The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³- Final Reflection

I had picked up Stella Women’s Academy: High School Division Class C³ (shortened to Stella Women’s Academy for brevity) out of a curiosity to see what a club around airsoft would be like: over the course of thirteen episodes, I followed Yura’s progression through airsoft, from early beginnings to her gradual shift towards a purely victory-driven mindset and her salvation from the aforementioned mindset. Stella Women’s Academy can thus be seen as illustrating a possible outcome of valuing strength and victory without fail over everything else. This was a significant point of contention in Girls und Panzer, where tempers flared whenever the validity of the Nishizumi Style was called into question for being excessively ruthless and ineffective. In Stella Women’s Academy, Yura’s shifting characterisation illustrates how playing for keeps under all circumstances causes one to become isolated and alienated not just from friends, but even the activity itself. By the end of Stella Women’s Academy, Yura comes to terms with herself, understanding that what she wished to do was stand out more and how that being in the C³ itself was sufficient in realising this wish.

  • Truth be told, I preferred Yura with her longer hair. She’s wielding what appears to be a replica of the M4 carbine, a gas-operated, magazine-fed, selective fire, shoulder-fired weapon used predominantly by the Canadian and American armed forces. The weapon is derived off the carbine variants from the M-16 family, fielded for its shorter barrel length.

  • Elements of the Japanese Shinto spiritual beliefs make their way into Stella Women’s Academy and initially appear to be out of place. I’ve simply attributed it to being an aspect of Yura’s imagination and inner spirit helping her along.

  • Contrasting Girls und Panzer, fanservice is rather more prevalent in Stella Women’s Academy, sending the Stella girls into deserted islands and various other events that give them an opportunity to give viewers a free partial anatomy lesson.

  • Charcoal roasted Chicago Franks, vegetable soup and what appears to be ice cream makes for a curious breakfast on a desert island.

  • The first half of Stella Women’s Academy is very laid-back and easy going, with the girls engaged in several airsoft matches against other schools, as well as one another. Aside from Yura surrendering to Rin in episode three, the first half does very little to belie what happens subsequently.

  • The image above consists of nothing I can reasonably talk about, but I can note that it’s been a day since Battlefield 4 just released, and presently, I’m still on the rocks as to whether or not I’m going to get the game at full price.

  • Shortly after the Stella girls put on an excellent showing at the school festival and acquire the funds to enter the 24-hour tournament, Sonora is injured by an unknown individual using an illegally modified airsoft rifle. At this point, the anime takes a shift from its hitherto lighthearted nature.

  • Feeling that they have to win at any cost, Yura pushes the others harder than before, hoping that they will triumph at the 24-hour tournament for Sonora’s sake. Her shift in personality is brought on by a sense of guilt that Sonora was injured, and illustrates that winning for the sake of winning might be destructive even if it produces results.

  • Like Girls und Panzer, the Stella girls use movements derived of the movement patterns in military tactics to close the distance between themselves and the enemy. As early as episode one, Rento and Honoka use the bounding overwatch pattern to close the distance between themselves and Karila, switching seamlessly to fire and movement pattern the moment Karila begins laying down suppressive fire.

  • Rento brushes off an injury in order to keep Yura going, even though the others protest Yura’s demanding tactics and strategies. The girls are able to win the tournament after Yura fails to call a hit, and despite phoning the event’s organisers, Rin maintains that nothing of the sort had happened, giving Stella a (somewhat hollow) victory.

