Gakkou Gurashi

February 7, 2016

Let’s say that the zombie apocalypse is here, what do you do? Do you quickly take action and provisions to survive by beating up zombies while trying to get to safer places and secure resources like how you mostly see in zombie survival movies and games? Or do you continue to live your life and start hallucinating all this never happened? The latter might sound dangerous and baffling but that is what is happening in Gakkou Gurashi. I suppose to cushion the harsh impact of reality, a group of girls continue to live their everyday happy school life like normal. Zombies? What zombies? Those are their everyday friends, classmates, schoolmates and teachers running and going about in school. So what zombies are you talking about? Well, I’m sure it is fine to avert their eyes from reality but seriously, you wonder how long this will last. How long will the bubble hold before bursting? How long before their brains become zombie chow? Oops… Don’t mean to be grim but hey, isn’t that what all zombie apocalypse is? Because no zombies are going to get up from their grave and do a Thriller dance with Michael Jackson. Aaow! Hehee!!!

Episode 1
Yuki Takeya wakes up and makes her way to school with her little pet dog, Taroumaru. She makes her way to the School Life Club where her other friends are waiting, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuuri “Rii” Wakasa and Miki “Mii” Naoki. Rii makes breakfast for all of them before Yuki has to excuse herself for class duty. Along the way she passes by teacher, Megumi “Megu” Sakura whom she teases is fairly easy to miss. Yuki isn’t exactly your honour student. She’s sleeping right in the middle of class. When Mii barges in to talk to her, Yuki had to excuse herself to the infirmary by faking she isn’t well. It seems Taroumaru is missing so they need to go find him. But the dog is smart and really gives them the chase around school, disrupting various classes in session. They thought they had him cornered at the rooftop but Kurumi accidentally opens the door. The chase continues. Because they’re stepping all over the rooftop garden patches, Rii goes into her angry mode and remind them about the role model they have to be here. But cheeky Taroumaru is on the loose again and this means Yuki and Mii have to continue chasing him till they finally put him on a leash. Somehow it was Yuki’s fault in not taking Taroumaru for a walk yesterday which resulted in his hyper activeness. While Mii tries her best to get Taroumaru for her, that dog never bats an eyelid for her. Try again next time… Then we have Yuki making her heartfelt speech about how much she loves them all. She returns to class and describes to her classmates about Taroumaru’s recent naughtiness and they thought she was describing her kinky perverted boyfriend! Now for a dose of reality. When Mii barges into class to call out to Yuki, it seems in reality the class is in ruins. There is nobody around and Yuki is just talking to herself. Her friends, figment of her imagination. Outside the entire school and probably the entire world is overrun by zombies. But Yuki continues to see the pretty skies and clean surroundings… Creepy? And I mean the girl.

Episode 2
Kurumi remembers she joined the athletics and track club because of a guy she likes. But it looked like he raped her. She still reels from this nightmare today. As usual, Rii cooks breakfast for all and after Yuki leaves, Mii mentions about her worry for Yuki as she saw her talking to her ‘friends’ again. She thinks she is in danger as there is one time she wants to go home. But Rii assures her that Megu is with her. They are not psychiatrist and the best they could do now is watch over her as it is unfair to tear someone away from a life they enjoy. They wonder how far this infection has gone. There might be hope to be rescued if their town is isolated but they are unsure if the world is already infected by now. Kurumi sees a lone zombie walking closely at the border of the safe zone. She distracts it so she can smack it with her shovel. However thoughts of her ex-love distracted and almost had her killed. Since it is the summer, Yuki wants to do kimodameshi. So at night, they climb out of the safe zone and make a stop at the store (still loaded with goodies) before proceeding to the library. Oddly when night falls, the zombies disappear. But there is one lurking in the library so when Megu and Yuki spot it, Yuki is on the verge of panic but Megu guides her to be calm as they hide and not make a sound. She assures Yuki her friends will come to her aid. Rii and the rest distract the zombie away with their sound before Kurumi strikes it with her shovel. Yuki is reunited with her friends and they praise her for staying calm. They make their way back. Kurumi remembers her crush turned into a zombie and she had no choice but to kill him. Although she wakes up in cold sweat deep in the night, Yuki’s soothing call of her name calms her down and she returns to sleep.

