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Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e – 01

「悪とは何か――弱さから生ずるすべてのものだ。」 (Aku to wa Nani ka? Yowa sa Kara Shouzuru Subete no Mono da.)
“What is Evil? Whatever Springs From Weakness.”

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. A lesson to live by.

Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e—or Youzitsu, as I will subsequently refer to it as, because jeez these titles are getting out of control—is a story about the meritocracy on steroids. It’s also a show that I’m simultaneously interested in and worried about. I feel like this story shows flashes of brilliance, and not in the backhanded compliment kind of way that says “the rest is shit”; the rest is a cipher. I feel like this show could be very good or very bad, and it’s a tricky proposition to guess which way it will go, because if this first episode is anything to go by, the story will be told about as well as this story can be told. What it will come down to is whether the story is broken or not.

Let’s take a step back. The natural comparisons to this show are BakaTest and AssClass, but there’s something crucial about them that’s lacking in this series: they’re not serious. Or they’re not serious all the time, at least. The absurdity of Ansatsu Kyoushitsu serves to sneak the serious subject matter in under your radar until it can deliver it’s payload of feels, thoughts, or lessons for characters and audience alike. Likewise, BakaTest takes a school system that, by any objective measure, is horrible and counterproductive, and turns the whole thing into a delightful farce. Youzitsu does neither of these, and it exposes the audience to the unvarnished truth of the situation without anything to lighten the load: that this school is bull$#*%. Forcing students to play a game without telling them the rules isn’t fair.

And yet, compared to what the students in AssClass or BakaTest had to endure, being short on cash—if you were unwise enough to spend it all, because not all were, as the credits show—doesn’t seem so bad. It’s certainly going to be rough for the next month for those who spent too freely, but if that’s all it is, that’s not so bad. In fact, there’s an argument to be made for using cash to incentivize students to learn, something that’s being tried in various settings in the real world right now. The social sciences run experiments too, after all.

This isn’t all that’s going to happen to the students of Class 1-D, is it? Oh my.

So the central premise of taking what has previously been treated as satire or farce, and taking it seriously, is an experiment whose success I don’t know. I’m worried, but I’m also interested. The same can be for main character Ayanokouji Kiyotaka (Chiba Shouya) and co-main Horikita Suzune (Kito Akari). Neither is likeable, and I don’t just say that in the “They’re not nice people!” kind of way. Fuck that, I’m fine with unlikable characters, I’ll watch shows with pure bastards if those bastards are interesting.

And that’s the key. Kiyotaka starts out so damn uninterested in everything that’s going on around him that I found it hard to be interested in him. Initially. Then wants-to-be-friends-with-everyone girl Kushida Kikyou (Kubo Yurika)—side note: calm down, girl. Friends aren’t pokemon to collect—recruited him to lure Suzune to the cafe so she could friend-ambush her, and I realized that Kiyotaka is oddly daring for such a laid-back guy. He also admits his screw-ups, though he also doesn’t do anything to fix them. Uncaring characters like Kiyotaka are hard to do right, because that passivity is poison to audiences, and the same can be said of Suzune as well. The glimpses of maybe something else, though, make me interested, even if I remain unsure.

Which may as well be my appraisal of this first episode. The storyteller in me is interested in this series, because I see it as trying to do several things that seem not all that difficult, maybe even natural and/or derivative, but are actually much more difficult than they seem. The viewer in me is interested too, though not as much—though, still enough to watch a second episode. This here show is a conundrum to me, and definitely one I’m going to need another episode or two to get a handle on. Until then, I’ll say that I’m interested. The real test begins now.

Random thoughts:

  • “I have no interest in contributing to society.” Seriously? THIS is the hill you decide to die on? This mofo pissed me off inside of minute two. Still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but damn if it wasn’t effective.
  • The wonk in me hears 100% employment and college entry rate, and remembers that even “full employment” isn’t 100%. There has to be some churn. Probably that’s author ignorance, but it sounds like they’re forcing people to get jobs and/or go to college to me. Which, given the rest of the episode, might be what happens.
  • Kiyotaka noticing the camera and picking up the trash can is a nice little moment of character. They aren’t portraying him as a good person, but he is a perceptive one.
  • Anything, within the realm of reason, can be bought on campus using points. Whose reason are we using here? Seems like an important question to me.
  • I gotta side with Suzune against Kikyou. Just because she would be lonely doesn’t mean Suzune would be. Perhaps she prefers to be alone, which is fine. Though, even as I say that, humans are social animals, and having a social life (of some kind) is instrumental to nearly EVERY human’s happiness. That doesn’t mean it can be forced, though.
  • There’s a lot of pointed camera placement in this show. They’re not showing their eyes for a reason. The characters are hiding, from themselves as much as others.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for exclusive content. At stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: I get it now!; Guardians of the Galaxy, Glee, & Firesign; That’s not supposed to go there . . .; and The Carcer Principle.

