A lot of people have spent hours upon hours thinking about various methods of dealing with a zombie outbreak. Many purely for fun, others for the purposes of creating a story around it, and a small exception out of paranoia that it’s a real possibility. Yet, all those people and all those hours, days, and even years of college students and writers wondering about the best plan of survival never thought up the correct answer; one that, amazingly, Gakkou Gurashi has found.
Tell the zombies that school is out for the day.
I wish I could end the review there, but you might think that’s a joke or missing context, well it’s not, it is literally the answer in the finale and it fucking works. The zombies hear it and they go, well, shit, time to go home! Sadly, this isn’t the stupidest thing in the show, nor the worst, it’s just one of the most hilarious examples of how fucked the writing for this entire series is throughout and a godawful climax. What next, a rabid zombie dog saving the day? Oh wait, that’s also an integral event in the plot.
You know what, before I continue on that path, I want to give some praise where it’s due. The directing is pretty damn good, nothing in this show is something I can blame on that and for a very new director I have to really say this was actually pretty good. If this was someone with more experience I’d expect them to pull a Bokurano and say “this story fucking sucks, I’m going to make an entirely original story instead”, but someone with almost no prior work I can see why he didn’t go for that. Now, there are some issues that are definitely his fault, but overall the directing itself is solid and even at incredibly rare times can be fantastic. The cinematography throughout is easily some of the better and more, well, cinematic that you’ll find in most anime – nothing compared to something like Railgun S which is in a realm all on it’s own in the department, but still pretty good. Yuki’s mental problems in episode 1 and the way they were shown to us, rather the way they WEREN’T shown to us, was also just incredible. Even knowing the twist it didn’t change the impact of how it was executed and it’s probably one of my favorite first episodes ever along with Ga Rei Zero. However, at times, the director was too heavy handed with “subtle” things, making them lose any subtlety they were clearly meant to have because of trying too hard to include things from the manga that clashed with them or simply making it too obvious too early. It’s not a perfect showcase of directing talent, but for someone fairly new this was mostly pretty good in that aspect, and those few amazing moments lead me to believe this guy has a lot of potential. This may sound contradictory to some things I’ll say in a bit, but what I’m saying is up until the parts he had to “reveal” things because of following the manga, subtlety was something he handled greatly.
Another positive would be…uh…Miki’s seiyuu is very new and does great – but most importantly she’s also the lead girl Futa-Futa from Sore ga Seiyuu, a show about new seiyuu. It’s nice to see the real her hitting it big in a popular show as the character does too, it reminds me a bit of Macross Frontier and Megumi Nakajima. Miki herself is also cute and is the only character with any sort of believability to her logic. While the rest of the cast happily lets a girl suffer in her delusions, decides to have a pool party instead of going to an emergency shelter, and in general ignores the looming threat, Miki actually constantly tries to be proactive about survival (albeit the others usually get in the way of that).
Moving on from those things to the harsh reality – the show is shit. I was so excited for this, it seemed like such a fresh concept that could be really unique; a slice of life story set in a zombie apocalypse about four girls surviving. More frustrating, that first episode really did pull me in in a very strong way, yet a week later I saw something not even half as good, then again the next week, and this continued until it became exponentially worse with each new episode and ending up as one of the worst shows I’ve seen in a very long time. Rather, there are some way worse shows, but this was the most offensively shitty out of all of them – something like Arslan being total trash doesn’t really upset me or anyone else, it was clearly going to be bad from the get go and had no potential and nothing to not live up to…this though is the type that stings because it deserved to be so much more yet the creator didn’t manage to make it five feet before accidentally dropping it into a storm drain where it flowed all the way into the depths of the sewer system.
