What They Say:
Welcome to the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing High School, a facility dedicated to fostering the best and brightest for the future of Japan. Here, students are given nearly complete freedom—but at a cost. To survive, they’ve got to get the grades, stay out of trouble, and be the very best, lest they be left with nothing.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show has some fun moments where things do go a bit bigger with some characters or just mild over the top sequences of showmanship, but the bulk of it is essentially dialogue driven. There’s a decent number of characters on screen a lot of the time and there’s some good placement to be had as well as some fun directionality. A lot of what we get are the smaller scenes though with just a couple of them and it handles the range well here as things get more personal with some bursts of bigger pieces. Overall, it’s a solid track with what it does and both tracks come across clean and clear with no dropouts or distortions to be had during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a standard nine/three format. Animated by Lerche, the show has a pretty good look to it with some really great backgrounds that look fantastic with the color style and all the detail to it, especially as the campus is being shown off. The character animation is pretty solid throughout though most of it sticks to the standard school uniforms with a few quirks based on the character. The show has some good sequences where there’s some really nice fluidity to it but a good bit is focused on minimal movement and just dialogue, so it gets to step up the overall looking without overcommitting to a lot of busy scenes. It’s a good-looking show with an encoding that’s clean and crisp and some really great color definition throughout.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case that holds the four discs of the two formats on hinges. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork but with better color definition that gives it a richer look. It’s a familiar image with the key visual of the main cast looking up that has a nice feeling to it as it shows off the design and what to expect as it’s fairly accurate to the style of animation. There’s a bit of a busy feeling because of all the uniforms but I like it and the use of the logo as a crossword style layout. The back cover goes simpler with a reddish background that provides for a little character visual artwork. We get a trio of larger shots from the show that works well but the bulk of it is given over to the summary of the premise with two paragraphs in a larger font filling things up. The bottom goes for the technical grid information which breaks things down pretty cleanly for both formats. While there are no show related inserts included we get a great piece of artwork on the reverse side with a two-panel full spread of the girls of the show that hits up a lot of really well-illustrated fanservice.
The menu design for this release keeps things very simple with static images used for both discs. Working with a red background that plays tot he crossword style the blocks, there are various shades used to give it a bit of life and busyness without being overdone. The character artwork to the right is nice and detailed without being too rich while the left side brings us the logo, which blends into the background a bit, and the navigation block below it. That’s a separate white square that has the basic selections that are easy to navigate and setup both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extra included here is the clean version of the opening sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series Yōkoso Jitsuryoku Shijō Shugi no Kyōshitsu e, Classroom of the Elite is a twelve episode anime series that aired during the summer 2017 season. The light novels, which are being released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment, are ongoing with eight volumes out since it began in 2015. The anime adaptation got some decent movement on novel sales at the time so the anime did the important job of advertising the original work. The anime was one I was interested in as I like a lot of the shows that Seiji Kishi picks to direct and there’s some great visual design to the show that stands out well. But the series is one that feels like it finishes just as it gets interesting and doesn’t give us enough meat to chew on when it comes to some of the underlying teases that we get, especially for our main character.
The series focuses on a specialized government set school known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School where it’s basically in the middle of everything but isolated. Students that attend there have all their needs met through it and communication with the outside world is limited. Which is fine because outside of the mention of a sibling or two or some mysterious flashbacks we get a few times to the past there’s very little anyone says about the outside world. The central focus is on the Class D group for the freshman year and the other three freshman classes to varying degrees. Each class gets an advisor/teacher that sticks with them throughout their entire three-year run at the school so there’s a lot of narrow aspects to it. Class D is, as you’d expect, the worst of the lot that have been brought in but are useful in the big picture as the various classes are naturally competitive with each other. Each brings something different and these kids, the misfits, and slackers for the most part, have their own challenges but offer their own potential.
There are several Class D students that are focused on but the core trio is what drives a lot of the primary focus. The lead is Kiyotaka, the epitome of the unmotivated type of student that works hard to be middle of the road. You know and can easily tell that he’s pretty gifted but he puts all that effort into not being noticed and just skating by. He ends up connecting with Suzune pretty quickly since she’s got the whole cool and aloof thing going on but he susses out that she’s looking for friends and strives hard to do everything to secure a better position so she can get to Class A level. You can see how Kiyotaka would basically serve as helping her to do all of this so that it raises his fortunes while keeping him largely out of the spotlight. To complement the pair we get Kikyou, the outgoing and large chested girl who wants to be everyone’s friend but uses all of this outgoing personality stuff as a cover for a far darker personality. There’s really no difference between the classes when it comes to the students on an individual level but their personality types put the Class D kids in their own realm.
The show spends a decent bit of time early on getting us introduced to the system and just how harsh it is since they start with a sizable amount of allowance per month that covers all their needs in the school-city. Of course, that lulls a lot of them into a false sense of security as they’re judged by the administration in all sorts of ways and the slacker class gets hits hard, resulting in some serious belt-tightening before going into some pretty rough directions while trying to figure out how to earn points back to be able to survive. This is pretty fun overall but it gets a bit into the weeds at times with a system that I suspect is clearer in novel form than they make it out here. You can easily ignore the details of it all and just focus on the way they react and deal with it, which doesn’t including coming together to be a better class overall. It’s more small groups that form bonds and work in different ways, all while Kiyotaka orchestrates things from behind the scenes to help everyone and move the class forward. Kiyotaka really does have a puppeteer kind of feeling at times with what he does and it’s fun to watch because of some of the routes he has to take for it.
There are a few smaller arc and one-off pieces during the first half or so of the season, including some accusations flying between classes about a fight, and a little fun summer stuff as well – while also showing some pool silliness a few times to keep the fanservice side handled. But the show ends up spending way too much time on the Special Test here which covers the last five episodes. The kids get taken on a luxury ship which has an episode for the journey and some of its twists before going into the final four with a survival arc. This involves the same kind of complicated rules that left me rolling my eyes in trying to figure it all out as it sets the four classes against each other. It’s an interesting arc overall in seeing how everyone interacts and the kinds of plays made to win but so much of what actually settles things is done in a whirlwind at the end of it that it kind of undercuts all the time spent. It’s useful in a way to how it’s all achieved but twisty aspect at the end just left me kind of deflated.
While I may seem a bit down on the series it’s mostly because I think they made things more complicated than they needed to be. It also felt like the stakes were skirted regularly enough so that there was little real punishment for a lot of it. Add in the fact that this feels more like the first half of a two-cour series than the single-cour series that it is also makes an impact. But I really did like a lot of the character interactions we got, the kind of relationship that Kiyotaka develops with several people as he’s playing a larger game, and just the quality of the designs and the whole school-city concept that I’m always interested in. The release is really nicely put together with a very good looking encode, a solid package, and a fun dub that lets the cast get into their characters well. It does leave me really wishing that a second cour was already produced even though it does wrap up the story arc material here for the most part.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 14th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.