Episode 3
Megu narrates the events on that fateful day. As usual she wakes up and makes her way to school, not noticing the many ambulances and police cars passing by. She’s pretty occupied about her mom thinking she’s not fit to be a teacher and the vice principal reinforces that as he thinks she is too friendly with students. Megu oversees Yuki doing a retake of her test and at the same time gives Kurumi some love advice. When she gets a distressing message from her mother, it is a video clip of the chaos happening. Isn’t this very close to where she is? As Yuki wants to go home, Megu brings her to the rooftop instead where Rii tends to the garden of her horticulture club. Shortly, she receives a call from her colleague to stay safe at the rooftop and not let anyone in before succumbing to her fate. There is a loud banging on the door and Megu starts fearing the worse. But since it is the voice of Kurumi, she lets her and her heavily injured boyfriend in. They look over the horizon. The chaotic scene. People turning into zombies and infecting the rest. There are explosions and fire in the distance. It’s getting traumatic for Yuki. When the zombies start banging on the door, they shove a locker to block them. That is when Kurumi’s boyfriend awakens as a zombie and attacks her. In her instinct, she picks up her shovel and repeatedly beats his head. This devastating scene is only put to a stop when Yuki hugs her crying. Megu ends the narration that many people may have lost their lives but as long as she is here, she wants to keep the girls safe. Yuki wants to go camping. Don’t worry. It’s not out in the woods. Just a tent in one of the classrooms. Since it’s not appropriate to talk ghost stories, how about love stories? Yuki is bugging Kurumi as the latter mentions about her consoling her after she broke up with her crush. Yuki doesn’t quite remember it. The thought of all of them will be graduating crosses Yuki’s mind. However she feels sad that Megu will still be here. Mii notes that they all love Megu very much.

Episode 4
As they look through Mii’s picture album, they spot somebody else she drew. It is her friend, Kei Shidou. Now to go back to the events of that day from Mii’s perspective. Their class ended early so Mii and Kei hang out at the mall. They meet Taroumaru who belonged to an old lady. Suddenly the panic alert is sounded and before they know it, dead bodies and zombies start piling up. They hide in the changing room and that’s when Taroumaru come to them. They thought it is injured as there is blood on him but they realize it belonged to granny who is now a zombie. For the next few days, they hole up in some storeroom. There are enough rations to keep them going as they wait for help. Unfortunately help never arrived. However Kei expresses her wish to leave because eventually they can’t be staying here although Mii objects. Besides, how would help know if they are here? Then one day she just decides to leave and leaves her CD player in Mii’s care. After she’s gone, Taroumaru can’t stop barking so Mii yells at it to shut up before realizing she overdid it. Maybe that’s how doggie got scared of her. Meanwhile back at school, Yuki also wants to go outside but Rii mentions about the club’s policy that they cannot leave school. But what if it is for a field trip? It has never been done before and what better way for their club to set a precedent. Besides, Yuki already wrote a letter to Megu and she gave her permission. As Megu hasn’t driven in a long time, looks like Kurumi will do it. First, she has to run all the way to the car park while smacking zombies. It took her a while to recognize Megu’s care. Once all of them are in, they bust out of the school like as though it is a happy ending from a movie. Oh, can Kurumi drive? She got the skills from playing video games. Oh sh*t… Hang on, girls. Megu, so sorry for your car…

Episode 5
Taroumaru is also gone. Mii thought it was him banging at the door but it turns out to be a zombie. She continues waiting since Kei promised she’ll come back with help. Yuki and co arrive at the mall as part of their field trip. They go to various sections to get necessary stuffs. This is when Kurumi bumps into Taroumaru as he follows her back to the rest. Yuki takes an instant liking for him. After they had their fun trying outfits (hey, technically they have the entire mall to themselves), when they pass by the cinema, Kurumi heard a different kind of sound. She thinks it is not a zombie and most probably Taroumaru’s owner. As she peeks into the cinema hall, there are lots of zombies waiting. Now they have to run! Yuki starts falling into trauma but luckily they take refuge in a children’s area for Yuki to rest. Kurumi mentions the cinema was barricaded in to keep the zombies out. This means one of the people was already infected. Kurumi wants Rii to promise to take her out if she ever gets infected. Mii heard some sort of commotion and starts packing her bags to leave. However there are zombies everywhere. Yuki and co are about to leave the mall when she hears some sort of voice. She wants to go back and check but the rest thinks she is hearing things. Taroumaru breaks free and the rest follows him back in. When Mii is trapped on a piano (I suppose zombies can’t climb), she yells out for help. That is when the rest sees her. Yuki becomes desperate to save her but it is Kurumi who is doing all the shovel smacking action. Then Rii releases some loud alarm accessory to confuse the zombies. The girls take this chance to escape out. Mii asks if they have seen a girl her age but unfortunately no.

