Miki’s back-story is wrapped up (at last) with her introduction to the school living club, and something far more unsettling that the undead she’s faced: Yuki’s traumatic disorder.
It could be easy to write this episode off for not making enough of an impact – if you’ve followed every hint so far, you’d have been certain that Megu-nee had already bitten the dust, and the brief glimpse we got of her death wasn’t really enough to hit you ‘in the feels’. But revealing her death now, and without too much drama, was a good choice. It meant we could connect to Rii-san and Kurumi, who have both had to let this tragedy sink in, while also connecting to Miki slowly grasping the gravity of the situation. The true intensity of Megu-nee’s death, if we do see it in more detail (or its results – wouldn’t she be a zombie now?), should be reserved for Yuki, the centrepiece of distress.
Small things also made Megu-nee’s death more meaningful, further drawing me into how Miki must have let it sunk in herself. The realisation that Yuki’s deluded antics were a vital part of the group – again, something we may have seen already, but now we know the group sees it themselves – along with the fade-outs of Megu-nee during the credits gave me the overwhelming feeling that her death made the group what it is today, for better and worse. Some people question how an oblivious mind like Yuki’s could survive the apocalypse, but how could the group survive keeping a tender mind like her’s together otherwise?
To stop this from making her delusion feel like a non-issue, however, the episode gave us cracks in Rii-san in the unspoken reasoning she has for keeping Yuki together. It’s a sure sign her development is coming up soon, as we had a hint about Miki’s past in the episode before her back-story began. The tension established in the moment Miki asked Yuki who Megu-nee was really filled Rii-san’s later demands with weight. It makes sense that Miki would be the one worrying about Yuki the most, but why is Rii-san most concerned with keeping the illusion from falling apart? It has to be for more than just an opportune way to get supplies and keep up morale.
That being said, this week demonstrated just how much of a morale-raiser Yuki is. The sports festival was able to defuse Miki’s scepticism and rekindle the love and need for company she exhibited prior to her being brought to the school. Yuki reinforced the difference between living and living and surely helped Miki realise that all she’d been doing in the mall was dying. Now Yuki and Miki’s friendship feels all the more integral to the club, with Miki gaining so much from being introduced to her. Yet, her fragility and how Miki started to tear down her illusion also showed how important it is that they have other friends around them to keep their friendship alive.
I think the whole theme of this episode was the repeated-to-death ‘power of friendship’, but told in an extremely natural and relatable way. Not only do our characters need each other, but our charterers’ friendships need other friendships too – I don’t get that feeling with core cast of many other great shows. Yuki’s desire to have a graduation album, which ends up containing both the living and the dead, reflects Gakkou Gurashi!’s principle of having all its cast all impacting each other in vital ways, the group being so closely knit together, which reminds us of both the fragility of post-apocalyptic survival and how strong these girls make each other through all the different ways they try to keep living.
As usual, the plethora of cinematic styles were what got me going through all these thoughts and feelings. It can’t be understated how important it is for us to stay interested in every part of the cast, and the clashes between the seriousness of Miki’s struggle and Yuki’s dreamworld continued this week to make the presentation of both characters feel remarkably honest. I have to say that the tonal shifts even rival Jun Maeda’s in some ways, but that may be simply because Yuki’s character, around which most of the shifts revolve, is one of the most interesting girls I’ve ever followed week-to-week.
Last week I was expecting us to shift away from Miki. Yet, by staying with her, we’ve gained – and confirmed – a lot of important thoughts and feelings towards the cast as a whole. Well played, Lerche.
Now let us see what Rii-san’s been harbouring inside all this time.