Cheating Craft – Mid Season Review
Note: Due to injury, Linny will be taking a diminished roll through the Mid Season reviews. She will return for the full reviews at the end of the season.
Original Air Dates: October 5th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: The world is built into two classes of people, the Cheaters, and the Learners. The Learners strive hard for their education, taking cram classes and study methods designed to help them past the all encompassing University Exams. Cheaters perfect methods of circumventing the exam, doing their best to evolve and survive. In this dog eat dog world, of cheaters and learners a Cheater, Mumei, bands together with a Learner, Koui to work together and pass the insurmountable University Exams.
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Cheating Craft’s hilariously over the top world, where exams literally mean everything for your success in life, is still the series one true highlight. Scenes focusing on our leads battling it out during exams with instructors, who seem hell bent on trying to make everyone fail, are incredible funny and feel wholly engaging. It’s so absurd that it’s hard not to enjoy. The trouble is Cheating Craft doesn’t alway focus on that, attempting to inject an overarching story that falls flat on its face.
The trouble starts with our lead characters, Mumei and Koui. Neither is all that interesting, and our supporting cast is even less so. They come off as generic, uninteresting, and ultimately too derivitive of other leads, particularly of shonen origin. It doesn’t help that the story told around them is equally unappealing, with much of Mumei’s development centering on wooing a new female classmate he has the hots for, and Koui’s annoyance for his shamefully obvious advances. Any sequence focusing on these two characters attempting to interact with each other, or any other character, outside of exams comes off slow, plodding, and dull. Comedy becomes forced, try hard, and painful to sit through.
It doesn’t help that later episodes start to feel experimental, namely episode 6 itself. This particular episode is told in a disjointed manner, abandoning a more linear narrative. The trouble is episode 6 feels a lot like you missed something. It’s confusing as we’re thrown into a series of video recorded interviews with the rest of the cast centering on Mumei himself and some falling out he’s had with another character he’d only just befriended two episodes ago! It’s here that Cheating Craft feels more like a cliff notes/best of adaptation. Something only readers of the original Chinese Novel can truly appreciate as mere segments of the story are adapted, leaving so much information out of sight for newcomers.
Overall Cheating Craft has but one good thing going for it: The absurd exam battles. They’re it’s lone highlight amongst a plethora of mediocre elements culminating in an exceedingly dull, or perhaps even frustrating watch. Cheating Craft is something best left to fans of the novel series, and seeing as we don’t have access to it, something best avoided.
Linny’s Addendum: If you prefer your shows with minimum fan service, be warned that there is a fan service laden fifth episode. It’s not extremely sexualized but it does contain scenes where students swimsuits are shredded to strips to make sure they aren’t hiding any cheating material.
Cheating Craft is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com