Episode 6
Mii is brought back to school. She learns Taroumaru was the one that lead the girls to save her although doggie still hates her. Yuki and Megu take her tour around the school. Yuki really likes the idea of Mii treating her as a senior. Mii thought the school is unaffected but when Yuki takes her to the music room, despite Yuki as we know acts as though nothing happened, Mii sees the decimated blood soaked room. But there is one pressing question Mii has to ask Yuki: Who is Megu? OMG! Megu is another figment of her imagination?! Later Rii and Kurumi explain the purpose of their club and how Megu was their teacher. She is gone now. In their attempt to escape, she sacrificed herself to block out the zombies. They made a grave on the rooftop in honour of her. So Yuki isn’t seeing ghosts of Megu. To her, everything has never happened. Megu is still alive in her eyes. That is why she continues to cheerful attends class and activities. Rii wants Mii to play along while she is here. Although Mii doesn’t like the idea, she agrees in hopes to understand Yuki better. Then Yuki comes up with an idea for having a sports day. Mii couldn’t understand the need to do such ‘useless’ thing but as agreed, she has to play along. Later Kurumi talks to Mii about Yuki who comes up with things right when they need it most. Like the field trip to the mall. Although it is good to think about the future but sometimes it gets them nowhere. Of course it is also not good not to plan. Somehow Yuki is the one who has the answer that is neither acting nor thinking is the right choice. Mii tastes a good meal for the first time and somewhat feels relieved that she would rather have Yuki acting like Megu is still around. She remembers Kei’s words before she left about being her life being so important that she was willing to spend her life stuck here. Back then she was just merely existing than truly living. Mii feels she can look up to Yuki as her role model. Later Mii pleads to Rii that she wants to join this club. Without hesitation, Rii extends her hand and welcomes her.

Episode 7
Mii starts seeing shades of Kei in Yuki. Although Yuki continues to have ‘nightmares’ of Megu, Rii is more concerned about the coming winter. Yeah. Winter is coming. As they eat breakfast, the talk about the car ride then suddenly has Yuki conflicting with her memories. Megu’s car only had 4 seats and if they picked Mii back… Oh dear… The trauma is starting to creep up so Yuki quickly goes to ‘ascertain’ the event by ‘asking Megu’. Maybe it is Megu’s ghost or just her figment of imagination as Megu calms her down and saying people tend to have vague memories. That is why she talks to others and keeps a diary. That way the vague memories can be visited again. Even when one is no longer around. Yuki returns to her ‘normal’ self again. When they find a stationery set, Yuki gets an idea to write letters. But since they cannot go out to the post office, Rii suggests sending straight from school via balloons and pigeon. I guess Kurumi is going to have some fun trying to catch a pigeon. Catch the pigeon, catch the pigeon! Mii comes back with a helium tank. So the girls write a few letters and Yuki writes one about all of them graduating. That night, Mii talks to Rii and shows her a key belonging to Megu’s staff safe she found. Rii keeps it in hopes they’ll get out of here one day. Next day, the girls are ready to send their letters. However Yuki and Kurumi get into a dispute about naming their pigeon so Rii has them compromise with the name Arnaud Hatonishiki the Second. Arnaud what? They happily release the balloons and pigeon as they flutter away in the wind. One of the letters is written from Mii to Kei, addressing how she is fine and making new friends. She points out Kei was right as life outside is wonderful. She hopes they’ll cross paths again one day.