One of the biggest flaws with this show is the inability to hide twists before “reveals” of them, such as Megu having been dead most of the show. This was something I genuinely thought was meant to be obvious to the viewer, and it seemed that way for many episodes – as if the show was aware that it was understood by the viewer and wasn’t trying to hide it or trick you…but then they do try a “big reveal” of it and the result is embarrassing. It treats you like an infant as if the past entirety of the show hadn’t happened and she hadn’t continually been VERY CLEARLY shown to not really be there – while it was handled subtly it wasn’t something hard to see, they outright show her as not being real multiple times and continually push the fact that she phases in and out of existence and that nobody ever speaks to her aside Yuki and they all look uncomfortable and awkward when she does, and the fact she never once interacts with anything. It’s not fucking difficult to see her teleport around constantly as a sign that maybe she isn’t alive. Yet, apparently, you were not meant to realize it. This is more terribly done than the MGSV reveal which almost everyone figured out from the trailers alone, not to mention the fucking prologue. Up to the reveal I thought this was handled not that bad, yeah it was obvious about it but because it knew you were aware of the truth it was fine that it didn’t try being disingenuous with the viewer, but then you realize they were more being disingenuous with themselves in believing the viewer is literally fucking retarded. In a show that was already going a bad way this whole big deal even with a special ending and insert song and change of the OP after – it all felt hilarious and a bit insulting rather than touching.
Then there’s the loads of fanservice awkwardly and clunkily shoved in; it’s all so out of place and pointless that it still confuses me why they even added it. Did they really believe the show couldn’t get views without it? Worse, it’s the most just fucking STRANGE fanservice they could have done. For example, what’s up with Miki wearing the sluttiest prostitute-worthy lingerie imaginable to school every day even before all this happened? I mean thigh-highs, sure, but really? And worse, why do we see her in just them and her panties with no skirt on so many times without any actual reason for that to be the case? On panties, we see hers a fuck ton and in various angles from what feels like a dedicated “Miki-ass-cam” half the show. The amount of service with her is far more than anyone else, leaving me to believe she was the director’s favorite. Not only is she half naked all the time and wearing just the sluttiest thing possible, she also gets a full dedicated scene to showering…for no reason. Literally none. There is no monologue, there are no thoughts, there’s nobody speaking or doing anything, and nothing happens. It is just a scene of a kid taking a shower and barely avoiding showing a few special spots going on for minutes without purpose. Even later in another episode when there are more of the girls in the showers (also pointlessly, though this time they at least speak) the only one we see in any capacity to SEE SOMETHING is her, the rest cover their bodies or are at angles you can see nothing anyway. It’s so fucking tasteless and out of place.
Then there’s a time where fanservice completely changes the entire main story and their lives, yes, they made an ENTIRE FANSERVICE EPISODE integral to the main plot and survivability of the cast. We find a notebook that explains about this virus that’s causing the zombies, that it’s a bioweapon (real original!), and that there is a second basement made specifically as an evacuation and survival facility fully equipped with food, water, and medicine both normal and to combat the virus itself. They make a promise to look there tomorrow. The very next day they decide instead of looking into this basement thing they’ll go play around in the water basin on the roof in their bikinis. The full episode is nothing but that – harmless, right? No, because the next episode more days have passed and none of them bothered to check the place still even though they are also aware their barriers are fucked and that more zombies have shown up lately, but hey, fuck it. In the end, the entire climax of the series happens thanks to them spending their time showing the viewer their bodies and rubbing up against one another instead of going to the basement – the dog would not be dead, they would have already taken care of Megu’s zombie form, shovel girl would never have been hurt, they would have strong as shit barriers and a security system protecting them, and they’d have medicine, food, and drink for a long time to come (as this facility was made to safely hold the entire school and there’s only 4 of them instead). Yet, again, the show decided to put that off to give otaku something to grip their tiny little dicks to and then – thanks to the shit writing – even after that still not have them actually go to the basement.
It’s awful, not because it’s sexualizing some teenagers, who gives a fuck they’re cartoon characters – but because it just has no place in this show. This is an overall serious show about the horrible mental state of four girls trying to survive in a world that threatens them at every turn. It’s fine to have some fun even in that situation for a series like this…but entire episodes dedicated to nothing but gravure bullshit and multiple nude shower scenes with no purpose? No. It’s like if Black Hawk Down had a half hour randomly thrown in of Grimes stumbling into a strip club and relaxing awhile while the camera sits stubbornly zoomed in on some ass.
