by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Spy Classroom ?
Community score: 3.9
A perfect example is the way the developers of the recent Final Fantasy spin-off, Stranger of Paradise, were not at all prepared for the memes that its “Chaos" trailer generated overseas. While I can't speak to how the material fared to Japanese fans, it makes sense that such a weirdly edgy yet completely earnest riff on classic Final Fantasy tropes would amuse people so much because it's just so damned goofy. (For what it's worth, I haven't played the game yet. But I think it looks really fun).
This very extended preamble is all in service of the point I need to make about “Daughter Dearest IV,” which reflects my problem with the show as a whole: Spy Classroom can be stupid, and I'm not sure if it knows that about itself. Take, for instance, the opening scene of the episode. The reveal that Grete has been impersonating Klaus during this whole arc, in addition to playing the role of the assassin? That's fine. It functions as a part of luring Olivia out under her false hope of being able to kill the legendary “Bonfire." Then we get to the scene where Grete relays a supportive message from Klaus to the other girls using the man's voice like she's some kind of Flintsonian living voicemail machine. The sappy credits music plays while everyone regards this as a completely sane thing to happen. I nearly lost it, y'all; I almost choked on Cocoa Pebbles while watching the madness unfold.
Then there's Olivia's tragic backstory as a former depressed prostitute who screws her way into becoming Corpse's lover-apprentice. She is, of course, played with all of the subtlety of a theatrical Batman villain. This is another thing that could have played as a joke, given the heightened reality that Spy Classroom occupies. The show just had to go and position her as Grete's foil, which ends up feeling cheap and gross.
Olivia is the promiscuous femme fatale who convinced her beloved master to let her polish the old gun barrel. She even points her gun at Grete's virginal loins as she taunts her. Meanwhile, poor Grete is revealed to have lived her entire life unwanted and unloved, doomed to beg for physical intimacy from the man she adores as a reward for doing her job because of the horrid (read: Not actually that bad at all) birthmark that covers a part of her face!
Uh-huh. Sure. Even with the post-credits scene attempting to resolve Klaus' aromantic nature and Grete's unreciprocated feelings, it still feels unearned. It's cringy because it gives the impression that Spy Classroom wants us to take everything seriously. This is from the same show that tries to constantly one-up its own perceived cleverness with twist after twist, despite refusing to ever let us believe that its perfect harem of heroines is ever in any real danger. I cannot bring myself to care about Lily and Sibylla's sneaky ruse when it is proven that they can survive a fall from hundreds of feet off a sheet rock cliff with nary a scratch. Similarly, I find it difficult to care about the conflicts and triumphs of these characters when the show keeps reminding me that this is all a ridiculous cartoon world that occasionally demands to be treated like a real story with real stakes.
Spy Classroom is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.
Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.
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