Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 13 (Fin)

c3bu13

Out of ammo after their last match, the C3 club enters in the 5th Annual “Field Queen Contest” with 16 other hopefuls, to win a year’s supply of BBs. Daishichi gives the play-by-play while Sono gives color commentary. When matches last longer than ten minutes, the winner is chosen by the audience, hence the need for showmanship and flair. Karila makes it to the final after defeating Yura and Aira, while Honoka defeats Rin with psychological warfare. Honoka and Karila’s match goes over ten, and Honoka wins the vote of the people.

With the main story arc all wrapped up last week, this was essentially a bonus episode, with little in the way of lasting impact, but was nevertheless a fun and entertaining end to the show, efficiently utilizing the skills, personalities, and yes, “assets” of both the main and supporting cast. Sure, things got a little corny at times, and we hasten to remark that Yura could easily win with her supernatural powers, but the mood was charmingly chipper and the pace was quick and confident, never bogging down as the pageant bracket filled out.

As an innocuous bonus episode, there was plenty of (very mild) fanservice, a product of the contest being more than just shooting your opponent, but also currying favor with the audience. Rin’s self-introduction in sailor fuku was pretty amusing, as was her ultimate defeat to Honoka after hearing all burdens that will befall her should she win. We were glad Yura and Rin didn’t progress that far, and the spotlight instead fell on her teammates. Honoka was the master strategist right up to the end, keeping Karila at bay while making sure she showed enough skin.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Advertisements

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 11

c3bu11

Sono tells the C3 club that she’s returning to America soon, so they plan a farewell airsoft match for her. Rento finds Yura in an arcade to invite her, and ends up telling her off. Rin visits Sono, who realizes that throughout all the ordeals in her life she puts up a stoic facade to run from reality. As Sono’s farewell match commences, Yura wanders town aimlessly until she arrives at the shrine, where the human form of Choujirou tells her she must accept herself before others will. When Sono has defeated all the C3 girls, Yura arrives with Choujirou in hand, ready to fight.

Shameless enthusiasm for airsoft: Rin remembers her old friend Sono having it, and Yura has it too. Rin thought she could “save” Yura from going too far, but lost control very quickly, and had to cut her loose (you could call it a defeat for Rin, but ‘discretion’s the better part of valour’, and all that.) Yura didn’t manufacture that enthusiasm; that was just the way she was. Her unrelenting path to airsoft perfection ended up isolating her from everyone, but she couldn’t be forgiven or accepted until she forgave and accepted herself.

She is who she is, and maybe sometimes she’s going to rub some people the wrong way, or hit rough patches with those she’s closest to. She’s going to piss them off sometimes, and they’re going to piss her off. It’s no reason to settle for playing bad video games in the dark corner of an arcade with bags under her eyes. The world belongs to Yura just as much as it belongs to Honoka, Rento, Karila, Yachiyo, Rin or Sono. But while her friends all want her back, it’s Yura who has to actually come back, on her own. Her joining Sono’s farewell match is an encouraging first step.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 10

c3bu10

Yura joins the Meisei Girls airsoft team, and in her first match with them she distinguishes herself as an all-around outstanding attacker. When they enter a platform medic battle, she bristles when Rin makes her the medic. She trains obsessively, but Rin keeps making her the medic in the next two battles. After the last one a teammate gets hurt while she’s covering for her, and Rin cuts her, convinced Yura only cares about herself.

It’s been long since clear that C3-bu is not so much a wacky metaphysical girls-with-guns series, but an increasingly serious character-driven drama about the different ways people prove their existence. And ever since we’ve understood that, we haven’t minded that transition in the least. This episode in particular – the darkest yet – was an emotional roller coaster as Yura joins the “bad guys”, becomes a crazed villain of sorts herself, and is then dropped just as quickly for being too selfish.

c3bu102

The episode made it pretty clear that Yura was going too far, and her behavior in the medic battles was both loathsome and ultimately detrimental to the team she was on. Rin also made the salient observation that Yura was “forcing her ideals” onto others. But while Yura is ultimately responsible for her actions and her current situation, we couldn’t help but sympathize with her all the same. She was only trying to become a stronger, more useful person.