One thing I’ve heard to defend the story a lot is the idea that “they are just teenagers so they wouldn’t always make the right decisions” but it doesn’t apply. Nobody, not even a fucking 6 year old, would think “yeah let’s play in the water instead of finding medicine and safety”, and these are girls that are in their very late teens. The same applies to almost all their decisions really, none of them make sense. One of the most dangerous things you can have in a survival situation is someone who isn’t mentally stable and who can put you all in danger and will react in ways you can’t predict – yet they fully help Yuki stay insane, and big tits even physically threatens Miki to play along as well when she first arrives or else be tossed out to the zombies after being beaten. There are so many examples – I’m not going to sit here summarizing 90% of the fucking show, but the point is it’s unbelievable. I understand it’s not a real situation, that it’s an anime, that it’s teenage girls, but there are things that are beyond the ability of suspending your disbelief – these characters are shown to NOT BE as fucking stupid as the show then decides to make them at important points just to inorganically force the show in some retarded melodramatic direction.
And oh boy, do I have to remind you about the start of this review? Well it’s true. The ultimate answer in this show to the climax is simply saying over the speakers that school is out. That’s the finale. That’s the solution to the zombie hordes. Tell them work is over, school is out, mom’s in the hospital – they’re very good listeners and they’ll act on what they know MORE THAN THE MAIN CAST OF LIVING HUMANS who couldn’t be fucked to go to a secure EVACUATION FACILITY MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS SITUATION. Speaking of which, Megu is canonically aware of the evacuation facility and even the cure for the zombie virus…yet never leads the girls there in all the time she was still alive. Maybe this is explained in the manga, but from what I can tell the writer just didn’t realize what a fuck-up he made the moment he had a map that Megu marked for other secure places that the organization had set up to survive this event in, not to mention it’s never explained why she’s the only person with information on this.
Then my favorite thing in the entire show, and I do very much mean that sarcastically – Yuki’s change in the final episodes. She magically without any emotional or mental impact comes to realize the truth of things and is not only completely fine and handles it without any shock or fear, she BECOMES FUCKING DARYL DIXON. She is the MOST CAPABLE person in this entire group the moment she snaps out of it, saving the lives of everyone in the process after fighting through hordes of zombies all by herself to do so. Now you might think it’s explainable by fight or flight instincts – but that is actually the reason it’s NOT explainable. The entire reason her head put her into the state of extreme denial she was in was thanks to the fact her instincts realized she COULD NOT HANDLE picking “fight” and so it chose to run away to keep her alive, keeping her aware subconsciously of danger but never letting her understand the truth as she’d break instantly. Yet instead the moment she sees things for what they are she becomes an unstoppable force who is not only the most capable, but the most intelligent and most courageous of all of them. She even, somehow, summons the support of a zombie dog who leaps out and saves her even though it just tried killing the shovel girl earlier. It is fucking ridiculous in the worst way.
Speaking of shovel, she’s been bit and for awhile been ‘turning’ – while everyone else seems to have done that instantly, she’s taking years over here and somehow magically the medicine undoes all of it and she’s fine aside the initial wound hurting. Same for the dog after everything, who is turned back into a real dog, unzombied via magic, and dies from likely having bled out during zombification. The show is so afraid of death they only killed off a character who started dead to begin with and a dog.
This is a show that DESERVED to be a 10/10, hell the first episode itself IS without a doubt one of the best first episodes out there alongside Ga Rei Zero. Everything after that still could have followed up with that same level of quality and content…instead we got what we got, which was a miserable pile of shit and something I genuinely regret watching. This is a series that shows very clearly the impact the audience – or perceived audience – can have on the way a series is created. They figured they had to pander to otaku with shoved in loads and loads of fanservice and just enough friendship to make retards start their delusions of lesbians, they couldn’t kill anyone because it might be someone’s precious waifu and he won’t buy the blurays anymore, and they also figured they had to explain each and every single thing in the most offensively childish manner to the viewer as if everyone watching is too stupid to figure anything out.
It’s a tragedy that this ended up so fucked when it has so many things about it that could be amazing, but there’s no changing how it turned out.