the individual episode directors all have more experience than Kawajiri. Many have worked on very notable shows like Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Gurren Lagann, etc. etc. As his first time directing a series, especially with little other experience under his belt, one can see how he might have had trouble keeping reins on the episode directors and making it so that the whole series has overarching themes rather than just having them crop up and then disappearing.
As I see it, there are four ways to watch C³-bu.
1. Watch episodes 1-3, 5-6, and 12-13 for SoL with girls and airsoft.
2. Watch episodes 7-11 if you're more into plot and want a decent story of suffering and redemption.
3. Watch all of episode 4 and 17:00 to 20:35 of episode 11 if you want an interesting supernatural oneshot.
4. Watch everything from episode 1 to 13 if options 1, 2, and 3 all sound appealing. You can watch it for the entertainment value and appreciate it for what it is - a highly flawed show that was poorly directed, but has some legitimately good material despite its shortcomings.
The idea of a group of cute girls doing cute things isn’t exactly an original idea in today’s anime industry. Series such as K-On!, Saki, and Bamboo Blade are just a few to name. Even more recently, series such as Upotte and Girls und Panzer even added the addition of weapons to its tropes for more flavor. I mean, cute girls with deadly weapons at at hand tends to make a show more interesting right? Well for Stella Woman’s Academy, there’s the concept of airsoft guns and with that comes a new twist of entertainment.
Stella Woman’s Academy, High School Division C3 (also known as C3-Bu)
is an anime series based off a manga of the same name written by Ikoma. The series focuses on a group of girls in the school’s airsoft club known as C3-Bu. The three letters of “C” stands for “command, control, and communications” because those are strategic movements used in any combat. So begins a story of girls doing cute things. (with guns)
The series stars Yura Yamoto, a freshman with a shy personality from an unknown middle school. What we do know though is that her past isn’t exactly one of those happy memories where we like to witness over and over. No, in fact Yura’s past seems to be clouded by darkness because of what we see is cases that can induce pity and sorrow. But hey, now she is fresh and can start over.
The start begins here at Stella Woman’s Academy.
As the school is all-girls school, the club at the academy is made up of all girls with the one and only leader Sonora. She is an effective leader with her enthusiasm, skills, and personality that makes her likable by her teammates. We can’t exclude the other characters though because a team needs support and everyone pours their skills to achieve victories. Whether it’s supportive unit, close range combat expert, ace sniper, or commander, everyone plays their roles in battle. As for Yura, she is a newbie in the beginning. After all, everyone starts out like that. Sonora wasn’t born a leader, Honoka wasn’t born as a commander, and the rival of the C3-Club Rin Haruna, wasn’t born an ace of Meisei Girls’ Academy.
The plot focuses on various ideas all packaged into this fun series. As part of that package, we witness Yura’s development throughout the show for both physically and mentally. She starts out as a newbie but is able to adjust and earn the respect of her teammates. Her vivid imagination allows her to picture an airsoft game as if it’s a real battlefield that puts her skills at ease. But as development goes, we later witness a drastic change in her character that might be displeasing to bear. By technical standards though, Yura's character shifts almost 180 degrees and is presented as almost a brand new person that makes it very frurstrating to watch.
Because there is airsoft, also expect competition. That competitions from the various teams encountered throughout the series. Perhaps the most prominent of these competitions though is from Meisei Girls’ Academy. The leader of that school known as Rin Haruna is a girl of stoic nature but presents an intense display of skill at airsoft. More importantly though, she has a history with the ace of the C3-Club Sonora. Whatever went down between the duo obviously wasn’t a pleasant experience and viewers might have different reactions upon witnessing their flashbacks.
Even with competitions though, there’s still the fun. You ever heard your sports coach say something along the line that “the most important factor in a game is not just winning but also to have fun?” Well, this show presents that in a simple way as we witness the girls do their best but at the same time seems to enjoy each and every game regardless of the result.; at least, this applies to most of the time. For Yura though, it might be a difference case for later on, she becomes so intensively focuses that the fun might be taken out of the games. In fact, it can be a bit surprising to see how much she has changed.
As it fun wasn’t enough though, I do appreciate the comedy of this series. There’s random gags and personalities with each of the various characters. In particular, I find Sonora’s tomboyish personality to be an eye catcher and the way she motivates her teammates. Other instances includes the character interactions of the C3-Club ranging from various degrees of humorous moments. There are also episodes involving certain events too like a beach or festival episode. Speaking of beach episode, it’s also time to take those clothes off and have more fun in the sun!
I am not an expert at airsoft games in real life but the concept of some of the weapons involved in this show seems to shine in that aspect. Throughout the series, various weapons are shown in action including Desert Eagles, Vz. 61 Skorpion, P90, G36K, Ak-47, and M60. Technically speaking, this show tries to even follow the actual concept of airsoft with a sense of realism. This can be seen later on with new additions added to these airsoft games. More importantly though, we witness Yura’s new style in these games that can be quite contrasting than we we were originally used to.
Unfortunately, the overall tone of the show jumps around quite a bit and loses its style. Its inconsistency comes from Yura as well as the overall construction of its poor story. Despite conflicts being resolved, the problem lies with the characters themselves and the journey they take. That journey is marked with holes that are hard to fill with oddly directed episodes, weak climax, and cheesy dialogues . The conclusion itself also can leave viewers scratching their heads on "why did this anime end sooner?" There's also a bit of repetitiveness that makes this show unsatisfactory at various standards.
In terms of visuals, the series spells out cuteness with the designs of the characters. Even Sonora, the leader of the C3-Club has a dose of that. On the other hand, Rin is designed with a typical dark beauty-like stance given her stoic personality. Meanwhile, the guns themselves looks real enough but at the times hard to take seriously with the way the characters uses them. The school itself is also hardly noticeable either. Gainax is already known for some of their previous works revolving around schools like Hanamaru Youchien, Medaka Box, and Corpse Party. Their artistic visuals aren’t exactly what I would call a masterpiece so this show doesn’t stand out much either in the art department.
Soundtrack is average but often times throws off balance. The OP song “Shape My Story” by Anna Yano is noticeable though not only for its tone but also for its artistic visuals near the end of the song. On the other hand, the ED song of this series is a bit laughable with the moe character designs and rhythms. Almost all the characters’ voices fits with their roles although I give praise to Sonora’s VA Miyuki Sawashiro (Blast of Tempest, Kokoro Connect, Maoyu) praise because the way she is able to portray a tomboyish character and at the same time able to carry the task as a leader.
For me, this show was a balance between cute, intense, and entertainment. By cute, I don’t mean girls spending their time drinking tea all day or performing like idols on stage. Rather, they are able to enjoy an activity known as airsoft. In a sense, they portray the antithesis of the typical frail women. The show might be a bit repetitive to watch however. At the same time, do take notice of Yura’s character transformation as a bit of backlash to her original self in the beginning. Whatever the case though, this series isn’t just about airsoft games but about these girls having fun at what they do. You don’t actually need to be an airsoft expert to watch this show. Hell, I have almost zero knowledge in the field of airsoft games but decided to give this a shot. What I got though was a 60% fun experience, 40% letdown.
