Mikagura School Suite is a series based off of light novels, that is in turn inspired by vocaloid songs. Now, I am a big fan of J-pop music and especially vocaloid tracks, so combined with one of my favourite pastimes, anime, I was curious to see just how the show would hold together.
The story follows Eruna Ichinomiya who, at the start of the series, is looking to start her first year of high school and has no idea which school she wants to attend. However, after seeing a pamphlet for Mikagura Private Academy (a school her cousin, Shigure Ninomiya attends), Eruna finally decides that this is where she wants to spend the rest of her school years. However, this decision hasn’t been fuelled by the school being notable in any way; no this has come about because Eruna spotted Seisa Mikagura in the leaflet and instantly fell in love.
When Eruna arrives at Mikagura, she discovers that the school is not all it seems. It’s a school where only cultural clubs exist and even then, it’s largely focused around the clubs fighting one another. While attending this school, the students learn how to control a special power within them that allows intense fights against one another without hurting each other or destroying their surroundings. However, if you aren’t part of a club, then you live a life of utter disappointment and don’t even have a dorm room to call your own – a lifestyle which Eruna quickly finds herself living. To make matters worse, it seems that her idol Seisa isn’t even in a club and thus, she can’t get close to her!
The series on a whole ends up being fairly simple. Eruna spends her time trying to awaken and then control her powers, while also wishing to become closer to Seisa. It turns out that Seisa is part of the going-home club and rarely comes to school, and on the occasions she does attend, she doesn’t interact with anyone. Despite numerous setbacks, Eruna still tries to win over Seisa and get her to allow Eruna entry into the club, so that they can spend time together (and more importantly – so Eruna can have a decent meal!).
Despite being built on a fairly generic idea, Mikagura School Suite manages to have a lot of fun with it. The cast are a varied and colourful crowd with some fairly unique character designs and each have a suitably flashy power to use in battle. Each episode centres around some kind of battle or character antics (we never get a beach episode though, thankfully) and are simply, a lot of fun to watch. Even the final episode, which by most standards is a complete mess and resolves very little, feels like a stroke of genius and will have you smiling most of the way through. The only real problem is that Eruna is a bit of a pervert and there are numerous jokes made about breast sizes which might put some viewers off (and be mildly uncomfortable for a younger audience), but otherwise there is little to complain about here – especially compared to other series in this genre.
The anime has been handled by studio Doga Kobo who have also worked on New Game! and Plastic Memories. Overall, the animation is colourful and smooth but during fight scenes, the quality can take a hit. Although I am reluctant to say it’s the quality taking a dive and rather, a very loose style that the studio have decided to use. Perhaps the best example of something like this I can think of is KonoSuba, where the quality was awful for the first season and now Studio DEEN seem to have leaned into it as a kind of different style to the norm. That’s what the fight scenes remind me of and why I won’t call them outright bad; in fact I think they fit a show as crazy as this one.
Overall, the music for the series doesn’t really stand out greatly. The composer is Yoshiaki Fujisawa (Love Live! School Idol Project, Gate, Akuma no Riddle) and has put out better soundtracks for the other works he’s been a part of. It’s not that this soundtrack is bad, it’s just that it doesn’t really stand out at all, but within the context of the show, it works well enough not to be a problem. It should also be noted that there are multiple ending songs, which are all fun upbeat songs that actually stood out from the crowd.
Our voice actors (in both the Japanese audio and English dub), have a similar issue where no one really stands out enough to warrant me giving them a mention. That said, one of the teachers, Bimii is voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito in Sword Art Online) in Japanese, who is a personal favourite of mine when it comes to voice actors. Natsuki Hanae (Kosei Arima in Your Lie in April, Ken Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul) is also present in the Japanese cast and I think between him and Matsuoka, it’s well worth watching the series in Japanese as opposed to the dub.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Funimation and is available as a dual pack containing both blu-ray and DVD discs. The release includes the whole 12 episode series both subbed and dubbed, as well as episode commentary for episodes 9 and 10. The only other extras are clean opening and ending videos as well as a scattering of trailers.
Overall, Mikagura School Suite might not be anything too original or ground-breaking but there is something really fun about the whole show. If you can get over some of the more questionable jokes and just want something centred around high school students battling one another then you’ve come to the right place. If not, then move along to better things.
Title: Mikagura School Suite
Production: Doga Kobo
Platform(s): Blu-ray and DVD double pack
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
Released: March 13th 2017
Disclosure: A copy of Mikagura School Suite was supplied by Anime Limited, the distributor, for the purposes of this review.