Check-out Station: C3-bu eps12 & 13
Can I just enjoy a show for being fun? Can I enjoy it just for the way it feels? Sure it makes me seem like a bit of a hypocrite, most every post I have probably gushes over a show with what I think is a good “plot” and narrative. While if I hate a show it is generally because it can’t maintain a focus when it comes to those things, and I end up hammering a show for that weakness. but too often I think I ignore another important element of a story, besides its ability to tell you what happens from start to finish, or tits style and persistence in doing such a thing. I think I’ve ignored character. And I believe this show has a very good one.
There’s isn’t a whole lot to say about this episode. It’s basically the show doing its best to let all the energy it has left out. Yura has finally made her return to the C3 club, and engaged Sonora in combat. Rento sees Yura in trouble when she runs low on ammo and rushes to her aid. The rest of the C3 club is so moved by all this that the heated one on one battle between Yura and Sonora turns into a three team battle. As the final bell rings, and the sun sets, everyone begins to lament the end of their day, but Yura has one more surprise left for them. A surprise that lets them battle to their hearts content just a little bit longer. And with that, we have to say good bye to Sonora. The episode ends a few days later, at what seems to be the start of a new semester. Yura sees two disillusioned students and invites them to join the C3 club.
What a nice episode. I loved it. It gave everyone a last shot of what people originally thought this whole series would be about; cute girls shooting guns with fun, exciting animation. It was also successful in making me feel a little sad that all this was coming to an end, while still satisfying me with what I’m getting as a goodbye. Yura’s “ability” is just as jarring, and ridiculous as ever, but it was beautiful and I like that this show that otherwise is firmly based in reality has some literal magic to it. No one was ignored, no one was left out, and the story stayed focused on its goals of friendship and fun, despite the dip into very depressing territory before this.
This episode is one of those annoying “we finished the anime, but here’s a bonus episode” episodes. I hate them because they could have clearly been put into the anime at some point with no problem at all, without awkwardly tacking them on at the end. But I digress, i still enjoy this show so let’s move on.
The problem that does or does not need solving this episode is that the C3 club has been going extra hard at the airsoft matches as of late. This is especially true for Karila and Yachiyo. The two of them are the most vocal about the clubs recent shortage of BB pellets, but they’re also the ones most responsible for the shortage, and Honoka is more than willing to give them a stern lecture on the subject. Sonora puts an end to that conversation though by telling them about an event that she went to last year that won her the year’s supply of BB pellets they were using until now. It takes no time for the club to agree to take up the task of tackling that tournament! *whistles* Alliteration b*tches!
The first part of the competition runs like a beauty pageant, as each contestant announces themselves in their fashionable outfit of choice. It’s predictably wacky, with Yura standing out for her nice supple butt in her bloomers, and Rin pulling the okey-doke on everyone by wearing simple sailor-style school uniform and acting all cute and innocent. Though the best part of all this was Sonora’s brutal, but funny commentary, and seeing Honoka in her outfit (I want to marry her).
The next phase is actual single elimination one-on-one airsoft combat. And the girls are thankful that they don’t face each other in the first round. The first round goes off without a hitch, with none of the girls losing. The second round gets a little wacky, and by the end we have a surprise final of Karila versus Honoka. And the match ends up being decided by popularity vote, which Honoka takes in spectacular fashion! Never underestimate a girl with glasses and big boobs, that’s often too many ASSets for for most other females to compete with! Man, this episode sure wasn’t afraid to flaunt its moe factor or its sex appeal!
In the end, my complaints are pushed aside as this was actually a very fund, silly episode. And it turned out to be a splendid send off for the show, as it focused on some of the lesser used characters while still giving everyone a chance to let their personalities shine through without all the drama.
To say I’ve had my fill of “cute girls doing cute things” anime is an understatement. I’ve purposely skipped a few acclaimed or popular series that could be described that way on purpose. And when I do try them, I generally lose interest very quickly. It may seem unfair, especially to fans of those shows who maintained their interest and enjoyment and love those shows, but I don’t see the point personally if I’ve already found something I enjoy very much. Though there is an exception to everything. Perhaps it was a certain anime bloggers rabid excitement over this series, the GAINAX pedigree applied to it, or even just the somewhat different concept for the show. But I gave C3-bu a chance, and the show took that opportunity to capture my heart and run with it.
I started off my viewing of C3-bu thinking I’d get a simple moe show merely set in the somewhat unique setting of an airsoft club. But C3-bu has been much, much different than what my expectations presented me. It’s a show that tries very hard to be deep, thoughtful and friendly. Very early on, you can see and hear the bushido code in the show. Sonora speaks to her juniors about the principles of airsoft and combat, you hear much to romanticize the activity, to fuse the warrior’s spirit into this pretend game/sport of war. It seems very over the top and silly initially, but the show does manage to suck you with time. It also helps that the show’s main protagonist, Yura is able to take that concept to magical heights. And that mixed with this show’s bushido code is what makes this show so entertaining, but also so polarizing and weird for some.
C3-bu has these moments, moments that only happen a few times in the show, where Yura breaks the mold and all reality in the show. And I’m not even being figurative here. She does just exactly that, as if her imagination runs wild and twists the world to her own desires and understanding. For for all their weirdness, they are the best and most beautiful moments in the show. It’s one of those things that really sets the show apart. The other thing is the show’s brutal understanding of friendship and self-affirmation. And all of this is best illustrated through Yura herself. So I guess now is as good a time as any to get into the characters.
