The happy end to a long and tumultuous journey.

I bet you didn’t expect such a dramatic title for the cute-girls-doing-airsoft show, eh? Funny thing is, it deserves it. This is one of those rare shows that risks making us hate its protagonist in order to give us a better, more rich story full of real drama, genuine character development, and at the end of the day, an uplifting tale made all the better for the darkness through which it descended. This may be the best show you’re not watching this season.

Character development is a tricky thing. Take it from a storyteller – it’s much easier to deal with static characters (see: Hajime of GATCHAMAN Crowds) than to work with dynamic, flawed individuals that do stupid, mean-spirited, and/or wrong things when you know exactly what’s right. A truly flawed character evokes the old trainwreck analogy, but when you’re writing them, it’s not just that you can see the train coming – you’re at the wheel, and you’re purposefully steering it off the tracks. It’s hard to do, and even harder to do well…but when you manage it, something magical happens.

This show started out as an above average cute-girls-doing-[blank] show, which was a pleasant enough surprise given Gainax’s reputation as of late. The characters were well-differentiated and lively, the action was good, and the humor was pretty funny. But something darker lurked. From the very first episode strong moments of silence spoke to the alienation in Yura’s spirit, and the change she desired in herself. She was lonely, a single soul crying out for a place to belong, and she didn’t know how to find it. And then the C3-bu found her…

But Yura took hold of airsoft too tightly. She made the same mistake many people have made – she put her self worth in other’s hands rather than focusing on loving herself. As long as she was useful to her team, as long as she won, as long as she got results, then that proved she was worth something – it wasn’t the journey that mattered, as Sono-chan so clearly believes, but the results. She drove herself into a corner, lashing out and obsessing and losing sight of what she really wanted…warmth, good friends, and a place to belong.

Watching Yura fall was painful, if admittedly a little overwrought. It’s just airsoft, she shouldn’t take it so seriously – but it’s not about that, is it? Let me tell you about a younger Stilts. As a young lad I was a serious gamer. At the time I thought it was important – not the game necessarily, but the people, and the sense of achievement, and having a community I belonged to. Oh, I didn’t think any of this consciously, but it’s easy to see in hindsight. The game didn’t matter, I needn’t have taken it seriously at all – but I did, because kids are stupid like that, and because when you don’t have any responsibilities or work you truly care about, you’re liable to latch onto whatever you can. It was never about airsoft to Yura, not really. It was about her.

Yura fell, and she fell hard – and watching her climb back up was the trickiest part. I honestly feel like it was resolved a bit too quickly – and yet they laid the groundwork for it well. The spiritual aspect they introduced early on with Choujirou (both the spirit and the gun) laid the foundation for her return, and even that was foreshadowed with Yura’s vivid delusions during the very first episode. I’m still not sure whether we’re supposed to take any that as real or not, but the time that Rento stepped in as Yura saved Choujirou, and the triumphant final battle of the C3-bu against all 1800 students of Stella Jogakuin…whether you buy Yura’s delusions as real is up to you. I just know they laid the foundation well.

In the end, Stella Jogakuin Koukouka C3-bu was a pleasant surprise. It was not perfect, I won’t be nominating it for AOTY, but it was both thoroughly entertaining and showed depth that most stories don’t attempt. The battles, the trials, Yura’s important haircut (trope!) that stuck – I’ll remember it all fondly whenever I listen to the OP play, with chills rippling down my spine as I recall the story of Yura, Sonora, Karila, Honoka, Yachiyo, and Rento. It was fun, and in the end, I think they won.

Well done, Gainax. If you can keep doing this, maybe you’ll reclaim your throne one day. Though I guess you’d need to make original series for that, so nevermind. Just bringing us good stories will be enough for me.


  1. I was watching it all along, and was despairing – maybe too strong word, was mildly annoyed by lack of coverage.
    While not as spectacular as GuP, this show definitely is something to enshrine in the annals of girls-doing-unusual-sports genre.
    Yura’s obsession with getting stronger leading her to the fall to the “dark side” was painful to watch, yet it was utmostly satisfying that the power of friendship of the girls waiting for her in the club eventually prevailed.
    And the battle royale in which defeated girls rejoined fight when Yura showed up, signifies one thing: sometimes you just need to forget the rules(technically playing zombie), ignore winning (who has won anyway?) and have fun.