From the start of the series we knew Yura was socially awkward, and her arc so far confirms that. Whichever social circle she settles down in, it isn’t long before she feels stagnant and restless, and her personality clashes with others. If she’s to have a reconciliation with Sono and the C3 Club (and that seems to be where things are headed) it will be when she realizes there’s no point in being Ultimate Airsoft Machine if no one will play with you, or worse, if it doesn’t make you happy.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • We don’t see much of Sono, but what we do see of her shows us that she’s not losing any sleep over losing Yura (though no doubt she’s miffed).
  • The medic battle was a neat idea we hadn’t seen before. We can’t help but wonder if Rin was trying to teach Yura humility by making her the medic. It didn’t work!
  • As one of her underlings reports, Yura really is a fantastic airsoft player…on paper. But to use a couple of sports metaphors, she’s a bit of a glory boy.
  • Another moment when we were simultaneously loathing and feeling really bad for Yura: when she was shooting blindfolded with bloody hands and giving poor Rento a very cold shoulder.

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 09

c39

Sonora is discharged early, and congratulates Yura, but when they rejoin the club, she fesses up to zombieing in the final, and calls the organizers,  who contact Meisei, but Rin insists Stella didn’t violate any rules. The C3 club is relieved, but Yura isn’t satisfied. Mutsu and Yachiyo accuse her of sucking the fun out of the tournament, and Yura leaves in a snit.

Yura visits Meisei and talks with Rin, who praises her for her fast improvement. Yura sits out the C3 club’s noodle balloon shoot. Later she meets with Sonora demanding to know more about Rin. Sonora and Rin’s master was killed in action  Rin blamed it on weakness, and vowed to purge all of hers. After thanking Sonora for changing her, Yura tells her she’s leaving the C3 club.

c392

Yura wanted nothing else but a rematch with Rin, not just to avenge Sonora, but to prove to Rin – and herself – that she’s not weak anymore. Then she makes a rookie mistake, and while the best thing to do is to simply move on, she just can’t. Zombieing was an act of weakness, and the fun-loving C3 club are all to happy to forgive it and continue playing around. Yura isn’t playing around anymore. Like Rin, she airsofts to become stronger, not to have fun.

Yura’s turning to the Dark Side was a long time coming; her philosophical differences with the rest of the team were on full display during the tournament, and this week in the aftermath, when they’re sore at her for trying too hard. As soon as that confrontation was over, Yura knew she could improve no further in the C3 Club. Rin’s team might be a better fit for her, now, but who’s to say she won’t grow restless and unfulfilled there as well, or even start to miss the conviviality of her old club? Perhaps Yura can’t remain happy anywhere long…

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Rin’s not just good at airsoft, she’s also a master manipulator, and Yura is putty in her hands. But Rin doesn’t have any ill will towards her; it’s more likely she wants a new apprentice to mold.
  • On that note, we’re looking forward to seeing how the newer, darker Yura interacts with her Meisei teammates (if that’s where she ends up).
  • Yura sees Rin on the news, being named as the person who helped catch the sniper who shot at Sonora.
  • Rin gives Sonora a beautiful bonsai in the hospital, which is normally bad luck, but Sonora gets out super-fast, so the quesiton is, did Rin know the bonsai would have the opposite effect on her old friend?
  • Having completed the pivot from thinking there’d be more metaphysical stuff in this series, we’re really enjoying Yura’s character arc from wallflower to soldier.

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 08

c38

The 24-hour airsoft tournament commences, and the Stella girls excel, though Yura’s imperiousness irks Yachiyo and Karila. They fight throught the day and night until Stella and Meisei are the last teams standing. Yura meets with Rin before the last flag drop, and Rin half-confesses to shooting at Sonora. In the final showdown, Yura gets hit by a stray pellet, but doesn’t report getting hit, and shoots Rin.