Back in March, an uncivil discussion was raging at the Girls und Panzer thread at AnimeSuki, involving one Sumeragi and several others. The topic was whether or not Miho’s decision to save one of her teammates’ tanks after it had fallen into a river was justified: most parties felt Miho’s actions were appropriate and sound, even though it cost Black Forest their title (I will probably leave this discussion for a point in the near future). However, Sumeragi insisted that leaving the crew to extricate themselves out of the river was appropriate, and that anyone who stood contrary to her views were “soft” and “didn’t hold themselves to high standards”. In Stella Women’s Academy, after Yura transfers to the Meisei airsoft team, headed by Rin Haruna, Yura decides to continue fighting despite seeing one of her teammates becoming injured. Rin’s personal philosophy is not to show any weakness, but even she disapproves of Yura’s actions, noting that the safety of teammates is of great importance. Rin bears some similarity to Shiho Nishizumi in terms of beliefs, mannerisms and even appearances. Thus, it is not unreasonable to believe that while Shiho strives for total victory, she might also regard the safety of her own team members as having a greater priority than victory itself and may have given up a victory to ensure her tank crews were safe. Of course, under this interpretation, it means that the Nishizumi style itself is not sufficiently flawed as to make it inviable (it’s still flawed compared to Sun Tzu’s writings, though!). Instead, it means that Sumeragi of AnimeSuki bears sociopathic tendencies, and that this conversation is essentially over.

  • I’ve supplied a reasonably long talk about how Stella Women’s Academy illustrates the potential outcome of a single-minded drive for victory and the kind of consequences it may have.

  • The ancient war god is able to revive Yura’s love for playing airsoft for fun. Viewers were left troubled as to whether or not this really happened: in particular, one reviewer claims that there are four ways of watching this anime, mixing up and varying the numbers of episodes watched. That assertion is incorrect and is essentially saying to a new programmer that switch statement is necessarily useless and that an if-else clause is sufficient for all cases.

  • For all intents and purposes, episode twelve is the proper finale: Yura is able to find purpose in airsoft again and plays for the sake of having fun above all else. Most of episode twelve is dedicated to an intense airsoft battle that is executed in a surprisingly well manner.

  • While episode thirteen is the final episode, it decidedly feels more like an OVA, given its story is self-contained and boils down to the Stella girls participating in a “Field Queen Contest” (similar to a Miss Universe contest, except airsoft prowess is combined with other factors, such as personality and attractiveness) to win a year’s supply of BB pellets after running out.

  • There is maximum fanservice in this episode, but I don’t particularly mind, as it is seamlessly integrated into the episode’s story.

  • Daishichi and Sonora are the commentators for this episode, offering some unique, entertaining insights into what’s happening on stage. This episode brings back all of the lighthearted amusement factor seen early on in the series.

  • Rento and Yura react to Yachiyo’s antics during one of the matches. The facial expressions throughout this episode are fantastic: for those wondering, I noted in an interview that one of my favourite aspects about an anime is facial expressions, which provide a lot more expressiveness compared to their western counterparts.

  • Ordinary snipers wear ghille suits while in combat. Knowing that her opponent will likely be shooting at a ghille suit, Yachiyo dons a fairy costume and spends the entire match griefing her opponent.

  • At the end of the day, Stella Women’s Academy: High School Division Class C³ is an entertaining watch, despite the story being a little forced in some places. I’m generally open minded and don’t bother nit-picking, hence the positive recommendation. Don’t get me wrong, there are shortcomings in the anime, but at the end of the day, a few lacking elements isn’t enough for me to not recommend something.

That exercise didn’t really say anything about Stella Women’s Academy: returning to the anime itself, Stella Women’s Academy illustrates that being able to have fun in an activity is of the greatest priority, being built on a similar premise and message as Girls und Panzer. How does Stella Women’s Academy stack up with the other shows I’ve seen and recommended? Long story short, it’s an anime worth watching for pure entertainment value, telling a story about how Yura discovers and re-discovers airsoft. The plot is simple enough to follow and flows with a reasonable consistency, although the earlier episodes are slower-paced because of their focus on the slice-of-life aspect, reflecting on Yura’s early approach to airsoft. Stella Women’s Academy also features a lively jazz element in its soundtrack that livens up some of the combat scenes. All in all, I would recommend this series for audiences seeking a series about girls with (airsoft) guns and/or an alternative outlook on fun-versus-victory aspects in sport and competition, especially viewers who have already seen Girls und Panzer. While Stella Women’s Academy doesn’t quite have the same degree of masterful execution and character portrayal in Girls und Panzer, it offers a superb representation of what might happen to individuals who strive for victory above all else, and that even then, these individuals can still be redeemed.

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