Saturday, November 4, 2017

Classroom of the Elite Review

Classroom of the Elite Review

Warning: The following review may/will contain spoilers of the series Classroom of the Elite. If you wish to stay clear of what happens in the show's story, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched said show. Or, you know, you can take that warning with a grain of salt, and still read on anyway. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

I've mentioned this fact somewhere in my reviews (probably back when I first started), but aside from being a fan of anime, I'm also a fan of reading and books. It started with comics, graphic novels, and the shortest of chapter books when I was young, but I never really appreciated the hobby as a whole until I started reading young adult chapter books in my free time and not just for school. Divergent is what started it all, but has since expanded to a TON of novels.

I'm more interested in contemporary books nowadays (the ones that exist in our world and are more realistic), but my heart always has a soft spot for futuristic stories. Even though some of them are cookie-cutter and don't go beyond the checklist on how to make this kind of narrative, there are some good ones out there, whether in anime or books. That's where this show fits in.

Before starting Classroom of the Elite, I thought it was going to be the snarkiest thing I had ever watched. With the premise and the two leads' personalities in mind, the idea for a Wataru Watari and Mari Okada crossover did come to mind. After all, these two are prolific in making unlikable characters who bad-mouth literally everyone who walks into their lives.

Either way, I was interested to see where this show would lead. With many leaving with mixed reactions, I was hoping to land on the positive side of things. After all, I try to be optimistic in a form of media unless it's promised to be absolute trash. So, what'd I get?

Well, I didn't get what I was expecting in terms of tone. Classroom of the Elite wasn't a sheer snark-fest. Rather, it investigated its school and students with a keen eye, moving like a novel (which is ironic, considering the source material for this show is light novels), building up interest, developing most of its core cast (also strange), having great animation, a dope OST, good voice acting, and being an enjoyable series to binge in a little over a week. Yes, four day weekends did prove to be useful again. Thanks, school district!

I still wished that one element didn't intrude into the series as much (pointless fanservice), because that way, this would have been perfect. Alas, we don't always get what we want. This is a LN adaptation after all. We're used to this kind of stuff. Other than that, though, this was surprisingly great.

Let's talk about the story:


In a not so distant future, the Japanese government has developed the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School. The school is dedicated to training the future leaders of Japan with high education and ample job opportunities. However, what they don't tell you on the tin is that the school is divided into four classes, all letter-ranked, from A to D. A has the best performing and behaved teens, and D has the students who behave badly and perform lower than average. If a student also has a weakness in their personality, yeah, no A for you.

At the start of a new school year, students fill the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School's halls, one being Kiyotaka Ayanokoji, an emotionless soul who doesn't seem to react to a whole lot. He is put into Class D, along with Suzune Horikita, an ice queen, Kikyo Kushida, a happy soul who could be hiding dark desires. and other students who range from a shy photographer, an aspiring pro basketball player, and slackers.

At the beginning of April, their homeroom teacher, Mrs. Chabashira, allots them 100,000 points to use at local stores, where they can get extra essentials for their stay as long as they use them wisely. They are promised a new set of 100,000 per month, but when May rolls around and those aren't distributed, it's revealed that the students were being watched all along. With high cell phone usage in class, slacking off, low test scores, and breezing through their points on average, Class D proved their name all right.

But it's not all bad news. As long as Class D improves on their exams, they will be able to outplace Class C, and could eventually go on to hit Class A. But there's a catch: anyone who fails the next test will be expelled. With that warning in mind, they're left to deal with this shocking news.

Believing she has been placed in Class D by mistake, Suzune decides to recruit Kiyotaka to help her raise Class D so that she can worm her way up to Class A. As one student from Class D is almost expelled twice, we as viewers get a more expansive look at the school's hierarchy, and as some students are shown not to be dangerous, others are. When a "fun vacation" on a cruise ship turns out to plop everyone on a island for an annual Survive in the Wilderness test, it's anyone's game. Will Class D manage to rise from the ashes and show that they are not completely useless? Or will plotting get in the way?

