Sounds hilarious right? I imagined an Eikichi Onizuka (GTO) type spewing highly inappropriate nonsense at students in a magic academy setting. I was prepared to be entertained!
But it wasn’t meant to be. This show doesn’t know who it is. It’s not really comedy, not really fantasy, not really action, just kind of lost in the middle of it all. The characters are vanilla, the story is invisible, and the artwork is good but ordinary. Currently only a single season (as of March 2021), so perhaps it will improve if there’s ever a second.
I mentioned Onizuka, and for those that know him, we remember him with extreme fondness and a wry smile on our faces. Must of us know Korosensei, and his beautiful impact on the lives of his students. Various instructors at U.A. High School are familiar to us, some more than others. There’s lots of fun and memorable teacher characters in anime. Not to mention the sea of great student characters under these teachers’ tutelage. I was very much looking forward to this iteration of the teacher-class setting, and the interesting things they learn and the personalities involved and the fun adventures they have together.
Instead, I got a misguided genius type who can’t decide whether he frankly gives a damn or not. I got a spoiled, idealistic tsundere who’s in love with her teacher. I got an outcast princess who really should be more troubled by her past than she is. I got a catatonic loli automaton with a brother complex. I got a motherly knockoff of Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade.
You’d think that level of detail would equal interest factor. It doesn’t. They’re all very ordinary. Cookie-cutter, one of my favorite adjectives for these type of characters.
Glenn Radars (huh?) is the bastard called in as a substitute teacher by Professor Celica Arfonia (Shinobu Oshino as a matronly academic). Why is he a bastard? I don’t know. He’s a little uncouth at times, doesn’t always seem very interested in teaching, and gets on his students’ nerves a lot. But ultimately he’s a really good guy and we don’t have any reason to apply any definition of that word to him.
I do not like this kind of character that possesses an overwhelming combination of power and experience, and yet at times can’t defeat the weakest of opponents. You’re never sure which version is going to show up to a fight. It’s frustrating to watch. Nor is he developed much. If anything, he devolves. He’s supposed to be the “bastard teacher,” yet he becomes a likable person by the end, without any of the traits we initially see in him.
The only part I like about him is the pet name he gives to Sistine. He fondly calls her shironeko, the white cat. She’s certainly set up that way. Lots of white hair and a headband that sports two white cat ears, giving her that familiar neko-ningen look. But apart from that, she’s only memorable because she’s irritating. I can’t take the tsundere outbursts in this quantity! And on top of that, it’s all directed at her teacher, because that’s what tsunderes do to the people they love! Stop!
So she’s a big set of tired themes. She’s the top female character in this show, but as much as the show focuses on her, sometimes she disappears into a supporting role as the arcs shift focus. Her character gets lost in all this. And when she reemerges to the forefront, it’s with some hardcore tsundere outburst. It’s a frustrating viewing experience.
The other two main group characters are Rumia Tingel and Re=L. Rumia is the outcast princess aforementioned. That storyline was both unmemorable and unbelievable, a terrible combination. She also gets lost in the story, at times so very important, only to revert to a distant supporting role. You’d expect her to be more troubled given her past, and certainly given the amount of discomfort she’s put through during these twelve episodes. Instead we’re left to wonder why anyone places so much importance on her in the first place, while she herself doesn’t tug on our emotions much at all during the process. Then you have Re=L. Her backstory gets the most explanation, ridiculous though it be. I liked her initially. When she first showed up, she misinterpreted everything her partner said into “attack Glenn.” She speaks in that always fun muffled monotone. But then the brother complex inserted itself into the story, she went crazy for a while, lost a lot of her impassivity, and hence all her character development to that point. It wasn’t good.
So there was potential there, but nothing came of it. That’s pretty much the case with all the characters. Although I’ll go out on a limb and say that some of the characters don’t even have potential really. What else could be done with Sistine’s character? Will some new mystery emerge about Glenn Radars? It’d all have to be something whacky if the writers did anything. Otherwise they just feel like dead end characters.
Colorful and bright and shiny like lighthearted fantasy anime should be. But since the show isn’t a great example of this genre, the artwork ends up feeling a little ordinary.
Things I like about the artwork? It’s anime. Anime artwork is beautiful. Okay, I like the “shironeko” thing with Sistine. It doesn’t amount to anything, but it’s kind of fun and could be endearing.
Things I don’t like? I hate the girls’ school uniforms. There’s a lot of intelligent discussion out there about all the things that go into school uniforms in anime. And while sexiness can be part of that, for better or worse, I do not like what the author chose to do here. Now, a girl in any given anime might choose to show her midriff, either for personal reasons, daily style, or in armor, etc., whether it was practical, acceptable, or safe, or not. That’s fine. Often those kinds of design features contribute positively to characters. But not as a part of a school uniform. These are students, not cheerleaders or dancers or something to be examined. They’re portrayed as being serious about their academic pursuits. The school is portrayed as prestigious. So why this barefaced attempt at the weakest kind of fanservice? I find it very difficult to take any of the schoolgirls seriously in these outfits. It shouldn’t be that way. However you feel about school uniforms, combining academic seriousness with silly fanservice as part of the uniform itself, instead of it being an individual expression, is dumb.
Other than that design choice, I can’t take anything away from the artwork overall. It’s anime-nice. There’s no obvious issues with it. You all probably know how I feel about those giant floating magic circle thingamajigs, but it is what it is. The artwork is nicely drawn and pleasant to look at. But there isn’t anything exceptional about it either. Between the goofy thing with the uniforms and this ordinariness, the artwork is a little underwhelming.
So Akashic Records have something to do with all the knowledge existing in the universe and something about the sky and knowing everything and knowing nothing and…yeah I don’t know what it has to do with this story either.
There’s a city floating in the sky. Something important having to do with “akashic records” is connected to it. This is central to the story. In a story about a bastard teacher? Anyway, that’s undergirding everything. The thing is, we don’t know any more about it after twelve episodes than we did when we started. All we know is that it has something to do with Glenn’s slightly mysterious past, and the bad guys are after it. So I don’t get it.
While this kind of flows through the whole, the story otherwise is broken into little arcs focusing on the various characters and their encounters. But none of these particularly add to the main plot, nor are they particularly interesting or revealing about the characters involved. Two of the arcs feature Rumia, though she only takes a central role in one of them. Re=L and Sistine are the focus of one arc each. Glenn floats throughout it all, at times fighting ably and at others succumbing weakly.
I guess it all fits together well enough, but it’s not very engaging. I can’t even say if it’s predictable or unpredictable at that rate, because that would imply I was following the storyline intently as it unfolded. I wasn’t, because it wasn’t keeping my focus. It was just happening, and I figured it would all work out one way or another, the hell with the details.
A very cookie-cutter experience. Neither the characters nor the plot nor the episodic arcs, or even the dialogue, are engaging enough to capture my interest. It’s neither really funny, nor very heartfelt, nor engaging or exciting. It just seems like an ordinary fantasy anime with cute girls (I guess) and minimal effort.
A second season would go a long way to improving this anime. We could get deeper into the main storyline and develop these characters a little further. Although I don’t know how interested I’d be in watching Glenn interact with his cheerleader squad–I mean class–again, or Sistine wallow in immature love for her teacher. So if my views are shared by the majority of animedom, this anime probably won’t get a second season. It couldn’t have been very popular. But we’ll see. The large variety of tastes is part of what makes the world of anime what it is, and I like that about it.
So here’s hoping they make a second season just to improve upon the wreckage!
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