What’s the show? Classroom of the Elite (2017).
And what’s it about? Imagine a high school with the best facilities, self contained from the outside, government run and funded designed to cultivate youngsters to become the next generation of leaders both in business and politics.
Sounds kind of strict. You’d think so except the school lets the students have absolute free-reign over their own appearance (save for the uniform) gives them a bundle of ‘points’ each month which can be spent on the plethora of stores and services located on campus and basically let’s them do whatever they want as long as they don’t break any of the school ‘rules’.
Interesting! So what are the rules? Yeah! Like the school is going to tell them that!
There’s always a catch… of course. So how do they find out the rules? The hard way, break enough of the unwritten rules of the school and you’ll find yourself with no ‘points’ for the next month, or worse face expulsion.
Well that escalated quickly… Such is life.
So who are our protagonists? Kiyotaka Ayanokouji is the male protagonist, he likes to fly under the radar a bit, seemingly content to be middle of the pact. He’s well, to be perfectly honest, exceedingly bland as a protagonist but not all is as it seems…
Sounds mysterious. This show is at it’s best when it keeps you guessing so consider this as much a spoiler free review as I can manage.
So it’s a mystery? In part, bit of drama, bit of intrigue, bit of romance, bit of comedy. It does it all pretty well.
So back to the characters, who are our female leads? Well, Suzune Horikita is our trademark tsundere with the sharp tongue. Kikyou Kushida is the bubbly popular girl with a hidden agenda. And Airi Sakura is the shy and quiet one with a secret of her own. They all have complicated relationships with Kiyotaka, our protagonist that slowly develop and entwine as the show goes on.
It’s not a harem is it? Hmm, no I don’t think so…
Why so uncertain? Well, remember how I said its genre was a bit of everything? Well that extends beyond plot genres and into specific anime genres, yes it’s still a drama at the end of the day but it has elements of harem, slice of life and ecchi but never enough that you could call it one or the other absolutely, and never enough that it leans into the associated tropes. It’s very much it’s own beast, and all the better for it.
It’s not perfect though? No of course not. It paints itself as some larger than life drama with all kinds of high stakes but at the end of the day these are just high school students, in a ridiculously wealthy government funded high school, so it’s not until very late in the season do things even begin to feel like they’ll have consequences and even then it’s all a matter of suspension of disbelief in the situation they’ve been put in.
How do you mean? It’s like… it’s like an episode of ‘Survivor’, it’s all fake, it’s all carefully produced and monitored and controlled, but if you buy into it and get attached to the characters and their relationships and dynamics even fake stakes can still be interesting and entertaining and even tension filled.
Wait, how do you know what ‘Survivor’ is, you never watch anything but anime? I had a gap year in the early 2000’s where all I watched was shitty reality shows… I’m… I’m not proud of it, okay?
Heh. Guess you are human after all. Ugh, don’t remind me.
Anything else I should know before watching the show? There’s a lot of characters, like at least twenty with speaking roles and probably double appearing on screen.
Wow, that sounds like it could get confusing. You’d be surprised, the characterisation and character design is distinct enough that only occasionally do you go ‘who’s that again? Oh right that one’.
Oh jeez, I almost forgot. Best girl? Sakura! Fake glasses and all.
Cool. Final verdict? Classroom of the Elite is great, but if you’re not sold by the first or maybe second episode chances are you’re not going to fall for its charms. So readily it flits between genres that it could almost be seen as being indecisive but the writer in me appreciates its fluid nature and tonal dissonance. It’s an easy binge watch for accepting minds and is filled with interesting characters and riveting scenarios. Entertainment worthy of A Class, 85 out of 100.