What starts as the expected arrival of a new transfer student quickly evolves into a kidnapping, a budget-busting rescue mission and the student-turned-kidnapee revealing himself as the cause for the real crisis – Kaito’s classroom, under his authority, is going to be downsized.
What I immediately liked about Classroom Crisis was its use of contrast, in both cinematic techniques – the school being dwarfed by the company whose harsh reality of business cuts into Mizuki’s cheery everyday antics – and character dynamics – Kaito’s dream to lead the future alongside the limited control he has of his class. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what goes on in this school, with my expectations for some relaxed comedic antics replaced by a far tenser situation – albeit one the class didn’t seem too unused to, quickly transforming into a strategic base of command. I said in my schedule that I was expecting comedy, and I did think the action would have benefited from some well-timed laughs to lighten the mood, since we knew the hostage wasn’t even at risk.
Iris’s reckless character was well-established with the theme of ‘safety first’ clashing with her dynamic approach to the school commute, which further stood out thanks to her calm persona. In fact, the whole concept of ‘safety’ was presented as something integral to the entire show, as I see it applying both to the lives and money that space travel puts at risk. Then again, once Iris was flying through the asteroid belt, it felt like there was too much security. Even though she was in mortal danger, the characters, along with her own spaceflight, worked more towards putting me in the calm of her cockpit. If this show wants to make the idea of risk-taking stand out, it needs to have some more dramatic conflicts than the pedestrian issue presented here.
Iris’s recklessness is a key area of the show that I feel interested in, but not yet excited about. The questions of what price we pay for our actions and what we’re paying for stand out strongly, but so far she’s felt too much like a device for that philosophy. I’m worried she’ll turn into another main character whose abandon is only celebrated in the face of its adversity, whatever costs it may incur. It may be too soon to tell, but just a hint of vulnerability in her character would have accomplished much for my connection with her.
As for the other characters, none of them felt like they had any significance in the spotlight. Perhaps it was fair that Mizuki – the cheerfulness we usually expect from a central character in school dramas – was phased out of most of the episode, since the show quickly and consciously rejected any cheerful, normal slice-of-life mood. She felt like a symbol of the class and its usual self more than an individual in it, though her breaking out of that is a development I’m looking forward to. As for Nagisa, his entrance was a sour note to end the opening on, but I haven’t yet connected with Kaito or his class enough to fully feel the threat he poses. Most of the cast worked in this way, interfacing more with ideas than they were with emotions. I expect it’ll take a few episodes to find who I’m ‘rooting for’ in this crisis of a classroom.
Aside from the characters, the Martian setting was an effective way of presenting the mindset of humanity in this era – start it on Earth and it would have felt more grounded, but make an alien location both familiar and different and you set the viewer up for the kind of expansive, forward-thinking approach I hope this show will require of them. We’ve already had questions of how we value our lives and those of others, with Iris and Kaito standing in conflict with Nagisa as the centrepiece of these, so I look forward to the other ideas the show will bring into the fray. Ending next to the wreckage of the X-2 also made Nagisa’s words evoke more questions closer to show itself. Will his approach to business wreck the ambitions of Kaito’s class? Or will this challenge, however it evolves, actually end up helping them in reaching for their respective stars?
My main concern with this episode was that its use of setting, along with the characters, involved animation that only felt serviceable. Iris’s spaceflight was hardly dynamic; the camera angles contributed nothing to what already felt pretty muted for the rescue’s most climactic moment. Add that to the music that gave me no sense of leaving my comfy chair in my bedroom, and I’m worried that Lay-Duce may leave their series without the mark of style they’ll likely need to make it memorable.
There was nothing riveting in this first episode, which I guess clashes with the class seeming so fired-up about everything that matters to them. Classroom Crisis opens with a solidity of premise that I’ve seen many shows in the past few seasons lack. Then again, this clarity may give way to simplicity that ends up undermining all the excitement and development I’m hoping for.
For a show about ‘the graffiti of youth’, Classroom Crisis starts with a less-than-striking first episode. You come to fully understand the status quo of Kaito’s class and the ‘crisis’ they’re in, but the lack of impact in this opening may lead some viewers to drop it before it gets more exciting. Still, the direction has given me enough reasons to be interested in the series; now all I need is a compelling reason to enjoy it.