There have been many successful shows using cute girls and heavy machinery such as Girls und Panzer or even So Ra No Wo To. But nothing left me as disappointed as Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu. I consider myself a Slice of Life fan with reasonable tolerance for slow paced, low action rate type of shows and therefore had some expectations for this Anime for the summer. But boy oh boy this show felt like a one way rollercoaster, and it wasn't going up that's for sure.
For the first couple episodes we are introduced to this Highschool club type of setting that's not uncommon, where these
5 girls play with airsoft guns against each other as club activities and we are welcomed to the C³-bu. On the other end we have the somewhat antisocial protagonist Yura Yamato who is struggling to fit into the all girls school she just recently transfered to in hopes she will be able to make new friends and change herself to become a better person. What she soon realises is that everything is still the same and no one really wants to talk to her, which is never explained why, perhaps just her own awkwardness and unability to communicate with others. But this isn't an unpopular feature in shy protagonists so there's nothing too bad here.
As cliché as it sounds, Yura ends up in the same dormitory room as one of our main characters, the C³-bu president Sonora, and there she is introduced to the world of airsoft guns by watching Sonora's DVDs about the military and playing with her guns. Soon after this she is invited to join the C³-bu from the other members and participates in a match with them to test it out. And of course there we are introduced to the airsoft world for the first time and much like other simple sports anime such as Saki there are some odd elements involved aside from the game itself, though this is put really bluntly and not explained in the slightest. After this trial is over and a lot of hard deliberation by Yura she decides to enter the C³-bu because she felt like she was accepted there. And thus the adventure of these 6 girls and their airsoft gun filled highschool life began.
It wasn't that bad of a premise to start a show and could have worked out, until they completely changed the formula to seem like they purposely wanted you to hate the show. At their first match against another highschool Yura meets her antagonist Rin who also happens to be Sonora's somewhat close friend. In this match she realises how powerless she is when compared to everyone else, and thus begins the downfall of this Anime.
Yura, our nice cheerful protagonist who just wants to have fun begins to deteriorate and becoming one of the most despicable characters in the show. Everything you could have liked her for will suddenly disappear and you will be left with this dull and spiteful "protagonist". You're better off paying attention to all the side characters if you want some form of entertainment other than the soap opera this show becomes. She starts being determined for all the wrong reasons and the viewer has no will to support her whatsoever. It's as if this show suddenly turned our protagonist into the worst kind of person that's as dense as a brick and can not differentiate right from wrong.
As a result of this sudden change we are left with half of the series showing Yura being selfish and everyone else around her being depressed, and the show follows this formula until the very last episode. It was a real drag to put up with and not worth the time and effort. There is no main plotline, it sort of was thrown away in the middle of the series. It's basically like a really bad soap opera with airsoft guns. Forcing your viewers to wait through painful episodes that have barely any to no development in character and are just focused on Yura being a terrible human being is not okay at all. I guarantee you you will like the antagonist more than the protagonist. I sure did.. This show has no direction whatsoever for episodes and episodes.
The poor story and even poorer characters made me want to bash my head against my desk every time I was watching an episode. I had to check how much time had passed every 5 minutes to see how long it'd take until it was over. The Anime had no regard to plot or story and just left us viewers with an awful protagonist and a bunch of plot holes. But not everything is doom and gloom. What you can however enjoy from this show (and probably the only thing good about it) are the rest of the characters that convey a happier and more bright feeling to the viewer, with their positive attitude and their determination while still having fun doing what they do best which is playing airsoft matches.
Had the show made the protagonist do the same as every other character I would have had no problem with it, it would have become an interesting Slice of Life about girls having fun within their club activities. But now all I am left with is a huge wave of disappointment for the genre.
The soundtrack isn't anything out of this world and both the opening and ending sequences are bright enough for it's genre. The art isn't anything over the top and the color range is pretty bright which thank god it was or else I have no idea how I could have withstand all these episodes if the art wasn't decent. The overall physical aspect of the show is reasonable and acceptable and should not be a pain for anyone to watch using today's standards.
Overall, Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu was a show that promised something and did not deliver, much like many shows out there. This is not unusual for the Anime industry, there's always some shows that are bound to fail and in my opinion this one was one of them during the 2013 summer. I'm thankful it does not have the Slice of Life tag or the Comedy tag in it, that would have been an insult to the genre but it is what this show is trying to pass by as using all the bright and cheerful elements. If it's one genre this show needs to add is Drama, it completely turned into a sappy soap opera after some episodes and completely plummethed into oblivion as the protagonist that is supposed to be the core of the Anime turned into the most hateful subject of all. If you really like military themes or even sports, I personally do not believe this show delivers it but if you really want to watch a sappy drama about girls and airsoft guns you're free to try this one out. The only positive aspect I have about it are the other main characters which made me appreciate the show a little, nothing less and nothing more.
If you've been around the anime community for long enough, you have no doubt heard of the so called "Moe" genre. With a focus on cute girls doing cute things, (usually in a high-school setting) Moe series tend to focus more on comedy and various slice-of-life situations then plot and character (See: K-On! and Lucky Star for two very popular examples). But what happens when a show that has seemingly "Moe" characteristics attempts to delve into deeper themes, such as self-worth, the struggle to become a better person, and the consequences of your actions? In that case, we get a show like C³ (Full title:
Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu).
To get this out of the way early, the production values in C³ are perfectly fine for this sort of anime, with the art and character designs being nice and unobtrusive, and the music especially being surprisingly good. To be honest, the art isn't spectacular by any means, but given that this show at its core isn't really about the action (or anything else that would be worth taking considerable time and money to animate) the animation does its job well, maintaining a consistent level of quality.
Produced by Studio Gainax, (makers of popular shows such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, Gurren Lagann, etc.) C³ seems pretty simple at the outset, featuring an all-girls school that our protagonist, Yura Yamato, is just beginning to attend. Yura has had trouble making friends and standing out in the past, and she is determined to change herself and become more outgoing at this new environment, to have a fresh start, if you will. But despite this resolve, she finds herself incapable of following through, failing to speak to any of the other girls that she encounters or to meet any new people.
It isn't until she is scouted by the school's airsoft team, C³ (that stands for Command-Control-Communication, if you were wondering) that she begins to find the determination to change. By participating in these airsoft games, (aptly called "survival games" by the team members) Yura is able to make new friends, discover new passions, and strengthen her resolve to better herself as an individual.
It is through this airsoft team, and the opponents that they face, that we meet the rest of the characters. To be honest, the majority of them are mostly there just to fill up space, but they do this job adequately, adding some comedy and lightheartedness to the series at some points, and acting as good symbols of how people perceive the actions of certain characters at other times.
But more notable than them is Sonora, Yura's upperclassman/roommate, and the leader of the airsoft team. Sonora acts as a sort of mentor to Yura, guiding her through the basics of airsoft and giving her the confidence she needs to join the team, as well as the resolve to continue playing and to make the best of the games. Also notable is Rin, a star player for the Meisei academy airsoft team, and a girl who has some strange ties with Sonora's past. These two characters both have a strong impact on Yura's development as a character, each of them providing various insights that both help or hurt her as she goes along. This technically being a sports anime, the theme of "It's not just about winning or losing" is definitely alive here, but it's addressed in different ways by different characters, and Yura most of all struggles with determining its true meaning, and finding a balance between Sonora's and Rin's methods.
