This was one of the two shows which I watched this summer (the other being Free!, to no one’s surprise). The boyfriend suggested this, even knowing that I’m not a Gainax nor Airsoft fan. He thought it was cute and quirky, and possibly something that I’d enjoy. He was correct, I enjoyed it.
If you’ve been keeping up with my reading preferences lately, it should also come as no surprise to you that I felt for Yura. I didn’t think of her as a jerk or a douchebag; she made poor decisions, but is her personality overall screwed up? Nope, absolutely not. In many ways, I’d say that her bad choices were as much as fault of the C³-bu as Yura herself.
Yura enters Stella Academy with the intentions of making a fresh start. It’s hinted from the first episode that things didn’t go too well at her previous school, and Stella is her chance to have her ideal school experience. But within minutes of entering school grounds, Yura already makes her first social faux-pas, and even though most people would probably recover from this incident, for Yura, it’s almost a sign that things aren’t going to go well again.
Let’s be real here: Yura is socially awkward. She doesn’t seem to know how real people, real friends work — hence explaining all her made-up fantasy situations each time she finds herself caught up in a high-stress or high-pleasure situation. It’s easier to dream up of a scenario where’s she’s the heroine of her own life movie rather than face the sad, brutal reality where she’s a nobody, where she’s the girl who isn’t noticed.
Big fat deal, right? Every other lead character in manga or anime is socially awkward. Most of them are friendless and lonely until, one day, they discover that special something in them that makes them the hero. Yes, and for Yura, that special something was Airsoft. It was something brand new for her, and I liked that she wasn’t good at it from the beginning. I liked that Yura had to practice and work hard (mostly) and keep on practicing even after she mastered the basics. Yura may have been an above-average Airsoft player, but she’s no genius, and I like that.
The anime could’ve ended there, but that wouldn’t have been any fun. So, even though we see Yura gain friends and skill through the C³-bu, we also see a darker aspect of what happens to her because of her obsession with the game. Instead of becoming more empathetic to her teammates, the same group of girls who’ve taken her into the fold, Yura fixates on the “me” part of “game.” Yura thinks that if she levels up even higher in their survival games, her status in the group hierarchy would improve; she doesn’t realize, until too late, that the other girls aren’t as focused on the game inasmuch as they are about each other. She’s branded as an asshole because she cares more about winning instead of her friends, and doubly so when she doesn’t think it was such a big deal to worry about her friends since the others would take care of it.
Is her behavior a criticism of the otaku mentality? I’m not referring to anime/manga otaku specifically, but otaku as a catch-all for the fanatical, highly-competitive person in every known hobby or sphere. This is the person who doesn’t care about sniping you in auctions, cutting in front of you in convention lines, yelling out spoilers to a popular tv show/movie in a crowded room, taunting you for not having the latest gadget, etc. This otaku is the person who’s more obsessed about the things instead of the community that love the things. (Though if I wanted to be accurate and technical about it, a true otaku wouldn’t care about the community anyway.)
Was Yura just a latent otaku and all she needed was the spark of Airsoft survival games to get her going? Maybe. But, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Yura’s anti-social behavior (the psychiatric definition; as opposed to prosocial) wasn’t helped by the rest of the club either.
Understandably the C³-bu needed just one more member to remain intact as a club; none of them would’ve realized that their newest member would become such a fanatic when she could barely hold a gun in their first game. The rest of the club sees Yura spiraling into an Airsoft fanatic, but they didn’t call her out until it was too late. They all wanted to play “nice,” but weren’t so nice themselves when it came to ganging up on Yura. They pressured her for days to join the club, and probably so excited to see how fast she excelled in their game, but nobody wanted to take responsibility to tell her when she was starting to get out of line. Isn’t that what true friends would do, isn’t that what we would expect? If you’re my friend, I expect you to call me out on my bullshit and I wouldn’t get upset by it, because I know that you’re doing it for my own good and because what I’m doing is hurting myself and/or other people.
That’s why, out of all of the C³-bu, I like that Rento took the time to go see Yura and talk to her. Rento played a big role in getting Yura into the club, as well as taking the time to making Yura feel like a friend, not just another cog in the survival game machine. As much as Sonora and Yura had a special bond, I think that, without Rento, Yura wouldn’t have wanted to return anymore.
Another Gainax anime completed, and this one wasn’t so bad.