Anime: Mikagura School Suite (Complete Series)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Retail Price: $64.98
From the creators of Laughing Under the Clouds and Yuruyuri, a new anime with a different genre approach comes to life in the series Mikagura School Suite! The magically-influenced youthful anime begins the adventure of Eruna Ichinomiya, an otaku with no desire to leave her den in pursuit of a high school education (who really wanted to attend high school anyways?). Eruna, initially, can come off as relatable to some anime fans, perhaps -- wanting her life to consist of binge-watching tv and playing dating simulation games -- until she finally could have found her dream world version of a school. One day, Eruna’s cousin Shigure Ninomiya approaches her about enlisting in his school, the Mikagura Academy, making it the first time Eruna has taken school into consideration willfully.
The expansive Mikagura Academy isn’t your average high school, but, before she realizes that, she is enthralled by the “beautiful” Seisa Mikagura in the pamphlet disclosing information. Eruna’s love of girls takes precedent over everything else, making her more than ready to dive right into her supposed education. Eruna experiences a few oddities next, learning that, in order to gain entrance, she must undergo unconventional exams and communication with a cat that speaks English (or Japanese, depending on your audio preference). The main factor of Mikagura Academy is the battles one must participate in on behalf of their respective “clubs” to achieve a higher ranking, better reputation and increasing power in place of studying -- who wouldn’t be intrigued enough to sign up?
Eruna holds typical male anime cliches in her attitude towards women, with the shake-up of being a lesbian lead character. Even though the premise includes a major play for power, her admiration toward pretty girls is often the primary well-known depiction from Mikagura School Suite. In the beginning, Eruna has trouble determining what club she best belongs in (after a few comedic rejections), but, as her power develops, it becomes known that there is more to her power than meets the eye.
Some of the other supporting characters are nice additions to the series, including the feline companion of the school and some of her friends who participate in other clubs (like actors of the drama club). The battles and competitive nods in Mikagura School Suite aren’t entirely dedicated to sticking to one lane, which can make it your average casual-view anime in plenty of ways -- or a majority of the 12 episode series. (Though the final battle is a strong example with exceptional animation, as well.)
Something that is different from usual fan-service anime or even slightly action-based series would be the decision to make the series protagonist a lesbian character. In anime, you will often see it is generally more accepted to have lesbians as opposed to gay men, but, when present, it feels overwhelmingly like a way to provide fan-service to a niche genre crowd. At first glance, I thought this series could be different because of Eruna’s goofy ways, but it became a matter of acknowledging that she was always shown to be drooling at the sight of any girl around her -- not utilizing any potential for an actual bond to root for and develop while the series progressed. I won’t condemn the series for using fan-service because it wasn’t as painful as many anime series that take input from the style, but it didn’t need to rely on it for success either.
The character art in Mikagura School Suite varies from time to time -- sometimes providing enjoyable art that isn’t over the top or excruciatingly revealing. Most of the character designs were actually easier to enjoy, but the background art/animation was very generic and simplistic that could indicate a more rushed anime that wasn’t nearly about the artistic creation as it was talking about fan-service antics. All in all, Mikagura School Suite was an anime I kept up on, hoping to find a turning point or shift in direction, but, as it went on, I could tell that there wasn’t going to be a boiling point in the anime’s plot. If you want an anime with lots of girls, light fan-service, and action-fluff, then you might find Mikagura School Suite to be a series worth the while.
Overall Score: 6.7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- Eruna began as someone I thought I could relate to but ended up being someone who would annoy me in reality.
- If amping up the action and cutting back on the “chase” was an option, the series could have headed an entirely different way.