It is this development with Yura's character and set of themes that differentiate C³ from other shows of "cute girls doing cute things", and even a lot of other sports anime, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, Yura's character is also what makes the show's greatest flaws apparent. Yura in the beginning of the show is, as previously mentioned, a rather lonely soul, a girl who craves friendship and affection, but is not outgoing or brave enough to actively seek it. Through C³, she is able to slowly reform herself, getting braver, more determined, and "stronger". But what happens when these changes go to far?
Two things happen: For one, the show becomes quite interesting, as we get to see a show that was formerly about a bunch of cute girls playing airsoft games for fun turn into a character study regarding how Yura's transformation obviously goes to far, and whether or not she can redeem herself. Second, the plot and characters begin to act slightly illogical in order to allow this to happen. Truly, Yura's struggle IS interesting, and it kept me engaged, but there were a few occasions where Yura obviously showed awareness that she was going to far, but did nothing to stop herself. Despite her own realizations, and the pleading of the very friends she wanted so badly, she still continues down a path that can only lead to her destruction, and the show does a poor job of giving us a solid reason as to why.
This sudden transformation in the show's focus also leaves it feeling a bit disjointed, as it practically feels like two different shows between the first and second halves. Personally, I enjoyed seeing the slow buildup towards the sudden shift in tone, but it's disappointing that it falters right at one of the most important moments for Yura's character, and it feels like had the show focused a bit more on the serious side of things, it may have been able to provide more logical reasoning for the events that take place.
And ultimately, this is C³'s problem: It is a mish-mosh of ideas thrown all together, with the focus shifting around constantly, as if in a mad dash to get to the next topic before time runs out. Important events happen, interesting themes are brought up (including a sort of fantasy-realm that ties into the real world), but they are ultimately brushed aside to get onto the next major plot point. Had C³ JUST been a slice of life comedy, it probably would have been a fairly good one. Had it JUST been a show about self-loathing and redemption, it probably would have been pretty competent. But it also would have been something that we've seen in other shows plenty of times before, and likely done better. It's C³'s willingness to play off our expectations and try to surprise us that makes it special, that makes it stand out among all the other slice of life/redemption stories out there as something unique. Even if it could have technically been better had it stayed focused on one theme or genre, it would have been nowhere near as special to me, and I for one commend it for the risks it takes, even if the result of said risks didn't always turn out spectacularly.
Studio Gainax, before this production, was one of the biggest names in anime history. With such works as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, FLCL, Nadia, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, and Panty and Stocking, you would think they would stick around forever, but that ride to fame would be short lived. Some members who made Gurren Lagann would go on to form Studio Trigger (Inferno Cop, Kill la Kill) and some would follow Hideaki Anno and form Studio Khara (Evangelion Rebuild). While Gainax still picks up the pieces of what they used to be, they came out with a show called Stella Women's Academy Class C3-Bu,
and while this show would seem to be cute girls doing cute things, that is simply not the case.
We follow new girl Yura Yamato as she transfers into an all girls school (go figure) and finds out that her roomate is Sonora Kashima, leader of the airsoft club at the school. While it takes some convincing, Yura joins the airsoft club and finds her place in the circle, the circle of airsoft pistols and rockets. Soon, Yura finds herself wanting more than just people to shoot so she trains harder and harder as she wants to be the very best that no one ever was. She then realizes that while her intentions are good, she takes the game too seriously according to her teammates and soon it comes to the point to where she loses not only her sanity, but her place in the circle of friendship.
Overall, this series was a surprise. It certainly takes a dark turn in some places, and while it CLEARLY WASN'T REFERENCING STAR WARS EPISODE III FOR 3 EPISODES STRAIGHT, it was a good show and a sign that maybe Gainax is not dead after all. The characters are enjoyable, the story certainly turns away from the average "cute girls eating cake and drinking tea (I have no bad feelings about K-ON, I loved that show)", and yes, there's even a couple of GAINAX ENDING clues along the way. If you like cute girls shooting cute girls, this is for you.
Jebus gives Stella Women's Academy Class C3-Bu: 4 YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE's out of 5.
Stella has a hard time deciding what it wants to do. Starts out fun, takes itself a little too seriously, then comes back towards fun without actually getting there. It should have stuck with fun. Girls and airsoft isn't a strong enough base to carry the kind of drama that is injected later in the show. There is very little danger and no romance (although you can detect a hint of yuri here and there.) There is also very little fan service, if that's what your looking for (if it is, just watch the last episode.) Stella does have
distinct characters with good chemistry, and it is quite funny when it tries to be. Unfortunately, it doesn't try to be enough of the time.
I really enjoyed Stella Jogakuin for several reasons. It wasn't your typical slice of life anime, either.
I will try not to include any spoilers, as I have completed this anime several times.
Shikyubu has followed the tried and true formula of cute girls doing cute things, and I see it as a major twist to the slice-of-life genre. It was entirely and genuinely a show worth watching.
I gave the story a ten, and this can relate to the character also. The synopsis itself can see why its a sore thumb in the world of anime- the main character, Yamato Yura, undergoes through high school,
hoping that things will change, and her life is turned completely upside down when she is introduced to Survival Games.
Survival games, as in it's damn airsoft. Seriously.
Stopping there, I implore you to sift through the #c3-bu tag on tumblr and see why this art was considerably well more than others. In the survival games that took place, and trust me, in airsoft, the field should feel like a battleground- dynamic in design, flanking routes, cover, foliage- everything. Airsoft is simulation. Tangent there, but still, c3-bu shows the atmosphere of it all. Very good art at no compromise.
As for the sound, the sound engineers have seemed to make the world of Shikyubu come true despite the extremely-rich schoolgirl practices and all-pink campus. The background music wasn't orchestral performances on huge backdrops- it was light and fluffy, reflecting the light and fluffy school.
Then, the survival games kick in. And amidst the fury, the strafes and the BBs flying everywhere, strategy and conquest, objectives and failure. It's all evident in the soundtrack. Honest to all, it is really damn good.
The reason? It's Jazz. An unexpected and amazingly fitting genre of music for the anime's airsoft scenes. It is an unexpected tone and a rush from Jazz- to the slow, soft closed snares acting with the main characters stealthily going around enemies, or the loud, sharp shrieks of brass with the rush of gunfire. It perfects the moment. It made the anime worth its while.
The characters where the low point, but all around good. Even though no one really accelerated and felt flat, it was Yura Yamato that really was the main character. She was, it seemed, the only one to be evolving. Still, the characters are definitely memorable- Sonora Kashima, the babe, the star player, the student that became the mentor. I could continue, but it isn't worth the while.
Rushing on, I enjoyed this series, and combining this with my top statements and ending it on a whim, I loved this anime and will support it to the death. The anime died on its first season, but it died, as it said, "guns blazing."
Stella C3-Bu starts off on the wrong foot, rubbing me the wrong way and giving me the presumption that the series would amount to nothing in the end.
The first episodes started alright enough. It’s the typical under-dog story, nothing special, nothing new and it was entertaining enough with its little spouts of gunplay.