 

OP Sequence

OP: 「カーストルーム」 (Caste Room) by ZAQ

Preview

July 13, 2017 at 2:20 am
40 comments »
  • July 13, 2017 at 3:34 amSMinstrel

    I’ve read the source light novel – it is quite good, and good source novel is a prerequisite for good anime adaption (barring rare exceptions where anime adaption surpassed its source). So unless the studio rushed the story or f**ked something up, expect this anime to be great.

  • July 13, 2017 at 3:51 amJeffers

    Its definitely like bakatest but much more serious. And I was kinda expecting ugly things to happen after they, those who spend without control realized that they dont have money to spend for a one whole month. Some of the bad I see to happen are bullying those who still have pts, or faking a friendship just to take advantage of the person who still have pts. There are already a number of marked characters whom will definitely show some hostilities to the MCs. And there`s this higher class sections that will surely look down to those in lower section. So I wonder how this anime will turn out. Are we to see a epic shaming of higher section by the male MC since i see that he is kind of like hikigaya hachiman, can analyze situation and think the solution even extreme.

  • July 13, 2017 at 4:00 amYantos

    I agree that this show has promise but there are lots of things to be worried about. Mainly:

    1. The characters – they seem too one-dimensional. Hopefully they will get fleshed out. I especially hope there is more depth to the MC. Also there is something off with the happy “make friends with everyone” girl – she comes off as manipulative. As of episode 1. she is the only one that shows promise that there is more to her than what is seen on the surface. I would be severely disappointed if she yet is another cliche cute goodie two shoes.

    2. The premise – that is my biggest gripe with the series at the moment. Meritocracy is interesting to explore and would work if all students were evaluated and punished/rewarded separately. But it seems that because of some rotten apples in the class everyone got punished – even the MC and Horikita-san who seemed to be paying attention in class. This unfair system is closer to communism and in no way meritocratic. The teacher even called all of them trash. Really? All of them? Bad at teaching much?

    Well, the 3 episode rule is there for a reason. Wait and see.

    • July 13, 2017 at 12:00 pmStilts

      I don’t think they’re all as one-dimensional as I’ve seen in some other premieres—those hints of maybe something more are key—but it is just the premiere. If they’re still one-dimensional in two more episodes, then we’ve got a problem IMO.

    • July 13, 2017 at 5:07 pmLoliHat

      2. The premise – that is my biggest gripe with the series at the moment. Meritocracy is interesting to explore and would work if all students were evaluated and punished/rewarded separately. But it seems that because of some rotten apples in the class everyone got punished – even the MC and Horikita-san who seemed to be paying attention in class. This unfair system is closer to communism and in no way meritocratic. The teacher even called all of them trash. Really? All of them? Bad at teaching much?

      It’s about collective responsibility… and reward.

      The point of the points being (not) distributed due to sharing the failure is to use class’ social pressure to get the kids in line and to conform to acting like proper students. Considering that even the D class is the creme de la creme of the country, this system would serve to reform them via peer pressure.

      One question I have, is will the A through C classes be dinged for bullying, thus encouraging collective peer pressure for the better, or will this devolve into another Darwinistic “strong crushing the weak” school show. While the later could be good, a focus on the former could make this a very different high school setting show.

  • July 13, 2017 at 4:51 ammaou

    http://randomc.net/image/Youkoso%20Jitsuryoku%20Shijou%20Shugi%20no%20Kyoushitsu%20e/Youkoso%20Jitsuryoku%20Shijou%20Shugi%20no%20Kyoushitsu%20e%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2002.jpg

    just try this IRL, i bet if you’re not a woman and not an oldman, i bet you will lose a couple of teeth at least in my country hahaha

    hmm the girls remind me of oregairu yukino and yui

    http://randomc.net/image/Youkoso%20Jitsuryoku%20Shijou%20Shugi%20no%20Kyoushitsu%20e/Youkoso%20Jitsuryoku%20Shijou%20Shugi%20no%20Kyoushitsu%20e%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2011.jpg

    even the teacher was sexy to like hiratsuka-sensei

    but the mc remind me of hyouka hotarou and the premise remind me of bakatest+shokugeki no souma.

    i think this will be worthwhile to watch.

