This show had one important objective in my mind; to be better than Upotte!!. I’m happy to say that it succeeded. However, how is the show overall? Let’s find out as we take a look at the show with a long name, that is somewhat shortened with “Stella Academy, Group C-3”.
Alternative Titles: Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3
-Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Kōtō-ka C3-Bu
Genres: Action, Slice of Life,
Themes: Girls with Guns, Survival Game, milsim.
Number of episodes: 13
Plot Summary: Yura Yamato has just arrived at the high school division of Stella Women’s Academy, when Sonora Kashima invites her to join a club called “C³”. Sonora is the third-year student who became the new head of this club for military survival games. The other members include two second-year students (part-Japanese Karila Hatsuse and G36K-wielding Honoka Mutsu) and two other new students (Rento Kirishima whose family runs a Japanese sweets shop and the really short Yachiyo Hinata).
The show’s concept revolves a group of cute girls who spend their club time playing the sport of airsoft. Basically an FPS game with pellets instead of live ammo, where competitions take place in either “capture the flag” or elimination bouts, or a combination of both. Also, like Upotte, viewers get to learn a little bit about the firearms each girl chooses as their weapon, though not in detail as in Upotte or Girls und Panzerwith their tanks. Each girl also has their own style of combat where one would prefer going head, another uses camouflage and a third girl would use sniping. The diversity of the girls’ combat style is pretty cool to see in action.
First off, we have Yachiyo, the token loli and energetic member of the team.
Next to her is Karila. Although she’s equally as energetic as Yachiyo (Which is why they make a great team), she has a tomboy streak to her and is more simple-minded.
The team captain in the middle is Sonora-senpai. Her main charm is that she is voiced by Hidamari Sketch’s Landlady, Miyuki Sawashiro. As for her personality, she works hard to be a free spirited leader who is dependable, encouraging, confident…and refuses to show her true emotions sometimes, which has led to some misunderstandings.
After Sono is my 2nd favorite character in the main team, Honoka. No, it’s not just because she’s a megane babe with juicy melons. I also like her “motherly” nature.
Lastly, there’s my #1 character on the show, Rento. Ren was basically the peacemaker and optimist of the team, so it’s no surprise that she was the one who worked the hardest to restore balance to the force. Ren kinda has a “dopey” expression, so I’m guessing that’s what the seiyuu was going for in her performance. She also has a killer bod.
Initially cold and having a personal grudge, Rin is not exactly a villain, just a fierce competitor who wants to win and knows exactly what it takes to be a winner. She’s more a rival than anything else.
Yura, being the main character, is the centerpiece of the story. Really. a majority of the show’s plot revolves around Yura’s “coming of age” storyline more than the sport of airsoft. It is a journey of a girl who had difficulty making friends in the past, opening up more after joining Team C3.
However, without giving away too much of the plot, something happened in the first quarter of the story that had a very strong impact on Yura. It forced her to go through the Japanese tradition of cutting her long hair…and let’s just say it wasn’t enough. This is, imo, the show’s biggest flaw. Don’t get me wrong, the message that the story wanted to convey and most of the reactions made sense. The problem lied in the execution.
See, Cerebus Syndrome (Turning an initially comedy driven show into a serious drama near the climax.) is nothing new. Several lighthearted comedy anime have done this. Team C3 started off (and ended) as a lighthearted comedy with gunplay elements. It’s just that the drama was too exaggerated and depressing for a show like this. It all worked out in the end, but MAN did they go overboard. It took me till episode 13 to smile again. I could BARELY smile in episode 12 and that was due to a yuri tease moment.
In short, there’s a reason why some Western fans made “Star Wars Prequels” and “Spec-Ops: The Line” references during the serious parts of the show.
An example of a show that had a perfect balance between lighthearted comedy, good action and drama, was the above mentioned Girls und Panzer
Overall, despite the drama overkill in the middle and climax, the show is still solid. The girls are cute, the guys didn’t hog the spotlight and were amusing enough to not be labeled as a bother like in Love Lab, the airsoft matches ranged from fun to intense and the fanservice was acceptable. It’s hard to tell who exactly I would recommend this show to, but perhaps reading this review will help some animeniacs on the fence make up their minds.