From Moe to Horror – School-Live Bring s Flair

case-1-gakkou-gurashi-detective-anime-review

Quick Synopsis:

To give you a brief overview of this Anime’s dimension, the story starts off with a calm, and peaceful setting, as most programs do. The main characters given to us are as flat as Paper Mario, and show no sign of difference to them, while being compared to the MOE narrative form of “cute girls, doing cute things” for some explicit reason. These characters are also a part of School Club called “the School Living Club.” (Let that sink in for a minute or so.) However, as you continue watching, small hints of oddity can be gathered by the chilling sound effects and the dark iconography hidden in the show, which in turn, becomes the show’s staple force. To top it off, at the end of the first episode…when you least expect it, BOOM! The story reveals to you that this is not your ordinary MOE show, but a show of the dead, featuring, FOUR GIRLS, A DOG, AND 1 ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! Did I forget to mention that one of the main characters is shown to be a crazy nut job who thinks everything is fine and dandy…if not…well you KNOW NOW! However, after completing the series, there are a few questions that may leave you in a questionable state including?
Why was the building so well-prepared for the outbreak?
Are there any drawbacks from the medicine used for Kurumi’s wound/who created it?
During the club outing segment, after saving Miki, why didn’t they just leave?
Why weren’t the Zombies formidable antagonists for the girls in the story?
Why would they bring Yuki, if she was undergoing this emotional trauma?
Why didn’t we get to know any information about Yuuri’s intake/past events with the Zombie Apocalypse?
Well, I believe it’s time to jump into what I find to be the pros and cons of the ANIME adaptation of Gakkou Gurashi!

Story-line:

After revealing the true nature of the Anime’s plot after episode one, I wanted the story to focus on the character’s attempts to fight through the consequences or problems the story would inflict upon them while having the desire to escape because of the Zombie Apocalypse. For the most part, the story was able to balance the MOE traits with the horror aspects well, but there were some slight problems in the Anime where the peaceful, and light-hearted tones conflicted with the story’s horror side. A few examples would include:
Example 1: Episode 2 – Where Kurumi is conflicted about something, and Yuki breaks the tension with the Test of Courage idea.
Example 2: Episode 9 – Where they lose sight on the emergency manual situation to have some pool time.
However, the instances where the combination was executed brilliantly would include:
Example 1: When they were investigating the broadcasting room area in episode 8.
Example 2: Now this is kinda a combination, but at the end of episode one with the camera angles on Yuki as we are revealed that the world is not what it seems to be – Episode 1

In light of the events leading up to the climax of the series, I found it to be entertaining, but odd to some degree. The sequence of events are in no particular order, but seem to follow your standard narrative structure quite well. We are given an exposition that informs us about the situation the ladies are in, and then we’re given a few episodes which give hints of foreshadowing to various deaths, and some perspectives from at least two of the girls, being that of the bookworm Naoki Miki and our action girl Kurumi Ebisuzawa. The light-hearted moments with the girls having fun on the activities were adorable/enjoyable to watch, but sometimes it felt like they were dragged on to the point where I just wanted to see the gruesome, and darker elements which stem from its psychological portion! HECK, it’s labeled as a SEINEN Manga series for a reason now!

However, the rise in suspense in episodes 10-11 were done well since they were able to capture the horror from the girl’s situation internally, and externally with the visuals, soundtrack, and the character’s facial expressions! Others and I may agree that the resolution of the show could have been a bit better, whether it be, one of the girls dying alongside Taroumaru, or that all of them could have died period. But, it makes sense by the logic given to us within the show, stating how the Zombies remember their previous lives/roles in society. Also, the fan service…and I will say no more on that note. Overall, the storyline had its cons and certainly had its pros, but it could have been better if the story focused heavily on the darker plot lines, while incorporating some interesting material from the Manga…*COUGH* Miki’s refusal to believe in Yuki’s dilemma! *COUGH* *HELICOPTER ARC*

Characters:
If I had to choose what character to talk about first, I’d choose Yuki Takeya. Yuki is the most energetic, airheaded, and surprisingly the oldest girl from the batch. To some, she could be viewed as bait for their zombie fishing rod because of the way she is presented in the show, but since she views the world to be equivalent to that of a bowl of Lucky Charms, instead of a walk on Elm Street, it transforms her from being the typical stock character to that of a more dynamic individual as the story progresses. Examples of this progress can be seen during:
Example 1: Use the carefree Yuki bits from episodes one and two here to explain her beginning! (Put In Small Box)
Example 2: Then use the bits in episode 5/6/7/10/11/12 where Yuki is shown to have some type of change throughout each episode in terms of her internal structure.

