Takeya Yuki is in love with the school. For her, it's a wonderful place, where she enjoys her school activities, especially the activities of her club, the School Life Club. The club has Rii-chan as the president, Kurumi-chan as another member, and the teacher, Megu-nee, always there for them. Yes, she is in love with her school... in her mind. Because, for her, the reality of the school and their club's activities is way too hard to be perceived...
Gakkou Gurashi! tells the story of three girls and their teacher who make up the School Life Club -- a group that essentially lives at school as part of their club activities. This manga is something of a mixed bag, to say the least. As one of Manga Time Kirara's more unique titles, you should first expect an abundance of cuteness. If you're bothered by the typical moe art style, then this is probably not for you.
Once you cross that hurdle, you're in for one of the most strangely enjoyable experiences out there. Gakkou Gurashi! juggles elements of horror, slice of life, mystery, and comedy
and it does a good job of making all of these things work together. My overall impression is a positive one so far, but it's not without its flaws.
You're initially presented with a lighthearted comedy about an earnest and energetic young girl and things quickly become sinister. Gakkou Gurashi!, for better or worse, changes in tone quite frequently. It comes off as your standard gimmicky cute girls schtick, but that couldn't be further from the truth. On the surface lies a charming cast of cheerful, cute girls. Later on, it becomes more apparent that there's an ominous aura that was present right from the start. There's an almost hollow feeling brought about by the characters pretending everything is okay.
Our protagonist is the happy-go-lucky Yuki, a girl who always does her best and cares deeply for her friends. Joining her in the School Life Club is the twin-tailed tough girl Kurumi and the big sister figure Yuuri. Their supervisor, Megu-nee as she's called by the girls, keeps them in check. The characters are seemingly bland and relatively static, although I attribute that primarily to the setting. Yuki herself is more complex than I give her credit for and the only generally uninteresting character is the mature Yuuri. The girls bond through a common goal of survival and we see slow, but meaningful growth in each of them. You come to genuinely care about the well-being of the group. Their struggles become more grim and worrisome as the plot progresses.
The plot itself isn't anything particularly groundbreaking, but the execution more than makes up for that. If you haven't already guessed, an outbreak of a strange disease has ravaged humanity and the School Life Club is composed of a few survivors. This is without a doubt the weakest part of the experience, but by no means is it utterly terrible. It seems like just aimless survival, but there are hints of a larger subplot unfolding. A lot of conflicts are resolved in stupidly convenient ways so don't expect much depth. Additionally, some of the dramatic moments are undermined by recurring gags or art changes.
The art is solid and serves its purpose. Cute when it has to be, gritty and dark otherwise. Expect frequent shifts in style. These changes are generally for comedic effect and include elongated eyes and strangely shaped mouths. A lot of pages give vivid face shots and pay close attention to the details in the hair and eyes. The backgrounds are decent enough.
With all of that being said, this is an all-around good manga and something I'd recommend to anyone that fits into its niche demographic. If you like cute girls and minor horror/mystery, then feel free to give this a read. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your time.
Gakkou Gurashi, a surprisingly creepy manga, didn’t seem to be the type of story I would like. Originally sounding like a cheesy, slice of life comedy about a “School Life Club”, I almost skipped right over it. However, noticing “horror” tag I thought that it could be interesting. So far, the manga greatly exceeded my somewhat low expectations.
Although the plot may not seem especially unique - hundreds of movies and shows exist about apocalypse scenarios - the execution makes the manga special. With the show continuing to have a school setting and fake slice of life theme, it allows the characters and each of their
mentalities to truly shine. The main character, Takeya Yuki, blocks out the horrible truth of her surroundings and tricks her own mind into believing that their life is normal. She constantly keeps up a cheerful attitude by generating exciting club ideas and keeping the situation light-hearted. Wrapped up in her own fantasy, she keeps herself in the dark about the apocalypse; even Yuki’s friends continue to support her by playing along with the false life she creates. They all live in an abandoned school building together, along with one teacher, but Yuki hallucinates healthy students and normal buildings. Blocking out the tragedy: a common defense mechanism for many people who go through traumatic experiences. Yuki is a fairly complex character, growing and fighting just as any other normal girl.
Kurumi, the “guardian” of the group, constantly carries around her shovel for protection. She devotes her time to cleaning up the campus so that the zombies won’t interfere with Yuki’s life, and carries out many of the most terrifying tasks. She works very well with Yuuri, the somewhat soft-spoken club leader, who constantly works on making sure the school building stays livable for everyone. Both desperately cling to the idea that by helping Yuki, they can also find happiness within their devastated world.
As an artist, I can see the strengths and weaknesses of Sadoru Chiba’s artwork. Everything appears very charming without any overwhelmingly large flaws. Although the styles are quite different, the art can be compared to “Madoka Magica” because of the “kawaii-but-actually-dark” theme. The art, without being overly gory, manages to create a creepy atmosphere even if the characters are simply smiling and participating in everyday club activities. The artist takes advantage of creepy textures to create mysterious atmospheres that make the manga more thrilling. Never knowing what lurks around each corner, the reader can only see from the character’s perspective, which works well with the theme. Character design is rather simple - girls in school uniforms and common hairstyles - but it may have been the author’s purpose so that readers can relate to them.
Overall, the manga seemed to be very well-written and planned out. No mile-wide plot holes or unnecessary time-skips. The pacing feels very natural because the reader won’t be bombarded with events, but it stays exciting enough to not become boring. Someone with a weak stomach, but still a love for creepy stories, would probably like this because of the censorship (not sure if that’s the right word) of creepy scenes. Stories that leave room for one’s imagination to roam generally produce better results, and that certainly seems true for this manga.
This manga is absolutely amazing. I read it to the current issue in one day. One thing I would STRONGLY suggest is that you go into this series completely unspoiled, since a large part of enjoying it hinges on not knowing how situations will turn out.
Here are the main reasons I like this manga so much:
The girls are pure, adorable, and beautiful. Beyond that, they're pretty believable, and the character development in the more recent chapters has been really good.
There is consistent plot development in almost every single chapter, the pace isn't jarringly fast and it certainly isn't boringly slow.
I found my heart beating really
fast while I just plowed through the chapters because of the danger constantly hanging over the characters and the murky background of the events that have taken place in the manga's world.
Reading deeper into Gakkougurashi, what is this anime, that seems to only show cute girls doing cute things, really about? What themes and messages are being portrayed as these girls are... being cute?