Sometimes an anime throws you for a loop, in a good way. There are those shows that you start watching expecting them to be a certain type of show that you’re excited to see, but that turn out to be something not only completely different, but better than what you were expecting.
This is one of those shows
In addition to being one mouthful of a title, Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu, or “Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3” is a thirteen-episode “moe military” anime produced by Gainax. Its story begins with Yura Yamato, a new student at the Stella Women’s Academy who, during middle school, was timid and extremely shy. Desperate to break out of her shell, but not knowing where to start, a chance run-in with the C3 (Command, Control, and Communications, for those curious) club introduces her to the world of airsoft.
From the outset, Stella seems like your run-of-the-mill “cute girls doing cute things” anime, with the “cute things” in this case being airsoft. The show, however, bucks this genre rather quickly with its focus on action, combat, and character development. There are still some slice-of-life parts, but make no mistake, this isn’t Upotte!!’s half-and-half formula of half-action, half-slice-of-life. The progression of Yura Yamato’s character takes center stage, and almost all of the show is in service to that.
Stella is a show that isn’t afraid to move at its own pace. Indeed, Stella’s pace is much like that of an airsoft game: Quick. Despite the fast pace, however, the show manages to fit a lot of content into each episode. Gainax seems to have struck a perfect balance. The show really cuts to the chase with each episode and makes sure the important stuff gets the time it deserves while still leaving time for some more lighthearted slice-of-life moments and giving the other girls in the C3 club their time to shine. Despite all this content, the show doesn’t feel rushed or cluttered. Each event flows naturally into the next and there’s never a dull moment.
The visual style, while perhaps not the most unique, is well-executed. The character designs are cute and distinctive, the backgrounds and guns are well-detailed, and the animation is fairly consistent. The real magic of Stella’s presentation, however, comes from the combination of the visual style, the action, and the music. Cute girls, airsoft, and smooth jazz, three things you’d otherwise be hard-pressed to find all together in one show, mesh so well in Stella that it bears questioning why the combination hasn’t been tried before.
Beautifully presented, well paced, and with a compelling story, Stella proves that, even with Studio Trigger lighting up everyone’s radar, old Gainax isn’t out of gas just yet. If you’re into action anime and cute girls, definitely check out Stella. It may look like K-ON! with guns at first, but looks can be deceiving. There’s actually quite a lot here, and those who stick around to see what Stella has to offer will be rewarded with a brilliantly-executed show.
‘Till next time!