Classroom of the Elite
Episode 12

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Classroom of the Elite ?

Classroom of the Elite came to a perfectly satisfying close this week, smartly tying off its final arc while leaving open a number of intriguing sequel hooks. This episode managed a tricky balance, simultaneously coming off as both a conclusive ending and the opening act of a much larger drama. I can't say I enjoyed the show enough overall to be on board for a sequel, but I was very happy to see it end well.

This episode's fortunes rested almost entirely on how satisfying the final twists of the island drama would play out, and Classroom definitely succeeded there. As it turned out, there were actually three levels of conspiracies going on, each of which invalidated the previous one. The most wide-ranging conspiracy involved Ryuen and Katsuragi. In return for eventually giving Ryuen mountains of points back at school, Ryuen agreed to work with Class A, using his obvious spies to sow discord and make sure Katsuragi could guess the correct leaders. One level up from that conspiracy, Ryuen was actually planning to guess all three leaders himself, thus knocking out everyone else's bonus points.

But of course, Ayanokoji's own plan prevailed in the end. As it turned out, Ayanokoji actually used Ibuki's obvious treachery to lead his opponents into a trap. Instead of outright confronting or attempting to stop Ibuki like Horikita did, Ayanokoji enabled her to get all the information she was looking for. Then, once Ibuki had “succeeded” in her mission, Ayanokoji used Horikita's poor health to force a switch in group leadership. By shifting the leadership, Ayanokoji sabotaged both C and A, leaving B alone because, as he put it, “their current alliance is more valuable to us.”

Ayanokoji's plan embodied the ruthlessness of both his character and Classroom of the Elite's general philosophy. Actually letting Ibuki succeed in her goals was a far more clever tactic than either of the other contenders' games, and Ayanokoji's willingness to use his own classmates' grief and panic firmly underlined his true distance from the group. Though Horikita ultimately saw his choices as “helping her,” that judgment was likely clouded by her own ambitions and fondness for Ayanokoji. In truth, his attitudes were most clearly revealed through the fact that he actively provoked Horikita's fever in order to use her body as a bargaining chip.

Classroom of the Elite is at its best when it revels in its tactical games, and this arc's conflict was easily the most well-executed and satisfyingly concluded. On top of that, there were also a fair number of solid character beats here, from Hirata's desperation to an actual moment of honest vulnerability from Kushida. And in the end, we even got a taste of Ayanokoji's inevitable villainous turn. From its nicely directed individual scenes (I particularly liked the sequence of Katsuragi getting hounded like some disgraced politician) to its larger story beats, this episode ended Classroom of the Elite on its best possible foot. It's been a bumpy ride, but I'm always happy to see a show end strong.

Overall: A-

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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