Feb 12, 2017
Zaku88 (All reviews)
I'm honestly not sure how this show received a go for production but I'm guessing some cheating was involved. Apparently, there's a country in which success in life is solely based on an exam. Students attempt to pass this exam using various techniques, including cheating. The show follows cheating expert and inheritor of the paper/wind/fire-controlling Shokatsu technique, Mumei Shokatsu and his actually test-literate partner in crime, Koui Ou. This is one of the worst mockeries/parodies that I've seen in ages and it really was neither funny nor cohesive. Do yourself a favor and save yourself a few brain cells by watching something else.

The show has a fairly good animation package overall. Expect a bright, colorful landscape with decent CGI backgrounds and a rather wild assortment of different settings for the tests. Yes, tests plural. The characters are distinct enough though the show decides to draw most of the unimportant characters as grey blobs in the background. Expect rather basic character expressions as this is a rather light show. There is a fair amount of action in the show, as the cheaters (known as C-type) basically treat tests like fights where they must "defeat" all the other test takers and then quickly copy answers before time expires. Battles are usually rather short and are usually resolved by an assortment of ultimate attacks, these are preceded by the protagonist calling his attack followed by each kanji character flashing across the screen. After the carnage is complete, some random announcer repetitively comments on how awesome the attack was and how only one who has mastered the style could use the attack blah blah. There are some brief fan-service moments thrown in including the obligatory bathing suit scene. Honestly though, neither the action nor the ecchi will satisfy viewers in their respective categories.

The show opens with a decently-paced melody that if anything is a bit generic. The ED is a short and playful tune that serves its purpose well. The BGM only consists of a few tunes, the positive of which is that certain tunes will become somewhat familiar by the end of the show. The VA cast is rather surprising as you get huge veterans in many of the roles. I haven't seen the likes of Rie Kugimiya in a main role in ages and likewise haven't heard from Kotono Mitsuishi in a while too. On top of that, we have prolific Youko Hisaka and rising talent Reina Ueda. Unfortunately, I feel the talent is somewhat wasted as the characters here are as cookie cutter as they come.

Thank goodness these are half-length episodes as I found it difficult to even make it through that length. Each episode basically shows the class taking tests in various ridiculous settings, like on top of a waterfall or on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Each "stage" has a boss (i.e. test proctor) who likewise gives an incredulous feeling to the show; these include a drunken master and a shark with an augmented brain. After half a season's worth of random and seemingly pointless tests, the show decides to do some random parodies of other shows/concepts. In the last episode, it builds towards a climax of sorts, which is an unnecessarily artificial escalation. The best words I can think of to describe the story are contrived and idiotic.

If you are looking for a prime example of what a cookie cutter character is, you've found it. The characters here have literally no depth nor exposition. They are given gimmicky frosting in the form of flashy poses and moves, but otherwise their personalities and behaviors are rigid and simplistic. No one is at all relatable and there are no real relationships in the show. They supposedly try to create a bit of a rivalry in the middle of the season but it feels both out of place and ill executed.

Again, I have no idea how this show launched, but it is a disservice to anime as a whole. The characters are a mess and the story is poorly executed and in bad taste. I'm happy the wonderful VAs got a paycheck but it's a shame to have such a poor work associated with their names. Cheating Craft is neither comical nor enjoyable. It may take the simple concept of test taking and attempt to make it exciting, but in the end, it just makes a mockery of what should honestly be a pretty serious matter.