The first 12 episodes of Stella C3 were interesting but ultimately did not gel into a particularly satisfactory story. The 13th episode did not help much since it was devoted to fan service and general silliness.
The preceding episodes had been rather dark, to the point that some fans were upset. That’s not the real problem though. Many sports anime contain dark or sad elements, often much darker than this. (At least nobody dies in Stella C3.)
- Sports anime often deals in character development, particularly the supposed redemptive powers of the sport.
- Character development stories don’t follow a steady linear progression. That would be dull. So you often end up with some sort of “dark night of the soul” event. Or as some would put it: “angst.”
- Character development stories inevitably show the protagonist in an unflattering light at times, either as a wimp or a jerk, or sometimes both.
- Sports anime often struggles with the implicit contradictions between two fundamental principles:
- Winning requires intense dedication and training.
- This is supposed to be fun.
The problem with the series is not the dark elements per se, it is the failure to make us really believe in the characters and the failure to strike a consistent tone. A serious character development story is clumsily mixed with a K-on type story about cute girls being cute.
There also is a “Chekhov’s gun” problem: a supernatural element that ends up being pretty much irrelevant to the story. The whole thing could have been told without it.
The series had interesting elements but it might have been better if it had done fewer things and done them well. It may be that the writers were thrown off by pressure from the production company to put in extra things to appeal to additional types of fans.