In the year 2045, the world has been contaminated by Irōsu (mysterious invaders who suddenly appeared), and humans find themselves restricted and contained. Standing boldly against these invaders are ordinary girls everywhere, without a powerful army or even weapons. The Shinjugamine Girls Academy is a school for these “Hoshimori” (Star Guardians) destined to fight the Irōsu. – ANN
Source: Mobile Game
Episode 1 Summary: Miki and her classmates at Shinjugamine Academy are trainees in the fight against the Irosu, alien invaders who arrived mysteriously, appear randomly (signaled only by a miasma that precedes their arrival) and who keep humanity contained and frightened. The girls lead typical lives, but are called up on when needed to invoke the powers given to them to fight and win against the Irosu. Unfortunately as of late, the classmates have been having trouble working harmoniously and seem to be phoning it in a bit. Not knowing just where or when an attack might occur, this makes the individuals running the program a bit nervous. The girls are ordered to undergo another round of training; it’s here that they’re surprised by an injection of new blood – a new member named Misaki.
Impressions: There was a time when I’d be immediately wary of an anime with a cast larger than about four or five main characters, but I’ve been proven wrong too many times to default to that position. Shirobako introduced an entire company full of animators, producers, and staff members while they sat around a table eating; by the end of that episode I definitely didn’t know many of their names, but the show never really suffered for its truthfulness about how much manpower goes into creating an anime. The Lost Village‘s internet-influenced bus full of misfits worked around its large cast size by giving each character a chance to prove how distinctly misanthropic or mentally-ill they all were, to (in my opinion) successful ends. So I’m no longer immediately put off by a cast of thousands, as even shorter anime series have proven themselves capable of using large groups for productive means.
This show introduces a number of characters during a chaotic battle in the first half of this episode. Each character gets a snappy line of dialog and the nature of voice-acting being what it is, that’s generally enough to leave a small impression on the viewer of the person’s basic personality. Whereas other series have counteracted the disorientation of these sorts of madcap intros by providing something else to grab onto, say an unusual plot element or interesting variation in tone, this one ends having not left much of an impression.
There are some vague references within the character dialog to the forever-looming threat of the Irosu, this anime’s malevolent foreign invader antagonists. Though not particularly creative, the idea itself is perfectly serviceable as something to challenge our heroes and serve as an ultimate goal. The issue is that throughout the first episode, several references are made to how poorly the characters are working together and how their power as a group is unfocused and lacking, and yet there’s not any situation where the beasts with which they’re engaged are shown to pose any kind of mortal threat to the characters. There’s not element of danger or any indication that any of the characters might lose out or become injured, and so it’s really difficult to stay engaged. I found my mind wandering over and over again as I resisted the urge to check Facebook or get up for a snack, and this was all while characters were in battle – ostensibly the most dynamic parts of the episode. it’s a bit maddening just how dull the experience is.
This show also seems to be an awkward genre mashup, as at least a few of the heroines appear to moonlight as idol singers, and the franchise’s Wikipedia entry seems to make reference to several different (internal?) idol groups and songs. This isn’t bad in itself, but I have to confess I’ve never really been a fan of idols or idol culture so the fact that that aspect seems shoehorned into this action series doesn’t really appeal to me personally. It also has the distinct air of trying too hard to appeal to too many different demographics at once which is almost always a poor choice; of many of the anime series I like the best, one commonality between them seems to be that the creators aimed to appeal to a certain fan group, made a product that has high quality attributes (story, animation, characterization, theme, etc.), and ultimately broadened the appeal in that way. From Yuri!!! On Ice to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, to Haikyu!, this has proven to be true. So I can’t really buy when a series seems to haphazardly take shots in several directions without hitting a target.
There’s an odd bit of pandering in this episode that I feel is worth mentioning as it didn’t land very well with me. For whatever reason, I’ve noticed over the last five or so years that the amount of low-grade yuri content in otaku anime seems to have seen an uptick. Shows like Sakura Trick and Yuruyuri make very mild plays at same-sex female relationships, not really to advocate for those relationships, but to provide them as another option for fetishization in shows aimed primarily towards male otaku viewers. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the shows are without other merit, or might not also have appeal to people who identify with those relationships, but I don’t think their use is meant to be enlightened or representative of ally-ship. The two overt idol characters, Kanon and Shiho, are introduced as kind of an “are they or aren’t they…?” couple in this episode, and some romantic aspect to their relationship is implied over the phone. Not only does this feel forced in a show that’s already got too much going on, there’s literally no other reason one would care about the characters at this point so it feels as though someone, somewhere is just checking off of a list.
Needless to say, this isn’t really a standout entry in the season, and there’s not much reason to recommend it over other, better-produced game-based anime like Touken Ranbu or some past examples like the Rage of Bahamut series. It’s probably more interesting if you’re a fan of idols or have some interest in the voice actors providing the dialog (of which there are many, considering the size of the cast). Add to that the fact that this is a HIDIVE exclusive, which makes it prohibitive to check out if your budget only affords one or two of the big streaming services, and this makes Battle Girls High School pretty skippable.
Pros: It’s a mostly inoffensive first episode.
Cons: Attempts to flesh-out characters feel forced, the antagonists don’t seem to pose a real threat, and the mix of genres is scattershot.