Summer 2015 Closing Thoughts: Classroom Crisis

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Part 8 of my final impressions countdown.

 

Angelina

Angelina was the clear highlight of this show

6. Classroom Crisis

Classroom Crisis is a series with no understanding on how to compromise. One moment it’s a school club drama about acceptance, then straight up sci-fi, then a slice-of-life comedy, then an examination of bureaucracy, then a political drama, then a cautionary tale about the destructive nature of vengeance, then a boardroom drama, then a love story, then a mystery, then a pacifist manifesto- *deep breath*. This doesn’t even touch on my biggest problem. That belongs to the task of trying to articulate why, despite the dozens of issues I could potentially nit-pick, I still somehow find it damn entertaining, way more than all rational thought tells me I should.

I think a lot of this stems from respecting the show’s enthusiasm and the ambition in at least trying to tie the various plot points together. Rather than feeling like a collection of disconnected tropes and concepts, you really get the impression the staff were interested in exploring all the ideas touched upon, not letting a mere twelve episode run stand in their way. Regardless of the constant genre shifting and meandering into seemingly extraneous material (like the beach trip) most scenes do end up contributing to pushing the plot along, however slightly. Inevitably, some developments feel cut short while others drag on longer than necessary, but it never turns into an Angel Beats situation where huge gaps the story are apparent in order to accommodate the limited amount of screen time (although unlike Angel Beats, Classroom Crisis was never going to be 26 episodes). If you’re paying attention to the names and events nothing should be confusing or arrive without foreshadowing. Although occasionally jarring, the individual pieces of plot do make a whole story.

The side plots may be numerous, but by making the setting low key and understated, it’s able to cut down on excessive world building or made up nouns. Any jargon relates specifically to the club rocket project rather than making the universe feel more complicated than it needs to be. As someone who hates the light/visual novel approach of ‘more padding: higher quality’ this is godsend to me. Also, by not artificially exaggerating the details to make the story grander than necessary, it partially avoids the issue that shows like Robotics;Notes had in trying to tie a school project plot with a doomsday scenario. There’s a lot going on, but it’s reigned in enough so as not to devolve into a complete mess.

[HorribleSubs] Classroom Crisis - 13 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.02_[2015.10.01_19.17.45]

Shoehorning in a last minute love triangle was the worst decision made in the show. Well, aside from Yuji’s character development

Unfortunately, the limited episode count really affects any emotional investment in the cast, which is a shame as the show displays a talent for one-on-one interactions. There’s a level of interplay that you’d normally find in gag comedies like Working, where everyone understands each other’s personalities to the extent that they can manipulate their behaviour in a wonderful game of cause and effect. This also applies to personal development, with characters able to rationally discuss various issues without the show descending into bad melodrama. At the same time, most of the cast receive so little meaningful screen time that it’s hard to genuinely care, with only the contrast between Kaito’s relaxed, but irresponsible attitude and Nagisa’s driven, but joyless objectives being given any significant weight. Mizuki and Iris are given focus near the end, but it’s never enough for them to feel much more than genki/stoic archetypes (Iris’ obsessive loyalty to Mizuki is never properly explained), while the rest of the class are relegated to background chatter to the extent that they’re difficult to identify by traits, let alone names. And let’s not even talk about the crazy-eyed caricature Yuji devolves into.

What I’m left with is a show presents enough for me to understand and admire its goals, yet lacks the focus and emotional resonance to given them the significance they deserve. How well you can resolve these two factors will largely determine your reaction to the show. I can completely understand why people might find Classroom Crisis underdeveloped, underwritten, awkwardly paced or just dull. There’s an element of truth to all those criticisms (particularly at the end when it gets all sentimental and needlessly campy), yet it isn’t enough to significantly dampen my enjoyment. I think it might be just the same underdog affinity that I have towards shows like Mouretsu Pirates or Samurai Flamenco, where the earnest drive to toil away & do their own thing with modest tools is enough for me to take notice and look at the show in general terms, rather than constantly poke at the specifics.

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