Classroom of the Elite
Episode 9

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Classroom of the Elite ?

This week's Classroom of the Elite was likely the strongest episode since the first two, debuting the meat of its new arc with a rare and very welcome confidence. After a pair of episodes that saw the show dithering in fanservice and preamble, this episode doubled down on the show's core strengths, establishing the contest that will likely take up the rest of this season. Classroom of the Elite has often felt a bit like a lukewarm Lord of the Flies, and as it turns out, actually turning into Lord of the Flies was precisely what it needed.

This episode opened on a deserted island, as all the classes had the practical component of their exams fully explained. The nature of this conflict was satisfyingly complex but also clear and punchy, a trial that essentially acted as a microcosm of their everyday point-related struggles. Each class was given three hundred points, which they could use to buy supplies, but could also save and thus apply to their in-school fortunes. Additionally, the island would host a variety of special spots that classes could also claim for points - but only an elected class leader could claim a spot, and if any other classes found out your leader, they'd be able to claim an additional fifty points for themselves.

This week-long conflict combined a strong mix of game-style challenges and classic social conflict. The opening segment offered a solid example of the latter, where discussions between Class D students on how to use their points let some natural fault lines emerge between the students. In addition to exemplifying Classroom's general fascination with social discord, these sequences also did great work in fleshing out the class as a meaningful group of individuals, as opposed to just a bunch of background characters. Even Ike, the guy who just two episodes ago was riffed on as a non-entity, managed to gain some texture over the course of this episode.

This episode's jungle setting also let Classroom of the Elite stretch its visual muscles, a very welcome change. Though Classroom can occasionally pull off nice dramatic compositions, it's normally a visually conservative show, and the usual school setting tends to be rendered in flat, simple colors. By contrast, this new island setting offered plenty of rich colors, along with solid overall compositions making use of the dynamic terrain. And between the necessities of establishing camp and the conflicts with other classes, there was also a fair amount of action this episode, avoiding the show's usual tendency toward bland monologues.

Beyond its solid social drama and improved visuals, I was also happy to see this episode maintaining the show's infrequent but always-welcome deadpan humor. Ayanokoji is a very silly character, and this episode seemed to understand that. The sequence where Tarzan-lite Koenji went somersaulting off through the trees was really brought home through Ayanokoji's aggrieved reactions, which actually saw him getting visibly frustrated for perhaps the first time. The Ayanokoji dunks continued later when Horikita straight-up ignored his request for aid, which again contrasted his fundamental self-seriousness with the fact that nobody is actually required to take him seriously. Offering a mix of propulsive drama and occasional self-effacing levity, this episode was Classroom of the Elite at its best.

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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