We knew this tourney would go down one of two ways: either Stella would lose by the narrowest of margins but Yura would show rin her new-found fire, or Stella would win but Yura wouldn’t be happy with how they got it. During the truce before the final round, Yura, desperate to learn the truth, seeks out Rin. Through Sonora Yura has learned about how deep airsoft can get, and the lessons it can teach about living life. But Rin has none of it; airsoft is about one thing to her: the simulation of war. And in war, the winners live and the losers die; it’s as simple as that.

Those words don’t wound Yura so much as the ones that follow: because Rin sees this as a life-or-death struggle, she’s willing to do whatever is necessary for victory, including taking out Stella’s ace. She says Yura is no different; and it’s likely she can see it in Yura’s eyes; while Yura doesn’t consider this war, it’s absolutely imperative that she beat Rin to avenge Sonora. And win Yura does, but only by cheating. It would seem the cameras didn’t catch the pellet that hit her, so only Rin knows, and it’s something she’ll always know, making Yura’s victory taste as bitter as defeat.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • In our books, being a zombie player for a split-second is nowhere near as bad as targeting your rival in the real world with a high-powered rifle, but on principle, she’s correct that Yura was willing to break the rules to win.
  • Yura may have been a single-minded tyrant and cheat in this episode, but they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did without her intricate, highly successful strategy.
  • We loved the moment Yura pulled her gun on “Karila”, who was actually her twin brother in disguise. For a split-second, it seemed like she was going to shoot her for losing the flag!
  • Rin is voiced by Seto Asami, the voice of the bubbly Chihaya Ayase, but here she’s all serious business.
  • Rin is also the latest in a long line of raven-haired, dark-eyed female characters who play the villain, though she pretty much shares that role with Yura this week. Yura’s innocence = zero.
  • We have a feeling Sonora envisioned things potentially going this way for Yura after witnessing her obsessive behavior. Maybe she saw the Rin in Yura?

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 07

c3bu7

While walking home from the airsoft supply store, Sonora and Yura are shot at by an unknown sniper using a rifle illegally modded to fire high-pressure shots. Yura runs towards the source of the shots, and Sono has to rescue her from being hit by a car. Sono ends up with a concussion and sprained ankle, and will miss the 24-hour tournament. The rest of the club wants to quit, but Yura compiles comprehensive tactical research and assumes the role of acting leader, whipping the club in shape so they can win the tournament for Sono.

While neither Sono nor the C3 clubmates blame her for Sono’s injury, Yura is still of the age where she shouldn’t be running headlong into traffic, and she should thank her personal god she and Sono weren’t more seriously hurt or killed. This is an episode full of Yura making forceful decisions on behalf of the club, taking it by the scruff of its neck and whipping it into shape for the tournament, Sonora or no. But while she exhibits plenty of charisma and dedication, her head might not be in the right place.

She still kicks herself for surrendering to Haruna Rin in her first skirm, and once her suspicions grow that Haruna was the sniper, her desire to fight her grows even stronger. There’s a fire in her belly, and so driven to victory is she that she can’t even enjoy the festival that accompanies the tournament. She can’t have fun, and Sonora isn’t there to keep her grounded. The rest of the group accepts her as their leader, but by the time they realized the monster they were making by acquiescing to her extreme training, it may be too late. She’s so wound up, even a win over Meisei may not exercise her demons as she hopes.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re really curious what unforgivable thing Sonora did to Haruna that drove her to try to shoot her with a high-powered BB gun (if she in fact is the culprit).
  • The diverse airsoft teams include Team Meisei Team Seto, Team Karila’s Brother, Team Cop, and Team Active Marines…tough competition, all.
  • It was a nice touch portraying the training montage as a series of (very good!) drawings in a sketchbook that is handed to Sonora in the hospital when it’s done.

