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Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai – 01

「出撃!雑魚小隊!」 (Shutsugeki! Zako Shoutai!)
“Move Out! Small Fry Platoon!”

Two missions already? Slow down, 35th Test Platoon! We hardly know you.

Intriguing Prologue

My first impression of this episode, in the opening minute, was, “Now that’s how you do a good-ass mysterious how’d-they-get-here prologue!” Now, maybe it’s because I previewed this show, and was already familiar with the characters, but it had just enough character, little enough technobabble (none), and enough blood to instantly make me wonder how this lovable group of misfits I had read about was going to get here. Unfortunately, that was likely the best part of the episode, because while the rest wasn’t bad, some structural problems are already starting to show.

The Sword Is Mightier Than The Gun—Not

There’s a few things you need to get used to (and suspend your disbelief for) to get any enjoyment out of Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai. First of all is something I like: The sword is not mightier than the gun. Which I like! One of the things that always annoyed me about the GGO arc of Sword Art Online was that we were expected to accept that a sword-wielding Kirito could beat a bunch of gun users. (Though granted, once they had Kirito go full-Jedi, and since the MMO framework let him get shot once in a while, the combat actually worked decently well in the end.) Here they don’t pretend swords are better, as Kusanagi Takeru (Hosoya Yoshimasa) immediately gets derided for his choice of weapon. The only problem is, he’s using one anyway, and they can’t let him just be shot and die in the first episode, as would be reasonable for anyone bringing a sword to a gunfight.

Granted, I understand why the author did this. Guns break all the coolest parts about combat (from a narrative standpoint), whereas melee martial arts retain all the best parts. Take pistol ace Ootori Ouka’s (Ueda Reina) introductory battle. There’s no reason she should have risked getting shot to get into melee range with those goons, especially when she has those stun bullets that probably shouldn’t work quite as well as they do (humans aren’t as easy to cleanly and consistently knock out as fiction would have us believe). And how she took down the heavily armored Dragoon with a pistol beggars the mind. Pinpoint shots at moving weak points while dodging automatic fire? No way. Not unless she has magic herself, which doesn’t sound likely. But that’s part of the price you have to pay to even attempt to enjoy Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai. Improbable gunplay is the name of the game.

Likewise, there’s Takeru’s swordplay. They didn’t go into why he can cut down bullets, but it’s one of those standard SFF reasons that veterans of the genre will immediately realize is total bullshit. So once again, you have to accept these things to even have a shot at enjoying this series. I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t—I know several elements would have set past|Stilts off, even if present|Stilts can roll with it.

Pacing So Fast I Need Dr. Scholl’s

Up to this point, I haven’t said whether I liked the episode. Alas, I can’t give it the swimming endorsement I was hoping I’d be able to give. The culprit is an old friend of ours: Pacing. Having read some of the source, I expected this episode to end after Ootori Ouka’s introductory battle. That would have been a good stopping point. Nope! We got a secondary plot line + another entire mission shoehorned into the first episode. It was dizzyingly fast, and it came at the expense of all the things we love about stories in general: Personality, comedy, tension, fun.

Which is a damn shame! They showed some of Takeru’s, Ouka’s, Saionji Usagi’s (Ookubo Rumi), and Suginami Ikaruga’s (Shiraishi Ryoko) personalities, and they’re great! Quirky, broken, fun, borderline incompetent (except for Ouka). The ingredients in Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai are good. But they glossed over them, cooked them too fast, so we got only a fraction of their flavor, instead of the full succulent depths of their spice. To stretch that metaphor near to the breaking point.

I remember a few commenters on the season preview hoping this would be two-cour, so when it was announced to be one-cour (12 episodes), I was worried this might happen. In this, I hate being right. By the end of the episode, Ouka was just abruptly shouting back story as she and Takeru got into another fight in the middle of a mission. There were signs of greatness here—even the obligatory trip-and-boob-grope was saved from being utter cliché by Takeru falling asleep on her chest. (It was still pretty cliché, but at least they took it a step further.) They’re even willing to show serious carnage, even while the students are shooting improbable stun bullets. But the pace was too fast, man. Just too fast. Slow down! Finishing too quickly is usually disappointing.

Looking Ahead – Please Be Good, Please Be Good, Please Be Good

When I first started previewing this show, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. So now that I’ve seen this episode, which wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be (and no, I didn’t hype myself into oblivion), I find myself chanting a familiar refrain: Please be good, please be good, please be good! I feel like there’s some good stuff here, but I have an equally strong feeling that the corporate suits having only greenlighted twelve episodes will prevent us from seeing it in its full majesty. As such, it has slid in my shows-Stilts-might-consider-blogging rankings.

