Eruna Ichinomiya hasn’t applied for highschool yet. She doesn’t know what she wants to do, or where she wants to go. Her mother jokes that she’ll eventually live in a gutter if she doesn’t get serious, but she’s more concerned with her life in dating sims than with the real world.
That is, until her cousin shows up with a pamphlet for the Mikagura Academy. Eruna’s in luck! The school looks good, the uniforms are cute, and she spots a picture of a beautiful girl who she immediately falls in love with. The girl is Mikagura Seisa, the granddaughter of the academy principal.
What she isn’t prepared for is the strange interview that takes place when she goes to apply. Nor is she prepared for the school itself – Mikagura Academy is based around cultural clubs and features battles between students with special powers. Every student is required to join a club, and until she finds one, she has to sleep in a sleeping bag in the hallway.
Eruna is shocked and thrilled when Seisa shows up and invites her to join her “Going Home” club. There’s just one problem – each club’s representative has to fight a battle, and Seisa volunteers Eruna to stand in her place. Each fighter gets three crystals – the first one to destroy all three of their opponent’s crystals wins. With no power, it’s looking pretty grim, until she tries to hide in a room from her opponent, and ends up uncovering a powerful secret ability.
Eruna thinks that winning this battle will let her enjoy time with Seisa. However, it turns out that Seisa is a hikikomori, and the “Going Home” club really only involves one thing – going home, alone. Seisa issues an ultimatum to Eruna. If she can destroy even one of her three crystals, she can become a permanent member of the Going Home club. Unfortunately, Seisa is incredibly powerful, and Eruna loses within moments.
With that crushing defeat in mind, Eruna makes up her mind to begin her own club, and promises Seisa they’ll meet on the battlefield again – this time with Eruna victorious.
From there, the series mostly follows Eruna as she makes friends, becomes accustomed to the academy, and learns how to control her power.
Most of the voices are fine in both Japanese and English. The big exception was Eruna, whose dubbed voice got so grating that I finally switched over and watched the last two-thirds of the series in Japanese. I’m usually fine with voice-acting, but my biggest pet peeve is when it sounds like female characters have overly high-pitched voices, because it’s just so hard to listen to for so long. I’ve really enjoyed Eruna’s VA in other series. In this one I just couldn’t do it.
The characters are pretty fun. A few of them are given a bit of a backstory, though the focus is always on the present (with one exception later on). It was fun to watch the friendly group dynamic, and while Eruna isn’t really the most mature main character, her antics can be kind of amusing.
It’s also not exceedingly common to have a lesbian protagonist and not have the story be focused primarily on romance or fanservice (especially in shoujo). I was pretty happy with the treatment of Eruna’s love of dating sims and of Seisa. At times it’s ridiculous and she’s a bit overzealous, but it’s never cheap.
Mikagura School Suite is a lot of fun, and occasionally is heart-warmingly cute. Basically, it’s a pretty solid shoujo series. However… it’s kind of like riding up the first hill of a roller coaster and then having to get off at the top. These twelve episodes lay down groundwork for a great story, and that story is never really told. There’s so much more to the world of Mikagura Academy than is ever fully realized. Instead, the series focuses on Eruna learning how to use her power and starting her own club. She makes friendships and a few characters’ tragic backstories are touched upon.
The final few episodes focus on Seisa, whose story is quite moving. Still, that felt more like a side-story than a fully-realized conclusion to the series. With currently running light novel and manga series at 7 and 6 volumes respectively, it seems like there must be a lot more to explore here. The cutoff isn’t as jarring as titles like Yona of the Dawn (which ends just as the real story is beginning, and makes sure you know it), but it did leave me wanting more.
I really like the animation and art for Mikagura School Suite!
To start with, there’s a bright cast of characters with different designs. The wide array of colours and uniforms is eyecatching and a lot of fun. The backgrounds tend to be pretty gorgeous. From cherry blossom rain showers to wood grain in the floor boards, it may not have been perfect but it was detailed and often lovely. The one thing that seemed like an odd art choice was the tendency to draw extras in big crowds in just black and white.
The animation is pretty fluid most of the time. Fights move quickly, which makes them feel more action-filled. It does seem on occasion like the characters aren’t drawn as accurately during action scenes, but the quick movement makes it difficult to be too distracted by it. When combined with the designs, backgrounds, and effects, the result is pretty aesthetically pleasing. There were a lot of “wow” moments.
Also, heads up – the final fight scene is pretty epic. Without a doubt, one of my favourite anime fight scenes ever.
Mikagura School Suite has the usual digital extras – textless openings and endings, episode commentary, and an array of trailers and promo videos. So while it’s sort of the standard fare, there’s definitely a little more here than we usually get. The outside of the box is pretty eye-catching, based around a red and white design and featuring character art of Seisa and Eruna.
Overall, if you really like the series, you’ll probably find this blu-ray and dvd combo worthwhile. For me, I was a bit disappointed by the shortness of the series, though I enjoyed watching. I’ll be over here, just hoping for more.
Buy Mikagura School Suite from Funimation here!