Fires sharp, but without aim
I am sad for Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³ because it will never get a second season. I realize that’s a weird way to start off a review, but I feel I need to mention this straight away. C³bu managed to sell less than 300 copies of its first volume when it released last week. I don’t know what this show did that caused it to deserve such abysmal sales, because while there’s flaws in C³bu, there’s not flaws that are that grave. Sales like that should be reserved for the bottom of the worst stuff.
I’ve made it no secret I really like C³bu as a series. I gave the lead character Yura Yamato the award for being the best character this season of anime for the execution of her as a fleshed out and flawed human protagonist unlike anything else airing these months. I still stand by the 8,900 words I wrote about that and in many ways I didn’t want to write this review because I felt I got the most important things I wished to say about this show out of the way. Because she was the most important part of it all, the story of Yura is why I want people to watch this show.
The set-up for C³bu is that Yura Yamato have arrived at Stella Women’s Academy to attend High School. She feels alone and out of place and want to find somewhere she can fit in and she’s soon the target of the airsoft survival game club C³ (Command, Control, Communication) hoping to become their next member. After this she goes through a amazing character arc that is the finest example of character driven storytelling in years. But telling you what that story is would spoil the gravity and depth of it. So what I’ll do instead is talk about the other aspects of the show as best as I can. Just know that I absolutely recommend C³bu as a character piece. Now… when talking about it on other levels, we need to be a bit more rough on it. Because this show has a lot of problems.
When C³bu does humor, it tens to succeed. It’s a very funny show that nails the “Cute girls doing cute things” trope pretty well if you consider airstoft survival games cute. The shows direction does stumble when it tries to do action though, it can present tactical slow-paced action very well, but as soon as it tries to go for a more action-movie approach the show never manages to capture the excitement needed. Be it due to a lack of budget for flashy animation or just a bad case of direction.
The characterizations outside of Yura also leave a lot to be desired. While certain characters like Sonora and Rin gets their share of growth and back story, the rest of the titular C³ Club are mostly blank slates throughout.
Even Rento who is one of the most important characters in the storyline of the show because of her connection to Yura is left untouched outside of the first, ninth and tenth episodes. It’s like there was too much to adapt in too little time so they just cut out important elements.
This is in fact the big problem with C³bu. It wants to be too much at once and as such manages to accomplish a few great things at a cost of others. Animation quality is wasted too often for some scenes to look the way they do and it just comes off as sloppy and rushed. Maybe if the show was given a bigger budget, focus and a few more episodes it could have fixed these issues, but as it stands they are glaring.
The soundtrack for the show is amazing however. Action scenes are fitted with great jazzy tunes that add to the feeling and mood of the show really well. And when the show gets dark, so does the soundtrack and it does it well. The opening theme, “Shape My Story” by Anna Yano is a great song with lyrics that fit Yura’s story in a really good way. The ending theme “Hajikero! C³!” performed by the full cast of the C³ Club is great as well, being both funny and catchy.
Overall the voice-acting is stellar with Yui Makino providing Yura with a voice that delivers a chillingly good performance for each different thing that her character goes through. But my personal favorite has got to be Rima Nishizaki who debuts in this show as Rento Kirishima. The fact that this show’s sales might mean that she won’t do any job in the future makes me sad as she is, without doubt, my favorite voice performance this season. She has a very unique sound to her and it makes Rento one of the most entertaining characters this season too.
Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³ is a flawed show. But it’s a show that is held up by its strengths despite this. I understand that looking past all of the problems might be hard, but I urge you to do it. Because beneath the hard rocky surface lies some of the best stuff this season. I’m only hard on the show because I love it. I love it so much I am already planning to rewatch it all. Just don’t expect this to be Girls Und Panzer with airsoft guns.
This could have been a easy full score for me if some things were done just slightly better. As it stands, it’s a shame that it did as bad as it did because the story of Yura is enough reason that anyone who wants a good character story should need to watch this show.
Series Rating: 3/5 – Acknowledged Victory, at some Loss.
Sentai Filmworks have licensed the Full Series for US distribution in 2014.
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