Episode 8
Yuki is trying to catch Taroumaru to bath after he got dirty. But since they’re making a mess all over the halls, Rii isn’t going to be pleased… The girls talk about graduation and the things they’ll be doing after that. Not sure whether Rii was hallucinating too because she was talking to Megu and they came up with the idea of forming a School Life Club in which Megu instantly made her the president. They select the student council office as their clubroom and to commemorate the founding of this club, they take pictures. As Megu is their advisor and must not be left out too, Rii takes a group picture of her. Megu turns out in the picture. Not hallucination? That night, Mii talks to Rii about how this school is strangely equipped with very good equipment from solar panels to emergency food supplies. Like as though it is prepared for people to live here for extended periods of time. Rii is also curious and believes Megu’s key might hold the answer. They go search the staff room and Yuki joins in when she thinks it is some sort of treasure hunt. However she keeps fooling around and it makes Rii sad. She is holding that photo of Megu and wonders if Yuki has forgotten what happened after that. Turns out that photo is real but shortly after that, the zombie attack and we all know what happened to her. Just as they’re about to give up, Yuki thinks she has found it. The cupboard they had checked and found nothing, it seems it contained a hidden panel. Ah, a safe. Inside contains a safe and some list. However Rii is shocked to see a manual about emergency evacuation and wants Mii to wake up Kurumi right now. As they read, they find the contents shocking. Something to do with biological weapon and methods on how to tackle the survival of the human race like quarantine and discarding certain emotions.

Episode 9
Instead of cracking their heads over it, why not just enjoy the next day cleaning the pool? Water basin actually but what difference does it make? It all started when the girls minus Yuki were talking about this manual and if Megu knew about all this. Signs pointed that she didn’t as instructions said to only open when an outbreak occurs. They go through the manual and see blueprints of underground shelters they never knew existed. That is when Yuki comes in and suggests cleaning the pool since Taroumaru once again got dirty (the basin is filled with algae since nobody tended it but the fish still live, though). So after cleaning it, they have lots of water fun. Mii notices how Rii is very familiar with the school’s solar panels and sophisticated water filters. As an active member of the horticulture club, it only makes sense that the club members know these things to grow their crops. They soon talk about how this school is so well equipped that perhaps the outbreak was in fact predicted. However Kurumi will not have them talk this since they’re here to have fun. So back to the pool and even a water gun fight showdown between Kurumi and Rii. At the end of the day, Taroumaru doesn’t hate Mii as much before. Making some progress. Deep into the night when everyone is sleeping, Taroumaru wanders off to the basement. He starts barking at a familiar zombie approaching… OMG… Megu?!

Episode 10
Mii notices Rii is sad on rainy days. It was the day that they lost Megu. After the outbreak as they set up barricades and expand their territory, they got careless. At that time they didn’t know the behaviour pattern of the zombies. Seems they love to take shelter when it is raining. The zombies surround them and Megu sacrificed herself for them to escape. That was also when Yuki changed her behaviour. They also notice the number of zombies has increased. When Yuki comes in to look for Taroumaru and the dog is nowhere to be found, they decide to look for it. Kurumi remembers memories of Megu while looking. Then she sees Taroumaru’s paw marks leading to the basement. Fearing the worst, she heads down and thought the dog is safe. To her horror, it starts attacking her. The shovel saved her a few times as sad Kurumi distracts him and locks him up in a room. She wants to seek revenge on the zombie that did this to him. Well, I’m sure she would have smacked the zombie had she not be Megu. Her mind is playing tricks. Kurumi thought of killing her but she just can’t. That moment of hesitation is just all it takes. When Kurumi returns to the rest, seems she is already wounded. She apologizes to the rest as they start trying to treat her wound. Kurumi is in great pain. Although not fully transformed yet, you can see her skin starting to. From the way she says things, Mii is devastated that Taroumaru might have succumbed to his fate too. Kurumi continues to experience horrifying nightmares. Luckily she is chained and handcuffed to the furniture. Rii is in a dilemma whether to kill her or not. Mii read the manual that the shelter where Megu was spotted from contained medicine. Mii wants to go check on it although Rii vehemently objects. Mii says Kurumi faltered because Megu was there. It won’t affect her. But as Mii picked up the shovel, thoughts of Taroumaru run through her head. Now she breaks down. Can’t do it too, huh? As the rain grows stronger, the zombies from outside now break in and could even topple the reinforced barrier. As for Yuki, reality may be starting to sink in…

