Yuki Takeya loves her school so much that she does not want to ever leave! Megurigaoka Private High School is a unique and lively place where Yuki enjoys her carefree life as a third-year high school student and member of the School Living Club. The club, consisting of the president Yuuri Wakasa, the athletic Kurumi Ebisuzawa, the mature junior Miki Naoki, the supervising teacher Megumi Sakura, and the club dog Taroumaru, prides itself on making the most of life at school. However, this illusion of endless bliss is just a bubble waiting to be burst because Yuki is unable to perceive what is truly happening around her. In reality, all is not as it seems—the real purpose of the School Living Club is to escape from the shocking and disturbing truth: the girls are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and have barricaded themselves inside the school as the sole survivors.
Based on the manga by Kaihou Norimitsu, Gakkougurashi! follows a group of girls who are forced to adapt to a post-apocalyptic life all by themselves. They have no means of contact with the outside world and are surrounded by hostile undead waiting to devour them. The girls must not only contend with the challenge of survival; they must also strive to maintain a false appearance of normality in Yuki's presence.
Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!) was an unexpected surprise for many of the 2015 summer season, having a 1st episode that threw the conventional setup out the window it quickly garnered a lot of buzz in the anime community. While I entered knowing that there was going to be zombies involved due to word of mouth, I assumed that the subject matter would of simply been treated as a backdrop for cute girls to get involved in some kind of silly tension-less slapstick comedy. I was expecting something like 2015 spring season's Re-Kan, where the supernatural elements were simply treated as a comedic gag than anything integral to the plot. And while the troll opening song and most of the show's 1st episode run-time had me duped into believing my suspicion, that presumption was quickly shattered with the show's ominous reveal towards the end. Of course there were a few foretelling signs with the way some characters were acting and visual cues scattered throughout the episode but I was still fooled nonetheless. With that said in order to get the most out of this title I highly suggest you refrain from doing any sort of research into it and simply watch it blind, so unless you've already watched it or simply don't care I advise you from reading this review any further.
The juxtaposition from "cute girls doing cute things" to zombie apocalypse is certainly a odd departure not often seen in anime. In fact I don't recall anything going down that route at all. The closest point of comparison are magical girl shows that take a darker turn as it progresses (Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica) or shows that use sickeningly cute characters and slice of life moments before venturing into a bone chilling blood bath (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni). But as far as anything that follows directly in Gakkou's footsteps I'm drawing blanks. At the very least I can say it's a unique experience. While the "cute girls doing cute things" formula is omnipresent throughout the show it's the moments that it shifts into a more skewed and sinister tone that really makes it stand out. Almost like eating a reverse Sour Patch Kid, you're lulled into a sweet carefree disposition only to have it fizzle away into something much more visceral and disturbing. Although some of the tonal shifts throughout the show aren't transitioned well, due to improper cohesion between the polar opposite elements, it still manages to keep you on your toes when "shit hits the fan".
The story itself follows a more character driven narrative with most of the intrigue being found with the mental state of the character Yuki Takeya. She's a victim of her circumstances and brings an interesting twist to the table. The rest of the cast were given episodes dedicated to fleshing out their backstory but their personalities from beginning to end were rather one note. At best they had the basic requirements covered to carry the narrative but nothing noteworthy beyond that.
But for everything that Gakkougurashi had going for it there seemed to have been an inept understanding of the essentials needed to craft its content into a good show. Today we'll discuss the two major issues that detracted from the show's overall quality and prevented it from reaching its ambitious heights.
The 1st major issue was the way it handled the character's mental state. When dealing with a mentally conflicted individual proper psychoanalysis and character study is needed in order to make this broken character's psyche to feel realistic. Without it we're simply given a gimmick that's only viable on a superficial level. With Gurashi we see the events that trigger the mental breakdown of the characters but it's never explored beyond face value. There's no true existential crisis or even any introspection given to justify the way the characters are presented; it's only used as a ploy for shock value and generating easy to consume entertainment. It may have intended it to be more than just that but it simply wasn't genuine enough to get that point across. Since all of the characters were cookie cutter moe stereotypes and no effort was placed to develop and add dimension to them it often felt shallow. This isn't like Perfect Blue where we get a 1st person perspective into the mind of our protagonist as we experience their graduated breakdown between what's real and imaginary, nor is it like Evangelion where the internal strife of your characters were externalized into a visual motif for further inspection. To put it bluntly it was a case of style over substance that became painfully obvious when the gimmick was recycled every episode.