This show's plot really surprised me. It flowed seamlessly like reading a book, each episode feeling like a chapter in a big story. Again, it's ironic, considering the source material, but even though I've watched other LN-based adaptations (plus read a few of them from series I've watched in the past, courtesy of Yen Press), this is the one where it feels like a novel the most. Everything fits together very well, the pace is perfect, the content is engaging enough that I don't see a lot of people becoming bored with it (outside of the pool episode), and I just enjoyed watching it. It's clear the original writer (Shougo Kinugasa) put a lot of thought into this world, and the adapters put a lot of effort into creating it for the screen. It's a win-win scenario.

We get a glimpse into each class of the school, and they're all equally fascinating. From Class A's head imbalance, to Class B's steadiness, to Class C's mafia-like run, and to Class D's seemingly normal structure, we get to see the students interacting outside of their classrooms and I liked it a lot. No one's a hero, but there are very few villains; it's clear that the main adversary is the head of Class C, Ryuuen, but seeing how the students have their own secrets is pretty cool and I like how they're not just limited to Class D.

Granted, I could have done without all of the pointless fanservice, because there was a lot of it, such as a plot to peep into the girl's locker room when the classes all go to the pool (because of course), and someone stealing a pair of panties from a girl's bag during the survival test (because of course, though we never find out who did that in the chaos of everything else), but I shouldn't have expected that to go away. It's a light novel series published towards men, after all; there has to be some action to reel them in outside of the story, which is far more interesting.

The cherry on top of the milkshake is Ayanokoji himself. When the series starts, he appears to be secretive and emotionless, but more questions are raised as the series goes on. Why does he not like the spotlight? Why does he seem to get the same results on his tests? Why does he work with Suzune with no objections? And more importantly, what happened to him in the past that made him this way?

So many questions, and this show does an amazing job at slipping details in that leave you wanting more. It's not a full circle like some will want, but it's satisfying enough that you'll get some answers/make some assumptions about why Ayanokoji acts the way he does. You may even find out his motivation!

Enough hints? All right, time to go on to:


In the recent reviews I've done (unless it's a harem), I've done a good job at keeping my character limit consistent, which is six. Considering that I want to touch upon the three leads, along with characters that managed to get a good chuck of focus placed on them, it seems that lucky number will come back again.

Boy, are there a lot of good ones. While some will be developed thoroughly later down the line, we got to see various characters that other series wouldn't even bother touching. Yes, they even go beyond specific tropes. WHAT IS THIS SHOW? Not like most, that's what.

Let's first talk about our leading man, Ayanokoji:

Unmotivated to do anything and typically blank-faced, Ayanokoji doesn't communicate well with others. He's also a pretty mediocre student, hence why he was placed in Class D to begin with. You may just write him off now, but I wouldn't do that. There's more to this guy than meets the eye.

For starters, despite being a blah student, there's a pattern to these scores: the number 50. As in, he seems to get 50 out of 100 every time he does a test. Now you may think that's strange, or brush it off as a coincidence, but then it gets stranger.

Ayanokoji also seems to be an excellent mastermind, coming up with plans that are pitch-perfect in their thought process and execution,. allowing others (mainly Suzune) to help with them, and slinking back into the shadows so they can take the credit. "I don't want the attention," he claims. "It's too unnerving."

But how can Ayanokoji bend the school rules so well, why is his body defined more if he claims he didn't do sports as a kid (aside from just going through puberty), why is Mrs. Chabashira asking Suzune to be on guard around him, and what's with the flashbacks? Who exactly is Ayanokoji, and how he is so damn perfect at being a mastermind?

