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.