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 06

c3bu6

In order to afford the upcoming 24-hour airsoft tournament, the C3 Club must have a profitable school fair. After striking out with goldfish and haunted houses they set up a “cosplay firing range cafe” using what they have on hand. Business is slow due to harsh competition from adjacent clubs until Mutsu implements the “Get Wet Strategy,” in which the C3 members face off against each other in swimsuits with paper targets and water pistol quick-draw. A momentary distraction allows Yura to beat Sonora. By the end of the fair, they’ve made enough to fund the tournament.

It’s clear even before this episode that Yura has long since been accepted by the rest of the C3 Club as one of their own, and her exploits with said club are both fun and formative. And yet she still can’t shake flashbacks to a time when she didn’t fit in anywhere, and her peers took advantage of her meekness to walk all over her. It’s that past, combined with her defeat at the hands of Haruna Rin, that continue to haunt her and fuel the overachieving that could become reckless if unchecked.

She seems to use her “powers” to change her environment (as she sees it anyway) to her advantage, imagining a western duel in defeating Sonora in quickdraw. What followed was a quite awkward interaction to a duel between friends. Yura, who is almost embarrassed to have won, is given the cold shoulder by Sonora either because she was concerned with the girl who ran into Rento, or because she’s sore about losing to a newbie, or a little of both. The fair was fun enough for all, but it didn’t resolve any of Yura’s insecurities, which will surely come to the fore at the 24-hour tournament.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 03

c33

Yura participates her first high school airsoft tournament with the C3 Club. She’s the one to capture the flag in their first battle and things go fairly easily in the others, but their last opponent is Meisei Girls’ Academy, led by Haruna Rin, a partner of Sonora’s in America. Stella launches an all-or-nothing attack, and get picked off one by one until Yura is all that’s left. She runs, hides, and surrenders when she realizes Rin is going to hunt her down. She disappoints Sonora, but the rest of the club tells her not to worry, as there will be plenty of chances to redeem herself. She resolves to improve, cutting her hair short as a symbol of her desire to change.

On the one hand, airsoft is all fun and games; a means of sharpening coordination, teamwork, and general killing skills, which can then be applied in other, less military areas of life, while developing bonds with one’s teammates. On the other hand, for some (like the likes of Haruna Rin) airsoft is not a game at all, and fun is the mind-killer, along with fear, doubt, and hesitation. Yura still has all of those qualities in spades, making her the one weak link in Stella that Rin and Meisei mercilessly exploit to win. And exploit they do: they not only won, but shook Yura to the bone, ruining a day that was supposed to be (and started out) fun.

Every rival club or team seems to have a Haruna Rin, and we 100% agree with Karila: her obsession with form over fun makes her boring, and her unseemly mind games make her a bitch. Airsoft is supposed to be fun. If she really finds Yura’s wavering and forfeiture in her very first tournament to be “despicable”, then she needs to kindly get a life. Sonora isn’t mad at Yura because they lost because of her, but because Yura gave up. Rin expected to be able to overwhelm a rookie, and Yura played right into her hands. It was a depressing loss, but Yura learned a valuable lesson that’s as important in sports as it is in life: the only thing to fear is fear itself, not one’s own imagined limitations.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Han Solo has a few words for Yura after winning her first battle: “Don’t get cocky!”
  • We like how all the mock battles trigger Yura’s vivid imagination, and when things turn sour, it turns into a sinister war scene that overwhelms her. Maybe skip the ‘shrooms next go around?
  • Karila does her Matrix-like acrobatics again, while we see Sonora kicking ass for the first time. We like how everyone has their own unique style of fighting to go along with their unique weapons.
  • Whatever Rin won’t forgive Sonora for, Sonora doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to apologize.
  • After two episodes with an ED featuring crudely-scrawled illustrations, this week we get a far better-produced sequence.
  • As part of her makeover, Yura will not allow herself to be addressed as anything other than “Yura.” We were finding all the nicknames a bit distracting, too…though we kinda liked “Lil’ Yura.”