The 2nd major issue was with the story itself. If viewed as a character driven narrative it fell short of the mark (noted by the aforementioned problems I discussed) and if viewed as a plot driven narrative it was a monotonous dribble that repeated the same one trick pony shtick every episode. It was "moe" antics followed by dark demented slice of life on constant repeat. The reason this worked for shows like Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was because after the shift in tone it gradually leaned and stayed in the "darker" territory. There was no flip flopping back and forth between cutesy and dark which ultimately made the conflict at hand to feel more poignant. It kept moving forward to its eventual destination and wasn't back peddling. This was Gakkougurashi's fatal flaw and ultimately what placed the final nail in its coffin. It simply spun its wheels in the mud thinking it can depend on the same trick to carry it from beginning to end. And because of this the show was always stuck in a state of stagnation. The only episodes that tried to break this cycle were the final ones but by then the damage was done.
While the plot twists and shock factor moments made the show a fun spectacle every now and then I couldn't help but feel a lack of engagement. The moe aspects of the show stopped all chances of the serious elements from really having a firm grip on me. And since the show kept jumping back and forth between moe and dark slice of life, after awhile the novelty faded away. It was enjoyable at times but only on a surface level and I left more underwhelmed than satisfied.
Gakkougurashi had the potential to make something that subverts the typical formula associated with the "cute girls doing cute things" setup but ultimately did nothing with it. It's sadly yet another case of a good premise underutilized and poorly handled. The right ingredients were there but what we were served at the end of the day was a lukewarm dud.read more
If you have no idea what this show is about, you’re one of the lucky few that can still dive into this quirky ‘slice of life at school’ show blind. It’s mostly centred on antics and club events thought up by Yuki, guided by the athletic Kurumi and motherly Yuuri. You’ll either love Yuki, (she’s so crazy~) or empathise with Miki’s level-headed reactions to her; Miki acts as a foil to Yuki, providing some gravitas to the show. After one episode you will likely either want to drop it or watch the rest. If you don’t know anything about it, watch an episode before you read the rest of the review.
If you’re reading on past this paragraph I’m assuming that you’ve either finished the first episode or at least know what happens in it. It’s pretty much impossible to describe the show without giving away things that happen in the first episode, but I’ll avoid spoiling anything beyond that.
If someone had come up with the idea of ‘moe horror’ I would have regarded it with the same suspicion that I would regard a ‘death-game harem’, or a ‘mecha romance’. It’s all well and good in theory, but if you try to keep a consistent tone while staying true to the concept you’re inevitably going to wind up with too much ‘harem’ and not enough ‘death-game’, or too much ‘moe’ and not enough ‘horror’ (or, to continue with the analogy, some really inorganic character development). To balance out the conflicting themes in this instance you really need some sort of excuse to violently flip between a light-hearted slice of life show and a dark post-apocalyptic horror without breaking the audience’s immersion. Fortunately, one method to making this strange transition between completely different tones work resides under Yuki’s cat-ear beanie. With what comes across as either complete insanity or a pathological determination to keep things happy and light-hearted, Yuki manages to get the other characters to forget about their situation, which in turn lulls the audience into that same sense of security. With such a setup, flipping the show back into a horror is as simple as cutting away from the mood Yuki has created.
We soon discover that the show’s title is a clever pun in more ways than one. ‘Gakkougurashi’ follows the daily lives of a cast of mostly schoolgirls that are quite literally living at a school, flipping between their attempts to have fun and enjoy their lives on a day-to-day basis, on the one hand, and showing how each of them found themselves in such a situation, on the other.
