(Warning, the following article contains massive spoilers for School-Live!. If you do not want to be spoiled, then read no further)
School-Live! seems like you typical moe slice-of-life comedy series about a group of high school girls that are part of a nondescript club, but with a twist. In School-Live! that club is the School Living Club, and its four members; Yuki Takeya, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuri Wakasa, and Miki Naoki literally live at their high school, along with the club’s advisor, Megumi “Megu-nee” Sakura, and the club’s mascot, a Shiba Inu puppy named Taroumaru.
The first episode is mostly harmless and primarily focuses on Yuki and Miki chasing after Taroumaru all throughout the school. After Taroumaru is caught, Miki accompanies Yuki as Yuki goes to retrieve her backpack from her classroom after classes end. Though something doesn’t seem exactly....right. There’s just an odd air to this part of the episode, and it is then that School-Live! delivers its real twist. Everything we had seen prior in the episode was a rosy, moe slice-of-life club show delusion in Yuki’s head, and this is what her classroom actually looks like:
And the reason it looks like this is because their city actually fell victim to a zombie apocalypse, and the people in the School Living Club are the only living survivors in the city. Yuki just deludes herself into thinking everything is fine to maintain what remains of her sanity. It’s her coping mechanism.
Once the twist is revealed, School-Live! becomes a pretty standard zombie apocalypse tale, with familiar plot points coming up over time, but even then the way they are executed is nearly flawless and all the while Yuki’s delusions continue to occur.
The girls are barricaded into a specific part of the school, though they still have access to a lot of the finer things in life that would be taken for granted in an apocalyse, such as running water and even electricity thanks to their school having solar panels on the roof. Their school even has the luxury of its school store being like a miniature convenience store, so they had a decent stock of supplies on hand, but Kurumi and Yuri know the supplies won’t last forever, so they have to venture out into the devistated city every now and then. To make their situation worse, Kurumi is the only combatant in the group, and the only weapon she has at her disposal is a shovel. With Kurumi being their only line of defense, if something ever happened to her, the rest of the group is doomed.
The best part of the show, though, is Yuki. Without her, the show would just be an incredibly solid zombie apocalypse tale, albeit one with cutesy characters, and that would be enough reason to watch it. But Yuki makes is what makes School-Live! something that must be watched. Watching how Yuki copes with her situation becomes a great character study. And it makes you watch with bated breath to see the other shoe drop. She’s holding out for now, but how long can she keep it up? Yuki will have to crack eventually, and how she reacts is something I am looking forward to.
And on the same token, eventually the other characters will break as well. Maybe they’ll start feeling their situation is completely hopeless, that they won’t be rescued, maybe someone becomes infected. Regardless of what it takes, I just have this feeling the others will also come crashing down.
Next, I would like to talk about Megu-nee. I think she’s a great character and I find her fascinating as well. Before the outbreak she was constantly being put down for being too much of a pushover, or not having enough drive, or being too friendly with students. Yet look at her now, she’s the last teacher standing, and showed that she’s one of the most selfless and bravest characters I’ve seen in anime, going to great lengths to protect the students that she could. And she still continues teaching Yuki every day.
Lastly, I must commend the production values being put into this show. The animation from Lerche is clean and extremely high quality. The soundtrack is one of the best of the entire season, and the sound effects are on point, with some of them being downright creepy. It is clear that a lot of work is going into this show, and it’s a show that definitely deserves it.
School-Live! is on track to being easily the best zombie apocalypse anime I’ve ever seen. Though unfortunately that’s some shallow praise, because there just aren’t that many anime set in zombie apocalypses, with hardly any that feature zombies at all, and most of the zombie anime have been rather underwhelming. But even expanding the scope to zombie apocalypse tales in general, it is currently up there with the best, and I think when it is all said and done, it will be more than worthy of being spoken of in the same manner as other iconic entries in the genre, such as The Walking Dead or George A. Romero’s early films.