Classroom of the Elite Episode 11
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Classroom of the Elite ?
It was pluses and minuses in this week's Classroom of the Elite, as the island arc moved toward its endgame. Motives were questioned and secrets were revealed as the situation in D camp got progressively more grim. It was often clear what this episode was attempting to do, but less certain that it always achieved its goals. Either way, with tensions rising at the end of the sixth day, everything will be ending soon.
That whole “tension rising” thing was likely this episode's biggest failing. It was clear from this episode's structure that it wanted to be a pressure cooker episode, where things get worse and worse for the protagonists, and the audience is carried along by that rising tension. But issues of both narrative and execution consistently kept the episode from hitting its desired note of rising anxiety.
On a story front, perhaps the biggest issue was that all of class D's current issues are too low-stakes to inspire much concern. The panty thief issue was so clearly designed to sow discord in the class, but so inconsequential outside of that goal, that it felt like even the show itself forgot Ayanokoji was supposed to be finding the thief. This episode's additional arson case was a similarly lukewarm conflict - yeah, somebody burned the group's manual, but what does that really matter on the second-to-last day? Only this episode's loss of the class keycard felt truly momentous, and that was only revealed at the last moment.
Awkwardly spaced reveals further hampered this episode's dramatic pretensions. I've mentioned before how constructing a character around a twist makes it very difficult to invest in their problems, and that issue arose once again this week. Every time Ayanokoji took center stage, it felt clear that he had some sort of master plan, so nothing happening here was a true threat. It was smart of this episode to stage a large amount of its drama from Horikita's perspective, since not only was her developing illness a legitimately dangerous threat, but she also wasn't in on whatever game Ayanokoji was playing. But overall, this episode was heavy on waiting for obvious shoes to fall, be they Ayanokoji's master plan or Ibuki's sudden but inevitable betrayal.
Classroom of the Elite's aesthetic failings were a further notch against this episode's dramatic intent. I've generally come to accept that Classroom will not be a particularly beautiful or creatively composed production, but for an episode as reliant on tone as this one, the consistently flat shot framing and lethargic pacing resulted in some outright tonal sabotage. The show's lackluster music also didn't do the episode any favors, though I did appreciate the martial drum line that accompanied a couple big confrontations.
Still, it wasn't all bad. Focusing on Horikita was a very smart choice, something I wish the show did more often. Ayanokoji is more of a plot device than a character, but Horikita is a more defined person with well-articulated strengths and weaknesses. It's much easier to invest in her struggles and vulnerability than Ayanokoji's ineffability, so leaning on her voice is almost always a smart call. I also appreciated how this episode was constructed around the approach of a potentially serious storm - like Horikita's growing fever, that was a slow-building conflict that actually felt threatening. And even if Ibuki's betrayal was obvious (though presumably the person she was conspiring with was Ayanokoji, meaning we may get the rare double-betrayal reversal), Ibuki and Horikita's fight seriously benefited from some nice visual compositions and reasonable animation. This was a messy episode, but there's always a silver lining.
Classroom of the Elite is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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