On that note, I’d like to do something that’s likely ill-advised. I have a question for y’all: What other show, if any, would you like to see me blog? Now, understand that this is a “One Man, One Vote” kind of democracy, in which I alone am the Man, and I have the Vote. But I’d be interested to hear what you think I should blog. I’ll look forward to comments about that, as well as this episode, in the comments below. Until then, be amazing.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The flashforward prologue was nice, but the pacing was so rapid the source’s strength couldn’t shine through #35shoutai 01

Random thoughts:

  • Oh Miki Shinichiro, I love it when you’re in a position of authority and being ridiculous.
  • “I’m more into flat chests.” You have to give it to him, he tried. At least he’s aware that he’s trapped in a harem romcom.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: The best content is in email, My morning routine, True Ends, and Rejection, the secret place, & fundamentals

Full-length images: 10, 27.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「Calling my Twilight」 by Itou Kanako

Preview

October 8, 2015 at 10:53 pm
39 comments »
  • October 8, 2015 at 11:03 pmnyanlol

    will keep an ear out for episode 2, but ill probably skip this one.

  • October 8, 2015 at 11:32 pmPurple Bomber

    Honestly I’m not even watching anything this season that isn’t already locked in for blogging. It’s a pretty sad fall all things considered, and would be downright tragic without the stable sequels (Noragami, Haikyu, etc.) about and something as colossal as Onepunch Man propping the season up. I guess if held at gunpoint and made to pick a series, I guess I’d pick Asterisk War. I don’t even have a good reason for that beyond just letting the endless comparisons between it and Chivalry of a Failed Knight continue all season, since Takaii’s already blogging the latter series.

  • October 8, 2015 at 11:48 pmPancakes

    Off the bat this pilot continues the trend of iffy openers for the season. There are some interesting bits spread throughout, from the character interactions to the story universe, but as you mentioned Stilts pacing definitely was the let down. Hard to grasp just what the hell is going on when important anchors such as witches, inquisitors, and the outside world are barely mentioned–if at all. Now we will likely get such questions answered shortly, but it does not excuse the lack of tangible hook to keep the viewer on track and interested. It’s going to take 3 episodes to form a proper opinion, but the hatchet job warning signs are already present.

    As an aside Taimadou’s opener is a bit like this season overall, claims galore about the poor quality, yet I find my watching list growing by the day to see if any of these deflated starts turn into something interesting. It’s kind of funny in an ironic way :P

    Oh and my vote goes to Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen. Unless someone else picks it up there is simply no other option Stilts. Doooo eeeeet :D

    • October 8, 2015 at 11:56 pmStilts

      I did watch Utawarerumono, and it was good. I’m definitely considering it. I just wish it wasn’t a Saturday show. Saturdays are supposed to be my day off ;_;

  • October 8, 2015 at 11:55 pmOnePunch_Guy

  • October 9, 2015 at 12:01 amTranquin

    Apparently some stuff this series contains, whenever silver link fucks it up with pacing or not will be seen.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    So yeah it will be mess, but least it looks fun to me.

  • October 9, 2015 at 12:16 amAmiluhur

    Couldn’t hold my laughter when Ohtori spewing her sob past while trying to kill two dudes only to break down in tears upon being stopped by the lead guy. That scene was so ridiculously hammy that it’s hilarious. The rest of episode was meh though.

  • October 9, 2015 at 12:40 amFlakey

    It’s pretty much confirmed that they’re going to rush through the first two volumes of the series within four episodes. Better get used to it quick, I say.

    I personally don’t mind too much considering just how indifferent I felt towards the introductory volumes of this series, especially the very first one. Certainly they could have handled Ouka’s drama at the end far better, that was a major trip up I admit, but everything besides that was fairly fine. It established the dysfunctional characters and the setting well without needing to go out of its way by dumping god knows how many minutes of exposition at the start.

    I’d gladly take two rushed episodes of the insipid trite which was volume one over it being spread into four episodes. Call me horrible if you want. I would personally agree with your sentiment but I just appreciate them going through the motions more and speeding through what I honestly believe is weak material. Though it could do better with how it makes the story flow, that’s without a doubt a fact.

    P.S.
    It might potentially be split cour.
    The author himself confirmed that it’s apparently going to be a 9 volume adaptation.