    • July 13, 2017 at 10:05 amSMinstrel

      The point is that he actually has a point, even though he is still a bastard mofo.

      Yes, giving your seat to the elderly is expected and is basic human decency/courtesy, but he is under no obligation – by law or otherwise, to do that. You can’t force people to help people against their will, after all.

      OTOH, if someone really did punch him, HE will be breaking the law.

      That scene, while blood-boiling, actually foretell what kind of school they’re about to enter.

      Still a bastard, though.

      • July 13, 2017 at 12:03 pmStilts

        Saying that he’s “technically” right is almost not worth mentioning. Of course he’s technically right. What’s important is that he’s a spoiled, shitty, selfish bastard. We can’t always codify human decency, but we sure can shame the %&#@*$ who reject it.

      • July 13, 2017 at 12:03 pma2222222222

        You actually can the bus is the property of the transit company and if they have a rule that says give priority to elderly and handicap violating that can result in trespass which is against the law. Say if the bus driver ordered someone off the bus for violating company rules and they refused to leave the bus driver could then call transit police or regular cops to force the person off the bus for trespass.

        It is like a handicap parking space most are on private property and it is upto the owner to do what they want with violators. If a obviously non-handicap person is using the space and the owner or representatives of the owner move to enforce the person has no legal basis to stay in the space and by refusing the attempt at enforcement they are trespassing which is illegal. This is why the entire bus scene is retarded. And from where I am bus drivers have little patience for rule breaking passengers.

      • July 13, 2017 at 12:16 pma2222222222

        Also depending on your country you actually do have a legal duty to rescue which means in serious cases ignoring someone in need results in legal consequences when you fail to rescue them. This duty to rescue can vary from legally requiring people call emergency services all the way to providing rescue. Even in countries with no duty to rescue law it can arise from parent to kid, being responsible for the hazard even if your not being negligent, a bus driver or transport company to passengers, employers to employees, property owners to people on property, spouses duty to rescue each other, …

        It isn’t like lawmakers don’t codify or think about these kinds of things. The laws are also filled with exceptions as you shouldn’t endanger more people than necessary but in most areas even if your rescue makes things worse your usually in the legal clear. Things like the bus seat are already covered by enforcement of company rules which violators can be told they are to vacate the seat and failure to do so would be trespass.

      • July 13, 2017 at 5:13 pmMaou

        Um…well I don’t know in Japan,but in mine the priority seat have a rule while not that strict though…”just because you’re correct doesn’t mean you’re right” surprisingly the quote fit in here hahaha

      • July 13, 2017 at 6:41 pmSMinstrel

        @stilts
        I understand your point perfectly.

        And that’s why people like him end up in “trash” level D class.

  • July 13, 2017 at 5:05 amloper

    sh*t there are steam sales, my point was not enough! f*ck this school

  • July 13, 2017 at 5:15 amdanes256

    I am confident the anime staff could make a good anime out of this, because we got the director of Angel Beats directing this. And as I suspected, the 1st episode is something i found to be really good and interesting on introducing the world and its characters. I also want to say that the animation is gorgeous.

  • July 13, 2017 at 7:51 amSol

    This was terrible beyond belief. Really should’ve stopped the moment I heard the MC’s paint-dryer voice. People complain about all those WN derived isekai crap (rightly so, in most cases), but this LN adapted “school life” genre really needs to die first.

    • July 13, 2017 at 8:42 amdanes256

      Be polite, you think it’s garbage, but I beg to differ. For we are not savages.

  • July 13, 2017 at 8:24 amCroos

    Ayanokouji, Kiyotaka - 82235
    Horikita, Suzune - 91887
    Kushida, Kikyou - 54705
    Sudou, Ken – 3115
    Ike, Kanji – 42
    Yamauchi, Haruki - 28
    Hirata, Yousuke - 21170
    Kouenji, Rokusuke - 6284
    Karuizawa, Kei - 2389
    Satou, Maya – 6850
    ??? – 8029
    Sotomura, Hideo - 13668
    ??? – 68192
    ??? – 25956
    Ichinose, Honami (B-Class) – secret
    Shiranami, Chihiro (B-Class) - 15175

  • July 13, 2017 at 10:52 amActus

    The concept is quite interesting – something from the usual comedy that come out of high school settings.

