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[DVD] Anime Review: Stella Women’s Academy: High School Division Class C3

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From the same production house behind Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, STELLA mma5385WOMEN’S ACADEMY HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION C3 is a lively short series that serves to entertain viewers.

Based on the ongoing manga series written by Ikoma and illustrated by Tomomoka Midori, Stella Women’s Academy revolves around freshman Yura Yamato who has just transferred to the prestigious Stella Women’s Academy. Believing that she was attending a posh, lady-like private school, Yura believed that this was going to be the start of something new. Possessing a timid personality with no real friends, Yura hopes to change by joining a club and making new friends.

That is, until Yura stumbles upon a school club called the C3 Club, and winds up becoming one of its members. After being forced into a game or two, Yura soon discovers that C3’s club activities actually revolve around airsoft guns and tactical war simulation. Addicted to the adrenalin and constant excitement, the audience embarks on an interesting school life with Yura and her new friends at Stella Women’s Academy.

A group of school girls playing with airsoft guns? The concept sounds ridiculous but the show is surprisingly a real winner. Instead of using male leads, Stella Women’s Academy goes against the grain by demonstrating a variety of young badass girls physically fighting and using their wits to defeat each other. And also, unlike the average otaku or baseball club shown in Japanese anime, the show diverts from this common approach by choosing survival games as its focus instead. And it clearly works, as we — the audience– become highly mesmerised by this world of survival games.

While Stella Women’s Academy is still within a school context, we see no interference of school life or romance drama throughout the show. The lack of depth may not assist in painting the context and developing the characters, but it works well for the 13-episode series that simply just wants to entertain viewers. This spotlight on survival games makes it easy for the show to highlight Yura’s character development — whether it is from her perspective and/or through her teammates’ eyes.

As the story progresses, the audience witnesses the rapid deterioration of Yura’s goody-two-shoes character, and her obsession of becoming stronger. Caring more about winning than the welfare of her teammates, this causes a major rift in the team to many of her teammates and viewers’ disgust. Feeling undervalued by the team, Yura’s arrogance leads her to quit C3 to join Rin’s dominant team in order to become stronger. Surprisingly, Yura gets a wakeup call from Rin herself which compels Yura to question and reassess her actions towards the end of the show.

For a short series, the overall look and character design (Manami Umeshita) is standard within the anime world. However, what made this show shine on the pedestal was the use of different illustration styles throughout the screenshot_8_31027anime, especially scenes that featured Yura’s imagination.

From the traditional Japanese art style to Rambo-inspired style, we see Yura’s imaginative world coming to life in a highly creative and fantastical manner. Not only does it give Yura’s character more depth and spark, but it also acts as a concept to show how Yura’s talent differ from other characters such as Rin and Sonora.

Throughout the anime, director Masayoshi Kawajiri uses a variety of cinematography shots to present unique fighting styles on the battlefield. Whether it is Sonora’s acrobatic style or Ren’s graceful fighting style, each girl is demonstrated as independent and physically badass on the battlefield. With the combination of Kōtarō Nakagawa’s snazzy jazz music, this adds an edgy vibe to the concept of survival games, no doubt securing the audience’s interest within minutes.

screenshot_6_31025Overall: If you’re looking for a breather from other anime series, Stella Women’s Academy High School Division C3 is the perfect short series to fill up your time. The show may seem basic, but honestly, with the show’s action and drama from A to B, viewers will no doubt enjoy Stella Women’s Academy C3. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to create your own airsoft club!

 Rating: 7.5/10

STELLA WOMEN’S ACADEMY HIGH SCHOOL DIVISION C3 (Complete Collection) is now out on DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here]

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