My heart wasn’t ready for this one, readers. I knew going in that the first episode was a red herring and that the girls are the only survivors of their school following a zombie apocalypse, but I still wasn’t ready for some of the events that took place. It has cute visuals, but School-Live! will shatter your heart.
Everything starts off with Yuki day-dreaming of her ideal school life, but that illusion is shattered by the time the first episode ends — it’s unsettling with how perfect Yuki wishes things to be, so you already know in your gut that this is a build-up to something awful. What follows is a small group’s fight for survival as they fend off the undead threat, and they can only rely on themselves as they’re unable to make contact with the outside world.
Not knowing exactly how far this zombie outbreak has spread and if rescue will ever come for them, the girls’ spend each day hoping that they’ll see the next. It’s tense, heart-breaking and uncomfortable, but it’s something that’s hard to tear your eyes away from.
I’ve not watched many anime which have been this devastating.
The four girls, Yuki, Kurumi, Miki and Yuuri, are always at risk, and it’s easy to believe that any one of them could die at any moment. Of course, I found myself wishing for their safe rescue, but there’s a staggering amount of loss that beats them down throughout each episode. Some of the girls struggle to come to terms with their situation, and so they lie to themselves in order to avoid it. The way they girl’s cope – or fail to cope – with the situation has made for some unsettling, yet brilliant, anime.
It’s a brutal show both physically and mentally, and I’ve not watched many anime which have been this devastating. There’s no word of a second season yet but I have my fingers crossed that it’ll be announced yet, because School-Live! stands out and deserves a continuation. The manga is thankfully available in English though, at the very least. Here’s your chance to support one of the finest anime of Summer 2015 though, and once you’re done you’ll find yourself itching for more!
The way they girl’s cope – or fail to cope – with the situation has made for some unsettling, yet brilliant, anime.
Studio Lerche, perhaps known for their work on the Assassination Classroom and Danganronpa 3 anime, do an excellent job here. Much of the thanks goes to the original manga and author, Norimatsu Kaiho, but the art style is at contrast with the theme of the show. This is clearly intentional, especially due to Yuki’s frame of mind, and despite how cute it may look at first glance, it never stops feeling tense and vulnerable.
The slice-of-life moments always kept me on my toes waiting for something to go wrong, and the scenes with the zombies are genuinely quite scary. Lerche have done splendidly in balancing so many tones and expressions, and they’ve more than proven that they were the right team for the job. The slice-of-life moments are important in how Yuki develops, and how everybody lets it happen. It’s a way for them to fight back against the horrible predicament they’re in, even if it isn’t healthy. They’re fun moments, sure, but there’s never a moment where I feel like they could truly relax. The handling of this is superb.
It never stops feeling tense and vulnerable.
You can watch School-Live! in English and Japanese and, as usual, I opted for the former. I swayed back and forth on whether or not I liked the dub, but ultimately I enjoyed it. Brittney Karbowski’s Yuki sounds scratchy and grating, but her character can be a little like that too — didn’t stop me from loving her, though. I think Luci Christian’s Yuuri and Stephanie Wittels Megumi were both spot-on and played their ‘big sister’ roles well, and they’re perfect fits for their characters. It isn’t my favourite English dub by any means, and many of you may prefer the original Japanese voice-over, but you can’t really go wrong with either.
There’s some terrific audio-work at play here with the series and there’s a moment in episode six which really had me on edge. There’s upbeat and carefree music to fit the world which Yuki visualises, and this is at stark contrast to how suspenseful the world can be from the view of her friends. The opening theme is cheerful and I expected this to change after episode one, so I was surprised when it remained the same in episode two. That said, this is down to Yuki once again, so it makes sense.
You shouldn’t sleep on School-Live! and the praise it’s had is well-deserved.
I heard all about the fuss of School-Live! when it aired but decided to skip it for whatever reason – likely I was busy with other things – but I’m glad that I’ve finally made time for it because it’s fantastic. It kept me on the edge of my seat and the focus on how the characters deal with the issue mentally is welcomed, because it makes for such engaging viewing. You shouldn’t sleep on School-Live! and the praise it’s had is well-deserved, and I’m definitely going to be joining those who are hoping for a second season — I’ll be checking out the manga too!
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