Hey y’all, welcome to a new series that I’m starting every other month called Book Bloggin’! I will be discussing different manga and light novels that I’m reading at the time or keeping up with regularly! The goal is to keep with one series at a time reviewing one volume at a time until completion of a series (or until I’m caught up with English translations, at least). While each post will be talking about a particular volume, the format and structure of each post may be a bit different depending on what’s being discussed and what there is to discuss, but either way, it will be an interesting type of post series nonetheless!
This month we’re starting out with the dramatic and thought-provoking thriller Classroom of the Elite, so let’s get into it and talk a bit about it!
If it’s not obvious from the title, this is 100% an isekai light novel story. Rather than your typical one, though, this one caught my attention because it wanted to go for a different approach, which will always catch my eye. The manga (as it’s the version I ended up reading) follows our main lead Azusa Aizawa who is a businesswoman that literally works herself to death. A god or being of some sort takes pity on her and sets her up in a new life as a young mage with eternal youth/life. Azusa decides that this will be her retirement and begins a life in another world doing… absolutely nothing. Having worked all her life since she was old enough to, she doesn’t want to do anything at all related to work. She gets by killing the “lowest level” (the world has MMO logic but it’s a fantasy realm) creatures she can find, slimes, and selling the gems they drop for the various food and resources she needs. Being immortal, she ends up doing this for so long that she’s become quite a powerful being and even a well-respected individual in her small town thanks to her healing potions she makes in her free time. However, after Azusa finds out how truly godly powerful she’s really become, she does everything she possibly can to avoid interrupting her streak of 300 peaceful years as a hermit. Too bad someone leaked how powerful she was to the world and now creatures far and wide have come to test her might…
Violet Evergarden is one of these shows that I feel at odds with when trying to discuss, as I feel while there’s so many good things to say about the series and how much I enjoy it and what it does, there’s an equal amount of criticisms I have for the show, yet it never detracts from my enjoyment of the show as I’m watching. It’s a complicated feeling for me, as I do deeply enjoy the show, but at the same time, cannot bring myself to call the show anything more than “good” as I’m watching it. I feel there’s plenty more the series could do with itself than the story is showing me at this moment. “Why is that?” is always what I ask myself in these scenarios, and I think episodes 5 and 6 are perfect to discuss why I both love this series and also feel like it could improve upon itself.
The penultimate for the series and boy is it worth that haughty title. What starts with a innocent, though a bit existential, discussion about “happiness” steadily divulges into an all out struggle for survival as every character down on the surface finds themselves at the end of the line, finally leading us back to just before where the series all began with that beautiful opening piece that sold me on picking up this series eleven weeks ago.
What started as a gentle slope to the finish last episode has turned into an eighty degree angle slide into the finale. The is the episode we finally, finally, get a lot of the answers that we were looking for… and then a few more questions. While I had wished more of this information had been spread out or at least hinted at more in other parts of the series, I felt its delivery was excellent and the revelations interesting. Plus, given some of the information explained, it made sense for the show to wait until the very end before revealing its hand.
This episode definitely wants us to know we’re finally here at the end of it all and the allusions to the first episode are abound, particularly the constant various versions of the show’s opening motif played in every style imaginable throughout each scene. There was also of note the opening discussion about happiness that was interesting to hear as it seemed to be a direct allusion to the first few lines of the show, a monologue about how Ctholly had found her happiness finally before she tumbles off the ship and down to the surface below.
I think that at this point in the season, I’ve become attuned to the fact that SukaSuka is a show where it feels like, and often is the case that surprisingly little happens with each passing episode. The show often manages to delve deep into some worldbuilding, or some deep discussions between characters, but often, much of what passes the time for each episode comes across as being interesting, but ultimately inconsequential with regards to the rest of the show. Although it does still dabble in some of these issues, episode 10 is different. Episode 10 has a lot to say, and what it does say at its crucial points are important. In ways that some prior episodes did not quite reach, it manages to give us the drama, the heartfelt, touching moments, and meaningful worldbuilding that some of the earliest episodes used to inspire such faith in the show in me.
Well, here we are. It’s another rousing week of SukaSuka. I’d like to say that I’ve been constantly entertained by the series so far, but sadly, I can’t. SukaSuka rides the line between boring and enthralling, depending on how each episode captures Chtholly and Willem in a beautiful romantic light. When it decides to pull out all the stops, it does a pretty good job of being entertaining and keeping my attention. However, the times that it does shine are few and far between, and I think this inconsistency is one of the largest downfalls of the series itself. Sometimes an episode will pull out a captivating moment, only to fill the rest of its run-time with needless exposition that had already been shown to us through smaller moments. Episode 9 is similar to episode 8, a prime examples of exactly why I like the show, and also why I find this anime with such a unique premise so uninteresting as it progresses.
If nothing else, I will say SukaSuka has been a ride, though not for all the right reasons. First and foremost, let me state that this show continues to impress me because when it hits, it hits solidly. I revel in the genuine and beautiful moments that this show has to offer and I love when this anime goes out of its way to cleverly layer exposition in very natural conversation. For what faults we’ve seen up to now, this show has just as many great ideas and scenes. However, the issue is that this show is not just its high moments, and that becomes the unexpected downfall that I’ve found while watching this episode.
Episode 7 of SukaSuka has most definitely calmed down from the dramatic, lore-filled rollercoaster that episode 6 was. In one respect, this is certainly a good thing, as the previous episode encountered a few hiccups in character motivation and narrative direction, among other things. Episode 7 returns to a very relaxed pace for SukaSuka, somewhat reminiscent of the beginning episodes of the show in how it goes about giving us some information about the world. Frankly, we learn quite a bit of pertinent information here through means that seem quite conversationally natural, and we do have some satisfying emotional payoffs in this piece, as well. At the same time, though, it feels as though we fall into some really odd places with regards to Chtholly’s own sense of self-worth, which once again leaves me feeling like this episode is a bit of a mixed bag.
This show has become strange to me over the last few weeks. It started out to be this entrancing anime, showing the depth of the world, using various elements to work towards creating a particular sort of tone, and further using these elements to create a world and characters woven into this grand narrative that was both mystical and tinged with drama. Lately though, these aspects that have attracted me to the show have started becoming buried under all sorts of problems, and it’s becoming harder and harder for me to look past them, even in its key dramatic moments.
We’ve been talking for several episodes about how much we applaud this series for being very clever with its pacing and intentional lack of action, allowing us to explore the characters and their setting on a bit deeper scale because of this. It’s an interesting idea to make a light novel adaptation with almost no action in a genre that relies heavily on it. For fantasy, action, specifically battles and violence, is the driving force for most stories and it makes sense. These are dangerous worlds in which rules surrounding people whipping out swords and going to town don’t always apply. Fantasy is such a high form of fiction that a story can easily show epic battles or intense magical creatures that tantalize and gives us incredible escapism, answering our thirst for a world where we all can have kickass powers. I mean, it’s just so dang fun to watch people sling spells and arrows around like there was a sale on projectiles. However, SukaSuka doesn’t really do this and, to be honest, that’s kinda what’s made it so great so far.
However, give me an opening like this with an epic battle… I mean, I’m not gonna complain.
For a sec, I thought I accidentally started watching Youjo Senki again.