A significant portion of ‘School-Live!’ is spent on flashbacks, showing events that led up to their current situation. This approach takes away from the tangible sense of threat, but has the advantage of bringing the oh-so-rational Miki into the first episode (which is an amazing thing for people that aren’t a huge fan of Yuki). It’s a trade-off and a departure from the source material, which unfortunately leads to a few minor plot holes being ripped open from the fabric of the narrative. Given the context of the narrative presented, I was happy for them to spend plenty of time showing how the situation had come to be the way it was. That’s where most of the excitement of this setting should reasonably come from given the nature of the show. Once our protagonists have managed to find safety, the plot as it is generally needs to rely on their desperation or stupidity to inject any new threat into the narrative without the audience losing immersion, so focusing on the lead-up to their situation was a good idea overall.
The characters vary widely in personality traits and outlook, and you’ll likely find that at least one of them has a mentality you can gel with. The power dynamic and relationships between the girls are multifaceted and interesting mainly because of what they represent. Yuuri holds an unspoken and uncontested authority over the group as a pre-designated maternal leader, Kurumi is a hot-headed badass that quickly resorts to violence, Yuki is a psychotic and emotionally manipulative idealist, Miki is a stoic and cold-shouldered pessimist, and Megu-nee is very similar to that clumsy yet lovable substitute teacher you likely once had: she panics, falls over, and drops things, and is ignored far too often by her students when they don’t need her help. From that melting pot of conflicting ideals and character archetypes comes a series of friendships built from necessity; built upon the cornerstone that is the hardship of their desperate situation.
There’s a sense of self-awareness maintained in the writing throughout, whether it’s (quite literally) pointing to other works that it has drawn inspiration from (such as the movie ‘I am Legend’ and the novels of Stephen King), or lampshading apparent plot contrivances by having the characters ask questions the audience were themselves wondering about (viz. why is this school so oddly well prepared for what happened?). This is one of the biggest strengths of the show and a huge part of why I’m comfortable giving it a high score. The writers clearly knew the artistic context of what they were doing and had a reasonable sense of how the audience would react to what they were seeing.
The art of ‘28 Moes Later’, however, was an unfortunate stumbling block that marred the show in some respects. I’m not against the ‘moe’ art design and see nothing intrinsically wrong with it (except that it’s being used so often in modern anime that any departure from it feels like a breath of fresh air). The problem is moments of laziness and inconsistency that were obvious enough to be distracting: the characters are occasionally drawn out of proportion or with slightly misplaced features. It’s not something I would normally bring up, but it’s an obvious bad sign when such mistakes are even apparent to people that aren’t looking for them.
I briefly mentioned before that this show had departed from the source material in several respects. Some of these changes were worse than others. The inclusion of Miki in the first episode was a reasonably appropriate change from the manga; however, cutting out most of Miki’s character development by simplifying her backstory was a strange decision. If only they hadn’t included multiple episodes worth of drawn out sequences of events that did nothing to further the plot (viz. filler), we could have at the very least blamed the restrictions in episode length and number for biting the source material in the backstory! Speaking of backsides, that’s about how abruptly (and awkwardly) this show segues into fanservice. The artistic direction panders to its audience in this regard to the point where it gets in the way of the plot; the writers of the show seemed to hold contempt for the idea that there are only so many appropriate times and places for panty shots or getting changed into bikinis. Fortunately these moments don’t tend to occur in conjunction with the more ‘dark’ scenes, a plot contrivance that I’m more than happy to forgive when faced with the alternative (a brutal deconstruction in more ways than one). Suffice to say, if you’re put off by unnecessary fanservice you may find a few scenes cringeworthy. Most of it is well within the bounds of plausible deniability though, so it’s fair to bet that you won’t find it worth dropping the show over.
Back to the positives, the OP of this series is a blast! Each episode the opening video is slightly (or dramatically) altered so that it’s full of Easter eggs and little pieces of foreshadowing. One of the fun things about following along with the show week by week as it aired was seeing the community pore over all the minor details and changes, most of which I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise! The ending songs ranged from ‘boring enough to skip’ to ‘delivering emotional crits’, depending on how well you’ve connected with the characters.
