Friday 5 July 2013

First Impressions: Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Kōtō-ka C3-Bu

Yay, a new Gainax anime!

Wait, Gainax doing a moe slice of life anime?

Sure it isn't their usual fare, but Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Kōtō-ka C3-Bu (or Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 if you'd prefer it's English title) may just be right at home with the studio that last brought us Medaka Box. Based on the manga series of the same name by Ikoma, C3-Bu tells the story of prestigious school Stella Women's Academy's airsofting club and the misadventures they get up to.

This first episode sees new student Yura Yamato transfer to the school before being roped into the club by members Rento, Karila, Honoka and Yachiyo. After failed attempts at persuading Yura to join with bribes of cake and sweets, they encourage her to take part in her first mock battle.

While Gainax, guns and girls sounds like a match made in heaven, I was wary of how this show might turn out. I wasn't familiar with the source material, and so there seemed every possibility that it could just be a typical Gainax fanservice fare. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that their usual brand of fanservice was practically non-existent, replaced with the usual thing you'd expected from a "cute girls doing cute things" series. Just with added firearms.

The first half of the episode proved fairly predictable - the shy new student with dreams of greatness arrives at the school, is approached by the oddball club desperate for members etc. With the exception of Yuna who hasn't really proven to be more than a basic archetype character yet, the C3-Bu club members leave a good impression - they KNOW their unusual, and revel in it. We don't know much about them yet, but each one of them looks to bring their own unique brand of craziness to the table.

It's when we hit the mock battle that the real draw of C3-Bu comes out. Smooth animation and a brilliant accompanying soundtrack (a jazz-like song is not what I'd have expected) make this scene a pleasure to watch even if you aren't paying attention to the dialogue. Throw in a few parallel sequences to the Rambo style action their imitating, and Gainax are maybe onto a winner here.

Moe isn't something I'd have originally pegged on Gainax, but they certainly have my attention.

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