Classroom of the Elite Episode 4
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Classroom of the Elite ?
Classroom of the Elite's fourth episode is titled “We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often ourselves.” A charitable interpretation of this quote would involve reflection on how full honesty is impossible in society and not even truly desirable. You might also dig into the fact that we often deceive ourselves most of all, or perhaps engage with the idea that our diverse perspectives mean there are often multiple valid truths to any given situation. You could even challenge the banal nature of this maxim, condemning it as simplistic moralizing that, devoid of context, has no real moral value.
But Classroom of the Elite is not really that level of show, so all it really means for this episode is “everybody lies, and lots of people even have a secret second personality.”
Classroom of the Elite's fourth episode continued the show's general downward trend, lacking pretty much any of the societal reflections that garnished its earlier episodes with at least the illusion of thematic depth. Instead, this episode was focused wholly on a fabricated Sudo conflict, where three members of Class C beat him up and then reported him to the faculty for beating them up. After Class D's teacher announced this new conflict, the rest of the episode was spent milling around looking for evidence to support Sudo, until we reached the point where Horikita revealed that their classmate Sakura had actually witnessed the fight.
Most of this episode was simply tedious, filling time as we waited for Sudo's new conflict to resolve itself. We've been given very little reason to care about Sudo so far, and not much reason to care about the fate of Class D altogether, so there wasn't much emotional weight to this conflict. On top of that, the fact that this conflict was introduced out of the blue means it all felt very arbitrary. We've seen these guys mess with Sudo before, but the sum of their conflict has always been “random thugs pick on Sudo for no reason,” and forcing the rest of Class D to rummage around for evidence did little to elevate this problem over just being conflict for conflict's sake. Smaller show conflicts need to have some meaningful grounding, be it thematic, character-based, or some contribution to a larger ongoing plot. The closest this episode got to justifying this issue was when Ayanokoji briefly talked about how your reputation often dictates your future fate - but that was just a couple lines near the end, and it didn't really make this conflict feel poignant in retrospect.
This episode also frustrated me with its awkward treatment of Kushida. The third episode ended on the big reveal that Kushida was actually hiding her real, much darker personality, but in the wake of that, she spent this entire episode back in bubblegum mode. I'd be fine with Kushida as an honestly upbeat person, and I'd be fine with a Kushida who uses her persona to get what she wants while secretly being driven by a much darker self. What I'm not fine with is split personality Kushida, where the actions of bubblegum Kushida imply that she doesn't actually possess any of the social awareness and cynicism she demonstrated last week. As I said last week, hiding major aspects of a key character from the viewer for the sake of a twist is generally bad storytelling, which made it impossible to emotionally invest in any of her choices this week.
But at this point, it doesn't really seem like Classroom of the Elite is interested in having complex characters. Horikita's a trope, Ayanokoji is a secretly perfect everyman, and all the other characters are either two-faced plot devices or one-note role fillers. Having more or less given up on this show turning out to be impressively good, I'm reaching the point where I mostly just hope it's entertainingly cheesy. On that front, this episode's sequence in an improbable student disco lounge, where one of the Class C lackeys was roughed up by a bouncer who actually says “bad boy” in English, was probably its most entertaining moment. Hopefully future episodes strive for more of that amusing silliness, instead of languishing in this episode's slow-paced tedium.
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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