Rina SatouRina HidakaAyana TaketatsuLynn
Classroom of the Elite
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: C
Also known as: Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Hiroyuki Hashimoto, Seiji Kishi
Writer: Aoi Akashiro
Actor: Akari Kito, Akihisa Wakayama, Amisa Sakuragi, Ayana Taketatsu, Daiki Abe, Eiji Takeuchi, Hisako Kanemoto, Konomi Kohara, Kumiko Nakane, Lynn, M.A.O, Masaaki Mizunaka, Masumi Tazawa, Mikako Komatsu, Mutsuki Iwanaka, Nao Shiraki, Nao Toyama, Rina Hidaka, Rina Satou, Ryota Ohsaka, Ryota Suzuki, Saori Koda, Satoshi Hino, Shino Shimoji, Shoya Chiba, Shunsuke Kawabe, Toshiki Iwasawa, Tsubasa Goda, Yuichiro Umehara, Yurika Kubo
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19544
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 25 September 2018
Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi Kyoushitsu
On one level, it's a standard light novel adaptation. It has a clever but socially inept hero who's disregarded by everyone, but has a mysterious hidden past and happens to be good at solving everyone's problems. Naturally everything ends up revolving around him, including several girls.
On another level, though, it's a philosophical exploration of our nature as social beings and how we work together, or more often fail to. Every episode begins with a quote from someone like Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre or La Rochefoucauld. It's set in a super-elite school that's run like a Darwinian experiment, with four classes, a points system and ruthless rules about gaining and losing them. Points are money. If you goof off in class, theoretically you could end up eating cardboard to stay alive. Excel in all areas and you'll receive a fortune as pocket money.
The twist, though, is that points are collective. The totals are per class, not just individually. Thus if you're in Class D and your classmates are layabouts, you could be the school's star pupil and still be living off cold noodles.
This is pretty cool. The show's also not afraid to take its characterisation cold and hard. It's exploring all the ways we fail as social animals, after all. Thus the protagonist (Ayanokouji) is a fish-eyed slacker who doesn't want to lift a finger for anyone and whose goal is to be average and unnoticed. Suzune is a clever but prickly loner who'd sooner spit in your face than be anyone's friend and has no conversational filters. There will be a girl who's frightened of social interaction. Even the nice students might be scary, manipulative cynics underneath.
It's as if someone's taken the ego-stroking light novel formula and poured acid in it. Episodes will have positive-sounding themes (trust, avoiding regrets, personal freedom, etc.) but don't expect these to turn out heartwarmingly. Oh, and the four classes all develop their own cultures and collective personalities, so some of them are genuinely altruistic (Class B), some of them are supremacists with squabbling Nietzschean factions (Class A) and some of them are just mean and will hatch plots to frame you for crimes you didn't do (Class C).
I thought it was great. It's a thought-provoking mix of nice and nasty. I love the way it's exploring its themes, e.g. with this cold-blooded justification of why our hero didn't backstab people who trust him. "In the long run, eroding our alliance with Class B would be to our disadvantage."
There's some fanservice. Most of the girls are buxom and there will be swimsuits, male gaze, etc. This isn't an ecchi anime and there won't be nipples in the Blu-rays or anything, but you can tell what the target audience is.
Not all of it works equally well. I eventually found the panty theft stuff in ep.10 a bit tedious, especially since I don't think they ever bother to return the stolen garments. Surely that should have happened at the first opportunity? (In fairness, though, the whole point of this show is to explore people doing the wrong thing.) However I love the way it's taking what could have been standard school anime situations and shining a hard, cynical light on them. Our protagonists discuss whether it's in their interest to let their classmates get expelled. Characters might thank someone for manipulating them so that they get sick(er), beaten up and unconscious. I'm hoping for a second season.