I’m going to warn you ahead of time that there are some monumental spoilers in this review. This is a show you really should watch, so despite my want for your read, you should go and watch it before hand. If you really don’t care about spoilers by all means proceed to the review, but what is read cannot be unread dear reader. With that let’s dive into…
If you remember my post from earlier this season, you’ll know that the first episode of this anime took me completely by surprise. It was a metaphorical bucket of ice-water to those who were weary of stagnation in the “moe” genre. From the deceptively cheery opening theme to the often somber closing theme every episode was a joy to watch. Every character was interesting in their own right, every episode added an interesting element to the show, and by the end I was ready to go out an buy the manga. Admittedly there were small issues I had with the show, but despite those problems this is (pending some last episodes I haven’t seen) my top show of the summer 2015 anime season!
Our story this time begins with a chipper young girl named Yuki Takeya who is a member of the School Life Club. This school life club is a group of students that lives at the school, and is dedicated to making the most out of their school life. There are three other members of the club(Kurumi, Miki, and Yuuri), a teacher who acts as their adviser (Megu-nee), and their club mascot Taromaru the dog. In the first episode we are introduced to them all in a chase sequence where the girls try to track down Taromaru and put him back in the clubroom. By the end of the episode we learn the horrible truth of this world though. Spoilers! They’re living at the school because outside of it is a zombie apocalypse! Yuki has lost the ability to cope with reality, so she lives in a fantasy world in which nothing has changed at all.
The girls in the club do their best to keep Yuki safe, and don’t do anything to rock her mental state. In this way the survival missions they undertake become “club activities” to save her fragile mind. Kurumi Ebisuzawa is the muscle so to speak, and keeps the zombies at bay with her trusty shovel. Yuuri Wakasa is the club president so she keeps check on their supply of food, and is something of a moral support character. Miki Naoki mostly sticks around Yuki to keeping her company, though some of the time she seems perturbed by Yuki’s mental state. Megu-nee is another character that sticks around Yuki and gives her strength too, but in a different sort of way.
Major Spoilers! About mid way through the season, after learning how the group met Miki, we learn that Megu-nee has been dead the whole show. Her spirit has been guiding Yuki in times of danger, but none of the other girls can see her. She was around during the start of the zombie apocalypse and even started the School Life Club, but sometime between then and meeting Miki she sacrificed herself to save her students. It’s something that many people predicted, since it doesn’t seem that anyone talks to Megu-nee, but it was nonetheless a sad realization. It is the death of Megu-nee that precipitates the reason for the dire situation at the end of the season.
The girls uncover more about their predicament later when they find secret documents at the school. It is revealed that there is a shelter underneath the school, and that it was built with this specific scenario in mind. Upon learning this Taromaru ends up going down there and confronting the zombie of Megu-nee! When Kurumi goes to investigate, she finds a zombie Taromaru and is bitten by Megu-nee! Soon after a rain storm causes the zombies flood into the school, and overcome the girl’s barricades. With this Yuuki snaps out of her delirium and, with the help of Megu-Nee’s spirit, gets all the zombies to leave the school. Miki comes out of the underground shelter after that with medicine for Kurumi, and the girls were able to save her before she turned into one of the living dead.
You may be asking, “How did a girl, so recently mentally disturbed, get all the zombies to just up and leave?” Well it has a lot to do with the nature of the zombies in this show, which they discuss throughout the show. The hypothesis, which proved true, was that the zombies had some recollection of their lives. This is why the only zombies at the school were of faculty and students, and why when it rained they would seek shelter in the school. Yuuki simply goes to the broadcasting room of the school, and makes the announcement that school is over and they should all return home. It was a simple yet elegant way to end the threat.
“Gakkou Guarshi” (Japanese title) ends on a couple of sad notes. First the girls are able to use some medicine on Taromaru, however he was too far gone to stay alive for long and he dies in Miki’s lap. At the funeral for their animal friend, Yuki tells Miki not to bottle up her emotions as that’s what lead to her own shock induced psychosis. With the school generators destoryed in the storm that came in the final episodes, the girls hold a “Graduation Ceremony” and leave the school seeking another shelter on a map Megu-nee had. One shelter is at a corporation, and the other is at a college. The implication of the post high school question of “college or the work force” isn’t missed by the characters of the show.
This anime does spend an inordinate amount of time on literal club activities (pool cleaning, swimming, sports day, etc), but I’d say that was pretty endearing. Throughout the apocalypse these girls were still trying to live relatively normal lives. It stands to reason that these girls would want to keep Yuki’s delusions alive, not just to keep her from a complete mental breakdown, but also to have time to be carefree as well. There were moments in the show that were a tad convenient, like zombie Taromaru remembering Yuki and saving her from his fellow zombies, but in the course of the show they’re easy to forget. Overall the flaws of this anime are incredibly small in comparison to the strengths.
I guess what I’m trying to say with all this rhapsodizing is, go watch this anime if you haven’t already. If you dig zombie shows, you’ll thank me. If you dig moe shows, you’ll thank me. As I’ve said earlier, this is my top pick of summer and possibly all of 2015 (pending, though I’m not holding my breath for Charlotte). I can almost guarentee this will get another season, so be on the lookout for that as well. If you want to show your support for this excellent show, the first English translation of the manga is coming out in November. Buying a copy sends a message to Japan that we want more of it, so you know… do that. Before we get more though, I’ll be mourning Taromaru and Megu-nee while I prepare for the zombie apocalypse.
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!