    • October 9, 2015 at 1:14 amStilts

      Good point on how it could be two-cour. Though if so, usually they announce that right off the bat (and sometimes don’t mention the split-cour part until later, like with GATE), so this would be highly unusual. Though then again there haven’t been THAT many split-cour anime period, so maybe this is the new thing, haha

      I may also appreciate them sprinting through the weaker, earlier volumes to get to the better ones in the end, buuuuuut without that knowledge, I feel like they’re going to lose viewers and hurt their goal of selling more light novels. Hm. Tricky situation.

      • October 9, 2015 at 1:37 ambassgs435

        Wixoss was split cour, and that wasn’t confirmed until the last episode of the first cour. I think it was also the case with Chaika

      • October 9, 2015 at 9:56 amStilts

        Naw. Those both had two seasons. Different names and everything. The difference between split-cour and multiple seasons is slight, but it’s there!

        And actually, it was announced that Chaika would have a second season right around the first episode of the first season, which was really odd as well.

    • October 9, 2015 at 2:21 amdaikama

      @Flakey: “It might potentially be split cour. The author himself confirmed that it’s apparently going to be a 9 volume adaptation.

      Honestly, that does NOT bode well IMO, because the issue isn’t how many episodes/cours, but how many episodes per LN volume (i.e. pacing). For example, is there any meaningful difference say between 1 cour covering 5 volumes and 2 cours covering 10 volumes? 9 LN volumes in two cours is still disappointingly fast pacing IMO (2.666 episodes per LN volume average). :<

  • October 9, 2015 at 12:53 amEryx01

    Well I did like the episode but it went by too fast and I usually like some fast paced anime that has a good story and action balanced in it but this one is way, way too fast and they did skip so much in the first ep like Takeru past meeting with Ouka but hope this in the next episode to be a bit better, I would like to see you blog about Hidan no Aria AA next @Stilts

    • October 9, 2015 at 1:18 amStilts

      Man, I wasn’t even planning to intro Hidan no Aria AA. Was the first episode any good? I think I was planning to watch it, but I’ve been slammed this week.

      • October 9, 2015 at 1:45 amEryx01

        Yeah, actually it was a pretty good first episode for Hidan no Aria AA, the character designs were pretty nice along with the art style like it did season 1 but I know this is just a spin-off and not season which I was hoping for but overall it happened to pretty good.

  • October 9, 2015 at 12:56 amzztop

    Antimagic’s author writes rather perverted afterwords in the novels. At some point he always drifts off to talk about breast sizes, or how he loves certain breast sizes. Here’s one where he talks about the appeal of flat-chested girls:

    This time, let’s talk about flat chests.

    (A) great person once said: Big boobs are just a mass of fat. Let alone a symbol of status, it’s a drawback. Just like the flabby flabby stomachs and double chins, the large breasts are just fat. It’s truly like that. It’s meat.
    Troubled that all nutrition goes to your breasts? Please allow those gentlemen who love small and flat chests to speak too. “That, is it any different from fat?”-Is what they say. “Waste-less is modest am I right?”- They say.

    They are worth touching because they are modest! Rather than Mount Everest or Mount Fuji I love the great plains of (the) savannah that spreads all the way to (the) horizon!
    ——And so!

    …………

    I’m not really trying to fill the afterwords… really, I’m not.

    Character designs were originally by Kippu, who drew the characters of Nourin (I think Randomc covered that anime before).

  • October 9, 2015 at 1:26 amewok40k

    bringing sword , or in this case axe, to a gun fight usually ends up like that:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQ116EVYVP4
    thank you Balalaika for brutal lesson!

  • October 9, 2015 at 1:30 amSkyEye

    Thanks for the review Stilts, I like to keep my ear to the ground at the beginning of a season in hopes of not missing anything good and you make that a hell of a lot easier (plus I’m a big fan of the enthusiasm that you bring to any of your posts).

    I’m noticing a trend in your posts this season on how each show approaches exposition and carries it out and am wondering if a “My way or the anime” type post focusing on exposition would be worth pursuing.

    Either way, my vote is for Concrete Revolutio should Takaii choose not cover it. While the pacing was a bit rough with the flashbacks I think the show has a great deal of potential judging from its first episode.

    (P.S. Not to rush you or anything because I know with the new anime season things must be busy, but how is the feedback for the application coming? I’m just quivering with anticipation at this point.)

    • October 9, 2015 at 10:02 amStilts

      Danke! I’m glad to hear that these posts help, especially since I always run myself half crazy organizing them and then writing a bunch of ‘em, lol

      Not a bad idea for an MWotA, actually. Added that to my list. If that happens (either here or on my personal site), it’s all ’cause of you.