  2. Ah happy to know I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the turn of events in the story and the amount of character development this show offered despite starting as a cute girls show. Personally I kind of held the other partially responsible for her fall. Yes she did end up taking it far too seriously but then again it was they who immersed a girl with low self-esteem into a world that clashed with her personality so vastly. It ended up playing well and I’m glad that it went towards the ending it did, maintaining my thoughts on the show; A version of gunslinger girl gone right.

    1. I don’t blame the other girls, it’s not their fault that they introduced someone they came to like to something they enjoyed. That it didn’t go well for a while isn’t necessarily anybody’s fault… No, that’s not right. It is Yura’s fault, but I don’t blame her for it. She got to the right answer in time, for her.

      You can’t, and shouldn’t coddle everyone. It’s better that Yura figured it out as she did, in the end.

  3. Thanks for the post Stilts! I think the show deserves more recognition; it turned out to be better and deeper than I initially thought. It did not have the surprise impact of Girls und Panzer but still, it was pleasantly good! Plus, it had Rento in it! <3

  4. Thanks Stilts for posting a a final impressions! It kinda deserves it as well. Marathoning this might’ve been a better idea, since the middle part was just so depressing. But the goosebumps everytime after the ending made me look forward to the next episode everytime. It was good.

    It was a good ride. Not great, not bad, but good. I enjoyed the heck out of this show.

  5. would the ideas of the reviewers doing this sound like a good idea. Because I think its a good idea for them to do a final impressions post on any show they are watching but don’t actually review full coverage on. Though I think you’re the only one who does this Stilts, with this, Binbougami Ga…and I’m not sure if someone else did that post of Bento or if it was you.

    1. I did my x-mas post on Ben-to.

      And this won’t happen for all of them – I considered doing one for Kinmosa, but I just didn’t have anything to say. You can probably expect it more frequently for awesome episodes / final impressions of shows, though. We want to give them a little more love without taking 2+ hours to get a post together : )

  6. One thing I do not like: The extra episode is about an air-soft tourament in the school and the two Stella students are neck and neck in the last round, so HOW does one of them win?!!? By WHORING HERSELF OUT! Nowhere in this show has the fanservice been as blatant and cringe-worthy as in that final minute! Even the judges were talking about how it was an advantage tactic instead of calling her out! It came right out of the blue!!! *but the bosom was nice*

    All in all, this may be a show I shouldn’t have followed because other than giving me a crash course on the basics of air-soft playing, it showed me nothing I could have seen in other anime before.

    GAINAX?? really?? You lost your best artists to TRIGGER, and this and Medaka Box shows you are nothing without them. Please find yourself artists with a distinct vision! I give props to the writers for making a story that was VERY good and the acting was stellar, but the visuals ruined it for me.

    1. “It’s just a show; you should really just relax.”

      I actually liked the last episode. Yes, it was kind of weird that ep12 was the real climax and ep13 was almost like an OVA, but it was above all a frilly, fun, silly episode that wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously. I mean, the entire episode was about blatant fanservice! They were in an airsoft beauty pagent! They set that up early in the episode, so Honoka using it to her advantage was just smart, and roundly hilarious. It was an especially nice reversal since she not only defeated Karila (who most people probably expected to win), but she did it with hilarious trope-savviness.

      The art by intention got more cartoon-y during the last two episodes because they wanted to convey the girl’s reclaimed lightheartedness. I think ep13 fit that tone well.

      1. Episode 13 was basically fanservice OVA dropped immediately into series instead of customary half year wait… and I loved it!
        For once, it showed an unseen side to most of the characters – from Honoka’s rarely appreciated tactical skill (the way she talked down Rin into defeat…) to Rin acting all cutesy and moe, to the most flashy sniper ever, Yachiyo!