She may be a stereotypical girl fit for the Moe genre, and her joyful prescience in the Anime may have its good and bad instances during the important moments in an episode, but toward the second half of the show she starts to grasp the concept of reality as we draw near to the show’s resolution. A quick pro or con for this character would include, strong character development and how her personality keeps the others from going insane. Though, through some eyes she may be shallow/annoying during the critical moments of the show, and that she may not hold any defining characteristics to her character other than what’s given to her.

Alright, for the next character we have Mrs. Shovel Knight, Kurumi Ebisuzawa. Kurumi is the most athletic, thick-headed, and active member of the club. To some people she could be classified as the “best girl” due to her tomboyish appearance. She’s also one of the only members, who actually fights off the Zombies in every situation, but one. In terms of characterization, Kurumi is very reliant and calm in desperate situations, but could be classified as an emotional character since she typically believes she can handle every situation on her own which later bites her in the arm…hehe. However, I found her backstory/flashback rather lackluster compared to another main character in the series. Her flashback included a love interest for a male character during her high-school track team days. Although it was able to bring out the action hero we know today, I felt that if the minor character was given more depth as the one I shall mention later on, then her flashback could have been a tad bit better. Overall, Kurumi is given great development after the fact, and thankfully, behind her shovel-like armor, she has emotional weaknesses to bring out the realistic quality to her character.

If I asked you the question of, “Who do you think is Mecha’s Favorite character from the club,” and you answered Naoki Miki, then you will definitely be getting some goods in your stocking this year! Miki or Mii-kun as Yuki likes to call her, would have to be the most fragile, skeptical, and reserved member of the club. In terms of characterization, Miki can be looked as the foil or sidekick to Yuki’s character, since they both have differing viewpoints on the zombie infested world, which enhance the qualities of Yuki’s character largely. Miki’s flashback would have to be the best one throughout the entire run of the series, since we are able to understand her personal emotions rather than her being a yes woman. Being able to see who she was before the outbreak occurred, and having lost her friend Kei to the Zombie apocalypse. Plus, with the additive of the symbolic CD player of friendship, I was able to feel sympathetic toward her character more than the other club members. An example of this could be seen throughout episodes 4-5 during the Miki retrieval mini arc.

{However, there’s a slight note I have to mention that most Manga fans would discuss as well and that’s after she is included. Miki isn’t shown to be as resilient as she was in the Manga, and in this case I would have loved to seen more personal conflicts between Yuuri and her rather than what was shown in the Anime. Was this scene that big of a deal,…not really? But it would have brought her character to life a tad bit more, but I’m pleased with the ending result that was portrayed in the Anime.}

Now we reach the club’s final member, and that is Yuuri Wakasa aka OPPAI JUSTICE! Yuuri is the most mature, kind-hearted, and resourceful member of the group. She normally plays the big sister role of the club, but when all heck breaks lose, she loses her calm nature and begins to break down emotionally. As far as characterization goes, Yuuri really doesn’t have a backstory to go along with her character sadly, and some may consider her to be the worst of the group because of this. Yuuri does go through some emotional break downs near the ending of the story, but throughout the entire run of the series not much comes from her other than the stereotypical big sister traits seen in most Anime. However, she played her role quite well in the series, which didn’t bother me at all. Hopefully, a second season, if given, will be able to bring life to this character, than what was portrayed in this season.

In terms of the minor characters including the clumsy, lovable teacher Sakura Megumi (Megu-nee), the animal mascot, Taroumaru, and Miki’s best friend, Kei, they all played key roles in supporting the characters and story, as it progressed. With the incorporation of Megumi’s character in the story, the series was able balance the peaceful and gloomy scenarios well. Also, Yuki’s character was driven by the fact that she didn’t want to remember the character’s death, and without it, I believe she would just be a female with no inner emotions. Her impact on the rest of the cast including Miki was strong, since she was an integral piece to their puzzle of compassion. Though, the only down side to Megu-nee’s character was the way her death was structured. If you’re the type of person who likes a death that is straightforward than you may have complications with this specific character

With regards to the other two characters they share similar traits to that of one dimensional characters since they seem to be placed in the story, to satisfy the viewer or to enlighten a character trait for a member of our main cast. Spoiler, they both die, but Taroumaru’s death was better in my eyes.

Sound-Track:

The soundtrack for the series was standard, but memorable to my ears. The opening theme titled, “Friend Shitai” by Gakuen Seikatsubu is amazing and honestly catchy. It’s a great refresher and kick-starter for Gakkou Gurashi, even though the soundtrack doesn’t match the story’s premise in any way. Another highlight for this opening would be how the voice actresses who play the characters in the JP dub are actually the one’s singing the song.

