The Summer 2015 Anime Preview Guide
How would you rate episode 1 of
Classroom Crisis ?
Kaito Sera is a teacher-slash-engineer at the prestigious Kirishina Corporation Academy, the education center of the interplanetary Kirishina Corporation. There, he oversees a class that includes his younger sister Mizuki, the deadpan but impulsive Iris, and a scattering of other (in Iris's words) obvious weirdoes. Sera's class isn't just any group of teenagers, though - his students are a handpicked selection of would-be engineers, scientists, and project managers, all working together on Kirishina's new experimental spacecraft. And when Sera hears his new “transfer student” has been taken hostage on a distant asteroid, his team leaps into action, demonstrating their skills in a high-stakes hostage rescue that ends in explosions, revelations, and some frankly inexcusable property damage.
Composed by the writer of 2013's excellent White Album 2, Classroom Crisis definitely knows how to tell a story. This first episode establishes its characters and premise quickly and gracefully, setting up a number of interpersonal dynamics within Sera's class while also letting the world emerge naturally one scene at a time. And in spite of all the setup this episode manages, it also tells a light and engaging one-episode story, full of twists and hooks and even some solid jokes. The class representative constantly wailing over how much their rescue operation is straining their budget is a great use of the “they're students, but they're also employees” premise, and characters like Iris lean halfway into archetypes but still manage to come off as more fully rounded people. The plot of this episode is ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in a very knowing and controlled way, somewhat similar to how a show like Code Geass handles its more absurd edges. Creating a good pilot story is a lot easier than creating a full show, but a good premise is a fine place to start.
The aesthetics aren't as strong as the storytelling, but they get the job done. The backgrounds and character designs are kind of bland, and the animation isn't terribly noteworthy, but the spaceflight scenes are pretty enough. The music is also worth mentioning, as the show's climax features a great song heavy on the violins and horns. But really, it's the writing that's propelling this one so far. Even within this first episode, there's a great deal of interesting ambiguity worth exploring in the nature of Sera's students, the ambiguous goals of the Kirishina Corporation, and the loyalties of the class's new “transfer student.” There's plenty worth diving into here, and if this show makes use of its premise, it could turn out to be a really fun ride.
Classroom Crisis is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Sometime in the future, Mars (and other planets) have been terraformed, allowing for people to live away from Earth. Different nations have set up “prefectures,” which appear to be large, domed cities, on different planets, and Japan has Tokyo 4 on Mars. In this city-state is A-Tec, a special school affiliated with what appears to be an aeronautics corporation where students...are workers? Apprentices in school uniforms? That's a bit unclear, but in any event, a new transfer student to a particular class/department has been kidnapped, and homeroom teacher/mechanical engineer Kaito Sena thinks his class can save the kid better than the bigwigs. Ace pilot and stereotypically soft-spoken/emotionless girl with silvery violet hair, Iris, heads out and saves him while destroying expensive machinery. Its all a bit confusing, and frankly, I feel like Classroom Crisis is a little over-ambitious.
Things start out promisingly enough, with an intense discussion about a kidnapping and a ransom between several elder businessmen, interspersed with scenes of high school girls adorably getting ready for school. While the conversation about the missing transfer student is kept up for a while, things quickly get derailed when we switch to a new, adult(ish) male character who fell asleep at work, but who is also a homeroom teacher at A-Tec. Somehow all of these plots get jumbled together in budget meetings and an ill-advised plan to save the missing student, culminating in a financial disaster, which is probably meant to be funny. Basically it misses the mark in terms of humor, cohesive storytelling, and genre-mashing, plus I really found it painful when Iris made the spectacularly poor decision to crash the expensive prototype she flew. Who decides to do that? And how was she planning to get home when she sloughed the wings off of her plane just because the landing gear was stuck?
There are some saving graces here, one of which is that there is no uniform youth to the cast, and that the older men really do look like they're old, not just young people with a paunch and grey hair. The gender parity of the engineering students is also really nice to see; I was afraid at first that this was an all-girls' school and would be about “special” girls who were engineers, but having it be an even co-ed mix is a very nice touch. There is a promising dynamic between the students and Kaito, and Iris and Kaito's sister Mizuki also have a good bond that the story can build on if it so chooses. Basically I felt that there was more promise in the people than the premise, which may eventually work in Classroom Crisis' favor.
While this episode didn't thrill me, and I did check the timer several times throughout, there are enough small things done well that I'm not willing to write it off...yet.
Review: Classroom Crisis is an anime-original series from the director of No. 6, the writer behind Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, and relatively new animation studio Lay-duce (their only previous credits are the Magi prequel OVA series and a 2014 series of shorts called Go!Go! 575). It is wholly different from anything in its pedigree, though, instead being a frenetically-paced sci fi series which doesn't bother to tell you until near the end of the first episode that it is actually set in a colony city on Mars called Fourth Tokyo. While it does do a pretty good job of feeding viewers the situation in bits and pieces and giving at least a general sense of the personality of everyone in the principal cast, the bigger concern here is whether or not the concept will actually work.
In this setting the Kirishina Corporation is the big dog, to the point that its sponsored Kirishina Technical Academy, and its teacher and the hand-picked group of students who attend it, are all effectively Kirishina employees. (This point applying to the students, too, is not made clear until the end of the episode, however.) So, in essence, I guess this is all supposed to be part of a work-study program? In any case, the gung-ho teacher Kaito Sera has just completed the prototype spaceship X-2 (a possible reference to the Bell X-2, one of the early supersonic aircraft) but has yet to actually test-fly it. That happens when he and the class learn that an expected new transfer student has been delayed in arriving because he is being held hostage on a mining asteroid by disgruntled miners seeking promised recompense. Hotshot Iris, who has made a habit of trying to set speed records to school using her scooter, takes the initiative to deliver the ransom using the X-2 (as any other way would not arrive on time), with everyone else eventually serving as support staff after getting over their initial shock over her having pulled the stunt unannounced. What they discover, though, is that the transfer student, one Nagisa Kiryu, is actually both the son of Kirishina's CEO and their nominal boss, and he is transferring into the class in order to ultimately downsize it for constantly running over budget.
So this is an even weirder concept than initial descriptions of the series made it out to be, one which is trying to find a delicate balance between a cast of eccentrics, a dynamic action flair, and (apparently) corporate shenanigans. Writer Fumiaki Maruto proved with Saekano that she could make tricky concepts work wonderfully well, so maybe she can pull some magic again to keep this together and humming along. The technical merits aren't bad, either, although they also do not stand out. Overall, the episode neither stumbles badly nor is fully engaging, hence an ambivalent reaction and grade.
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