  7. Fun, but it seemed to lose its sense of direction. There were too many promising ideas, and far too little follow-through. It’s a common ailment in anime, as far as I’ve seen.

    What happened to, and what was the significance of Yura’s visions of the world?

    Why could she shoot full-auto and hit a coin from a hundred meters with every shot, and still miss a human-sized target at close range? Was all that training useless?

    There wasn’t enough detail about her return from the dark side. How’d it happen? It was too sudden and illogical to satisfy me.

    1. Yes, sometimes characters hit or miss as the plot demands – I don’t look too far into it unless it gets to Stormtrooper levels myself (trope!).

      I think Yura’s delusions were best left as they were. Why explain it all? Decide what that meant yourself.

      As for her return, I agree to a point, though only that it as sudden, not illogical. Though in fact it WAS illogical…the whole thing was! We weren’t dealing with logic there, but emotions. That’s another beast entirely.

      I don’t think C3-bu lost its sense of direction, and I think it followed through on its central theme – Yura’s character conflict – very well.

  8. Quite shocked that this show didn’t get blogged over some other shows that did. I’m quite happy that this got some attention on RandomC at least. I have to at least give my props to some of the bloggers, though. Sticking it out to the end with some shows that clearly flopped when there were other shows that were clearly more interesting and much better took will power. It’s too easy to try and cop out of bad things, so that showed a lot of integrity.

    1. If you’re not talking about Gen’ei here I’d be surprised, lol, so thanks. That’s just how us RandomC bloggers do it…once we pick up something, we stick it out to the bitter end if at all possible. We’re just masos like that 😀

  9. I’m sure I’ll get dinged since there seems to be a lot of people that liked the show, but I’m surprised that you liked it, Stilts. While I think it could have been a decent show, it was all over the place with tropes and bad writing. The fantasy/hallucinations that Yura had at the beginning were suddenly dropped (though I thought they were unnecessary in the first place) and were followed by the “be the world and you can hit the target without seeing” zen thing, the samurai warrior as mentor, people shooting guns with their feet, shooters that can hit the center of a yen but can’t hit a human target at a fraction of the range, the “sniper” (as if the air soft gun even modified could have done more than superficial damage, and on and on, finishing with the 1800 against the club (was that real or just a fantasy?). Yura’s journey by itself would have been a good story, but there were just too many jarring unnecessary add ons and they tried to make a simple game a cosmic experience. There were a lot of ways they could have told Yura’s story, too bad they didn’t choose one of them.

    1. Hmmm, well, you’re entitled to your opinion. I enjoyed the journey, and as I watch/listen to/read more and more stories, I’ve come to prize nonsense like “realism” less in favor of a story well told. Yes, it wasn’t AOTY or anything, there were problems, I’m not slapping it on my best-of anime list, but everything wrapped around the central theme well, the supernatural bent added mystique and interest, and the action was good.

      I guess what I’m saying is that I prize the feelings portrayed more than little “logical” consistencies, and those were done well. Also, realism in fiction is overrated.

      1. @Stilts: …as I watch/listen to/read more and more stories, I’ve come to prize nonsense like “realism” less in favor of a story well told. Also, realism in fiction is overrated.

        I wouldn’t blankly call “realism” nonsense, though I think you should define “realism” in terms of RL or “in-universe”. For me “in-universe” realism/credibility (i.e. how things work within a story’s setting/world) is very important. I don’t think you can have a story well told without a sufficient degree of it.

        I always view a story’s setting as the “entry price”. For example, if you not willing to buy into the concept of elves, trolls, magic, etc. (i.e. things which are not “real” in terms of RL), then you probably should avoid reading/watching Lord of the Rings. However, IMO, there still should be a sufficient degree of “in-universe” credibility. For example, rather than struggle at the end, and fortuitously destroy the Ring, Frodo says, “I have enough of this BS; time to end it.” He dons the Ring, in a single bound jumps to the top of tower, and stabs Sauron right in the middle of his big eye – killing him. The End. Maybe an extreme example, but it’s the same concept as Frodo becoming some invincible berserker. That’s goes against how Hobbits are (physically and personality wise). In-universe credibility issue.