I should mention that gunfights in Stella C3-Bu are certainly far less entertaining than old-school Gainax, lacking the brilliant execution and delightful animation of an episode like Brittle Bullets from FLCL. The editing tends to be clumsy. Girls jumping and barreling from one spot to another can feel choppy and jumpy and it
doesn’t help when obvious shortcuts are taken due to a lack of budget. Camera angles close up and remain positioned on the face or on a gun firing so we never actually see the results of the action.
But while gunfights are visually lacking, they’re made up for fun, genuinely clever tactics and a good amount of charm. Sure, there are girls running off the walls and shooting machine guns upside whilst in mid-air, but fights are well thought out unlike something, like say, Jormungand where fights are played out like they came from the mind of a 5th grader.
But even with its entertaining action, Stella C3-Bu was losing my interest fast. A lot of screen time was given to the cast, but Sono was the only character remotely interesting while everyone else felt like they were just there to fill some space and honestly our female lead, Yura, was grazing on my nerves with her wimpy “ERMAGERD! AIRSUFT GUNS!” attitude.
It was episode four when Stella C3-Bu finally showed its real color. In just that one episode, Yura, was both well fleshed out and we got strong personal development as she became a whiny girl afraid of guns, to finally manning up and begin her journey with finding her true self. Unfortunately, I had fooled myself into thinking that this episode would be the game-changing episode when in reality the next two episodes were so below par that I had dropped the series.
Bear with them though, after the hump, Stella C3-Bu is a fantastic watch the rest of the way through.
The series takes Yura’s development farther than I initially thought it would. One second, she’s this wimpy girl and then she’s the cold bad-ass Omega wolf of the pack. Her development is handled flawlessly and her change in character never feels inconsistent or altered on a whim just for the sake of the story. Everything comes gradually and naturally.
We’re given a character who just wants to fit in but is soon corrupted by power and a need for vengeance, and the series carefully places each event that lead up to her ultimate downfall with firm direction, interspersing everything with small segments of the female lead’s own “delusions” and conflictions, all free of any plot devices.
While heavily revolving around Yura, she brings out the best of the rest of cast finally giving us a feel for the rest of the characters. We get to see clashing and drama, and in the final two episodes, we see sincere reconciliation and touching heartfelt mends.
The second half was so good. Seriously, what was up the first half?
Story – Starts off with a rock first half, but becomes a simple, but very well told, coming of age story in the second half
Characters – Yura is fantastic female lead. Side characters take a while before we finally get some characterization. Chemistry is well handled and even touching at some points
Setting – Typical high school for girls, but the “battle fields” and gun fights are creative
Production Values – Artwork looks good, but the animation is lacking in a lot of areas. The jazzy soundtrack is simple but effective and catchy
Do I recommend?: Stella C3-Bu doesn’t have a stellar start, but there’s just enough hints of brilliance and charm, so stick with the series and you’re in for a fantastic second half. Just don’t except this to be up with Gainax’s classics.
Yura Yamato is on cloud nine, seeing the campus of her high school for the first time. She’s been admitted into Stella Women's Academy, a prestigious all girls school populated by students with families far more affluent than hers. When she checks into her dorm, she finds out that her roommate is away, visiting some of her family in America... But that doesn’t stop her from rolling around in her dorm mate’s bed, where she happens upon a curious item hidden under her pillow. It’s not a diary... It’s not a photo of a boy... It’s a very
realistic looking hand gun. And not only that, this girl has enough firearm paraphernalia in her dresser, closet, and God knows where else to make even Charlton Heston feel a little nervous.
Assuming it’s a bunch of theater props... Because Japan doesn’t have gun safety PSAs like we do... Yura decides to start playing with the guns, acting out scenes from one of her dorm mate’s Rambo DVDs, when a friend of that girl walks in on her, calls her a freak, and immediately recruits her into her odd school club... Command, Control, and Communications, or just C3 for short. And what does this club do, you may ask? Why, they play survival games where they run around the nearby abandoned school house, shooting each other with BB guns! As the newest member of this eclectic little group, will Yura finally be able to overcome her crippling social ineptitude?
While the slice of life genre has been around for decades, the new millennium has seen it become fused with the moe genre, giving birth to a sub-genre that has been a dominant force in the industry... School clubs. And they’re never big successful school clubs, either. They’re always offbeat, struggling school clubs with very small membership counts and an entire student body that really doesn’t want to get involved with them. Since this sub-genre is clearly not going anywhere anytime soon, it’s little wonder that Studio Gainax would eventually try to throw their hat into the ring. But where other anime have featured such simple club concepts as music, amusement, love advice, and hunting down/researching paranormal entities, Gainax has decided to take it a step farther with a air-soft gun-worship club. How did they fair?
Well, first things first, you can tell immediately that this isn’t the work of somebody like Kyoto Animation, the kings of that sub-genre. While Gainax is well-renowned for it’s art style and visual direction, their animation itself would best be described as ‘inconsistent at best,’ and C3 is the perfect example of that. The first episode, on it’s own, looks fantastic, with great CG effects on the school’s waterfall(Hey, I said it was a rich school, didn’t I?), and fluid movements from all the characters. There are some key frames, but they’re mostly used comedically. But including this episode, only about forty percent of the series looks this good. This is especially true during the gritty, decently executed battle scenes, as well as during the main character’s... um... Fantasies. But as for the other sixty percent, this is some stiff, cheap looking crap.
C3 looks great when it really needs to, but when it doesn’t, the on-screen movement is minimal, and the talking heads tend to drag on far longer than they should. It’s passable, overall, but when a running character looks like an animated icon being dragged across the screen, you tend to notice it. As far as the artwork goes, I said earlier that Gainax had a flair for art design, and I meant it, but C3 must be the exception that proves the rule, because this is one generic looking puppy. The characters look like they could have been copied and pasted from ANY other School Club show, with little change in design whatsoever. The backgrounds look impressive during fight scenes, but outside of them... Yeah, generic is definitely the word of the day.
The characters looking generic wouldn’t be such a bad thing, if they had personalities to help them stand out from the archetypes they’ve been drawn as, but sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The girl who looks like a hyper legal-loli is exactly that, and nothing more. The pig tailed glasses-wearing girl manages the finances of the club, and... That’s it, nothing more. The only thing she really does for the story is exploit the bodies of her club-mates at the culture festival for cash, which results in some very awkward fanservice. The blonde girl is... I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I know so little about her that I can’t even tell what archetype she represents. She’s initially the second best player in the group, and she has a twin brother who dresses like a girl, because of course he does... But that’s it. And the soft-spoken girl who discovers Yura playing around does nothing else of any note for the rest of the series. Keep in mind, all four of them are at least SLIGHTLY more characterized in the manga.
Two of the characters have backstories, but since they share the same backstory and it’s only told from one of their perspectives, it’s arguable that only one character actually has a backstory. These two are Yura’s room mate, Sonora, an older girl big-sister type who becomes a mentor for her, and the “antagonist,” Rin, her old friend from America. The only one who has any sort of arc or development is the main character, Yura, who takes on the role of untrained savant, who joins the club as a novice only to quickly become it’s strongest member. She becomes an expert marksmen after hearing a few pretentious phrases like “Squeeze without really squeezing” and “Fire without really firing,” and it isn’t long before she’s able to pull off difficult acrobatic maneuvres and take out entire enemy teams by herself. Her rise to the top makes little to no sense, even compared to Yui’s mastery of the guitar in K-On.
