Back when it first started airing, I watched one episode of Classroom Crisis and left it at that. I actually liked the first episode a fair bit, it is just that I entered my anime slump and CC felt like too heavy of a show for me to watch, so I ignored it every week.
Night before last night, I decided to watch a few more and ended up watching all currently released episodes (up to 11). I didn’t go to bed until 5AM.
And that episode. That damn eleventh episode made me so happy. But even without that episode, there is so much to like about this show.
Engineers vs Management
For the first couple of episodes, CC focused on a rather unique conflict. It focused on the struggle of Engineers trying to innovate and requiring funds to do so versus the struggle of management trying to reign them in and preventing a total loss. A-Tec needed money to “innovate” and of course, management had no money to give (or well, they felt A-Tec would be a waste of it).
I can’t claim that the struggle was super relatable for me as I haven’t actually been in either of those camps (nor the camp right in between where Sera landed). That said, I have read enough articles online written by engineers complaining about management and heard enough from my dad (a former manager) to empathize with either side. It also helped that CC pulled this conflict off really well. Sure, some of the loopholes used to get money were a little silly, but the things poor Sera had to try (cozying up with the union, playing politics etc…) were very well shown and quite believable.
It also helped that I read some of Draggle’s thoughts on the matter. As an employee of the severely underfunded NASA (and a former Engineer turned manager), this was all too relatable for him.
Eventually, the show sort of pushed the budget problems to the back and instead started focusing extensively on the intersection of corporate politics with country politics. While this felt a little grandiose to be relatable, it was still believable especially with all the lobbying that goes on in modern politics. More importantly, it set the stage for some very good character drama and development.
When Nagisa first showed up, he was a bit of a jerk. Well, he was a likable jerk, but still a jerk. At that point, you were sort of meant to root for A-Tec’s survival and Nagisa’s failure. Very quickly though, Nagisa stopped seeming like as much of a jerk and as early as episode three, he was doing things for the betterment of A-Tec (like hiring an accountant to help manage their funds). Nagisa, in Hattori’s words, had become likable. Nagisa was at his best right when Iris and Mizuki invited him to hang out after the festival. Had he gone, he would have ended much happier, but unfortunately, that is when the political shitfest began.
The refusal to go hang out with Mizuki was the first “NO NO NO NAGISA DON’T DO THIS” moment, and it was quickly followed up with that backhanded political play. It felt repulsive and wrong. Nagisa hesitated. He even thought about forcefully getting back that 1.5 billion for A-Tec, but didn’t and instead went for revenge. It was repulsive because he hesitated, because by that point we understood all too well that this was not what he wanted, but simply what he felt was necessary. “Revenge is for fools” was something no one understood better than Nagisa. He probably regretted his decision right then and there, but felt it was too late to do anything else.
To his credit though, he never did stop thinking about A-Tec. Even when he became a director, he used his newfound power to try and save A-Tec. When he failed to do so, then he finally came to terms with what he had known all along. That he didn’t really want to play these corporate games and that revenge really was for fools.
The fact that the show made me feel so sad when the shitfest was going on and then happy when he found his way out is a testament to how well his development was done. Other characters were developed well as well. Sera, for example, went from being a competent Engineer to an incompetent manager to a surprisingly competent manager who really did look out for the well-being of his students/employees and could handle the budget as well.
Even our villain, Kazuhisa (the CEO) was really well done. He is the antagonist for sure, but you not only end up admiring his amazing political play, but are left almost sympathizing with his quest for money. He is just doing his job and doing a damn good job of it. I assume he is the kind of guy all real CEO’s aspire to be, but most of them can’t pull it off anywhere near as well.
Angelina-sensei got quite a bit of development as well. Her development is rather understated and easy to miss, but she went from “I only like Nagisa and hate everyone else” to someone that told A-Tec the truth about Nagisa’s dealings and someone that hugged Iris in episode 11.
THE OTP IS REAL.
Earlier I mentioned that I stopped watching CC after episode 1. I had always been meaning to pick it back up since people with good taste (like Draggle and Bless) liked it. The actual trigger though was a random tumblr post that showed up on my timeline. Someone had reblogged a few photos of Mizuki and Nagisa (not the romantic ones from episode 11) and tagged them “OTP”.
I saw that post and thought “hey, if there is enough there for people to ship them, then maybe I should watch it as well”, so I did and did so in one straight marathon late at night. As expected, I began to ship them right from the get go (I had probably shipped them in the 1st episode as well). But, this was a very reserved ship. Reserved as in, I didn’t get my hopes up. Sure, they’d make a cute couple, but this didn’t seem to be an anime with any romance whatsoever. Mizuki was being nice to Nagisa, but she was the class president. She was probably nice to everyone.