        I think Bear raises a good point about the myriad of in-universe credibly issues and inconsistencies found in the show. Perhaps most are willing to consciously overlook them, but the fact they HAVE to overlook them in the first place for me is telling. In your latest Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou review, you have a section entitled “Why Is Any Of This Happening?” That’s the thought I frequently had when watching Stella. Why all the hallucinations and the supernatural stuff? How does it further the central story. Same goes for all the Matrix combat moves. An in-universe credibility issue for sure, but why is that stuff even there in the first place? How is that necessary or add to the story? Another thing I thought Stella failed to do was capitalize on the excitement of a tactically well fought match – something well suited for the AirSoft theme. A little flashy fighting is fine, but not (IMO) blindly so.

        IMO, in-universe credibility (or “realism”) not only prevents a viewer/reader from being distracted due to unnecessary questions being raised, but it also allows the viewer/reader to more easily become immersed in the story – and that I think add a lot to the overall enjoyment. Go the opposite way (lot’s of in-universe credibility issues), and IMO there’s a real risk of alienating the viewer/reader.

      2. perhaps those “hallucinations and the supernatural stuff” are part of the “in-universe” reality .. in the end they dont explain it… but it doesnt really matter: they are just a bump Yura’s journey to find herself.

        PS: lol saw the ep 13.. OVA feeling all over. so yeah i guess ep 12 was the last one.

      3. I was referring to what you call RL realism as nonsense. The “in-universe” realism you refer to is more about consistency in setting – it’s establishing that your world works in a certain way and then not breaking those rules (much). That’s a staple of good storytelling.

        I think whether you like this show boils down to whether you bought into the supernatural/delusion bent, and whether you felt like Yura was taking airsoft way too seriously or focused on her emotional journey. How I took those is fairly obvious, but I can honestly understand the opposite reaction, and in fact I may have shared it if I saw this at another time. How we react to stories is a function of time and place and our own biases and feelings, of course.

        As for the matrix combat moves, yes they were a bit over the top at times, but then again a bunch of girls playing airsoft is at least a little unrealistic (or more correctly, uncommon), so I guess that didn’t bother me. Besides, they did it from the very first episode (Karila’s ambush from the tree), so it was pretty consistent. This is a gripe I can understand, I just don’t share in it.

      4. Ah, thanks for clarifying. Is “consistency of setting” the correct way to phrase this? I’ve seen the term “in-universe” credibility/plausibility/etc. used elsewhere so I went with that. I’d rather use the correct term/phrasing.

        In terms of “RL” realism comparison, I would think any anime fan would by default be willing to give a wide pass on those issues given how much anime contains some sort of fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, etc. element(s). Either that or they have a very short watch list. :D. Personally, I tend to prefer “non-RL” setting anime.

        …but I can honestly understand the opposite reaction, and in fact I may have shared it if I saw this at another time.
        I can definitely understand that. Sometimes the relative (e.g. by comparison) view rather than absolute dominates. Perhaps blogging Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou has some effect.

    2. Count me as one of the minority I guess, but I’m entirely with Bear on this one. FWIW, I dropped the show after EP 07 – I think that’s long enough to get good feel for it. The show was all over the place. I found the hallucinations distracting, and at times just odd – even silly (e.g. D-Day hallucination). IMO, they over stereo-typed Yura – too incompetent & indecisive. In episode 3 she becomes “shell shocked…” It’s her third battle, all her teammates have been nothing but supportive, and its AirSoft, not real combat. I don’t expect her to become an AirSoft Rambo instantly (though that does happen later), but for me it’s too much. They don’t need to go that far. I get it, she’s shy, unconfident, etc. Rather than garner sympathy for her, at best I became completely detached.

      The in-unverse logical inconsistencies were bad enough, but Yura’s entering the darkside was overly telegraphed and formalistic IMO. Frankly, that was the last straw for me – here we go again. *sigh* What made it worse was that the club president (forget her name – 3rd year student), literally says something to the effect of “he/she who has the most fun is the real winner” to which Yura acknowledges (pretty sure she repeats the phrase as a question – can’t remember), and yet Yura soon after completely ignores that and enters the “the darkside”. To me, it’s just too forced.