Having said that, there WAS an element to her development that I thought was written really well. In the latter half of the series, she has to learn some very hard lessons about arrogance, ego, and team work, and I have to say, the way this was all executed was surprisingly relatable and compelling. The circumstances that lead to this development were full of a ridiculous number of plot holes, but all the same, I’m glad they happened, because they made up some of the only scenes in the entire series that didn’t bore me half to sleep. I honestly do wish that the rest of the series could have had that much effort put into it.
I’ve seen Gainax be pretentious. I’ve seen Gainax be offensive. I’ve seen Gainax be balls-to-the-wall stupid. I’ve seen all of this, but until watching C3, I have never seen Gainax put this little effort into a product they were making. This anime is thoroughly a paycheck series for them, and they clearly chose to adapt the manga based on the strength of it’s ‘girls with guns’ gimmick, and because they thought a show about visually appealing teenage girls wielding firearms would push a lot of merchandise, ala Strike Witches and Gunslinger Girl. Oh, and if you don’t believe me, check out the ending theme, where all the characters are portrayed as the kind of chibis that you could easily see being turned into cell phone straps, so thank God those don’t exist. As a matter of fact, this is probably why they expanded two events from the manga... A squirt gun beach battle, and the culture festival story... To maximize the fanservice content in both stories. Yeah, surprise surprise, the leaf and shell bikinis were a Gainax invention.
From what I understand after reading 26 manga chapters that I was able to find, Gainax did take steps to improve the material by fleshing out the main character and the circumstances surrounding her entrance to the club. They gave it a new and much more interesting ending, involving the very lessons I was raving about earlier. Unfortunately, to make room for this ending, they had to condense the story down to 12 episodes by omitting any sort of personality or backstory from the other girls, then slashed the story to pieces and fit it back together with the events out of their original order. And here’s where my ‘little effort’ complaint comes in... They didn’t seem to put any thought into whether or not the changes they were making fit the story.
To examine the plot holes that these changes create, I’m going to have to go into some light spoilers, so don’t read this paragraph... Or the next one... unless you’ve already seen the series, or are just reading this review for entertainment’s sake, and have no intention of seeing the show at all. Ahem. In the manga, Sonora has to stay home from an important event because she was injured protecting Yura from a sniper. The sniper turns out to be a participant from the event, and after being defeated and confronted, she apologizes. Gainax sought to expand this concept, so the sniper was changed to a random pervert targeting teenage girls, despite having no connection to the story in any other way. Rin is revealed to have apprehended this villain while unarmed, and no, we never find out how. Because of her ability to do this, and the news that her team defeated a team of marines, she is simply not the same character as the Rin we meet later, who is not only defeated by another team of students during a casual match, but that’s WITH Yura’s help. And at that point in the series, she doesn’t seem nearly as cut-throat or intimidating, actually valuing teamwork and fun over victory for the sake of Yura’s development.
And this change is started because Yura cheats to beat her at the aforementioned event. When Yura brings up this fact to her team mates, NONE OF THEM care, and are more concerned with whether or not their victory will be revoked, and they consider her a traitor for calling the contest officials and reporting it herself. That’s already bad enough, as it paints nearly the entire main cast in a negative light, but what makes even less sense is that when she reports it, the event committee don’t listen, because Rin said it didn't happen. How the hell does that matter? If you have one person confessing that they cheated, who’s to say the cheated party would even be aware of it? If you have the confession, what more would you need? Also, I get that Yura has a vivid imagination... Hell, some might even call them troublingly lucid hallucinations... But what really confuses me is the fact that her friends can apparently get sucked into these fantasies and see them with her.
Spoilers over. Well, there are other plot holes, but with a show this stupid, it would just be nitpicking if I took it any further. Those were the three most destructive ones, so for now, let’s move on to the two biggest problems that this series has... The ones even it’s fans have admitted to.
The first problem is the uneven tone and confusing story structure of the series. C3 doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a raunchy moe comedy or a gritty character drama, and it doesn’t blend the two ideas well. Ideally, if you were to run these two tones at the same time while keeping them a safe but respectable distance from each other, they could actually complement each other well, like in Fullmetal Alchemist. C3 instead changes tone seemingly from episode to episode, jumping into each one with reckless abandon as if the other tone didn’t even exist. It’s hard to take the tension between Yura, Rin and Sonora seriously when you just saw a modified wet t-shirt contest in the middle of a crowded classroom. The resolution of it’s main plot isn’t even the focus of the final episode, which turned out to be a truly awful piece of filler filth.
And the other problem is really the show’s biggest base breaker. There are several people out there who can’t get past the first episode of C3 because of it’s loose, casual trivialization of gun violence. They see high school kids enthusiastically playing around with a bunch of realistic looking toy guns, and it turns their stomach. Speaking as somebody who was head over heels in love with gun and sword battles from movies when he was a kid, and would act them out with just as much vigor, I don’t really feel that revulsion... But I would not for one solitary second blame them for feeling that way.
See, Japan doesn’t have the same relationship with guns that we do. Unless you have a job the requires you to carry a firearm... Such as a cop, for example... It is illegal to own one. As a result, they don’t have a lot of gun violence over there. They don’t have school shootings, they don’t have remotely as many accidental discharges, and because of this, they’re not as sensitive about the issue as we are. Now, I don’t feel offended by the fact that the girls are running around playing games with BB guns... I’ve done it myself, even though I’m absolute rubbish at it... But we’re talking about a show where right in the first episode, the club’s recruitment plan is to map out the school yard and ambush their fellow students with a mock shooting. They don’t carry through with this plan, but the very mention of it should be enough to get a respectable viewer to imagine tragedies like those at Columbine and Virginia Tech. Also, it really wouldn’t hurt if the guns were orange, or something. Some people will be offended by things like this, some people won’t... And based on that tidbit alone, you should know right off the bat whether or not this title is right for you.
Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3 is available from Sentai Filmworks in both Blu-ray and DVD formats. You could find either format last year as part of Rightstuf.com’s year end sale for about twenty dollars each, but even with that sale over, you can find them on Amazon for just under thirty. You can also watch it on Crunchyroll, and whether or not you have a subscription will determine whether or not you’ll have to sit through a wall of commercials to view it. The manga entries have not been released stateside, but it’s pretty easy to find translated scans of it online. There’s no english dub, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be one in the future, but hey, I could be wrong.
Going into this show, I was warned by a few people that I was going to hate it. As it turns out, well, they were kind of wrong. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a good anime, but I’ve seen worse from Gainax, and I’m sure I’ll see worse from them in the future. It’s biggest problem isn’t the uneven tone, or even the potentially controversial subject matter... It’s biggest problem is the lack of characterization, which is a thing that would normally be the saving grace for a lot of similar plotless, melodramatic slice of life shows. Without good characters, I can’t really enjoy the humor or get invested in situations they find themselves in, and unfortunately, that lead to me getting bored a lot as I tried to get through it. That’s just my reaction to it, however, and I can see why other people would enjoy it more than I did. All the same, I would strongly prefer if Gainax kept it’s ambition up in the sky where it belongs, and left the plotless slice-of-life material to KyoAni. I give Stella Women's Academy a 4/10.
