3 Reasons To Watch: Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3

#1 Niche sports anime

Sports anime have never been a rarity, though some types of sports are certainly more represented than others. You’ll find plenty of soccer, tennis, and baseball anime out there for sure. If you want to watch a show about airsoft though, you can count the options on 1 hand. Today’s review is for Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3. An anime that tackles this very niche subgenre of sports anime.

PHOTO: The Stella Women's Academy team during a tournament.

Set in the titular Stella Women’s Academy, the story follows 15-year-old Yura Yamato. An imaginative girl prone to losing herself in fantasies, Yura has just arrived at the school as a first year student. However, she finds interacting with actual people difficult and so she fails to make any new friends. Then, as she returns to her room bored and alone, Yura makes a curious discovery: a gun. One things leads to another and soon Yura is gently coerced into joining the school’s airsoft club.

Getting an anime about airsoft is already quite novel in and of itself, but Stella Women’s Academy certainly does it justice. This is not a case of a fancy theme being applied to what is otherwise a bog standard slice-of-life anime. This is not cute girls doing cute things with airsoft in it. Airsoft permeates every aspect of the anime’s storytelling. The plot, backstories, character arcs, everything revolves around the sport. There are comedy bits here and there for variety, but airsoft is rarely out of focus for long.

#2 Animation on par with serious action anime

The airsoft battles are also a joy to watch. They are fast-paced and full of action, with many standout moments peppered throughout. Ambushes and surprise turnarounds, reckless charges or pitched cover-to-cover combat. It is intense, which makes the sport look incredibly fun.

PHOTO: Karila and Rin in a close-combat encounter.

Animation isn’t Stella Women’s Academy strongest suit, but it pulls out all the stops during these action scenes. It’s a thrill to watch these shootouts as characters lay down suppressing fire for each other and dash between cover as BB pellets zip past just overhead. Main characters like Yura, Sonara, and Karila are jumping and sliding all over the place while taking out targets like it’s nothing. I don’t know what the rules for wall-running are in airsoft, but man does it get the hype going.

I also like how there are distinctly different feelings to each match. Some matches are played very seriously, with methodical exchanges of gunfire and very deliberate movements. Others are played more comically, with goofy action moments that wouldn’t feel amiss in one of Gainax’ older anime or a modern Trigger show.

#3 Yura’s flawed evolution

What I wasn’t expecting from this anime is just how interesting of a character Yura would become. At the start of the series, she is an anxious wreck that struggles to socialize with people. She’s easily overwhelmed and cracks under any amount of pressure.

PHOTO: Yura aiming with an intense look on her face.

Airsoft soon becomes a source of renewed for confidence for Yura. It’s finally something she can get skilled at and which helps her befriend people. It’s scary at first to be shot at, but Yura learns and adapts to it quickly. She becomes the club’s rising star. That’s when people start getting concerned.

Her drive to improve soon takes on a competitive edge. Yura becomes more and more determined to win, to the point of it being an obsession. She doesn’t care about fun anymore and even sportsmanship soon goes out the window. Her friends try to get her back to her senses, of course, but may already be too late. It’s a surprising direction for this kind of character to go in. One which is made even more effective by how well the early episodes endear Yura to the viewers.

More like this…

Hanebado: Niche sports anime with fiercely competitive characters.

Sabegebu: Airsoft

Space Patrol Luluco: Action-comedy series in the style older Gainax series.

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