Yura is a splendid character. She’s a whole character with a real character arc, that is to say she goes through real character development through actual trauma and trial. She starts off the show as the most timid and feeble of girls. All she wants in the beginning is to belong somewhere, and to leave her old life in middle school behind. Let’s be super clear. Her desire is to gain acceptance through changing herself fundamentally (emphasis on the mental). And I suppose that this should be the first hint at trouble for her character, though at initial glance I could hardly blame anyone for not foreseeing the monster she would later become.
When she meets and joins the C3 club, she does so because of a sense of belonging. And even though she’s a complete novice, she showed talent, drive and focus. And she soon happily dipped right into the world of airsoft. But things changed after the team lost a big tournament to her mentor Sonora’s chief rival, Rin and her team. During that match, she ended up being the lone player left and eventually forfeit the match. This ironically gained her scolding from both Sonora and Rin, and from there (and the moment she cut her hair) you could see a more serious change in her. As she became more and more aggressive and bold, she also got better. But Sonora and the audience could not how she was becoming hyper aggressive, displaying tunnel vision on the battlefield and was becoming obsessed with winning. Though for some reason, Sonora chooses not to address this (I’ll get to that later). Eventually, Yura transforms into some militaristic monster to her team and though the end up winning a big tournament later in the show, she’s still despised by her own team for her harsh ways. She even ends up going to their arch rival team, the one lead by Rin. That excursion implodes on Yura, leaving her without a team once she’s kicked off for her selfish, hyper-aggressive ways, and also left without her only friends at her own school in the C3 club.
Yura’s booting from the Meisei airsoft club that Rin leads is the very bottom of her character arc. It’s rock bottom as we later see this former, super talented ace all strung out (or as strung out as a little girl who doesn’t drink or do drugs can be) and alone. It’s only in the last moments of the show that she’s able to turn her life around with guidance from her kitsune/local god friend. She’s able to gather herself enough to get her gear and meet the C3 club to participate in one last match with former mentor, who will soon leave the country for greener pastures elsewhere. And this completes things for her, and the show. The lesson she learns at the end, is that she can’t lose herself and her friends in her quest for acceptance. In her quest for her goals, she managed to alienate everyone she came in contact with, a very strange feature for a formerly mousy girl.
All this said, Yura had one hell of a ride through this show. Even when she was doing something great (winning the 24 hour tournament), she was doing something bad (cheating, angering her lazy friends). She really did feel like a tragic heroine for awhile. And while I don’t think she’s my favorite character in this show (that honor belongs to Rento), she’s definitely the best, most fleshed out character in the show. And one of the better characters I’ve seen this season.
As for my complaints about the show, I don’t have a lot. But what I do have I’ll pin on Sonora.
While I really did like Sonora in the beginning, she was a very nice, fair, fun and accommodating leader, she really wasn’t a leader. And I believe she was a terrible mentor to Yura once she got done teaching her to aim properly in airsoft. I dare say that Chojirou, the kitsune she came across at the shrine, was a far better mentor and guide than Sonora. When she sees Yura going off the edge, she doesn’t do anything to stop or correct her. She hardly even gives any advice, she just stares while no one else is looking. This frustrated me to watch, because it made me feel like she didn’t care. In reality, we find out that she’s actually very much like Yura, which explains some of her aversion towards social situations and confrontations, but it doesn’t explain totally why she’d allow Yura to go off the rails like she did. So for all of my hope for Sonora in the beginning, in the end I found her to be a disappointing character. She was a character that failed to do her duty. And on a simpler basis, she failed to help her junior, roomate and most importantly, friend.
When it comes to the other characters in the C3 club, and in the show in general, there really weren’t any that stood out, though I did have a special place in my heart for Rento, who was too adorable for words most of the time. She was definitely the heart of the show, and she struck me as the kind of honest, innocent and strong character that could be the heart of any show. But she also had that special something that made me think GAINAX. It had to be that voice. Though for the life of me, I can’t figure out exactly what character she reminds me of. i will say Diebuster comes to mind. Rin also turned out to be a pretty decent character, once you got to know her a little bit. I will be honest about my affinity for Honoka though, there’s something about that combination of brains, boobs and butt that I really like. And have you seen her without her glasses?!
As for the other things, like production value and music, they were both quite adequate, but not outstanding. i will say that the show has a very fun, and jazzy soundtrack that I feel is horribly underutilized. And that while the show was rather average in animation, cinematography and color most of the time, there were moments of glory for this show. To be specific, whenever Yura’s imagination took over the show, things really did get beautiful. My favorite scenes are the ones with Yura and Chojirou. They’re just so distinctly stylistic, artistic and different from the rest of the show. And in general, whenever Yura’s imagination took over, things looked better and more interesting.
Overall, I have to say that this show was a lot of fun to watch at times. And when it wasn’t fun to watch, I have to respect it for its excellent character development work with Yura. I always thought a truly good character was not a “cool” character, or a likable character, or a character that’s merely interesting. The character has to be dynamic. They have to experience something in the show, react, and change because of it. Whether that lesson is learned in death and others learn from it, or whether that character has time to turn things around save themselves, if done right it usually leads to an interesting, emotionally engaging show. And I can safely say that Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu accomplished that task. Kudos to you C3! It’s been a fun and interesting ride. I will miss you.
- What C³-bu’s Yura Says About Human Nature
- C3-bu ep11: the self-centered will certainly suffer
- On Holiday: Labor Day Anime Special pt2 (Majestic Prince ep22 & C3-bu ep10)
- On Holiday: Labor Day Anime Special pt1 (Majestic Prince, C3-bu & Love Lab)
- C3-bu ep7: my heart will pierce the heavens
- C3-bu ep5 & 6: not above sex appeal
- C3-bu ep3 & 4: no resolve, no victory
- C3-bu ep2 (cool and warm, soft yet firm)
- Check-in Station: C3-bu ep1 (so we’re all agreed?)