It’s so easy to write this off based on appearance. Then again, a lot of people are fooled by realistic design that an anime is deep. Stella’s Women Academy is simple and doesn’t aspire to much, but hits every target it aims for.
In truth, it’s not just an anime about cute girls who play with guns. The cuteness factor is there (since we in the West are still impressed by macho bullshit, it’s a plus). What drives the series, though, are the characters.
The story is simple because it’s a very humane one. It puts a bunch of personalities and examine them, using the theme of
competition. What dominates is the characters’ reaction to every situation. Although external events pop once in a while like competitions, it’s not noticeable. They only happen to develop the characters. Feeling like you’re not enough or being narrow-minded or being laid-back are more crucial to the story’s progress.
It draws comparison to Ping Pong. There are even pseudo-artistic moments where the anime tries hard to be taken seriously. Thankfully they vanish quickly. Moments of confrontation, where we see the relationships change are more meaningful and profound than any weird-psychedelic-vision-thing.
The anime is full of such moments. Every episode is a clear progression of Yura’s personality. It is such tight pacing. Even the best anime don’t have pacing that is this focused. The series catches you off-guard when it moves from the cuteness of the first episode to the serious conflicts. It does it only in 6 episodes.
The tonal shift isn’t jarring. It adds depth. Life isn’t monotonous except in some circumstances. It’s mostly ups and downs. These tonal shift add realism to an anime that at first seemed only comic. It makes all the drama later believable and engrossing.
It’s an impressive feat. The characters shouldn’t work. They’re neither psychological portraits nor exaggerated oddballs. They still manage to feel real. This thanks to the work of the voice-actors. Most of the attributes – Ren’s gentleness, Honoko’s mother-figure, Karila’s toughness is expressed by these voices. Even when the characters all react positively to something, the voice-actors add their little touch to create distinction.
Yura is the highlight of the series though, and part of what prevents it from being brilliant. Going back to the comparison with Ping Pong, that anime explored every character it had. It wasn’t satisfied with just giving them distinct personalities. They each had their own journey.
Stella’s Women Academy is more narrow. Yura is the only one who goes through a major change. She’s a more believable and realistic character than Ping Pong‘s Tsukimoto, even if she’s less psychological. The changes in her are more apparent and clearer. The anime doesn’t rely on inner-monologues or visions (Okay, there are a few of them but not too many) to show us who Yura is. It’s the constant interaction with the cast.
Why make the decision to have such a narrow focus? Knowing your limitations is important, but great characters were the strength of the show. Everyone was flawed in a way and could be improve. The writers know how to develop a simple character, and using their talent only for one character is a waste.
Since there are guns in the anime, there are also action scenes. They’re the least flashiest action you will see, but somehow they work. Again, the simple and low-key approach is an advantage. The scenes are clear and easy to follow. They’re made of set-pieces which progress to a conclusion. Some tactics and strategy are involved, but they’re complex enough to be interesting and simple enough not to drag the anime down.
The overall message of ‘real winning is having fun’ may seem simplistic, but it actually goes deeper than that. It doesn’t pretend the world doesn’t have conflict. The message is that we need to understand when we’re in a serious conflict where we must win, and when we’re in a fun activity.
That’s the fault of both Rin and Sonora. Sonora just wants to have fun, so she doesn’t fight when she has to. She lets people leave freely even though it harms both the club and themselves. Rin sees everything in terms of conflict. For all her victories, her existence is joyless. She can win all she wants but what does she has in the end?
is not a huge anime. It’s a simple story about a person with no confidence getting drunk with power and then waking up. It works. Its focus may be narrow but nothing is missed, no idea is undeveloped and no moment is wasted. The only thing that prevents it from being a classic is that it never tried to be. Still, even the greatest of anime don’t hit their target dead-center like this one does.
The story progresses with each episode, and every episode is connected with each other. On the other hand, there are too many confusing elements in the story that doesn't make any logical sense. This story supposedly takes place in a real-life situation, yet all of a sudden, the MC has a supernatural ability? That ability is never touched upon again after a few episodes.
I think they did a good job with the characters, all except for the MC. The MC was the driving force that almost made me drop the series altogether. Yes, her character did undergo progress. But it's always to the
extremes. She started off as this emotionally and mentally weak girl, so weak that you would get mad. Then she became this over-confident person, to the point where she acted as though the world revolved around her. In all honesty, I hated her character the most. I just wanted one of the characters to put her in her place. She's too power-hungry, for a lack of better words.
Overall, I did enjoy this anime, albeit not as much as other anime, but I wished that they would have made the MC a better character.
First half you get fun time by watching happy cute girls and the next half could be explained by the lyrics of familiar song; Eye of the Tiger:
"Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the
And he's watching us all with the eye of the tiger"
Okay characters are all good(but still Rento is my favourite), my Yura didn't deserve that much pain and suffering though.
It is a great anime where we can watch a human sharing powers with a god so I am happy to have watched this
I'll say it very simply here: Stella is not a show worth wasting your time on.
To be sure, it's not all bad. There's slice of life, and there's the much more serious character arc going on throughout; that latter one was what drew me personally to watch it. Moe too, if that's your thing; and fanservice, because this is after all Gainax.
And, to be fair, it takes a pretty daring writer to even think of putting moe with something serious, simply because they are inherently opposing elements. Kudos to the original mangaka for that.
But as good as all this sounds on paper, it didn't translate
very well onto animation. Stella suffers from terrible directing. Scenes flow awkwardly into one another, transitioning for instance from the serious moments in the latter episodes, focused on Yura, to the girls doing nothing in particular and being moe, focused on just about the rest of the cast. There's a lot of humour in here, only that's it's not funny; and what's worse is that you can tell they're trying to be funny, what with overly over-exaggerated chibi expressions and randomness going on. That hurts at times. The music doesn't fit the anime well for the most part: either it's there and you don't notice it, or it's there and you're wondering why it sounds so inappropriate for the scene. Take the gunfights which comprise most of this show's action: they're backdropped by a low-key saxophone piece, which doesn't do anything to raise the already low tension of the scene.
I don't like the characters. Not because they're unlikeable, but because they're empty. Stella has a cast of six main characters, plus one main antagonist: about three of them (Yura, Sonora, and Rin) are actually useful; the rest could have been cut out of the show to no detriment, and probably even improve the overall quality. Sure, there's an airhead, and a tomboy, and a few other stereotypes I couldn't be bothered to identify, and I'm sure they're all totally popular; but they ultimately don't do a thing, which makes them, for all their appeal, completely and utterly useless. And while we're on this topic, there's one character in particular - Rento - who's voice just doesn't match her character so hard I, for all my grumbling about useless characters, am actually glad she doesn't have much to say.