Episode 11
Zombies are now all over the place. Mii could have been done for had not Yuki come to her rescue and then seek safety in a classroom. As the zombies mess around with everything, the power is now cut. Mii wants Yuki to goof off like usual but Yuki feels being insulted. This gives Mii the courage to head down and get the medicine. Don’t leave without the trusty shovel. She wants Yuki to stay here in case Taroumaru returns. You know that’s not going to happen, right? Mii realizes that she is not strong enough to smack the zombies dead. So it tells you the monstrous strength Kurumi had, eh? Mii uses Kei’s CD player and other sound diversion tactics to slip pass the zombies. Meanwhile Rii is close to becoming crazy. She remembers talking to Kurumi if those zombies had awareness. Kurumi didn’t think so because it wouldn’t feel right. That is why Kurumi wants her to promise if that ever happens to her… So is Rii ready to kill her? Mii is at the basement. Ah, there Megu is standing right in the middle like the final boss. Mii runs back out and apparently zombies can’t duck since the shutter is only halfway open. Mii takes this opportunity to tell Megu how her students are doing. And because they’re living just fine, now she can rest in peace. Mii gathers all her strength and smacks Megu’s head. Finally she finds the medical supplies but looks like the electricity is totally out and the place is now going into reserve mode. The zombies have gathered here and Mii locks herself in the room where Taroumaru was trapped (oddly he just ran out when she opened). This situation reminds her of the mall. Could it be history repeating itself? Rii of course cannot do it and is on the verge of losing herself. She screams for somebody to help her (it’s not going to make Kurumi’s pain any better anyway). That is when something inside Yuki wakes up. Megu’s ghost encourages and guides Yuki to the broadcast room in her bid to save her friends. Along the way, Yuki relives memories and past visions of her. Some memorable, some heartbreaking. Each one of them has Megu giving Yuki words of encouragement and the strength to go on. Finally when Yuki has come to terms with reality, she says her goodbye to Megu and moves on.

Episode 12
Yuki fights her way through the zombies but eventually their numbers are too many. Just as she is about to become zombie food, Taroumaru saves her. Despite little doggie having retained bits of his memories, eventually he starts attacking her. She uses her hat to cover his face as she hugs and laments how cold he is. Arriving at the broadcast room, she announces that school is over while narrating her love for this school. As they have deduced the zombies may have some sort of attachment to the living, like why zombie students continue to return to school because they love it, it’s like they don’t have their minds anymore but there’s something deep down inside that makes them want to return. Yuki’s announcement closes on a sad note that all good things must come to an end and hopes to see everyone again one day. Next morning, Kurumi wakes up fine. A jab has been administered into her arm. Looks like she is very much healed. You can see how relieved everyone is. Making it even sweeter is also the fact Taroumaru is also healed. Mii is very grateful to Taroumaru and promises to take care of him, etc. Unfortunately Taroumaru steadily weakens and it comes to a shock everyone that he passes on. They bury him next to Megu’s plot. Yuki now clearly remembers Megu’s last words that she was glad to be their teacher. That is why they don’t have to be strong and hold back their sadness. She wants Mii to remember Taroumaru’s last words. Did that dog speak? No, but you can tell from his eyes during his last moments he was saying thank you. Time to let the tears flow freely again.

The girls analyze their situation and know their limited resources and backup power will not last. They also discovered a map that marks another evacuation centre that is situated near some university and big corporation. They believe Megu was working hard to leave them this clue. The only worry is that if there are other survivors and would they be welcomed. Worst case is that they will be a lot worse than the infected. Yuki interrupts by showing bite marks on some food label. It is too small to be from Taroumaru so they think there must be another dog. They believe that dog must be hiding in the basement, the reason why Taroumaru went down there in the first place. As they have made up their mind to leave this school, Rii says their last activity is to hold a graduation ceremony. In this low key self prepared ceremony, our girls take this rite of passage to graduate and say goodbye to this school. Mii begins with her speech followed by Yuki. And of course, more tears. Only a zombie can remain emotionless in such times, right? The quartet now hop onto the car and start their journey. Oddly, the area is still clear of zombies. Except one lone zombie making her way into school. It is greatly hinted (although not confirmed) that she might be Kei. We see the other dog at Taroumaru’s grave and a survivor picking up one the dropped balloon letters about the girls.

