Full disclosure: I didn’t make it through the entire first episode of Classroom☆Crisis. I think it’s always important to note that so as not to give the impression that I’m comprehensively reviewing the episode in question. And it usually (though not always) happens with premieres.
I managed to get about 15 minutes in before I started skipping ahead. Why? I was just bored, frankly – I didn’t hate the ep or anything, but it seemed very half-hearted and generic. Nothing stood out – the premise, the cast, the animation, the character designs. When the most interesting thing in an episode is trying to guess whether the character wearing half a girls uniform and half a boys uniform is a girl or a boy, you know you’re in trouble.
I’m really beginning to think White Album 2 was a fluke – or at the very least, that Maruto Fumiaki needs to stick to what he does best. That is, mostly serious relationship drama. That is not? Comedy-driven material or science fiction (as his last two efforts suggest). I may watch the start of the second ep to see if anything sparks, but this looks like a pass.
Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri – 01
At first glance, there’s a certain similarity between Gate and 2014’s Outbreak Company (which was actually one of the least worst LN adaptations (note: turns out Gate was actually a web novel first – if it matters a whole lot) in the last couple of years). Probably at second and third glance too, though I think this seems to be a somewhat darker series.
That’s really not surprising, because at heart at least 90% of LNs amount to otaku wish fulfillment – and a good number of them nationalist wish fulfillment on the side. Both Outbreak Company and Gate check the first box, and this show the second as well. But like the O.C., Gate seems to be an above-average execution of the model – it has a certain energy behind it, the visuals aren’t bad, and it’s nicely paced.
Things are considerably less friendly between Japan and its extra-dimensional neighbors this time around, as a mysterious portal opens in Ginza and an army of medieval soldiers and fantasy monsters pours out and starts massacring the shopulace. Fortunately Tokyo has an otaku soldier, Itami Youji (a somewhat oddly-cast Suwabe Junichi) to show the police and the SDF how it’a done, and he single-handedly prevents chaos from ruling the day. In the end, Itami is honored by the Prime Minister, hailed as a national hero and promoted to Second Lieutenant (turns out he was in the SDF all along). As for the aftermath, Japan decides to send an army through the portal to forcefully demand reparations from the invaders – a force Itami is naturally a part of.
Yeah, even by LN standards that’s pretty predictable and silly. But the premiere still manages to be modestly entertaining, and perhaps will remain marginally interesting if it focuses on the politics of what made a bunch of soldiers with arrows and knives (and a few dragons and pigmen) decide to invade a country with nuclear weapons. Gate stays very much within the safe bubble-world of the light novel universe – Japan is a feared and respected military power, otaku are the only ones who can save the day and they finally have their worth acknowledged by the powers that be, and moe cosplay girls are sure to proliferate imminently. But it’s not half-bad, for what it is. If that sounds like a lukewarm endorsement that’s because it probably is, but it still places the series above most of its contemporaries.