      I did enjoy the first ep of Concrete Revolutio, though I think some other writers are more excited about that one than I was. We’ll see how that pans out here in the next couple days.

      And, er, I totally haven’t forgotten about the applications! But, uh, er, they kinda slid low on the priority list. ‘Cause I suck :( Feel free to harass me again if it starts looking like I have forgotten ‘em. I promise I’ll respond! Eventually :X

  • October 9, 2015 at 2:04 amdaikama

    It’s definitely not nearly as similar as the other two “magic highschool” type LN adaptations (Gakusen Toshi Asterisk and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry) were to each other – “obligatory” accidental boob grab aside (like Cavalry, I though the ML had a funny line there). Honestly, I thought this would be more similar to those two than it was.

    Like Stilts, I really liked the intro including the background music. A good (I’d even say artistic) way to open the show. I also thought the show looked pretty good visually – best of the three. Of the three magic high school LN deals, so far I’d rank this one at the top. Not by that much, but I did prefer it, and I found the modern “witch-hunting” setting interesting. There were some issues though with pacing arguably the foremost. Watching felt somewhat disjointed as it cut from scene to scene. Little exposition for Ep. 01 was OK, but some context would be nice. Hopefully, details/background/world setting will be given later.

    Overall, Ep. 01 was “good enough” to keep me around for at least another episode. I second the thought “Please Be Good, Please Be Good, Please Be Good…” I’ll be honest, such a fast start and a one-cour run does not bode well. Been there done that too many times before.

    ———————————-

    @Stilts: Re. Show to Pick Up: My vote is for Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen. I liked Ep. 01. I realize you haven’t watched the first season (worthwhile if you have the time IMO), but I’m honestly not 100% convinced one must watch it to watch this season’s adaptation. Other than that, eh, I guess this show. Maybe you can fill in some blanks if the fast pacing continues.

    Re. The Sword Is Mightier Than The Gun—Not

    I agree, and yeah, there is a lot of sword beats gun in anime. Frankly, I’m not a fan of the “multiple arrows fired from a bow at once” deal either for that matter. But if you’re going to have swords cutting bullets and whatnot, I’d rather have magic as the reason than “he/she’s just really good with with a sword”. So a little credit to Taimadou for “Sweeping Magic Blade”. Honestly, what bugged me most during that scene occurred after the first shot. You have five goons, who instead of going “Oh shit” and ALL immediately blast away after he cuts the first bullet, ask for an explanation. Shoot first, ask questions later. Then 3 of 5 (WTF is with the other two?) fire ONCE, and Takeru cuts down two bullets (what happened to the 3rd? Guy’s using blanks?). *sigh* Just roll with it self, roll with it.

    As for Ouka entering melee at times, at least they showed her in constant motion rather than just stand there in a hail of bullets while she picks off each one. Points for that. Yeah, I know, a low bar, but still… Speaking of just standing there, what also bugged me was Takeru standing around gaping while Ouka finishes off the 5 goons. Dude, do something! As for the “dragoon” fight, yeah… that’s a lot of dodging along with some pinpoint accuracy while running around. At least Takeru didn’t just stand there. Taking cover FTW!

    • October 9, 2015 at 11:45 amStilts

      I’m strongly considering Utawarerumono. I’m also considering marathoning the first season while I’m watching (and possibly blogging) the second, lol

      • October 10, 2015 at 6:33 amSK

        I’ll put in a (not-actually-a-)vote for Utawarerumono as well. Not sure how much the first season will be spoiled if you don’t get on it soon though. The first ep of this season has a couple things you might pick up on, but nothing major has been spoiled so far. Not sure how long that will last though.

  • October 9, 2015 at 3:45 amWanderer

    Out of the Fall shows that I’ve seen and enjoyed so far, I think the best choice for you to cover would be Utawar… Utawarereraruum… Utawamoreranomer… Utawhateverthehellthatnameis, the show with the kemonimimi people. Because it looks pretty good so far. And I’m speaking as someone who never watched the first series.

    • October 9, 2015 at 3:46 amWanderer

      PS: No, I can’t spell complicated words this early in the morning for the life of me. Hopefully y’all can figure it out.

  • October 9, 2015 at 4:05 amAex

    A show where only the MC is likable and I really want to kick the rest in the head… wow. Considering I just got done with the absolute adult sadism that was Lance N’ Masques Ep. 2 I was hoping for some redeeming character points, but nope, just another episode with whiny girls bossing around a spineless MC even though he outranks them.