One characters comes to mind when other viewers have talked about Ayanokoji, that being Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, which I reviewed three years ago (at least the first season). Both of them are pretty deadpan and don't take anything seriously, yet while I like both, I personally find Ayanokoji more interesting. After all, this show was more entertaining as a whole, plus was futuristic. Guilty pleasures incoming!

But back to the man of the hour, this is probably the most developed main character I've seen this year in anime. Heine had his backstory, but Ayanokoji is like a matryoshka doll. HE'S GOT LAYERS UPON LAYERS OF DEPTH! KINUGASA PLAYED NO GAMES! It's incredibly fascinating to see Ayanokoji interact with others as the show goes on, and getting little sneak peaks on his upbringing was a real treat. It's made clear that he's in Class D for a reason, despite having the power to be in Class A if only he allowed himself to. I wonder why?

I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say that a inner monologue said in the final episode made me giddy with glee.


Can we have more MC's like this, please? You know, the ones who aren't bland or perverts or both and actually have common sense rather than being as satisfying as paste? Because Ayanokoji is a total boss, and these are the LN boys I LIKE TO SEE!

Moving on to Suzune:

Suzune is Class D's local ice queen, unfriendly and aloof. While she does bond with Ayanokoji (they have similar dispositions), she would rather meet him alone if trying to discuss something. This is the reason why she ended up in Class D, despite being a very smart student.

Her older brother, Manabu, the student council president, distances himself from her because he is ashamed that his sister's personality got her in Class D in the first place. Wanting to prove her brother wrong and thinking she was placed in the class by mistake, Suzune wishes to advance to Class A, and perhaps she can find an ally in Ayanokoji.

Ah, Suzune was a fun character. She does have an attitude, but she grows to trust Ayanokoji in a sense where she can let that go, despite knowing there's more to him and being thrown into the wild for some of his schemes. While she also admits that she isn't better then her classmates when faced with a serious problem, her guard drops more as the series goes on. 

It's not all the way gone, but I doubt the same girl who figured out she was set up immediately when Ayanokoji was asked by Kushida to try to let the other girl open up (not the best third impression), outright said no when Ayanokoji was able to get The Three Fools in a study group thanks to Kushida, and when noticing shoes on Ayanokoji's dorm room floor when trying to think up ways to battle Ken's second expulsion, said she was leaving. Don't forget the time when she stabbed Ayanokoji with a compass!

But in all seriousness, would the same girl admit that she's grown to Ayanokoji (not romantically) and sees him as an ally by the end of the series? Not a chance. Poor girl needs to realize that she's being used, though. Other than that, Suzune's initial disposition was funny yet frozen solid, but her growth was the real upside.

Now time for Kushida:

Kushida is very well-liked in her class, as everyone is charmed by her looks and personality. Her goal is to become friends with everyone in Class D and beyond! Underneath this exterior, however, is a girl who is violent and ill-tempered. In this personality, she reveals that she envies Suzune to the point of wanting to kill her. This is strange, considering her philosophy outside of that, but all right.

Ayanokoji becomes acquainted with the alternate personality following a party to celebrate the two being able to not get Ken expelled for the first time when Kushida leaves her phone behind. As Ayanokoji goes to give it back to her, he notices her not walking back to the female dorms. He then continues to follow her until she gets to a railing, where she reveals how much she hates Suzune. When Kushida notices Ayanokoji there, she tells him to not tell anyone about her secret, unless he wants to be accused of sexually assaulting her. Her evidence if Ayanokoji spills the tea? Fingerprints on her uniform where her left boob is. Since he's a good secret keeper, it's safe with him. 

Well, until it's revealed later on to everyone else. This is a light novel series after all; it's bound to happen.

Kushida was another character trope that was flipped on its nose in terms of these adaptations. One female character in a main ensemble tends to have the Happy Go Lucky archetype, and it didn't surprise me to see Kushida having that. To see she had additional characteristics beyond that (around the time Episode 3 aired) was stunning. It also isn't conveniently dropped, as that dark personality comes back in Episode 8 and slightly in 12. Again, characters like these are hard to come by, so seeing them makes me excited for what future adaptations of LN's will hold. We're far past the formulaic stage, and thank god for that.