‘Night of the Living Lolis’ is in some respects what you make of it, which is fitting given that one deeper theme brought up in the show is about the extent to which one can construct their own reality, and to what extent this functions as a tool for overcoming adversity. It’s a theme that’s there, but the onus is on the viewer to engage with that theme if they want to. No direct questions and answers about these things are thrust in the audience’s face, but how you engage with the aforementioned ideas will be made clear from what you think of the characters that espouse respective opinions on those same ideas through their conduct.
After a middle arc easily described as wading through treacle, the final arc of ‘GG’ regains focus and the plot starts to lunge forward to an exciting conclusion, quelling any fears that the setting had been forgotten about. How much of an impact this show will have on you will come down in part to how willing you are to forgive plot contrivances due to being invested in the characters, although in your judgement of such things you’ll often be less disappointed if you give the writers the benefit of the doubt. For what it’s worth, rape alarms are that loud, rusty metal is that weak, generators do make noise, and shovels are heavy.
If ‘not judging a book by its cover’ has equivalents in anime, one could be ‘not judging a show by its genre’. And while it certainly wasn’t many of the animators, at least someone from Lerche genuinely tried to make this work. At a first glance, Gakkougurashi! looks like the result of moe creeping into ever more unfitting genres and settings, but thanks to the great writing it truly showed signs of life even when it should have by all rights been dead on its feet. read more
Some people like school. Some people dreads it. Then, there are some others that just goes there to get an education and nothing more. What about Takeya Yuki, a petite girl who just happens to be in love with school? If you think about it, there’s nothing really wrong with liking school. What’s wrong about this show is that the school Yuki is attending isn’t exactly what it seems. Welcome to Gakkou Gurashi (School-Live!), a show that comes with a bizarre twist. And by all means, it’s not exactly what it looks like…
Or maybe it does at first. The animated series adapted by Lerche comes from the manga of the same name. The series takes place in a school life setting where everything seems really normal at first. Or perhaps too normal. The first 20 or so minutes of the pilot episode establishes a school life style where Yuki is enjoying every minute of it. And really, why shouldn’t she be? She is with her friends, having fun, making memories, and just being a kid. Anyone who have trouble investing time into the typical slice of life with ‘cute girls doing cute things’ factor will likely feel annoyed. That is…until the ending. The twist comes with a zombie apocalypse. In essence, Gakkou Gurashi fuses together a bunch of oddball genres that includes school, slice of life, supernatural, and a bit of survival horror. Don’t take this the wrong way though. The show still retains its cuteness but explores a dark side of it that’s nothing like what your school may be.
The storytelling of the show is structured in somewhat of a controversial way. As a manga reader, I will say that it is entertaining but still sways from faithfulness. The first episode makes changes while also introducing certain characters far too early than they should be. The overall tone of the story flows somewhat well in terms of content despite pacing issues. It shouldn’t be hard for anyone to figure out that something may be wrong through careful analysis. The background foreshadowing such as the bizarre words on the school’s chalkboard or gravestones should make the viewers scratch their head. Also, isn’t it just strange that everything seems a bit too simple at their school?
A main part of the show also consists of the character cast. Yuki is the most prominent character in the series not because of her personality but because of some of her delusions. The show establishes an eerie message that perhaps she is hallucinating or building a delusional barrier around herself. The reality is that there are zombies are school, the classrooms are in shambles with windows shattered, hallways are barricaded, and death is a quite real. Yuki’s personality is also quite cheerful and sometimes is distracting for the audience. Similarly, some of her friends also plays along with her despite knowing the truth. They include Kurumi, Yuri, and Miki and all of them shows various skills when needed for survival. Their personalities ranges although all of them gets along quite well as friends. Kurumi is more of the fighter for the group with her handy shovel while Yuri plays more of a supportive role (the older sister type). Miki also adds support to help the other girls and even plays alongside Yuki as “Mii-kun”. As cute and colorful as this group is, the audience is still often reminded of what’s at stake. By the time the first episode ends, I think any anime original viewers will find it surprising in some ways by the false advertising and bait.