In A World Of Their Own
It is hard for me to pinpoint exactly my sentiments. Overall, seeing how the girls go about in their continued fantasy of normalcy somehow feels draggy and boring. It is only those nail biting moments when they are having close shaves and encounters with zombies that it becomes ‘exciting’ and heart pounding. Of course there are some interesting bits like why the school is fully equipped like as though it is anticipating such disaster and who are the ones responsible behind this if this epidemic is not a mere accident and what would they stand to benefit from doing this. Unfortunately, not having them answered by even a single bit and raising our curiosity and intriguing level to all time high is what I personally feel makes this series a letdown. Even with that kind of ending of our girls taking their first step to leave the shelter didn’t offer any sort of closure whatsoever. It’s like a new chapter of their life is beginning. Interested to know more? Wait for the next season then, buddy. Yeah. That kind of feeling. After all, nobody ever said this show was about going to be a happy ending despite ‘ending’ so, right? Heck, I thought in my worst case scenario of lazy writing, everything is just a hallucination and that the kids are all high on drugs! No sh*t!!! Yeah, sweet dreams to them…

To be fair, this isn’t entirely a horror genre so we’re not going to turn this into another bloody sexy High School Of The Dead clone. After all, killing zombies isn’t the main goal of these girls. This isn’t your usual cute girls doing cute things trope either as it weaves some dark elements into the theme. I mean, smashing zombies aren’t something we can call cute, right? To say it provides an insight on what to do whenever you are trapped in a certain location during a zombie apocalypse isn’t entirely accurate either. Because as already stated, the school is equipped with state of the art facilities and it is like heaven for those who wish to live the safe but boring life. Therefore what the girls are doing by living out their daily life to the fullest is what I feel the best for them. There is any lack of information about the epidemic and how far it has spread so instead of being little heroes that history will never recognise (because there won’t be anyone around to record them!), might as well live their happy life in this little delusion of theirs. That is for the best if you look at the situation that is in store for them.

There are heart pounding moments when the girls come close to the zombies are when the hordes are close enough to turn them into dinner. I suppose this is to jolt you up from the streak of boringness and to remind us from time to time about reality. It’s like fantasy and reality just living next to each other and a thin door just separating them as reality continues to knock hard. It gets really close when Kurumi screws up. But I guess she holds out long enough for the medicine to reach her. Yeah, after hours of screaming and turning your best friend psycho. Phew. Close shave, eh? Can’t fathom a group without her, right? It would be just shocking and vile just to kill a character off like that even though if we just sufficiently love the characters. Eventually if the characters are not much, you can’t help root for them to stay alive and hope they come out in one piece after one horrifying encounter after another.

In a way, seeing them live from day to day as shown means we don’t get enough back story of the characters very much. Most probably all of them are just ordinary girls until this zombie wave came about. They get stronger for each day they survive and of course without any doubt, their friendship and bond growing close and solid. They have to. There are nobody else left alive near them so unless you want to be friends with zombies, you better be on good terms with your friends. Because if you think about it, the most dangerous thing to human’s survival isn’t the zombies but your fellow other human. A thinking human with ulterior motive is very much dangerous, right? You get the idea but we’re not here to discuss about that.

So for our main characters, I guess for a bunch of middle school girls, they really do a good job in surviving this long. Despite their seemingly delusional lifestyle, each of them are in a way ‘broken’. You might think they need psychiatric help but too bad there aren’t any shrinks around at this moment. So it’s like substituting their stolen childhood with this? At least it is free therapy :). Though, they only have one shot at it. At first Yuki might seem like an annoying retard for her tendency to avert her eyes from reality and continue frolicking in her happy dream world. Sometimes it gets to you that you want to smack her head for her to wake up and face reality. But then again, if she could handle reality, would she not have gone into such a mode? This is the best way for her to handle the trauma of whatever is going on. She is after all just a little girl and for her to and her friends to be exposed to such atrocities at a tender age, I think it is best for her to stay delusion until she is ready and strong enough to move on. Yuki is also the mood setter of the group thanks to her very cheerful disposition. She is also like the luck goddess because the on-the-spot decision she makes without any thinking has saved the girls a handful of times.