Let's move on to the side characters that managed to impress me the most, starting with another member of Class D, Sakura:

Sakura was placed into Class D due to not communicating well with her fellow classmates, but for different reasons then Suzune. While Suzune is just ice cold, Sakura is very shy. She is nervous in large group settings, and prefers to be alone with her camera. She becomes the only witness to the incident regarding Ken's second attempt at getting expelled, as she was taking pictures of herself in the same building when the incident happened. However, it takes convincing to get her to offer up testimony, and while it doesn't give Class D the clear advantage, it does bring the case to a stalemate.

The reason as to why Sakura takes pictures of herself is because she is a gravure idol, a female model who poses for men's magazines, photo-books, or DVDs, with poses that range on the sensual side but not going past coy (an interesting fact is that Sakura's seiyuu, M.A.O., has done a few gravure idol DVD's). Her development revolves around an electronics store worker who has been stalking her, such as watching her with cameras when she came into the shop he worked at to get her camera fixed (after Sakura accidentally dropped it when Kushida asked if the former could provide evidence for Ken's case), and harassing her with love letters and texts to the point where she is on edge. 

During Episode 6, while the sun is setting in the sky, he jumps her in an alley and tries to force himself on her, declaring his undying love for her idol self (named Shizuku). Before she is attacked, she calls Ayanokoji, who then enlists the help of Ichinose to find her, using the tracking device in his phone after exchanging contact information with the former girl, along with the security cameras near the scene of the attack (he also takes a picture of the guy trying to strip Sakura on his phone as additional evidence). Due to saving her, Sakura feels indebted to Ayanokoji and starts to develop romantic feelings for him.

Yeah, I guess we have 3 love interests now, but does anyone care about the ship wars here? Because I don't.

Regardless, I liked Sakura. Her story arc was very compelling, and she was able to break out of her shell around Ayanokoji. She's still shy in big group conversations, but when she's around Ayanokoji, she's more comfortable to the point where Ayanokoji could consider her a friend if he wanted to. I'm not the most informed on Japanese idol culture (despite going to a panel at my local anime convention last year and watching some idol anime), but seeing a character working as a secret gravure idol was fascinating (even though they didn't directly state it in the show outside of just idol). I remember seeing one seiyuu from the ICONIC OVA Eiken worked as one, but having a character in a series be one is another thing entirely. I'm interested to see if the same thing exists for women audiences in Japan, or if it's more raw sexuality.

Time to move on to Ichinose:

Ichinose is in Class B. Despite her high class-standing, she is very sweet and down-to-earth with lower-ranked classmates, even though it's common policy to be looked down upon. She bonds with Ayanokoji when she asks him to help her with a love confession from one of her female classmates. The latter than talks with Class B to help put out messages regarding anyone potentially knowing information about an attack that has been referenced several times throughout this review. When doing so, Ayanokoji discovers that Ichinose's point balance is far too high, having obtained a good bit of private points. How did she get all of them? And what is her motivation in using them?

Well, you can find that out if you look on Wikipedia, but the anime doesn't go that far. Regardless, it's a pretty interesting reason I think could shock a lot of you.

Anyways, Ichinose is another great character. Getting to see glimpses of her personality was pretty nice, as she may be good-matured and innocent, but she does have secrets. I liked how she doesn't simply view others in lower classes as inferior, like most people would do, and is similar to Kushida in the fact she wants to be friends with most of the people she meets. It's really sweet and makes her not as corrupt as some of the other notorious students from the school.

Now time for the unexpected favorite out of the side characters (in both likability and focus), Ken:

Not a screenshot I wanted, but meh. It works anyways.