On most terms of the show, it blends in a form of dark comedy. Sure on the surface, everything seems cherry but the reality is not so cute. The comedy on most part is what you will typically see from series about “cute girls doing cute things”. In essence, the show actually masks its true visage somewhat well with its humor if a viewer is unaware of the premise or coming into the show completely fresh. Meanwhile, Gakkou Gurashi exploits its darker elements with Yuki’s state of mind. Other characters also gets some of their background story told including Yuki’s friend “Mii-kun” and her teacher, Megumi. The show establishes fairly well that Yuki is overly fond of them. As such, it creates the false barrier about her state of mind. Throughout the show, it’s almost like Yuki is in a world of her own. Yuki continuously shows how much she loves school while the audience knows it’s more than just that. And by this execution, I guess it can be a hit or miss. Some people will find the series overly repetitive after a few episodes. Others may think that the comedy doesn’t mix well with the overlay of the story. Despite this, Gakkou Gurashi succeeds in keeping a thrilling story by adapting with the characters. The style of the show is obviously more than just a slice of life so it often crafts plot twists to make the audience anticipate for more.
When it comes to artwork, there should be no surprise that the girls are designed to look cute. They all wear their regular school uniform with some variations. For instance, we have Yuki’s cat-like hat or Kurumi’s arm-warmers. Overly cute may sometimes become evident throughout the show especially with character expressions. In reality, the setting of the school is designed to look like it was the aftermath of an apocalypse. It conveys the message to the audience that nothing is normal. The zombies are designed to look horrific with their mindless rampage. Fan service also exists with swimsuits although most of it downplayed. Instead, it’s replace with violence with vague censorship. It’s also noticeable that the body language of the characters shows the audience of their conflicting feelings. Finally, I have to say that the show has a clever way of decorating its OP and ED theme songs along with its symbolisms.
I can’t say the soundtrack is overly impressive but neither is it lacking. Somewhere in between, I think the soundtrack works especially to deliver that eerie feeling when it’s needed. Other times, its recycled usage of the lighthearted harmony is hardly memorable. Perhaps the most distinctive thing related to sound is the voices of the characters. Yuki is portrayed with a very energetic voice who is often on the lookout for fun at school. She genuinely loves school so her presence along with her voice brings in a cheery atmosphere. That is…there are moments when her breaks down in an almost mental-like state. For that, I’d say that her character is adapted well in terms of voice mannerism. Others in the show includes Kurumi’s tomboyish voice and Yuuri’s mature personality with a matching voice tone that is acceptable.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of school. For someone like Yuki, that’s an understatement. And for a show like Gakkou Gurashi, it’s about much more than the girls having fun and getting an education. Ever heard of the phrase, “when it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t?” That’s what the show feels like. As such, don’t expect Gakkou Gurashi to be the typical slice of life with cute girls having their happy endings every episode. This is not a happy show. If you take a look at the physical attributes of their real school and environment, then it’s easy to see why. If you thought that Gakkou Gurashi is like colored rainbows with smiles and laughs, think again.read more
Out of most of the anime of summer 2015, the one that keeps popping up time to time is the one and only "Gakkou Gurashi". I don't usually watch anime that is currently airing and most of the time I would watch it in English Dub, the reason why is because I would like to see the animation instead of the subtitles (however, some anime series, I do watch in English Sub such as this particular one). However, one of my friends recommended me this anime "without any research" (which I usually do) and after watching the first episode, I was completely glued to the series.
Now 12 episodes later I can now officially do a review of this particular series, the series that everyone was pretty much talking about. So I'll mention my personal opinions about it, what the company "Lerche" did great on and also mention what they need to work on, without further ado, let's review "Gakkou Gurashi".