This probably leads in well to the art. Animation is smooth, but that's really to be expected: it's a big studio, after all; and in any case and do you honestly see that many animes out there with bad animation? Not really. But while the animation is passable, the same can't be said for the art: it's mostly consistent (and detailed and pretty *enough*), but there are a few times when the characters don't look like themselves. It only does happen a few times, but it's obvious enough when it does, and that hurts the show still more. Quite possibly the biggest problem with the art, though, is that it doesn't match the acting. I've said this before, and I'll bring it up again: Rento's character does not fit her art. She's a soft-spoken character, but is usually drawn with her mouth wide open as if she's talking loudly. And this is not something limited just to her, although she is the worst case of it: almost every character (barring Rin, maybe) has moments where they look like they're talking loudly and enthusiastically, but sound quiet or subdued. It gets better during the middle of the show, but the damage will have been done by the start anyway.
As a matter of fact, it's the middle of Stella where it really shines. The start is just your typical moe slice of life fare - nothing special, all to be expected - but by the middle Yura's character arc really kicks in, and I was pleasantly surprised to see quality there. It's good. More than that, it's a welcome change from the randomness and wannabe humour which plague this show's opening. When Stella's being serious, it can really be serious. Unfortunately, it's mixed up among all the low grade fanservice and moe of the rest of the show, and loses some of its greatness in the passing. There are, for instance, thirteen episodes to this anime; the actual arc concludes quite nicely by the twelfth, leaving viewers with a ridiculous beauty pageant / airsoft game show crossover, which is filled with humour - chibi means funny, guys. Always. Or at least, that's what Gainax thinks - and oppai. Hurrah for oppai! Screw serious plots and good endings for oppai! Fanservice is totally the determiner of a good anime!
What Stella really suffers from apart from its bad directing is, as other reviewers have probably mentioned, a lack of self identity. If it was a full moe/fanservice show I'd judge it based on that, scoring it equally badly in quality but highly, at least, in enjoyment. If it was a full serious show I'd find it not a bad watch, acknowledging the quality of its ideas if not their execution. But Stella is neither of these. And as such, it comes off just as bad.
I can't tell if I've made my point clear enough from these few paragraphs. I don't care enough about this anime to check. So I'll just reiterate my words from the beginning of this review:
Are you a fan of moe? Have you ever participated in airsoft? Well, I guess if you answered no to the first question, it's a given that you will probably not find much enjoyment from this show.
The main attraction to this show (besides the kawaii moe desu blob) is the "sport" of airsoft. Now, I use the word "sport" cautiously, but that subject seems to be the base model that this show follows. Basically, you will get more out of this show if you've ever participated in airsoft. At least, if you have enjoyed it. You will reflect the thrill, joy, and excitement of
the characters onto your own experience. This is what makes it fulfilling to watch each episode. As expected from an anime, this one makes airsoft look 10 times more awesome than it really looks. These girls make it look incredibly flashy and stylish. Also, there's the fact most of the characters are girls playing airsoft. HAHA no, not in real life indeed. So if you're gonna enjoy the show, you better hang that suspension of disbelief right on that coat hanger next to the door.
There are many good things to say about the characters, but there is also one glaring weakness that drags the show down because of them. Overall, each character of the main cast seems to stand out in both design and personality. To further complement them, each even have their own distinct playstyle and use different types of weaponry. Unfortunately, it all goes to waste since they don't really get fleshed out at all besides the main character Yura. The show entirely focuses on Yura, overseeing her complete transformation in character. She's basically the cliched rookie that exceeds everyone's expectations. At one point during this transformation, she crosses a line into one extreme and becomes very unlikable to the audience for awhile. To conclude, it is a shame that most of the main characters were thrown to the sideline in favor of giving Yura most of the spotlight. Perhaps a second season may be able to amend this flaw. Maybe some day...
As for the music, well it's fantastic! When the jazz kicks up, it just really seems to flow along really well with the action happening on screen in an odd sort of way.
For the most part, Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu seems to follow a formulaic sport/action plot, but contains a few surprising twists here and there to keep it interesting. Not the best anime ever for sure, but if you're like me it may rekindle some old feelings if you have ever played airsoft before.
This anime starts off well, goes off in too many directions, and then gets lost, ending with a final episode that's just filler. There was potential here, and a good animation team, but the story line was a flop. It's almost as if there was a plan for a longer story, but the number of episodes was cut.
Having finished watching this anime, I'm quite surprised this received a fairly low MAL-rating, compared to some other mary-sue/gary-stu-spawning anime out there (eg. Mondaiji-tachi).
Nowadays, a lot of anime fans [and otakus] are so hard to please. While saying they're "hard to please", they're [NOT all, but a lot] irrationally being close-minded, afraid to go out of their comfort zones in watching anime. A lot prefer their own dose of anime: if it's moe, it's moe; or if it's action [eg. so-called "anime-veterans" want the old-anime back], then they want it action. Combining different elements and formulas in making a plot and character, and all it
gets is a MAL rating of below 7 [while worthless anime full of fanservice gets an 8 and above? that's BS.].
And thing is, as sad as it is, MAL rating is very opinionated.
STORY = 7
Although it has the scent of K-On! on its story, juz that it's all about airsoft guns rather than music, but Stella Jogakuin was able to pick up its own cues and story later on.
ART = 7
good as it is.
SOUND = 6
moe OSTs. Although Ai Kayano and Miyuki Sawashiro are also seiyuus in this anime, but somehow the entire sound feels 6 for me.
CHARACTER = 8
The anime industry has tried various formulas more than what literature structure can offer. Character-wise, various anime studios (and even manga) were able to create better characters than the traditional Hollywood-ish stereotypes.
Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C3 Bu is of no exception: blending the moe-factors with plot and unlikely characterization, yet still retained a fairly slice-of-life take. So far, only Puella Magi Madoka Magica made a successful 10/10 blending of moe+seriousness, IMO though, with Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (excluding the OVAs) trailing 2nd [and something like Chaos-Head failed on this attempt], but all in all, Stella Jogakuin characters were able to have the conflict and resolve stitched up and going until it reached ep.12 (ep.13 is already the denouement).
Somehow, there were some minute elements that needed stitching, interactions that were needed to be revised on the manuscript before releasing the final output, but all in all, the characterization was able to create an interaction of characters, attached to each other, and moe~~here it is.
ENJOYMENT = 6
needs a little more work up, or maybe I'm juz not a fan of airsoft. Lacks more of the adrenaline-rush needed for airsoft battles; and the moe-ness kinda did not compensate the enjoyment.
OVERALL = 7
As said, anime fans and otakus are hard to please; not that they're setting the bar high enough, but because of their own subjective, opinionated whims. Though we can't blame 'em, they watch what they want [and one ep. costs about 25mins]; and slams without a care of "experimental" or "attempted" anime like Stella-Jogakuin here because of their own insights.
However, if one were to write a review here in MAL, shouldn't it be MORE objective than subjective? You don't just go
"I hate it, don't watch it----because I said so",
is that all the reason? A review like this won't get you anywhere.
Writing a review should be objective.
And yes, the factors I've said made up to my rating of 7 here. All in all, Stella-Jogakuin is a good anime, it lacked some aspects to it probably because of the "attempted" or "experimental" combination of moe+action+drama being pressured into its 13-episodes, but hey, this is what the show is all about.
