Last week, we got a premise. This week: more premise!
After a further introduction into the importance of A-TEC to this futuristic world of innovation and corporations, new student-slash-boss Nagisa quickly comes into the spotlight, exposing his nature through interactions with subordinates and superiors. Meanwhile, Sera takes the opportunity given by the company’s PR cover-up to find the resolve to lead the salvation of A-TEC that he dreams of.
Nagisa’s dual existence as superior and student was a strong point this episode, opening opportunities for dynamic rivalry with Sera and inward change encouraged by Mizuki. I enjoyed his exchange with Sera’s sister far more than I connected to his scolding at the hands of his superior, however. While that scene demonstrated how the company simultaneously use and despise him, all of it felt overbearing through the animation of facial expressions and the statement of dynamics we’d already been told about last episode. I would have expected a corporate figure to be more subtle, making more complicated remarks to his subordinate when trying to cut through his character. The whole sequence made the company’s standing appear weak in relation to Nagisa’s dry resolve, so I have little investment in seeing this ‘disgrace’ oppose it as he vies to become CEO – an ambition which was too easily expected of his character.
Moreover, an episode titled ‘Classroom Downsizing’ wasn’t really about that at all. Nagisa was told he could make no moves at the moment, so this was the opportunity Sera took to seize more ground and drive. Perhaps the title represents the overhanging dread that Nagisa reaffirmed in his introductory speech, but the episode also made that dread feel weak through Nagisa being more associated with success stories than corporate destruction. The theme of ambition and innovation is too flawless, like it’s already won in our hearts against the corporate alternative, and the show could have spent these episodes making it at least a small point of discussion and debate for the show.
Sera, being the champion of this cause, is similarly lacking in traits that hold him back, exhibiting no signs that his penchant for laziness – his only weakness I can see – will affect his drive to save the class. Thus, when we got to Sera’s run-as-fast-as-you-can revelation, the whole ending felt empty and melodramatic. Could the viewer have actually seen the threat Nagisa posed by the time Sera opposed it himself? I could feel the struggle on a thematic level, but not in the hearts and minds of the cast, which was a fatal flaw for this episode’s finale. Kudos to Sera for standing up to his boss, but he had every right to as his teacher, as their exchange about honorifics made clear.
The show also took detours into a documentary style, and I can’t help but think how this kept us distant from the cast. It was nice to see those impersonal histories contrast to Sera’s inspirational TV appearance, but it still meant that I’m finding it hard to connect to this classroom as anything more than the idea of striving for innovation that is constantly parroted above corporate interests. The other world-building details that featured were likewise only ‘details’, and the bland style meant it felt like I was preparing for the show rather than participating in it. There are many better ways of feeding the viewer this information, and so much of the episode was spent on this flawed technique that I hope it isn’t repeated again. Then again, it’ll feel even more flawed if it’s only used once. A lose-lose situation is emerging, while the show is already stretching its plot thin with this kind of approach.
Another concern I’m getting with the show is that it really needs comedy to break the ice around these characters. I’m usually pretty easy to get the giggles out of, but Classroom Crisis has so far barely elicited a smile. It may have benefited Nagisa’s frosty relationships with Iris and Mizuki, with the former reinforcing how far away she wants to be from the ideology he supports as an engineer by motoring away from him. Yet, it makes most other interactions feel stale, and the more serious of them even weaker because of a lack of contrast. It also made the quip about this being a ‘weirdo’s class’ feel hollow. What’s weird about them? As far as anime standards are concerned, these characters are pretty plain. Better use of relatable character quirks and even well-known types – a good Tsundere is still a good Tsundere – would have helped this class fit together more enjoyably, considering how Angel Beats! pulled this off faster with a larger group even if it refused to develop most of them. I’m starting to worry that there’s too narrow a focus on the core of this story already.
We finally got the OP and ED songs today, and ClariS never disappoint. In hindsight, the mood of the first episode would have been greatly benefited had they managed to squeeze the OP in. The ED, on the other hand, reaffirms that this cast is pretty small, and neither of the main girls have my attention yet. Also, my casual mention about these students reaching for their stars seems to have reached Lay-Duce themselves. I just hope they won’t be condensed into one big solar system of an idea – the show needs to differentiate between the dreams of its students to achieve the realism of aspiration it’s striving towards. That being said, the documentaries made this faculty of the plot already uninteresting as the characters’ interviews offered no impact or charm. My biggest concern for this series is that most of the students will end up merely being props to the main stage of Sera’s fight against Nagisa.
There’s barely a classroom, there’s barely a crisis, and a show titled as such has spent two episodes failing to establish both of those vital elements. I was more positive last week because parts of it interested me, but the series appears to be building up for only posing simple, clinical questions – some of which have already had simple, clinical answers. Aside from piecing the plot together, I have no investment in any of these people right now. The conflicts of the over-exposed plot itself seem too easy and non-threatening, only adding to my lack of concern for the future of A-TEC.
Classroom Crisis currently lacks an emotional interface, the result of a lack of chemistry between its characters, unengaging cinematography (we get an extended shot from the ceiling… why?) and music that fails to capture both the show’s relaxed mood and its more serious side. Perhaps the lattermost issue is simply a result of the characters failing to support the shifts in cinematic tone themselves. Either way, this season has far too many shows already excelling in subtlety for this anime to get away with oversimplified character dynamics that should, for a series about the joys and horrors of a corporate world we expect to be intricate, be far more mentally engaging.
Just to note, UEM! won’t be dropping any shows it reviews this season. I hope Classroom Crisis won’t make that policy a burden.