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Spy Classroom
Episode 5

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Spy Classroom ?
Community score: 3.5


Okay, now this is just getting silly. I figured last week would be the one-off flashback that got us up to speed on Erna's whole deal now that the stabby little cat is out of the bag, but “File: Lamplight Days” is another episode that takes place before the Impossible Mission, and it somehow features even less character development than the last one! Just…why? Why would you ever organize a story like this?

Look, I get that part of the appeal of this show is the whole “Cute Spies Doing Cute Things” angle, and sure, we get a bunch of that this episode. Lily is coerced into a failed attempt to “seduce” Klaus by Thea that goes predictably sideways. Erna is grumpy at Annette because Erna's “bad luck” shtick makes her especially prone to fall prey to Annette's ridiculous traps. There are a bunch of bathhouse scenes and other gags that play into the show's penchant for…well, I guess you'd call it “fanservice”, even though Spy Classroom is, ironically, really bad at selling any of its sex factor. Point being, if you're here for the completely calorie-free slice-of-life side of the Spy Classroom equation, then this episode is fine, I guess. The bit where the girls try to cook Klaus a meal filled with food they think he's allergic to is kind of cute, though it's getting a little old for them to still be so shocked that the supernaturally talented super-spy would fail to fall for schemes as mediocre as “Stick Lily in a goofy-ass outfit to seduce him” or “Try to poison him with food he's maybe allergic to.”

That said, I'm sorry, but I simply cannot get over how bizarre this show's story pacing and sequencing have been. I'm not even complaining about the fact that the girls' eventual victory counts as a “spoiler” or anything; the problem is that putting this episode in this particular spot is completely asinine if we're meant to actually give a damn about what's happening on the most basic level of functional narrative. The closest thing this episode has to a running thread is the fact that Lily is worried that the Lamplight girls don't get along together well enough in order to succeed in their Impossible Mission. Nevermind the fact that we don't just know for a fact that they will succeed, but we've already seen the entire mission play out, so there isn't any dramatic tension in having a character fret over whether they can bond in time for the big day. What about the fact that, on an emotional level, the entire point of a frivolous little sequence of sketches like this is to endear us to this gang of misfits so that, when they inevitably succeed in the ways that the genre demands, we will get that glorious burst of dopamine that comes from watching the seeds of character development grow into fruition?

Even if I was the kind of guy to simply turn off his brain and uncritically consume a mushpile of filler like “File: Lamplight Days”, I couldn't even get a full meal's worth of cheap fun out of it because even the quick-and-easy satisfaction of this kind of slice-of-life fluff has been partially spoiled by the fact that the payoff already happened, back when I couldn't even appreciate it, because I knew even less about who these girls were and why I should care about them.

I'm not trying to say that Spy Classroom is terrible or anything; it's as perfectly serviceable as it has always been. It's just that I am convinced that everything that is good about this story would have been categorically improved if I had been able to experience even, like, 90 percent of it in order. We could even have cut all of the Erna stuff and saved that for one big goofy flashback after the fact, if preserving the twist of her existence was truly so necessary to Spy Classroom's success (though I really do not think it was). Right now, my biggest fear is that the rest of the season is just going to be nothing but flashback filler. I can only pray that I am proven wrong next week.


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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