Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When I started watching this on a whim last week, I was expecting cute girls doing cute things + zombies, and little to no seriousness. I was expecting a fun show mixing two of my favorite genres- slice of life and zombies.
Needless to say, I did not get what I was expecting.
Gakkougurashi turned out to be a much darker, grittier show than the first episode- and the opening- would lead you to believe. Sure, it starts off as just a nice school day full of whimsy and fun, but eventually, the audience is shown that all the happiness is the main character’s, Yuki’s, delusions, and in real life, a zombie apocalypse has occurred and the four members of the School Living Club are the only survivors from their school. Now, the girls have to survive at school in a world where everything, even the animals, can be turned and try to kill them.
Cool and creepy premise, am I right?
The execution was also fantastic- there was a nice balance between Yuki’s delusions and reality, the characters and zombies were believable, and there was quite a bit of really nice foreshadowing through the series.
It was fantastic. Now, onto more stuff I liked about this:
Yuki is a third year at Megurigaoka Private High School; she’s always bright and excited, except when she comes face to face with a zombie. She’s always willing to try new club activities and cheer up the other girls, and yet through most of the episodes, she lives in her own delusions of a normal school life. Slowly, she realizes the truth of the world around her, and remembers the events that made her want to forget in the first place.
I think what I liked the most about Yuki was that even when her world was shattering around her, she still tried to keep moving forward and help everyone else. She was most certainly a flawed character- sometimes, her bright and childish demeanor was irritating and her stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality began grating on my nerves after a while, but still, when the going got tough, she managed to pull herself together and help save the other girls. I actually really liked how the creators showed how in this situation, a mind might try to protect itself by creating a whole new world, different from the horrible reality. Quite interesting, if you ask me.
Miki is a second year at Megurigaoka Private High School; she’s more serious and reserved than the other girls, but once she opened up, she became much nicer and softer. She wasn’t a member of the School Living Club at first- the day the apocalypse happened, she was at the mall with her friend, Kei, and they were trapped together for a while (with Taroumaru). They hid out for a while, avoiding zombies and staying in one room all the time, until Kei leaves. She doesn’t come back, and Miki, nicknamed Mii-kun by Yuki, only manages to escape the mall when the School Living Club leaves school on a club outing for supplies.
I loved how it was shown how Kei affected Miki- in the beginning, when they were trapped together, they constantly relied on each other, and when Kei left, Miki was too afraid to leave with her, but eventually, while being with the club, Kei’s words let Miki change and grow as a character, eventually becoming brave enough to leave with the other girls. It was nice how Miki’s development was shown, how she at first was wary of the club and disliked how they played along with Yuki’s delusions, but eventually understood and grew close to all the girls.
Ugh, so great.
Kurumi, also a third year, is a girl who seems relatively cheerful, but has a darker backstory- when the outbreak first happened, her crush, an upperclassman, turned and attacked her. She had to use a shovel to kill him, which is why she carries that shovel around with her at all times. Despite this happening, she remains cheerful. She’s also sent out on the more dangerous missions, because of her zombie killing skills, and she’s basically really freaking awesome.
(I love how this show made me feel sympathy for her, and how eventually, it made me pray for her not to be turned.)
Yuuri, also a third year and nicknamed Rii-san, was the club president and acted as a big sister to all the members. She’s usually pretty cheerful, managing all supplies, electricity, etc., but has her serious moments (and a scary side. Yikes!). She seems like the sanest and most stable out of the group (besides Miki), but in reality, she’s not.
What I liked the most about her was how in the beginning, she seemed to be calm all the time, taking care of literally everything and everyone, but as the show went on, it showed just how unstable she really was (to the point of almost killing Kurumi). It showed her slowly losing her mind, which I really appreciated.
…let’s just say that I don’t handle fictional animal death well. At all. There were tears, people, real tears.
(Why is it always the puppy? ;~;)
There weren’t many other characters- Megumi, their teacher, was a hallucination for everything except for a few flashbacks (though it was truly touching to see how much she cared about her students. And that return…), and all the other characters were dead.
Gakkougurashi had all the elements of something I like- fun, mixed with some serious plot, with an epic climax and characters I actually really liked. It was totally worth watching.
Now, off to read the manga!