    On the “contribution to society” part, I actually think the character has a point. If the school aims to train the country’s elite, the focus is on the individual doing what they do best. It’s not necessarily contributing to society in the general sense that the curriculum emphasizes, but rather part of society such as wealthy clients and the such (think Wall Street bankers). It’s much more important to nurture the few rough diamonds than play fair treatment to all – and I think this is what the introduction is trying to foreshadow.

    • July 13, 2017 at 12:12 pmStilts

      Hard disagree. Someone can be awesome at their job and not be an asshole, these are not mutually exclusive and the latter should not be excused. People like to trot out examples like Steve Jobs as why sometimes being an asshole is a good idea, but we can’t prove a negative. Isn’t it possible, even likely that if Jobs hadn’t spent so much time brawling with reporters over email, he would have been even more effective?

      Some traits that can seem dickish are in fact valuable—I’ve heard it said that Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David are really blunt with the writers they work with, and that if a pitched joke isn’t working they’ll just say so, but the key is that they aren’t ASSES about it. There’s no heat, no insult, it’s just, “Naw, that’s no good. What else you got?” Sure, it’s still embarrassing, but there’s no malice.

      It’s a fallacy that being an asshole is effective. Some aspects that assholes often exhibit can be effective, but those can be decoupled from being a horrible human being, and should be. We’re better than that.

  • July 13, 2017 at 11:57 ama2222222222

    The main character’s voice is very bad. The concept also is highly over dramatised in the wrong sort of way especially with the music. Not to mention there are really no stakes as they get room and basic food for free so all the points do is let them buy additional stuff for free basically.

    • July 13, 2017 at 12:12 pmStilts

      I’m waiting for episode two to see if that’s actually the case. There may be more to it than just no running around money.

      • July 13, 2017 at 12:44 pma2222222222

        It was noted in the summer 2017 preview to be the case otherwise students would starve to death and homeless populations would be visible on campus assuming they don’t just leave against the rules. It is basically conditional group based universal basic income something that should be explained normally at the start. If people can’t keep track of their deductions how are they supposed to contest anything a proper system would show people how their progress is prominently you don’t get surprised when you get nothing.

        The whole keep students in the dark bit is absolutely retarded. Say if a person refuses to give up a bus seat they get kicked off the bus legally and won’t try to grand stand next time if they don’t want to get banned from the entire bus system. Say if a student is constantly late or ignoring class and failing tests, they fail out of school and get notices of poor performance along the way which gives them opportunity to change. The whole we keep the deductions in secret makes no sense and has no transparency.

      • July 13, 2017 at 5:14 pmLoliHat

        The whole keep students in the dark bit is absolutely retarded.

        They know now. The reason to not tell them up front was to let them out themselves for what they are.

  • July 13, 2017 at 12:28 pmyoloalchemist

    I honestly didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. A setting like this makes someone like Suzune pretty perfect. By being friendless, she can avoid having inclass distractions, which would deduct from her monthly points. By not indulging herself in her spendings like many others do, she pretty much follows exactly the intended trajectory this system aims for. I can only assume this system’s goal is to shape the students into better members of and contributors to society, but how the system intends to go about achieving that goal (if it is indeed the goal) is still unknown (and a bit questionable), as this episode didn’t provide any hint towards that. I’m definitely staying around for this. I didn’t think I would, so this was a pleasant surprise.

    • July 13, 2017 at 5:50 pmAnon

      I totally agree, I honestly was expected another crappy high school light novel adaptation, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although I am not sure what direction the show is going to take, so the next few episodes will be crucial for the story development.

  • July 13, 2017 at 1:54 pmsosbrigade1991

    I was actually finding this pretty decent until the ANNOYING as heck blonde snob with the awful hair and the WORSE voice starting spewing his self righteous nonsense in the middle of a crowded bus. Even for an anime, that was so cringey. Everything after the fact was so jarring. Almost every character is annoying, the designs are lackluster and the “OMG, we have no money?????” cliffhanger is so underwhelming. Pass.

  • July 13, 2017 at 7:18 pmVyseLegendaire

    This show has some crazy detailed backgrounds. Gotta keep watching for the tsun.