      On top of that, as mentioned above, her personality AND skill level changes far too fast – she goes from “Ahh, what do I do!?” (Umm, shoot at the other team perhaps?), to AirSoft Rambo/Terminator. If you want her personality to enter the “darkside” – fine, just scale back on how extreme the change is. Again, IMO, less is more here. Actually, I think that sums up my view on the show well. Had they kept things less convoluted (take out the supernatural stuff & hallucinations, no Matrix “combat” moves, Yura’s personality/personality changes less extreme, etc.) and simply focused on what appears to be the primary story – Yura’s personal journey, I think the show would have turned out much better.

      While the show wasn’t for me, I can see how others might enjoy the action. There was certainly quite a bit of that.

  10. I started watching this thinking it would be something like Girls and Panzer but… The main character was depressed 90% of the time. I dropped it. Even Shinji Ikari is happier than the main character of this show.

    1. really? i mean: “really?” The MC here actually had a happy ending: she found herself and opened up to others.. comparing her to Shinji (who after 10+ years , 5 movies , 3 games and a reboot) hasn’t found himself is and exaggeration.

      and FYI, she was always “depressed” (actually it is more accurate to say she was conflicted, not depressed) … since the beginning of ep 1… she just hid it well (if you consider “well” obsessing over being the best at airsoft) for over 8 episodes.

      PS: and i think most people missing the point: was she just delusional? was she able to change reality with her delusions? it doesnt matter one way or the other: the story was always about Yura’s personal journey. All the rest was something that just happened to be around it.

      1. A happy ending is irrelevant is half of the episodes are about people being depressed (and the worst thing is: when the girl was depressed, she acted like a b***). And she was depressed for NOTHING.

        I can understand Shinji Ikari being depressed. His father doesn’t like him, he has no friends, he has no mother and he has to risk his life while fighting giant monsters from hell.

        This girl… She had NOTHING to be depressed about. Her friend were all nice, trying make her feel better, but she still acted like a b***. Shinji, who had all the reasons to be depressed, usually was fine after one episode… This girl: 4 episodes of Major Depressive Disorder. Then she is fine for like 1 episode and, after that, more MDD.

        I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna waste my time with this kind of teenage melodrama just to see a happy ending.

        I used to watch bad anime was I was younger, but that was because I didn’t have a lot of options and I didn’t know better… But now I don’t need to this.

        I don’t recommend this to anyone.

  11. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m assuming that episode 13 was set sometime before Yura’s “fall” with her skill level still being far below that of the other C3 club members and Sonora still around?

    1. I’m not sure, and that was one thing I wish they had explained better. It seemed like it, but Yura was acting mostly like post-ep12 Yura…up until she lost to Karila. (Which could still happen of course, but is less likely.)

  12. Man, your going to make me get back in huh? I dropped this when they were in the middle of the competition and Yura was IN-FUCKING-SUFFERABLE. I hated how they made her so closed minded in that jungle which annoyed everything out of me, but I guess that is character arcs.
    I guess I will finished the last 4 episodes or so.

  13. I have a different but same opinion of this show. On one hand, I don’t feel like it was worth anything until exactly episode 7. The whole cute girls doing cute things wasn’t appealing to me at all like some other shows might. I did appreciate that I could remember all of their personalities but, as far as I could tell it was the same old same old.

    I think it was around her turn around that I felt like it was worth having my “I will never ever drop a show” policy. Everything got a tad darker, a bit more moody, a bit more serious. A stark contrast to the extremely tiring silliness over the Survival Games. And it was at the tail end of episode 8 where she Show Spoiler ▼

  14. well yea give series was yura trying make new start give got wonder into world of air sort shooting.

    seen good side & bad side yet went on a crash-burn mode til finally rain the redemption to fun good side aka c3-bu team.

    yet series give sorta fine give being 13eps

  15. I actually enjoyed the series more than I thought I would.

    Considering Strike Witches was cute girls with magic and aliens, and Girls und Panzer was cute girls with big tank battles, both of which being big and bombastic overall, I couldn’t really see how something like air-soft could possibly stack up to make things that interesting, but much like the former two, a chunk of it came down to the characters. Out of all of them, I instantly took a liking to Sonora and Honoka, lol. Rin had looks, but not much else.