Speaking of the actresses, I found the JP voice acting to fit well with the characters. During the intense and joyous moments of the show, the voice acting seemed to be on point from what I recall from the program. Although when comparing the voice acting to other shows, it could be standard at most. However, I was able to obtain the general feel for each character, and I can’t really complain there.

In regards to the three ending themes for this series, they fit perfectly, but are not really special or mind-blowing. Although, they grasp the sadness and happiness of the series, they don’t seem to memorable, unless, your like myself who downloads the song and consistently listens to it during the random times of the hour. However, if I did have to choose the best track out of the three, it would have to be “Afterglow” by Maon Kurosaki. While listening to the vocal cover and instruments play in the background you could feel the sadness obtained during the reveals in the show.

On the other hand, there are some instances where the sound effects in the Anime are used during the most random moments. One to note would be in episode four when Miki suddenly notices Taroumaru fled the room, there’s an instance where a wind sound could be heard. Now it’s quite miniscule I know, but it seemed rather odd to me at the time. However, the OST for the critical and light-hearted moments fit well for the series.

Example: Episode 6: When Miki asks Yuki, who’s Megu-nee?

Animation:

In terms of the art quality in Gakkou Gurashi, there wasn’t really much that bothered me, besides two things, and that would be the misplacement of certain facial features and the lovely use of computer animation or as the cool kids say CGI.

What I mean by the misplacement of character features would include scenarios where the children are given no eyes, or are losing parts of their appearance. This can be shown during Yuki’s delusional moments. I understand it’s a part of the child-like art form, but in most instances some of the background characters are given features that show them as dolls or figurines. Now the only time I found this to fit well would be during the comical and embarrassing moments for the characters, but that’s about it.

Example: The character bubbles seen during the child-like moments of the show and during the instances when they tell each other off, in a humorous manner.

In terms of the use of CGI, the only complaint I have with it would have to be the zombies and sometimes the background character designs. The cars, buildings, scenery, etc. didn’t seem to bother me in any fashion, since they never change to the traditional animation style. Some series like Rwby, I feel, use computer animation well because their series started as CGI and remained CGI. However, with the zombies and people they often change from the computer animation and traditional animation style frequently, and I felt that it should’ve stayed true to one animation style.

On the other hand, I didn’t seem to find any problems with the background elements of the series, or the artwork on the character’s appearances since they clashed well when the series decided to flip the mood, occasionally. Heck, even the dark color pallets on the zombies and the red bubbles that surrounded Kurumi and the other characters during their quarrel with the dead made me shiver in excitement. The animation was standard, but interesting in the slightest. The camera angles used in some of the scenes really hit home during the emotional and climatic moments of the show. A few examples would include:

Example 1: The zoom in features on the faces of Yuuri/Yuki/Miki during their encounter with the zombies. – Episodes 5/6/10/11

Example 2: The glass as it is falling down from the building because of the zombies gaining access into the school building. – Episode 10

Don’t even get me started with the awesome foreshadowing elements they placed into the opening sequence of the series, because I believe I would like to take a deeper look into that predicament, in the near future of my YouTube Channel. (Why did you have to steal my thunder, Mother’s Basement!)

Although I would have loved for there to be more fluid animation in the action scenes rather than some elongated still frames, I still felt the series had pretty decent animation, nonetheless.
Enjoyment:

Personally, while watching this series I was rather stoked to find out what would happen next, and re-watching the previous episode to find out the hidden artifacts of the real world was fun in itself. Does the series have its flaws? Absolutely. Would I recommend people who are new to Anime to watch it? Certainly. If I had the power to change anything from this series, what would I change? Honestly, the only way to fix the issues for this series would be, by stretching the series to at least 18 to 21 episodes to fit the source material in perfectly. Keeping true to one type of animation style rather than mixing both of them together, and maybe giving some of the characters a little more depth to make them connect with the audience more.

Nevertheless, the series was able to provide the entertainment I was looking for in a show at the time, and I would definitely give it a re-watch sometime in the near future.

Nintendo Switch News Is Not Too Far Away!

nintendo-switch

Breaking News!

Nintendo of America’s official Twitter account just released news on October 26th, 2016 that there will be a live presentation for the Nintendo Switch.  This will be an event for invited media, financial analysts and trade partners in Tokyo that will be globally livestreamed on Jan. 12, 2017. The event will also cover the launch line-up, pricing, and the release date for the home gaming system.

Kimishima also announced that invited media outlets, partners, and consumers from the U.S and Europe will be able to try out the system after the presentation date. The time-frame for this sampling event and opportunities for the general public to try out the new system will be announced at a later time.

The exact time for the Nintendo Switch 2017 presentation hasn’t been announced yet either, but news about the start time for the event will be given through Nintendo’s social media channels in the next coming weeks.

We look forward to seeing what Nintendo has in store for it’s consumer base as the presentation draws near.