Cheating Craft – Preview
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.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Cheating Craft opens with some decent animation that helps to sell it’s incredibly serious, yet oh so over the top tone. If anything, the show’s first few minutes are actually quite misleading, a well executed misdirection that fools the audience until Cheating Craft is ready to reveal what it’s actually all about.
Linny: Those first few minutes are definitely misleading as the animation style makes you immediately think you’re in for a serious story, with a quality that is on par with full length shows. Considering that this is a short form, it’s definitely impressive that the show creators put in so much effort to make it look very competent and polished. However, as the episode progresses and we finally get to the combat scenes, it immediately takes a turn for the worse and it becomes evident where budget cuts were made in order to pull of that quality opening sequence.
Tom: Interestingly enough Cheating Craft doesn’t introduce its main characters until the very end of the episode, and even then it’s a mere glimpse at their designs and some slight narration about their backstory. Instead Cheating Craft is all about world building. That initially serious tone is a misdirection as Cheating Craft delves further into this world and we learn about Cheating-Type and Learning-Types and how everything is centered around the big ultimate exams that determine your place in life. Initially it all seems like a criticism of Japan’s educational structure, and maybe it still is, but by the time our characters start shooting tranquilizer darts at the exam proctors it becomes obvious that Cheating Craft isn’t merely a satire, but rather a completely absurd, over the top, ‘what the heck am I watching’ comedy.
Linny: The switch from serious commentary to absurd comedy is jarring and instant, only growing more and more absurd as the episode progresses. So, if you start off thinking you’re in for a social disparity exploration, know that Cheating Craft seems destined to be an absurd shonen battle tale with fights and feats so ridiculous that it’s hard not to laugh.
Tom: Overall though, I liked Cheating Craft quite a bit once I understood what it was doing. That said, it’s unclear how much of this first episode will carry forward. We focus so much on world building that we don’t know any of our lead characters, or how likable they might be. There’s also the question of the tone. While Cheating Craft nailed the tone here, is this the same one going forward? Because all we focused on was set up there’s little assurance that what we saw today is in fact what we’ll get week to week. If Cheating Craft remains as good as it was here, and the characters are indeed just as outlandishly serious, I think anyone watching Cheating Craft is in for a solid ten-minute treat.
Linny: Cheating Craft does seem promising for fans of absurd humour, especially since its over the top fight scenes almost feel like they’re lampooning equally absurd but serious shounen battles in more popular shows. However, we know too little about what Cheating Craft will actually be like going forward but if this episode is setting up the tone for how absurd and comedic the show will be, it’s definitely going to be a quick, fun watch when you’re in the mood for something silly.
Cheating Craft is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com