  • July 13, 2017 at 7:42 pmAvalon

    Well I must be one of the few who actually liked the MC. Instead of the typical males who get all stupid when a girl talks to them, this guy doesn’t seem to care. The girls are not some mythical creature to him and it’s a nice change. I also like how he’s observant and doesn’t seem to care what people think of him.

    • July 16, 2017 at 5:59 pmStilts

      He probably tilts a little far in the “doesn’t care” direction, as opposed to treating girls like regular people as we all should, but it’s certainly a change from the usual LN protagonist. He is damn observant though, which I also like.

  • July 13, 2017 at 8:25 pmprime_pm

    Did they give the main character Valium before recording?

  • July 13, 2017 at 11:05 pmonion warrior

    Am surprisingly find this anime interesting. Adding into my watchlist.

  • July 13, 2017 at 11:27 pmVelvet Scarlantina

    I’ll approach this carefully. I don’t like the main protag. Oreiki was better

  • July 14, 2017 at 1:40 amMechamorph

    For some reason I keep getting serious Oregairu vibes from this show. The MC is basically Hikki on mellow drugs, there is a Hayama (also a soccer player to boot), is a Yui, a Yukino and a Hiratsuka-sensei.

    I can see how the system is supposed to work however. Allow the students to do whatever they want without reprimand and then punish them when they allow their discipline to slacken. This teaches you personal responsibility. Why did the teacher not say anything until the next month? It is an object lesson. We let you discipline yourself for a month and look how it’s turned out. Time to remember that you are students in an elite institution, not brats at a daycare. How much do you want to bet that some of the other classes have much better records simply because the student body is more self-disciplined? I think that was main objective of this scenario.

    Suspicious generosity also should be examined critically. Goods cost roughly the same in Yen as they do in points. How in blue blazes is the school supposed to be solvent if it gives out 100,000 Yen monthly? Also the MC noted that there should not be “free” items if everyone is basically drawing an allowance comparable to a part time wage. This teaches impulse control, critical thinking and personal responsibility. This is what happens when you spend with abandon and then lose your job. Surprise kiddos, you are now in a situation many adults dread being in.

    Collective punishment is a very common method, especially in the military, to build cohesiveness. You work as a team, get rewarded as a team and are punished as a team. Recidivists will quickly find themselves confronted by everyone else who is suffering for your screw ups. Hands up any working adult who has never been on either side of the equation? How many people can relate personal anecdotes on how you got shafted because someone else was not doing his job?

    • July 16, 2017 at 6:05 pmStilts

      It makes sense how the system is supposed to work. The question is whether any of it would actually work as the show is saying it would. This could get deep in the sociological weeds (it probably won’t, but it’d be cool if it did), but a lot of the things we do in society (forced self-discipline, personal responsibility, collective punishment) only work for a certain value of “work” (many people fall through the cracks), and many social systems depend on people being able to fall out of a situation to some degree or another (quit a job, switch schools, die). If this school is raking in 100% employment and college entry rates, it’s saying that these methods are VERY effective. That’s what triggers my skepticism the most, because from everything we’ve seen in real life, that ain’t true.

      • July 17, 2017 at 9:24 pmMechamorph

        Honestly the numbers are incredulous but I can imagine that people who do not make the grade simply fail to graduate. Such ridiculous statistics remind me of third world elections. 100% of the electorate voted for el Presidente! Even the dead ones! Either the school is an elevator school (and this neatly explains how they get the college entry numbers), its patrons employ any students who cannot get jobs on their own or they expel anyone that looks unable to do either.

  • July 14, 2017 at 11:35 amprime_pm

    Okay, having checked the light novel I’m actually more interested in the main character’s deal.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • July 16, 2017 at 2:06 amzeroyuki92

    I am absolutely confused by the choice of main character voice. There’s absolutely no energy in his voice, and it’s not because he’s a bad seiyuu (He was voicing Tsuki ga Kirei main lead)

  • July 16, 2017 at 3:55 amraxar

    Well, at least it’s better than what I thought it will be. I for one feel okay with the MC’s character and voice. It doesn’t remind me of Hikigaya, which is good enough for me. Ayanokoji have indifference in his voice, and I think that fits with his disinterest to everything. Maybe his disinterest may also be why he’s in class D in the first place?

    This first episode seems really similar with Oregairu, loner MC(kind of) meets another, then a cheerful social girl comes along. But with the setting, it’s expected that everyone in the class will have a role and their own moments. It may not end up being a good one, but at least I hope the anime can separate themselves from other anime with similar setting.

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