The series talks about a club called "The School Living Club", a group of four girls and their young dog living in the school, however there's a reason why they are living in the school, which is explained in the anime (I'll give hints but no major spoilers ;))
I have to admit that I was one of those people that liked the storyline ever since the first episode, there were some great things but at the same time there's flaws. So I'll mention them here.
• Mainly focuses on the main characters, you get to know more about their backstory, how the club was developed and how the characters get along.
• Each episode had a cliffhanger and makes the viewers want to know more about what will happen next in the series.
• From the beginning to the end, it made you question about what will happen to the characters and so on until you watch the end and find out that most of the questions have been answered.
• The Moe / comedy and dark themes do NOT mix. This is the one of those problems that people had when they were watching the series. It makes the viewers think if they're supposed to consider the series as a serious one or a comedy especially due to the situation.
• There is a lot of filler moments in this series, moments that were very unnecessary, such as the comedy moments. They're supposed to deal with a serious situation, not moments where they're supposed to have fun and forget about what's happening around them, which happens often in the series.
• Not going to say everything wasn't predictable, but there's certain things that were predictable, one of them being the school environment later on in the series. They did an excellent job making things unpredictable in the first episode but as the series goes on, you realize certain things that have been pointed out in the series.
• The series is unique and has its own art style.
• The characters were well designed, the expressions for each of the characters shows the emotions for any situation and the creators developed great outfits for each character making them unique in certain ways.
• The environments were done well as each environment expresses a certain mood, depending on the situation, if it's happy and cheerful, they make it like nothing happened, if its dark, they make it dark and gloomy.
• If you compare the art between the manga and the anime, it is quite similar so they did manage to get the same type of art style as the manga.
• Like the story, Moe and dark themes don't work too well together. It would have been better if they stuck to one of them instead of both.
• Each OST was done well, it expresses the moods of the situation, if the situation is a Moe moment, they have cheerful music playing, if it's a sad moment, they make the music sound very sad and so on and so forth.
• The ending themes were okay too but the one theme that I've enjoyed the most out of this series was the Opening. If all you heard was the Opening without seeing the intro, you would imagine this as a cheerful and catchy opening theme, you would never expect it to be dark anime series. If you watch the intro from the first episode, it looks like another "slice of life" anime, but as the series goes on, the intro changes but the song stays the same, I know there may be other anime that did the same thing but this is an amazing idea that I don't often see which makes the Opening even more enjoyable to watch. I always get excited whenever the intro came on because I always wanted to know what they're going to change next and what they'll change it into. It's a very enjoyable intro to watch and a very catchy song to listen to.
I seriously have no cons for this anime when it comes to sound as personally the music was fine the way it was.
• Each character has her own unique personality which makes each of the characters stand out from one another. (Examples: Yuki being the energetic and positive one, Miki being the serious one, Yuuri being the leader type and Kurumi being the cheerful type and the one with the shovel).
• The minor characters are mentioned time to time, we get an understanding of what the minor characters were like, both appearance and personality.
• Like the soundtrack, I can't really complain about the characters.
Personally, I thought the show was pretty entertaining, sure it had some slow and mostly comedic moments but it had moments were it actually made you wonder about what will happen in the next episode. You hope for the best for each character as well as have concerns about the things around them. Characters and the soundtrack were awesome, the art is enjoyable to see however, the story should have been worked on a bit more.
Overall, a very enjoyable series and I highly recommend people to watch Gakkou Gurashi. The series is only 12 episodes so you can completely watch it within a couple of days. It was enjoyable to watch and a possibly a great anime to watch over again.
Zombies may have roots in Haitian folklore, but their influence has since spread worldwide. Over the past few years, Japan has caught its own case of zombie fever, producing a variety of zombie anime both traditional and unique. Without further ado, here are the 15 deadliest zombie anime ever.
Pets are the perfect companions, both in real life and in anime. Anime pets add a hint of cuteness to just about any series, while also portraying complex emotions like loyalty and love. Their roles can even play a part in the direction a story takes. Get ready to cuddle with these anime pets.