OP: 「Shape My Story」 by Yano Anna & kz (livetune)
「志願兵ハ居ナイノカッ！」 (Shigan-hei Ha i Nainoka~tsu!)
“Is There No Prospective Soldier!?”
The characters are vibrant and lively, the setting is beautiful, and the combat is damn fun to watch. If you want something that’s lighthearted while still keeping all the excitement of an action show, this is for you. I for one very much enjoyed this first episode.
A New School
The pacing of this episode started off a little slow as Yamato Yura (Makino Yui) arrived at her new ojou-sama school, Stella Women’s Academy. I was ready to call Gainax out on dragging the pacing because they didn’t have enough source material to work with, and maybe that’s still the case, but I’m not so sure anymore. Here’s the thing that surprised me the most about this episode, and it was a very good thing indeed: throughout these mere twenty minutes they delicately wove in strains of Yura’s teenage social anxiety, giving reason to why she would eventually agree to try out the C3-bu, and why it would appeal to her at all. She’s an awkward teen who wants to have a fun high school life (including making friends), but she’s shy. Gainax showed us this in exactly the right way – by actually showing us through Yura’s interactions (or lack thereof) with other characters, not just telling us.
Sorry, I’m flying at a high level right from the start. Let me back up. On a more superficial level, Stella Women’s Academy is your typical ojou-sama school, except they let the background designer go nuts and were rewarded with some very luscious scenery. Which is kind of odd in a way, because the characters themselves look a bit childish to me, almost like they’re middle schoolers rather than high schoolers. Not a problem necessarily, just struck me as odd. Moving on.
As for the characters themselves, they get full marks so far. Compared to the other show I introduced earlier today, these characters weren’t quite as cookie-cutter. Sure, the glasses-wearing Mutsu Honoka (Saito Chiwa) was still playing the organizer/iincho role, and the tiny Hinata Yachiyo (Yonezawa Madoka) was all feisty, but then you see the glint in their eyes when they have their hands on some guns, and oh my! All these characters are just a little crazy, but it’s the good crazy, the kind where the story doesn’t beat you over the head with it. It’s not like they were yelling WE’RE CRAZY, they were just being themselves and crazy things happen.
Special props go to all the seiyuu, both for doing such a good job and for doing it in roles we don’t usually hear them in. Saito Chiwa and Sawashiro Miyuki can do anything, but it took me a while to realize who was voicing the rough-and-tumble part-Japanese Hatsuse Karila (Kayano Ai). Yonezawa Madoka’s genki girl was also quite good, especially since I still mainly think of her as Ui from K-ON. Only the newbie voicing ditzy Kirishima Rento (Nishizaki Rima) ever gave me pause, but it was only once. She’s doing a great job bringing her character alive, just like everyone else.
To me, the biggest selling point of this is the combat. In the summer preview I likened this aspect to Girls Und Panzer, and I feel like this was spot on. The fight they showed in this episode had the excitement and fun of some good gun play without the constant worry that a character is going to be maimed or killed. Okay, so that does drop some of the tension a little bit, but then Karila jumps down from a tree and “knifes” someone, and I’m like woohoo! Clever girl.
Speaking of, the combat here was genuinely clever and interesting, and overlaying it with Yura’s dream-like rendition of the scene they were playing out tied it all together with her character conflict. That plus all the other teams they showed in the OP give me high hopes for the sports-like combat in this show. Get pumped!
After having reading some of the manga, I was a bit surprised they held off on giving more than a cursory introduction to uber-sempai Kashima Sonora (Sawashiro Miyuki), but that’s not a criticism, because it ended up working out quite well. RandomC currently does not have any plans to cover this show, but you can bet I’ll be watching it, so feel free to check in on my twitter (see below) for my thoughts on the latest episode each week. Until then, enjoy!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Exciting, lighthearted combat with a bunch of vibrant & interesting characters. Also, some killer backgrounds. A strong first episode #C3bu
- Gun play, in skirts? Sure, why not. Fuck you, this. is. anime!!
- No girls, I don’t think an (airsoft) massacre is the right way to recruit new members. Also, the NSA heard all of that, so you should probably hide.
- Yura thought they just drink tea and goof off? Pffft, this isn’t the keionbu!
- I have dreams that start like this. And also like this. They’re usually not the same ones though.
ED: 「弾けろ！しーきゅーぶ！」 (Hajikero! C3!) by 牧野由依, 沢城みゆき, 茅野愛衣, 斎藤千和, 西崎莉麻, 米澤円 (Makino Yui, Sawashiro Miyuki, Kayano Ai, Saito Chiwa, Nishizaki Rima, Yonezawa Madoka)
For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.