OP: 「コバルト」 (Cobalt) by Trysail
「リストラの教室」 (Risutora no Kyōshitsu)
I noted in my introduction of Chaos Dragon (which I haven’t been inspired to cover regularly) that writing good fantasy was hard, partially because of the difficulty in finding a good way to explain your setting to the audience. I consider science fiction a subset of fantasy, and indeed it suffers from similar problems; it’s just one kind of technobabble replacing another. Some less experienced authors are also overly eagre to find opportunities to show off all the research they did to support their science fiction setting, and would spend awkward asides to display all that they knew about gravitational constants or propulsion theory or anything with ‘quantum’ in it, much like the highschool essayist who would spew everything they crammed about a subject rather than actually answer the question. In this analogy, ‘answer the question’ means ‘write something readable’.
(Speaking of research, Nagisa’s resume—Caristo? Seriously? You got Europa and Ganymede right but screwed up on Callisto? I know translating for a simulcast puts you under a lot of time pressure, but still.)
The thing is, few read or watch science fiction actually for the hard science; most are after speculative fiction or discussion on the social impacts of technology and stuff like that. Science fiction is no more for scientists than ghost stories are for ghosts. And traditional anime make for a poor vehicle for communicating large dumps of information. We have documentaries for that.
Perhaps with that in mind, this week of Classroom Crisis is mostly a documentary.
I actually approve of this move. If we must be lectured about the Kirishina corporation, if we must have Sera-sensei’s backstory, and if we must learn about the prestigious sponsored races that will likely become a key plot point, then I suppose a framing device is more interesting than walls of text or artificial dialogue. Though I’m personally of the ‘don’t explain anything’ school of anime writing, I appreciate the documentary as a straightforward compromise. The handling of exposition is basically a question about how to dress it up, and this is one way. And it’s also a handy in-universe way to tell us what the role of each member of the class is, and what their personal motivations are. I doubt we’re going to get character episodes for each of them—there’s just not enough time—so this is probably as good as we’re going to get. That said, there’s no way I’ll be able to remember any of their names, though. In my head, they’re just going to ‘engineer guy’ or ‘maths girl’ for the foreseeable future.
There’s never too many reasons to hate middle management
So the public relations video tells us all we’re ever going to need to know about the public face of Kirishina Inc., but its also connected to its private intrigues, it being a final maneuver to delay A-TEC’s execution. It’s these private intrigues, and what we’re not told, that form the main interest of the episode; everything else just sets the scene. In particular, shady corporate shark Kiryuu Nagisa is a real cipher. A third, black sheep Kiryuu brother who shouldn’t exist? Dunno. Secret past with Iris? Dunno. Business prodigy or just a ruthless asset stripper? Dunno. For someone who’s supposed to have incredible management acumen though, I can’t really approve of his strategy. I question how effective starting your tenure by being a douche (a technical term) to all your subordinates sounds to me a poor plan. Sure, it’s only supposed to be six months, but on the other hand it’s a whole six months. I don’t know where he’s been working, but even the lowliest drone can make your life very unpleasant for sixth months. Unless he’s planning to make all his coffee himself.
New frontier ~ looking ahead
So Classroom Crisis doesn’t seem like much of a rom-com at all, unless Nagisa and Iris really have that kind of past (or unless you’re sailing the yuri ship). It’s possible the it’ll do another partial genre switch next episode, but assuming it doesn’t, here’s how I see it. Sera Kaito, the kind who gets emotional when watching his own idealistic rants, will have to play foil to Nagisa’s cynicism. They’re probably going to go to the races. And maybe, meanwhile, the members of A-TEC will get dropped one by one by bad reality TV.
It’s hard to say definitively, of course. The strength of Classroom Crisis, so far, is that it has established a lot of potential plot hooks. There’s backstory about the Kiryuu half of Kirishina ousting the Shinamiya half. And then Nagisa will have to oust his slimy brothers. Then I suppose he’ll either turn a new leaf, fall on his sword, or get ousted in turn as part of the whole white-collar cloak-and-dagger routine. Meanwhile, there’s some psycho lady in the preview. Combined with whatever efforts are made to save A-TEC, and all the science fiction, there’s a lot that can be going on. Which is great, but one of the dangers of having so much to do is that in the rush to get it all done there will be little to show for it at the end but a mess. That is, there could be a pacing issue, but so far Classroom Crisis has not not raced too far ahead. Here’s to hoping that it maintains.
Full-length images: ED 01.
ED: 「アネモネ」 (Anemone) by ClariS