    Everything isn’t automatically the male characters fault just because the girls have bigger mouths. I really wish this idea would die already. Give us an MC that isn’t stopped from telling his subordinates to shut it just because they have breasts. All the girls deserved getting told off this episode, especially Ouka. How’s she gonna hunt witches if she gets fired for going rogue, which she knows is where she’s headed? And she’s calling out their flaws? Brilliant.

    • October 9, 2015 at 11:41 amStilts

      I understand what ya mean, but I think Takeru not standing up and being a proper captain is supposed to be part of his arc. (I hope so, at least.) That’s the feeling I got when Ouka called out all of their problems. So in this case, it may be less than he’s incidentally a spineless MC, and more that it’s the theme the story is trying to explore? Hopefully.

  • October 9, 2015 at 5:04 amDvalinn

    I find myself chanting a familiar refrain: Please be good, please be good, please be good!

    It’s almost certainly going to be a show that’s totally terrible, Stilts. Search your feelings, you know it to be true!

    Personally, I thought this was one of the worst premieres of the entire season, in any case. It ticks of every box of annoying anime tropes, from special schools to falling headfirst into tits, with nothing interesting whatsoever in there to set it apart from the rest of the chaff. The comedy isn’t funny, the drama falls flat, the action is lame, the characters are annoying and the entire thing is rushed to hell. Deary me, I was looking at the clock more times than I wished (even going ‘it’s only half over?!’ when the eyecatch came up). I didn’t think much of the other two magical school shows either, but they certainly were better than this.

    So I’ll join in the chorus asking for Utawarerumono too. The story may start out slow, but we’ll be neckdeep in epic battles before long (if the previous series and the Tears to Tiara II game are any indication) and the cast seems fun. Certainly has the potential to be the best fantasy show this season, anyway.

  • October 9, 2015 at 8:39 amyomumz

    STILTS BLOGGED AGAIN!!!!

    • October 9, 2015 at 11:42 amStilts

      I never stopped o.O But glad to hear you’re happy that I’m still postin’ around! <3

      • October 9, 2015 at 1:15 pmyomumz

        ah maybe it’s because I haven’t been on this site as much last season as before.. the days where you covered every harem silly show

      • October 9, 2015 at 2:11 pmStilts

        Ahaha, well, the anime industry needs to put out more good ones so I can cover more of ‘em! (Or I need to pick better, i.e. go for DanMachi instead of Trinity Seven. Whoops.)

  • October 9, 2015 at 3:16 pmyomumz

    yeah truee, lately it’s been very stale like every MC runs on same formula it’s almost as if they just copy each other.. but I still enjoyed your posts since time keep up the good work

  • October 9, 2015 at 5:42 pmWorldwideDepp

    I did not had this Anime Show on my Radar for watching. But thanks to you, i gave it a Try and i like it right away… The Female MC Seiyuu got me. First it looked like Playthings but in the end it hide a Serious undertone

    Episode 1 of 3

    Passed with Great Honor. I Salute yoy

  • October 9, 2015 at 11:47 pmskylion

    I thought I was alone in enjoying the cold open! Lots of places I read (including my own camp) were not down with it at all.

    • October 10, 2015 at 12:34 amStilts

      It’s true. Many places on the internet are wrong. Fortunately we know what’s up! *high fives*

  • October 10, 2015 at 3:43 pmion42

    Good series, but by god does it take long for the protagonist to show off his real skills to that bitch.

  • October 10, 2015 at 8:40 pms_w

    Man, this show was disappointing. If you asked me how I felt about the execution of the characters, I might say “I’m in favor of it.” (5 points if you know that reference.) I was looking forward to this, because I’ve heard good things about the LN series, but the pacing was atrocious and the characters were mostly unlikable.

    It reminds me a lot of Kuusen Madoushi from last season, and that was so bad, it was almost good. But it wasn’t even good at being bad enough to be fun as a bad anime. It was just heaps of mediocre.

    Another vote for Utawarerumono. I’ve been rewatching the original series when I have time, and it holds up pretty well. The new Utawarerumono looks great, and is pretty interesting so far. The world has a lot of depth, and kemonomimi girls aren’t a bad thing if the plot is good. This is one of the few series I’m excited about this season.

    • October 10, 2015 at 10:35 pmStilts

      Already picked up Utawarerumono :D

  • October 14, 2015 at 7:40 amJohnPeacekeeper

    Looking into the novels, which this has driven me to read, they basically crammed a whole volume into a single episode; so yeah, no wonder the pacing’s off