The shocking thing (and probably the most shocking of all twists) was learning that Megu was already dead. There were a few hints that nicely indicated that there was something odd about her. Like why her faint presence is the running joke of the series, why nobody bothers to correct themselves to call her Sakura sensei instead of Megu-nee despite her constant gentle reminders, why she never joins the girls together in many of the activities and the damning revelation is why she let Kurumi drive her car instead of driving it herself. So if you put all this clues together, it particularly makes sense that Megu is no longer around. But I keep wondering if she is still indeed around in the form of a ghost that continues to help and guide Yuki. Sometimes it might be a figment of her imagination but sometimes it sounds ‘too real’ for Yuki to have that sort of imagination. Personally I want to believe she is in her ghost form but because Megu turned into a zombie as seen, it makes me wonder if she can take on a spirit form considering being a zombie is neither alive nor dead. The undead. So technically can your soul pass over if you are a zombie? Hmm… Something to chew on. Not brains, mind you! Generally, Megu is a very nice teacher that everybody would love to have. She’s been there for Yuki physically or not and has guided her out of a lot of sticky situations. Even if she knows about this epidemic one way or another, my guess is that she still wants to help them and would even sacrifice her life for it.

I suppose every group must have the ‘muscle’ person so Kurumi closely fits that description. Having a shovel in hand has become a trademark and it feels really odd to see her without one. Or her without her twintail hairstyle. I am assuming that since she has played driving video games, she must have played shooting games as well. Because I’m thinking if she had a gun, she would be doing Resident Evil style in killing zombies, blasting off their heads. That would be much easier and badass, wouldn’t it? While Rii starts off as a very cool and calm person (even when being very angry and threatening, her calm demeanour but deadly aura will scare the hell out of you), a big sister that keeps the group together, most probably it is her way of dealing with the trauma of the current events by bottling up her feelings. And then when the possibility of Kurumi becoming a zombie comes hitting home, she starts losing it. All that pent up emotions maybe just exploded like a time bomb. Mii I thought she would fare better if she smiled more often but seriously, who could keep up a smile in this zombie apocalypse? Oh, the other club members are doing just fine smiling… Mii might be passive in many ways but she is still an important member of the club. Every living member is important. So it was really sad to see they had to kill off an intelligent doggie like Taroumaru. Hmm… Maybe they want a change of mascot and will pick up some other little furry along the way.

As Kei once said herself, it is better to try living than just existing. That is probably the best advice that anyone has said in such a desperate time. What is life if you do not live it to the fullest? What is life if you do not live it like on the edge? Kei’s true fate is unknown but even if she has gone to become one of the zombies, I’m sure she had a blast before succumbing. And I thought it would be a cruel joke the moment she splits from Mii, before she can ‘relish’ in her newfound freedom, she just got bitten after taking a few steps. Haha! Whoops! Sorry. That is why Mii is probably confused to see the School Life Club members doing quite ‘dangerous’ stuffs from time to time like leaving their comfort zone for a field trip and the likes. Nothing like a good adrenaline pumping, eh? Mii might be separated from Kei and who knows when they’ll ever meet again but you can bet Mii has taken up her advice to live to the fullest. Life is more thrilling that way. And you know what Forrest Gump said about life being a box of chocolates… Just no chocolates in this setting :’(.

As mentioned, this series is not about the zombies but rather how the girls live their daily lives and deal what is before them. Therefore I cannot help think about the characteristics of the zombies. It just baffles me. I don’t think they are really zombies. I believe the series has not mentioned them about being zombies. It is just me using this term to refer to those walking dead. So it is rather odd to see that you know, zombie students hanging around in school, wandering aimlessly and when it is time to go home, they disappear and go back. Go back home and do what? As assumed, they are not totally dead and still retained certain parts of their memory. Thus the reason why student zombies continue to go to school and adult zombies head to work. And since they’re like the undead, will they continue doing this routine forever? And for the medicine in the basement that Mii brought back, I am not sure if the medicine works for zombies who are already too advanced to be turned back but I guess they run out of those to try it on the rest. Yeah, she just brought back enough for the shovel woman and doggie.

