Sixth grader Shou Takamatsu is a troublemaker who refuses to grow up. However, one fateful day, his world is turned upside down, forcing him to quickly mature—or die. When Shou arrives at school that morning, an earthquake of mysterious origin strikes, and the campus is teleported to an empty wasteland, far removed from society. Not only do Shou and his peers face an immediate crisis of food shortage, they must also contend with other problems, including new and dangerous external threats, and rising conflict among the student body. With the adults having a hard time adjusting, Shou finds the immense responsibility to quickly adapt to his new dystopian reality a heavy burden on his small shoulders.
Written by the horror specialist Kazuo Umezu, Hyouryuu Kyoushitsu is regarded as a classic in its genre—a unique blend of the riveting mystery behind the entrapment of Shou and his classmates on the barren, hostile world, and their struggle for survival.
Hyouryuu Kyoushitsu won the 20th Shogakukan Manga Award in 1975. It received a live-action film adaptation on July 11, 1987, as well as a loosely adapted television drama called Long Love Letter on January 9, 2002.
The series was published in English as The Drifting Classroom by VIZ Media under the VIZ Signature imprint from August 15, 2006 to April 15, 2008. It was also published in Spanish by Ponent Mon from October 2008 to August 2010.
I like horror manga; I generally always do. So it should come as no surprise that I avidly read works by Itou Junji and Kazuo Umezu (the latter of which I will be focusing on), two well-known masters at the horror genre. Works such as Orochi (by Kazuo Umezu) may have an “out-there” kind of premise but the way it seems so natural and tangibly believable is what really scares us. I mean, if the characters act in a similar way we would in a situation (and things go horribly wrong) then we can’t help but feel vulnerable to that fact. The reality of the
horror genre is this: generally, the more realistic it can be, the scarier. The Drifting Classroom (aka. Hyouryuu Kyoushitsu) is often Well does this necessarily make it a “masterpiece”? That certainly depends.
What is The Drifting Classroom? Other than being called the manga version of Lord Of The Flies (which I can wholeheartedly agree with) it’s an older manga created in 1972, was awarded the 20th General Shogakukan Award, and was serialized for two years before coming to a fairly unsatisfying end. It chronicles the life and adventures of an entire school that has been transported into the far, far future; a future where there is no vegetation, nor water...just sand. One student in particular, Sho Takamatsu, is who the manga focuses on, and the entire story is presented through his point of view. He is a sixth grade student and a fairly unreliable narrator (seeing as he rapidly changes personas; mature leader to a crying boy), and thus, this means this manga is presented through the eyes of a flawed child. Other characters in this manga include Saki, the “wife” of Sho (confusing, I understand, but I don’t know how to phrase this better; you will see what I mean later on in the manga) who is very conservative in her role, but is also a very strong girl, and Yuu, who is Sho’s adoptive “child” who has almost nothing to do with the main plot other than inconvenience Sho. There are several other minor characters (such as Otomo and Nishi), and there are many that opposes “Ralph’s” (Lord Of The Flies, again) or Sho’s authority, but events like that come and go for plot convince with different characters at different times. Overall, characterization was flimsy, for the most part (like most horror mangas), but I was surprisingly impressed with Saki’s character as a 6th grade mother figure in rough times. Setting, on the other hand, has an original premise with endless possibilities. What you don’t expect to happen in a barren world of sand DOES happen without much consequence because of the lack of things other than the school.
It’s said that The Drifting Classroom is a collection of things that scared Kazuo Umezu as a child. Whether or not this is actually true, I can agree with the statement that, yes, (because it is a shounen) it is filled with things that make boys scared. Giant centipedes, bleak darkness, aliens and mummies. If I was a kid I know I’d be scared shitless. But I’m not a kid, which then brings me to my next point: the story doesn't necessarily work well as a horror. Bottom line: it’s not realistic. Rather, it’s quite absurd and has zero logic concerning the nature of the setting and such. I’m not even sure to classify this as a “horror” even though there is blood and gore. It’s simply not that scary (and I’m really easy to scare!). I think a better classification of this manga should be adventure, thriller, and gore maybe because, although the horror genre has those within them generally, this manga does not instill terror or fear in the reader.
But that certainly doesn't mean it’s no good. In fact, I had so much fun reading this manga. Every so often when something different happened I turned my laptop screen around and showed my dad (who thought it was rather amusing I was reading something like this) the giant centipede or whatever new problem that arose. It takes a bit to get into, but sooner than you can even realize you’ll be on the last volume in no time. Yes it’s absurd, yes there is no logic in it, but it’s very creative and very unexpected. I mean, someone has to have a really special kind of thinking to make all of these plot twists interesting (keep in mind there’s only an elementary school and an unlimited amount of sand!). This is the 1970’s: it’s where all tropes and cliches are so raw and original because they haven’t been done before. Just turn off your brain for a bit because lots of things don’t make sense, but it’s OK because it’s fun either way.
Despite whatever criticisms I had with the unreasonable nature, it is good. Because it is told through the eyes of a child, it has the right to be irrational and a bit over the top. The elements in this story is the fears of child, and because of this, Sho and the rest of the students are able to survive and cope with this situation because of their imagination. But the manga’s final fault lies in the initial premise: how did the school get transported into the future, and why? How far into the future are they? Well the subways still work so that could give us a rough estimate I suppose. But what happened to make the Earth so sandy without vegetation? And why are there no humans in the future; what disaster happened to make it that way? None of these questions will be answered in the manga (and to top it all off you’ll get the most unsatisfying conclusion) so if you’re solely interested in the answers to those questions then I don’t think you should even start. Would I recommend it? Sure, I guess, if you’re looking for something interesting that I just described in the last three paragraphs. But otherwise, I’d tuck the title in the back of your head for some other night because this definitely shouldn't be at the top of your ‘plan to read’ list. It’s good, yes, but that’s just it. There are plenty of other great titles out there for you to enjoy. The Drifting Classroom gets a 7/10 from me.
