Image source: KADOKAWAanime on YouTube

Always remember: If anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Recently, the first episode of the upcoming series, Classroom of the Elite, was streamed in Japan as a special preview and Anime Now! had a chance to check it out, and it makes for fascinating social commentary.

[This article contains major spoilers for the first episode of Classroom of the Elite.]

The story takes place in a special school founded by the Japanese government where supremacy meritocracy is the rule. The school boasts a reputation of having every one of its graduates either successfully enrolling in college or being employed. We’re introduced to the school through Kiyotaka Ayanokōjji, a newly enrolling student with a very dry outlook on life.

Once they enter, students cannot leave until they graduate. The school functions as its own mini-society, with everything students will need in life from basic essentials like food and cleaning supplies to entertainment facilities for relaxation and stress relief. Students are supplied 100,000 points every month that they can use as money, with one point equal to one yen in terms of worth. (So each student has a monthly budget of about USD $876.)

As expected, the new students in Kiyotaka’s class immediately go wild with their newfound privilege, spending their points freely and with almost reckless abandon, as they know they’ll be given another 100,000 points the next month. It’s only later when they learn that there is a caveat to all this that quickly turns what they thought would be paradise into a living hell: A number of points they receive every month depends on their overall performance as a class. With the students slacking off and spending their points like crazy under the assumption they’ll get more, the class is currently the lowest ranking class in the school, earning each student a monthly allowance of 0 points. 

Image source: 『ようこそ実力至上主義の教室へ』公式 on Twitter

Concept-wise, Classroom of the Elite is rather fascinating. The evaluation criteria of the classes appear to be based not only on scholastic performance, but also on things like attendance, general attitude, and quality of social interactions. It’s basically your “underdog class versus other classes” sort of situation, but with the classes trying to be the best societies they can be. The show offers interesting social commentary on class warfare and how the system is unbalanced to favor the upper classes, as well as the frustrations of being pulled down by the actions of others.

Character-wise, Kiyotaka is a rather uncommon breed, showing very little in terms of emotion and preferring to make rather dry observations about the world around him while never really seeming to view himself as above the dregs of society. He appears perfectly comfortable as a cog in society, disappearing in a crowd and letting the more outspoken self-destruct on their own. He’s more an anti-hero than a hero. He’s not particularly likable, and yet, his outlook is entirely relatable and that’s what makes him interesting to watch. Especially knowing that while his social disconnect may serve as a buffer at first, it will likely serve to hamstring him when it comes to trying to elevate his class’ standing in the school.

The first episode of Classroom of the Eliteis basically just setting up the bowling pins. There are still a bunch of characters yet to be introduced to the story, so how things are going to play out and how the individual characters are going to have to respond is yet to be seen. That said, what I’ve seen so far paints a very interesting picture of things to come. I look forward to seeing subsequent episodes and finding out more about the school’s system and how the new students are going to have to adapt to it.

Classroom of the Elite is scheduled to begin airing in Japan on July 12, 2017. There is currently no simulcast information.

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