OP: 「Dance in the Game」by ZAQ
「困難の中でこそ、平静な心を保たねばならない。」 (Kon’nan no Naka de Koso, Heiseina Kokoro o Tamotaneba Naranai.)
“Remember to Keep a Clear Head in Difficult Times”
Ahh summer, this season has truly proven surprising thus far not only in the number of heavy hitters premiering, but also in the announcements coming out seemingly by the day (Panty & Stocking Season 2 what). In this case Youjitsu isn’t one of those vacuum generating series everyone and their secretive anime loving grandmother is talking about, but it still makes its presence felt. After all, this one is all about the intrigue and intrigue we have certainly so far got.
Given how long it’s been since Youjitsu’s first season the rough and dirty of this one is it’s a series about high school competition. The setting is Koto Ikusei, a school renowned for its platinum-grade curriculum and guaranteed post-secondary acceptance – but also a school where achievement doesn’t come easy. In Koto Ikusei the student body of each grade is split into four classes, with involvement in a class centered on a points-based merit system. Do well and get handsomely rewarded. Do not so well, and, well, enjoy the table scraps. If that.
As you can expect there’s a little more to the system than that, with scheming, rivalry, and outright cheating all part and parcel of trying to claw one’s way up the academic ladder. This led to main man Ayanokoji Kiyotaka’s (Chiba Shouya) strive to break free from the confines of bottom ranked class D and enjoy the luxuries of top ranked class A (or at least avoid the troubles coming from not doing so). Together with fellow classmate – and totally not a friend – Horikitai Suzune (Kitou Akari), Kiyotaka actively worked towards that objective, and at the end of the first season even helped class D achieve its first true win following a special school examination. As with all things, however, there’s always a catch, and that victory was one of them.
Right off the bat this season follows in the wake of the first and the interesting tidbits gleaned regarding Kiyotaka’s past. In short, you want an explanation best refresh yourself because A: spoilers and B: I also had to refresh myself! Doesn’t take too long to get back into the thick of things though because that special test class D won (thanks to Kiyotaka) was only the prelude to the next test which is just as convoluted and ridiculous as the previous camping trip on steroids as you might remember. While I always got a chuckle out of Youjitsu’s various setups I must admit their tension and suspense does work well once they get going, and this latest affair will likely prove no exception. With the focus here now being on interclass (versus last season’s intraclass) cooperation and giving some well-deserved screentime to the likes of Kariuzawa Kei (for obvious reasons) and Ichinose Honami (remember her 2 million+ points bank?) there’s bound to be quite a few spicy developments, even if keeping the various scheming and risk-rewards balances straight might take more effort than it’s worth. We’ll just have to see how Kiyotaka winds up playing this game out, because you know damn well for class D it’s going to come down to him once again.
Overall no real surprises for Youjitsu’s grand return: the characters you love and hate are all here, the scheming is front and centre, and we have plenty of grist for the intrigue mill. I wouldn’t expect masterpiece miracles coming out of this season, but with 12 episodes on tap and a third season already confirmed I for one am eager seeing where this series is heading next.
ED: 「人芝居」 (Hito Shibai) by Mai Fuchigami