Please be aware this review will contain spoilers.
I’m going to be honest here. When I was looking at the summer release chart I originally wrote Gakkou Gurashi off completely. The preview and synopsis did absolutely nothing to spark my interest, and it’s really not the type of show I usually go for at all – It took a bit of persuading but I finally picked it up, and I am so glad I did.
The main focus of the show is Yuki Takeya, an incredibly energetic and cheerful high school girl. The story follows her daily life and the activities of the School Living Club – an after school club whose members must live within the school. On paper the purpose of this club is to nurture the girls’ sense of independence and help them become good examples to the other students. But as you soon come to realise, nothing about this show is what it seems.
The first episode can seem like a bit of a chore – We learn a little about the School Living Club and its members, and the majority of the episode is spent following Yuki and Miki chasing the escaped Taroumaru around the school grounds after he escapes from the clubroom. It’s light hearted entertainment and exactly what you’d expect from this type of show. Yuki provides cute and ditzy comic relief as she crashes into classrooms and disturbs lessons with Miki chasing beside her, trying to keep up with her antics – It isn’t until the very end of the episode where we see that not everything is as it seems.
The entire mood of the show changes in an instant! The art style becomes gritty and dark – a complete contrast to the bright and cheerful scenes we had witnessed only moments before. We are now no longer looking through the eyes of Yuki, but instead seeing the truth. The girls are actually the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse, and the School Living Club is something they created to keep their spirits up and to keep Yuki safe, who due to the trauma of the events she witnessed, has suffered a complete mental breakdown.
The visual contrast is just superb. The colourful and animated Yuki placed against blood splattered classrooms is a really powerful visual. And that is the reason I love it so much. They have taken a popular yet horribly overused genre and given it a whole new spin. Gakkou Gurashi! is something completely different and I cannot wait to see how it progresses and where they take the story from here.
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