Wait, I think a brief intermission is starting. Please stand by:

Me at Episode 6 of the anime: Hey, Classroom of the Elite, I'm surprised that you're managing to develop this character that I just dismissed as pure fodder in the beginning.

Classroom of the Elite: Yeah, but you love it.

Me: Right, that is true.

I was not expecting to grow to Ken (full name Ken Sudo) as much as I did throughout this show's run. Ayanokoji is my favorite (probably like many others), but I couldn't help but grow to Ken as well. Starting off as a member of Class D's Three Fools, Ken is short-tempered and not intelligent, preferring to play basketball rather than study. These two traits cause him to get into trouble while at school, almost being expelled twice. Once is for scoring below the minimum score on the exams where classmates could get expelled, and another is for fighting Class C students where he was claimed to start the brawl. Ayanokoji and Suzune do offer their assistance both times, which causes him to not get expelled, and as such, his demeanor has softened to where his explosions aren't as bad.

He and Suzune also got off on bad terms, as she insulted his dream to become a pro basketball player (she thought it was foolish). However, she does clear the air, and Ken gets a crush on her following him not getting kicked out. This is noted when The Three Fools are talking about the girls they like and when Ken asks Ayanokoji what Suzune's given name is (as he's only called her by her last name, Horikawa). It's pretty funny and adorable, especially when one of them, Ike, leads his confession to Kushida to where he can refer to her as Kikyo.

Also, he's voiced by Brandon McInnis in the dub, and I'm starting to really grow on Brandon McInnis. Samon Goku will do that to you. 

Ah, the monkey boys are so nice.

So, yeah, Ken was good. Out of all of the side characters in Class D, he was the one who got the most focus, and I didn't mind. I liked seeing more to him outside of "Self introductions are for babies" and his sass talk. His friends are lovable goofballs, and I do like how he grew to trust our two leads because, hey, in a sense, they do care about him and saved his ass on two occasions. Apparently his bond with Ayanokoji runs deeper in the LN (not romantically, mind you), and if we get more of this anime (which I seriously doubt), hopefully we'll see more of that, because this guy is quite precious.

Other characters include Yosuke Hirata, Kei Karuizawa, Rokusuke Kouenji, Kanji Ike, and Haruki Yamauchi, fellow classmates of Class D. Yosuke is good-natured and intelligent, Kei is the former's girlfriend (though the LN will later indicate that their relationship is apparently a ruse), Rokusuke is a narcissist from a rich family, and Ike and Haruki are a part of The Three Fools, both liking video games and girls, though the former's experience with camping is appreciated during the survival test. 

Then we have Class C, whose prominent members are Kakeru Ryuuen and Mio Ibuki. Ryuuen is the ruthless leader of Class C, while Ibuki is one of his latchkeys, despite not liking how the former runs things. For Class B, there's Ryuuji Kanzaki, who is Ichinose's right-hand man. And finally, for Class A, Alice Sakayanagi and Kouhei Katsuragi are our prominent members. Alice is typically seen walking with a cane and Kouhei has the bald head. Both are pretty smart and are good leader types, hence why there's some tension between them.

We then have Manabu and Akane of the student council, plus Mrs. Chabashira and Mrs. Hoshinomiya, who are the teachers of Class D and B respectively.


The animation for this series was produced by Lerche, who are also known for their work on shows such as Monster Musume, Scum's Wish, and Unbreakable Machine Doll.

Overall, I thought the animation for this series was quite good. At some points, it did falter a bit, but it stayed mostly consistent and popped from the screen thanks to its lush coloring. All of the characters looked really good design-wise, and I especially liked the detail to lighting when the time of day changed. It also gave a focus on a dead butterfly being picked apart by bugs during a scene in Episode 4 during a discussion between Ayanokoji and Kushida, regarding how in most murders between two suspects, most people believe that a well-behaving member of society would be less innocent compared to someone who has committed crimes before.

Still not sure whether I should applaud Lerche for being clever or applaud them for unsettling me. Whichever works.

