Spoilers are not allowed in class (that means no spoilers!).

Once in a while I clear my queue of all the anime shows still on my watchlist that I haven’t been watching. Some are new but just not piquing my interest. Some of them I’ve watched for a few seasons but I just can’t go back anymore. So I clear the slate, grab some new shows and start over. And then before I start to go down the watchlist I sneak in a show for no reason and end up hooked on it. Welcome to Classroom of the Elite.

(Credit: Lerche)

Classroom of the Elite was written by Aoi Akashiro, based on the light novel and manga written by Shōgo Kinugasa. The anime was directed by Seiji Kishi and Hiroyuki Hashimoto for studio Lerche. It follows new student Ayanokoji Kiyotaka, a chilled and aloof young man who has trouble making friends and prefers not to call attention to himself, as he starts his first day in a new school. Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School is a new educational concept where students are given free rein to do what they please, starting with handing out points which act as their currency. The school is its own little world, with stores and restaurants and everything the students might require.

On his first day, Ayanokoji makes an awkward acquiance with the cold-blooded Horikita Suzune, a downright hostile young woman who is the sister of the student council president. Horikita prefers to be alone and dreads interaction with other students, but still talks to Ayanokoji since he’s not a complete airhead. Unfortunately for her, the classroom’s social butterfly, Kushida Kikyo is trying to gain her friendship. Kushida is the popular girl and seems to care for everyone in classroom D, which is where all our main characters meet.

The surprises start out already in the first episode as classroom D learns the school has a few secrets up their sleeve – although not as much as the students do. The points that were freely given the first time seems to come with a few catches the next time around. Soon, classroom D has to learn to start working together. Although they soon start relying on Hirata Yousuke, the top student, it’s really up to Ayanokoji and Horikita to start moving the strings.

What we get is an strategic game where the smartest, but not necessarily the leading students, manipulate certain events behind the scenes trying to make their class come out on top. Classroom D is the underdog, as it is considered the bottom of the barrel although it’s unclear how some minds like Horikita end up there. While students put aside their differences trying to win over the other classes, we’re introduced to more than a few antagonists from Classrooms A, B and C who will get in their way.

It’s the main cast of characters in the end that make a show, and Classroom of the Elite introduces quite a few that seem to be cookie-cutter molds but start showing new sides of their personality as scenarios come up. You slowly start realizing that even the nicest people have secrets, and there’s hardly anybody being honest in this group. Worst of all, the school seems to encourage sociopathic behavior, which means school politics are underhanded specially the higher up the echelon we go.

It has its flaws and pitfalls. You will discover the plot leading you on to an obvious false conclusion. I prefer when all the cards are on the table and you can see where it’s really going, but sometimes it will pull that old trick of giving you a surprise conclusion that merits some post-climatic exposition. It also relies on quasi-perv camera angles to showcase the female body even as the characters are talking. It’s par for the course with a lot of other anime shows, but still unnecessary and overused. Yes, there is a beach episode… Finally, a few antagonists sometimes display shallow comic-villain level of personalities making them forgettable. Fortunately the main cast makes up for that.

Highly recommended with some light reservations. The show plays a balance between trying to keep to the high school genre and some darker, more mysterious agendas that you’ll partly discover in time. Any romance or team spirit that seems to be playing out in the surface dwarfs in comparison to the strategy, sabotage, blackmail, double-crossing and outright manipulation going on in the background. As soon as you think you’ve discovered everything there is to know, you realize there’s another mastermind moving the strings. If that’s your thing, you’ll definitely enjoy attending school.

That will do for now.