The Drifting Classroom is a curious horror manga, a story that sets Lord of the Flies in a desert surrounded by nightmares. Children are transported to a wasteland along with their school and the surrounding grounds. Chaos ensues as they negotiate the dread of limited food and water, as sixth grader Sho Takamatsu tries to prevent his fellow students from becoming ravenous animals. First published in 1972, The Drifting Classroom still manages to create an eldritch atmosphere thanks to Kazuo Umezu’s classic manga artwork.
After the first volume gruesome scenes occur nearly every other page, saying far more than poorly translated dialogue. At times it’s
disturbing, but it’s not disturbing for its own sake. What’s depicted is realistic when faced with murder and absurd horrors, a brutal reality indifferent to the well-being of stranded children.
Two themes run through the work. The first is hope, which becomes a bit kitschy and force-fed but in such a situation what else could a survivor hold on to? Afterall hope was the compass that guided Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.
Death of innocence is the more interesting theme. Children who can’t rationalize are the first to succumb, regressing to infants or becoming barbarians—which may be the only true path. While the protagonist manages to hold on to civilization, manages to empathize even when his own survival is jeopardized.
Like Lovecraft, Umezu piles one question on top of another and never gives the reader an answer. I was left as confused, unsure, and excited as the unfortunate children. Some interesting plot points are raised, as if an epiphany is about to reveal itself that will resolve every mounting question; only to be pushed aside for the next mishap. It’s somewhat disappointing but works to reinforce the sense of hopelessness that runs through The Drifting Classroom’s veins. It’s clear the manga is not perfect.
Breakneck pacing is The Drifting Classroom’s biggest disappointment. Once one impossible conflict is conquered the next one immediately begins; there’s no time for characters to develop or breathe after an arc. It gives the impression that events have happened in a matter of days, contrary to plot points that beg for more time to be sensical.
As a consequence characters fit snugly into their archetypes and never push against the boundaries of their mold. Takamatsu is a fearless leader throughout, always a symbol of hope. Other characters are introduced and remain one-dimensional–paper-cuts. But The Drifting Classroom is not a story about characters. The atmosphere is the protagonist, the stage that treats the humans which tread upon it as pawns in its game.
What begins as a tale of survival pushing against insanity becomes a story driven by curiosity. By the final volume of The Drifting Classroom I wasn’t sure if I was reading because it was entertaining or I needed to know the conclusion. “How will this end?” But I realized I read for the atmosphere, the sense that apocalypse could repeat on the following page.
The Drifting Classroom is well worth reading if you’re a fan of horror manga. While it doesn't have the tight narrative of The Enigma of Amigara Fault or surreal continuity of Uzumaki, it entertains while raising the question, “could you survive The Drifting Classroom’s absurd universe?”
I really enjoy this manga, The Drifting Classroom. Heck, it’s my favorite of all the manga I read. But! That, however, will not affect my review of this series. Even though I like it, I will deliver a totally honest review about it.
We have a lot of disaster manga in the past such as Dragon Head or Eden that deal with the end of the world or a certain place and the characters must find a way to survive the area that they live in. This series is no different and that’s why I don’t give it a 10, but
why do I give it a 9? The reason is because the story is constantly changing, new situations that astound us and the characters are always popping up and changing the story and the survival rate for characters from the ground up. It really is an incredible story, but not something we have already seen in the past in this day and time.
I have recently read the ending of the series. Though the ending wrapped up every lose end and had a decent conclusion, I wasn't completely happy with the ending and some other people might not as well. I'll have to edit my review slightly for that.
Now this part really could either kill the manga in some people’s minds or really catch their attention. Do you like girls who are busty and curvy? Do you like guys who are tough and hunky? Do you like attractive art and cuteness in your story? You do? TOUGH LUCK! This story has got zip on any of that stuff! It gets down and gritty providing us with totally unique characters, areas, and monsters that really look different than any other artist out there. There is blood and gore in the story, but most of the body tearing is seen off screen so you don’t see what the person looks like torn apart at the ends, though someone gets a spear thrown into his eye. Ouch!
The characters are cool. You got your hero who is a prankster, a villain who is a delivery man, and plenty of others to fill the void. Don’t get too attach to most characters however, a lot of them have a few misfortune. I had a favorite character who didn’t have a name that I wanted to see make it to the end, but sadly didn’t get that chance. There are some you’ll really hate and some you’ll like. It all depends if you can stand their personality or not.
Do you like disaster type stories? You’ll love this one for sure, even some who don’t! My biology and physical science teachers, grandma, a lot of my friends, and my cousins all like this story and they aren’t fans of manga at all. This story can appeal to a lot of people, trust me. This story is also worth a few rereads even if it ends. There is no filler in it like other mangas so that should up the enjoyment.
This is my comic of all time and after reading it, you’ll see what I mean. As stated before, disaster manga fans will love this, also sci-fi and horror fans will for sure get a kick out of this story. Most other people will dislike this though. Though the ending might not be what everyone has been hoping for, it was still nice.
This series contains blood and gore, strong violence, violence against children, images of suicide (If that bugs anyone), slight nudity (Only one scene out of the entire series so far, but it isn't really bad), and some strong language. If you are touchy about any of that stuff, avoid this series