    That’s where I was a bit disappointed; not much character development. It could’ve made each character more interesting, but aside from Yura, and little tidbits on Sonora and Rin, we don’t really learn much about the other characters and, besides Yura, none of them seem really to develop at all. I would’ve loved to see Sonora and Rin’s backgrounds more in-depth and to see the other girls have to overcome some sort of problem to get stronger too.

    Though, the air-soft battles themselves weren’t too bad. At least various teams had their own strategies and play styles and not simply the same old point-and-shoot, linear style of battles. And I did have fun identifying which guns the air-soft guns were based on, lol. Of course, episode 13 was just pure fun (Sonora and Honoka looked great, and Rin acting in her old, shy self was cute).

    So, in the end, it was a fun ride to pass the time, but unlike Strike Witches or Girls und Panzer, I probably won’t be re-watching that much after this.

    1. A fair assessment, I think. I would have enjoyed more development from the other characters, though I don’t necessarily judge the show for not delivering it – they clearly set out to show us Yura’s story, and they did that. Not every character needs to develop (we all don’t markedly change in every stage of our lives), they just need to be rounded.

      Buuuuut it woulda made the story even better! (Probably) I still put Girls und Panzer (and actually Strike Witches, which I just finished season 1 of, woo!) ahead of this, but it was better than expected and showed me something different. I appreciate that.

  16. The show was good and consistent through all the run. The downfall episodes of Yura were great and episode 11 where she had definitely fallen to the dark side was done masterfully. She didn’t have anyone to make her fall, it was all in her head. Even Rin who was so proud of herself and her philosofy turned out to be a disaster and a sucky teacher and she couldn’t help Yura take the right path and so she had to rely on self-enlightment and Chojirou to get out of the pit. Rento was awesome through the series too.
    The OP changing at 4th episode was great to show the contrast about how Yura changes into a stronger and more mature self, though the journey was far from the end.

  17. I’m going to have to agree with the seemingly minority opinion here that this show wasn’t that great. It would have been better to blog than Genei by miles, but the show itself is pretty bad in my eyes. It keeps bringing reasons to finish it but at the end wasn’t strong at all. The hallucination/reality marble thing actually piqued my interest, then it was watching Yura fuck up everything around her. I just couldn’t grasp at how self-destructive someone someone could be, who is supposed to not see any worth in herself and so is constantly trying to force herself on her senpais for praise and recognition, but at the same time is able to feel so sure of herself so as to command and lead an airsoft team into the finals of a 24 hour tournament.

    Watching Yura devolve was entertaining, but the whole plot was almost too centric on her. While I was looking forward to see her screw up her school life each episode, such a plot also built up a lot of hate and frustration for her. I don’t think I even disliked Shinji as much. The symbolism like the “GAME OVER” screen after she was shooting zombies as well as the shooting the coin etc. all just left a bad taste in my mouth that kind of soured the experience for me.

    If there are any saving graces for this series, it’s the soundtrack. Lot of good music this season, and the OP and ED for C3-bu are definitely one of them. I really wanted it to be a fun show to watch that was cute and also introduce and delve in to the mechanics of airsoft, but aside from covering fire, the tactics and plans weren’t really developed and most of the show just focused on Yura. I can see why some people may like how it does focus on Yura, but since this show was pretty much gearing the audience to hate her, I think it’s reasonable for people to see how that hate could also be (maybe inappropriately) directed towards the show as a whole.

  18. I didn’t like the show at all early on. I didn’t attempt to watch it again until when episode 12 aired.

    First part still didn’t catch my attention but once the protagonist started to slide to the dark side I found myself interested and finished out the show. Can’t say it was a great watch, but that twist made it enjoyable.


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