The other odd thing I find about the zombies is the penchant for them to attack our main girls wherever they are. Sure, they are attracted to sound and rush over as soon as they hear the slightest faint. But there are many times when our girls happen to arrive on the scene and then the zombies start attacking. It is like they know they are not their undead comrades and do not hesitate to lunge at them. It is like they know where they are and some lie await for the right moment to spring on them. Like in a video game. Get what I’m saying? Maybe this is to add to the suspense and scare jump effect. I’m not sure if they can smell but they certainly can feel because I didn’t know that zombies don’t like the rain and try to keep out of it! After all, how much do we know about these zombies? Heck, we don’t even know how all this started? Like as though this zombie setting is an excuse to have a peek on the daily lives of a handful of middle school girls. Because from where the series is going, it isn’t going to end either. Maybe they’ll find another type of zombies and another group of survivors… Yeah, next season, buddy?

The drawing and art are rather okay. The girls are your typical cute and moe characters to enhance the cuteness of everything. Sometimes they look like they came out from those cute girls doing cute things genre and suddenly being thrown into a horror survival series. Because don’t you think a young teacher like Megu looks too cute to be a teacher? Sure, this might be the norm in animes but like I’ve said, the girls look like they just came out from some comedy and slice of life series. Interestingly, the zombies are animated using CGI. You can see the way they drag themselves one kind. Yeah well, many zombies do look the same. Do we care? So cut and paste, shall we?

Voice acting, there isn’t anything special. I guess it has come to a stage where veteran seiyuus are slowly fading away and new ones taking the centre stage. Therefore it will be some time before I start recognizing any of them. If they stand out. And hopefully when I do, they won’t go into ‘retirement’ and a new wave of seiyuus comes to the fore. So we have relatively newbies voicing the main quartet such as Minori Inase as Yuki (Suzu in Love Lab), Mao Ichimichi as Rii (Kazumi in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Ari Ozawa as Kurumi (Nozomi in The Rolling Girls), Rie Takahashi as Mii (Kaon Lanchester in Comet Lucifer) and Juri Kimura as Kei (Eruna in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku). Veteran Ai Kayano is the voice of Megu (Inori in Guilty Crown). You thought an animal character without any dialogue would be an uncredited role, right? Yeah, it seems they casted another veteran seiyuu to play what is seemingly the ‘easiest’ voice acting role. Well, try barking only for the entire series. I’m sure you’ll go crazy before the zombies get your brain. Yeah, Emiri Katou (Akatsuki in Log Horizon, Kagami in Lucky Star) takes on that role of that cute yapping canine. At least she won’t be turning into Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Kyuubey. Thank goodness…

The opening theme, Friend Shitai by Gakuen Seikatsubu (basically the quartet from School Life Club) starts off with what I feel is like a zombie themed piece. Then it turns into your typical lively anime pop song. There are a few ending themes. The slow pop of Harmonize Clover and After Glow are sung by Maon Kurosaki (interestingly, although she makes a cameo by voicing a minor background character in this series, the only other series she also voiced also as a minor background character is that other school zombie themed, High School Of The Dead). Initially I thought that slow lovely 40’s-like English ballad as the insert song and special ending theme for episode 4 was sung by a Caucasian. Surprisingly, it was Kaori Sawada. Wow. She sounds sultry and good enough to be passed off like an English woman.

Overall, this show has its hits and misses and because I am still hovering between boredom (seeing too much typical moe girls genres has somewhat numbed me) and interesting (why do they have to leave the interesting bits unanswered?), I am going to take the middle ground that this anime doesn’t suck but do not put too much high hopes about it. If you are in a dilemma to want to watch series with cute daily slice of life but at the same time you want to be slightly spooked, maybe this series would have the right mix in making your heart go ~kyunnnn~ one moment and then giving you a little goosebumps the next. I don’t know. At least that is what I experienced. And I hope I don’t have to experience such terrifying zombie apocalypse ever. Because my dangerous delusions would probably kill me first before any zombies could get me. But then again, aren’t we all living in some sort of zombie apocalypse right now? Everyone is so ‘dead’ facing their Smartphones and iPhones 24/7… Well, if there is one thing that this series proves, it proves that daydreaming isn’t entirely a bad thing… P/S: I’d rather stay and wait till kingdom come in my safe zone rather than venturing out to the unknown. That’s my kind of ‘thrill’ :).