But one thing that I wasn't a big fan of was the fanservice. Again, this is a LN adaptation, which means that it's going to be present regardless, but at most times, it felt so unnecessarily jarring. You have a good story here, Classroom of the Elite, and being remembered for a lot of TNA isn't going to work in the long run. I don't want to see Class B's teacher massaged on the cruise ship topless, nor do I want to see her or Ichinose's crotches, please and thank you.

Although, seeing the guys in swimsuits did counteract that a bit. I especially liked seeing Ken's defined abs.


Sorry, I just had to appreciate that for a second. Again, it's not every day where you get to see boys in swimsuits and the animators show you more than just no shirts, no shoes, and I still get service.

Wrapping this up, though, I liked the show's animation even with its faults. Lerche has typically been a consistent studio, and I'm glad they're keeping up the good work. Still want to get to Danganronpa, as that looks to be their best, but that'll be another day.


The score for this series was composed by Ryo Takahashi, who is also known for his contributions to ACCA, the currently airing (at the time of this review) Code:Realize: Guardian of Rebirth, and Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars.

I don't know what's going on currently, but I keep on finding bomb AF anime OST's. Classroom of the Elite is easily one of them, especially for this being the first time I've heard Takahashi's work on a score he's led. This one reminded me of Qualidea Code's, what with its electronic flair, mystery, intrigue, and occasional hype. Granted, there isn't any epic battle music, but there was one piece that only played in two episodes (2 and 6) that I became deeply attached to. As of the time of this writing, the soundtrack release coincides with the last DVD/Blu-Ray release, which is in January of next year. Thankfully, my memory's a strong one, so knowing me when I sit down to listen to it, I'll be able to recall pieces as they pop up.


JK I loved it.

The voice acting is also pretty good. I remember being pretty happy to see that Akari Kito was on the cast list, since she played Aryabhata in Taboo Tattoo and I loved her there (then again, I love the character, too). Her tone as Suzune is very similar to her "breakout" role, but it's definitely more composed. Regardless, she plays her character very well.

Same goes with Shoya Chiba, whose Ayanokoji is incredibly deadpan and nonchalant and gives me life. But then again, I don't have a lot to complain about here, with Yurika Kubo's vocal switch as Kushida being marginally different, Rina Sato tapping for a more mature side to play Mrs. Chabashira, and Masaki Mizunaka giving his best Daisuke Ono crossed with Ryota Takeuchi impression to create an intimidating Ryuuen. It's a nice package all around.

I've seen bits of the dub, but I am planning on watching it eventually. It sounds good so far, and I'm interested to see what the cast will bring under promising direction from Apphia Yu.

Highlights from the original Japanese are Shoya Chiba, Akari Kito, Yurika Kubo, M.A.O, Ayana Taketatsu, Ryota Osaka, Toshiki Iwasawa, Eiji Takeuchi, Daiki Abe, Masaaki Mizunaka, Mikako Komatsu, Nao Toyama, Rina Hidaka, Satoshi Hino, Yuichiro Umehara, and Rina Sato.


This show turned out to be more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Granted, there was a bunch of fanservice that didn't belong, but everything else held my attention and hidden strength. The story and characters took a few turns I didn't expect, and hopefully with more LN adaptations come stronger characters and great plot lines. Well, unless the "little sister" trend starts to take off. Then we're all f**ked.

For viewers I'd recommend this show to, I'd say those who like high-stakes drama in a school setting, people who love to expect the unexpected, want to see something that's very akin to reading a book, or those who want to see a main character that's like Ayanokoji. Because there isn't one I know who's quite like him.

Score: 9/10


Engaging story.

Pace is very reminiscent of a book; won't leave you bored.


Characters are better developed than they have any right to be.

Nice animation.

Moderate manservice I needed in my life.

Awesome OST.

Good voice acting.

The last scene.


Too much fanservice.