Review: School-Live! Complete Series (Blu-Ray)

A couple of things to preface this review: First, School-Live! isn’t an idol anime – It’s ‘live’ as in ‘living’. Yay English! And second, it’s impossible to talk about this series without spoiling the premise and the first episode entirely. Ye be warned!

School-Live!, otherwise known as Gakkou Gurashi! presents the story of four girls, a puppy and a teacher who live at their school. Main character and club member Yuki Takeya is a bright-eyed and cheerful girl who loves her school and is always seeking out fun within the school building, and loves talking to her teacher Megumi Sakura, affectionately known as Megu-nee. The club is rounded out by club president Yūri Wakasa, quiet Miki Naoki and rowdy Kurumi Ebisuzawa, who is never without her trusty shovel at her side. The first episode paints a bright and cheery picture of school-living life through the eyes of Yuki.

But why does Kurumi have a shovel with her at all times if this is a cheery slice of life anime? Oh right. The school is actually in ruins after a zombie apocalypse event has ravaged the world, and the bright and cheery world we see through Yuki’s eyes is the delusion of a girl struggling to cope with the horrible world she now finds herself in, as she and the others fight to survive in a now hostile world where the threat of death and the undead lurks around every corner. Fun!

After the initial introductions the series skips back and we see how the girls rescued Miki and the adorable puppy Taromaru from a mall on a supply run. From there the series unfolds as the girls learn more about the apocalyptic event, their school’s strangely perfect-for-the-situation facilities and their circumstances, but the shift between the series presenting the world as it exists and the world inside Yuki’s mind means for a long time you’re left guessing as to what is and isn’t real.

Based on a manga written by Norimitsu Kaiho and illustrated by Sadoru Chiba, it’s equal parts dark, emotional and fun. The character designs and environmental art are all fantastic, and the bright and colourful girls are an excellent contrast to the bleak and brutal world they inhabit in the story. The show moves at a good pace, and manages to weave plenty of slice of life good-times through the story which hits plenty of the notes you’d expect from both a schoolgirl comedy and zombie apocalypse story. School-Live! is an incredibly well crafted story of friends, loss, death and optimism, with a surprisingly emotional ending.

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A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this