All of this changed in a little in episode 10, when Iris told Mizuki that Mizuki was in love with Nagisa. The moment, like so much other development in this show, seemingly came out of nowhere and yet felt totally natural and right. What felt even better was Mizuki’s reaction. There was no hand wavy attempt at hiding her feelings, no punching as a distraction, no blushing even. Mizuki simply thought about it for a few seconds and then said, “Yep”.
It was so honest and pure. In a sea of annoying romcom clichés, Mizuki’s response was unbelievably refreshing. It was the best confession of feelings since Sena’s confession in Haganai (and unlike that one, this wasn’t ruined by a useless male character or an annoying rival).
That moment made me so happy. It was finally an indication that the anime actually recognized romance was a thing that exists. But, like the coward that I am, I kept my guard up. “Unrequited love is a totally common thing in anime, nothing will come of this” I told myself.
Then the excellent dialog between Nagisa and Mizuki in episode 11 came about. I was really hoping for something, anything to happen, but my guard was still up. Then they hugged. I figured it was just a hug of friendship. Poor Nagisa needed a hug real bad after all. Then they moved in for a kiss.
I got excited, but figured the stupid brother would interrupt them, but NOPE!
IT WAS PERFECT. I can’t think of many cases where a kiss has such a perfect lead-up and felt as right as this one. It was unexpected, but it felt right and not forced at all. It was right because the two actually have a very sweet relationship. Mizuki has been so nice to Nagisa. She has looked out for him all this time.
One of my favorite scenes in this show came in episode 6 when Nagisa lashed out at poor Mizuki and sent her into tears with stories of his past. As he was getting ready to leave, she wiped away her tears and stopped him, insisting that they continue studying. It was honestly such a brave and kind thing to do. Had I been in Nagisa’s shoes, I’d have been won over with that act alone.
Even in this episode, right before the kiss, Mizuki didn’t say something dumb like “I like you just the way you are”, or “You did nothing wrong” or “Don’t worry about it”. Nope, she said exactly what he wanted to hear. That he had tried. That he had worked hard. That he did a good job. It was what anyone would want to hear, but it was especially important to him, having done all he could only to fail. The Let’s Struggle bit was also perfect.
The reason why all of this development was unexpected was not because it was not setup, but because it was setup without any of the clichés that I have come to expect from anime. There was no blushing denial of feelings, no teasing over feelings, no tsundere violence over feelings and no agonizing love letters.
The dumb clichés that I have always used to triangulate my position in the shipping sea weren’t there. It was only after hitting land, did I realize that the ship’s trajectory had been set perfectly from the get go, but my maps were for the wrong ocean and my compass way off. It was beautiful and I really wish more anime would follow suit and have this kind of natural romantic progression. I love romantic stories and I am always looking for them in anime, but very few if any anime are actually good at it.
Most “romantic” anime are just harems that will either end with worst girl winning or a harem end. Excluding harems, most other anime take forever to get anywhere. Take Working! for example. It sowed seeds back in the 1st season and only now, finally in the 3rd are we seeing any actual romantic progress. Classroom Crisis is a breath of fresh air. It is also proof that you can have good romance without making it the central theme of the story.
Now, there are a few people (at least on r/anime) who were quite upset with this development. They were upset because the Yuri Iris X Mizuki ship sunk. I am not going to say something like that ship would never happen or shouldn’t happen (it very easily could have if anime were more respective of such relationships). No, all I can say is I am sorry. I am sorry, you got Euphoed by another anime (yes, I turned Hibike Euphenium’s abuse of its viewers into a verb).
- The visual look of the anime is pretty nice. There are some interesting spin, spin shots.
- The background music is wonderful and just as wonderful is the way it is used.
- Iris is honestly the weakest main character. Her background story was pretty great and her interactions with Mizuki are very cute, but the love triangle is totally unnecessary and uncalled for! I will accept her love for Mizuki (or even better, a forbidden relationship with Angelina-sensei), but she totally shouldn’t be infatuated with Nagisa. Please sink the Nagisa x Iris ship with prejudice. Thanks. Also, many of the A-Tec problems start with Iris destroying ships. She really shouldn’t have flown that ship without a proper psychological assessment.
- I didn’t care much for the stabbing at the end of the episode. It was a downer for poor Nagisa, who seemingly had everything figured out. That said, it would be great if it leads to a nice romantic hospital scene with Mizuki!
- I can understand punching Nagisa for the trouble he has caused, but only a terrible brother punches someone because that someone kissed his sister (with consent mind you).