Coming out around a year before Sabagebu!, it differs from that anime by being rather more serious and edgy as opposed to being comedic.
Whilst Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu does have it's funny moments, they aren't frequent - instead, the story over the 11 episodes (accumulating on the 12th) drives this series where characters fall, develop and re-build.
The thirteenth episode, whilst giving a nice ending, doesn't really fit into its place considering when it's supposed to have happened - it's almost as though 12 episodes were planned and then another one had to be added to fill some timeslot...
There is a distance between two characters, which
whilst explained partially, doesn't resolve why one states something in the first few episodes, and which is never really explored.
The title and end music is a bit boring, whilst the animation certainly isn't bad at all, and at times very nicely animated - it's also somewhat more realistic, it can't beat Sabagebu! for clarity.
It's well worth seeing at least once if you want something rather serious at times.
I'll keep this short. I enjoyed Sabagebu! much more and I recommend that instead or at least first. Then if your craving some more airsoft action this can pass the time. The character development is slow and once it becomes interesting it almost immediately loses direction. There was some real potential here but the failure to properly develop characters along with inconsistent interactions and unresolved conflicts make this series a bit hard to enjoy. Its not really a comedy, not really a slice of life, tries to be a drama for a little bit, then just gives up everything by the end. The action genre
comes out strongest but doesn't quite take the spotlight. The fight scenes are interesting but too much is skipped; if the action had been the focus and the pacing consistent this season could have been much longer and far more exciting.
Before taking a look at the entire review, I'd suggest you'd watch the main arc -- basically the entire thing, besides the epilogue as it doesn't add much. Binge-watching a thirteen-part anime is easy, anyways. Right?
Stella C3 baits its viewers charmingly. To those who were lured in by the idea of moe girls shooting firearms in a "convincing" environment, they were in for a surprising well-established plot; focusing on the development of characters through the relatable aspects of the lost sense of belongingness in between social terms and themselves, and all the way to metaphors of the horrors of war, statements on abandonment on the
field, loss of self, and real self-guiding philosophy.
All of those elements slowly start leaking in menacingly and worryingly, keeping viewers interested in the tone it takes next. It's very fun to predict the next unnerving moment in the anime slyly pretending to be moe. It should be noted the ingenuity behind the direction of the OP and ED, with the OP hinting to the show's hidden nature with a menacing guitar rift you can hear near the beginning and the end. The ED is playful and cheery by nature, and it is almost a relief to hear it after some of the show's cliffhanger endings. It's definitely annoying at first, but it'll grow on you in the most unexpected of ways.
Some great scenes were when the world was literally replaced by imagined or illusionary areas. The anime doesn't explain itself here, not out of laziness or because it is doubting itself, but because it doesn't need to; and in doing so, adds to the atmosphere of Stella C3, and the concept and dreamyness of finding things you need in desperate times.
Most aspiringly, it does all of this while staying true to anime's typical tropes. Juggling its defined story with Naked in your room, Running during credits, Beach Episode, etc. I should note that only the Beach Episode felt forced -- while other tropes I've spotted were mostly decent to absolutely well-handled at best. In general, the anime takes itself seriously, in which it succeeds completely (and I grin hugely at such feats), and puts to shame the massive hordes of shows that desperately try to.
In a technical scale, Gainax shows their renowned prowess, but like all animes the animations seem to cut corners during mid-season episodes. It's still respectable; and it's fun to see the OP and ED change every other episode until the show's plot has fully revealed itself.
The sound direction in Stella C3 is superb for what it has been ordered for. The airsoft guns sound powerful and authentic, and give a satisfying "bang" to the ear. The impacts from rolling and flattening yourself against a wall to take cover sound like they take real effort (until it is shattered by the monkey character). And the clicks and shuffles of the firearms sound tactile and make me want to shake my backpack around.
I discovered Stella C3 when it was related to a video game called Spec Ops: The Line. While obviously not like Spec Ops in many ways for many reasons, watching Stella C3 in Spec Ops' perspective and watching Stella C3 AS ITS OWN, has been an uninhibited flat-out wondrous joy.
Things aren’t always what they seem. Despite featuring an all-girl ensemble at a high school club, Stella Women’s Academy (otherwise known as C3-bu) is a deceptively heavy anime in familiar lighthearted trappings. It’s easy to dismiss it as ‘K-On! with guns,’ and easier to be hooked to a surprising degree.
The story follows the fairly normal Yura Yamato, who joins Stella Women’s Academy in hopes of changing herself to be more outgoing and confident. After being charmed by Sonora, the thrill of battle, and Sonora, she joins the club C3-bu. C3-bu dedicates itself to survival games, which you can think of as laser tag with air
guns instead of lasers. Air guns aren’t as fancy as lasers, but we get a decent variety of weaponry from pistols to sniper rifles.
That’s some pretty involved design for what’s essentially a Nerf battle, set over the top in charming fashion by the way Yura sees the world. Early on, she has what I like to call ‘war vision,’ where every survival game takes on the appearance of a real battlefield. I recognized ‘storming the beach’ and the rubble pile adobe houses of the middle east, but there’s assuredly more references to real locales I’m not aware of. Though the ‘war vision’ is in her head, it’s a great way to show how much fun she has in survival games.
Maybe a little too much fun.
Yura joined Stella Women’s Academy in hopes of changing herself, and then joined C3-bu because it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the fun she has playing survival games never addressed her self-esteem problems, and that’s how the anime really takes off. To say she takes quite a turn in the story implies she suddenly switches personalities, but there’s a deliberate effort to show her changing little by little (the cowboy scene comes to mind). The result is a strong character arc for what is essentially Yura’s coming of age story.
Unfortunately, nearly everything else about the writing isn’t up to snuff. Rento, Karila, and Honoka are little more than accessories to Yura’s development. The good thing is the anime rarely pretends the former three are relevant. It knows C3-bu is Yura’s story, though the club itself is lead by the rambunctious tomboy Sonora Kashima. Sonora foils nicely with the aloof and prideful Rin Homu—er, Haruna, and they both make up for what the other three lack.
If there’s two more things to fault the anime for, it’s a plot element that shows up at the halfway and endpoint of the series. It’s little more than a really out of place plot device to force the story forward. Because the author had writer’s block, I guess, but the second iteration of it leads into the last problem, the ending. C3-bu’s ending suffers from extreme convenience and WTFery, nearly neutering the strong story it built for Yura.
…it’s a Gainax ending.
On the other hand, the ending song, ‘Shoot ‘em! C3 Club!’ by Stella Women’s Academy (this is the actual group name) is an energetically catchy bundle of lyrics and vocals that marks as one of the few endings I never skip. It perfectly reflects the anime’s more fun side, making a nice contrast with the opening song. ‘Shape My Story’ by Anno Yano is a more thoughtful piece dedicated to the more serious moments in the show. There’s a few tracks within the show that are noticeable, but they’re overshadowed by these two numbers.
I just wish there was a music track that blended the serious and the silly the way this anime did for its story. But between a lot of accessorized side characters, forced progression, and Gainax ending, the story itself was far from perfect. But in my occasional fits of chuunibyou, it DOES make me want go out with guns blazing; C3-bu was a fun little distraction, and that’s all I was really looking for.