Delicious cooking, an existential crisis, and balloons. This week was as quietly chaotic as Yuki’s mind, and it resounds all the better as a warning that we’ve reached an turning point.
A lot more things were solidified in this episode than they were developed, which serves the overall feeling that Gakkou Gurashi!’s plot is becoming too content with itself. Aside from seeing Yuki go into her own psyche to fully resolve her Megu-nee illusion – usually the other girls would completely snap her back to reality – we get a lot of what we’ve had before, and it’s great. The bond Yuki and Megu-nee have, both having lost dear friends; the wonderment at how Rii-san manages to cook a delicious meal in the apocalypse; the ballistic free spirit Kurumi can release; and, most of all, the ending message that these girls are happy.
This is a post-apocalyptic story; our characters aren’t allowed to be content for long.
The confusion over Megu-nee’s place in the car was a great example of how Yuki’s mind will continue to penetrate its own delusion. Her happiness is frail, eating into itself to stay alive, and she needs the security and support of the group to maintain her happiness. But now the School Living club is reaching out into the wider world; my question is, will this lead them to end up leaving Yuki’s happiness behind, in search of more tangible strength for their survival? Yuki resists reality because of of the closely-knit group that simultaneously feed and feed off of her illusory world; she’s even able to be close to Mii-kun, who is the furthest from supporting her imagination. Time can only pull this group apart, and how will Yuki fare then?
I loved seeing Miki get even more attention this week. Gakkou Gurashi! has subverted my expectations enough already, but now the show is confirming a refusal to follow the tradition of regulated back-story arcs. Kurumi’s was far shorter than Miki’s, and Miki and Kurumi’s have also at the same time been Yuki’s. This week we saw even more of how Miki more or less acts as the antagonist to Yuki’s delusions, so easily leading her into psychological instability. The letter Miki sent out to Kei really hit me as a sign of how she’s still between two worlds; feeling like she’s lost Kei, and feeling like she can find her again. Some of Kei’s thoughts and feelings have stuck to Miki; I’m worried that she’ll be the one to reach out the most and potentially put the group in the most danger.
Seeing the aftermath of Megu-nee’s death also struck me as very significant; there are no remains other than a bloodstain, and no sign that she’s been dragged away. I doubt the zombies would have eaten every last morsel of her; surely she’s among the walking dead now, perhaps waiting for Yuki somewhere in the school. Since we know that the undead try to relive their lives, how would a zombified Megu-nee react towards seeing Yuki again? If this isn’t where the plot would go, it’s some fan-fiction I’d be inclined to write (not the smutty kind – don’t even suggest it) because the tension between Yuki and imaginary Megu-nee has been too well established for physical Megu-nee not to make a comeback.
The musing on Yuki having the mind of a dog – the mind of Taroumaru, even – was a great example of Gakkou Gurashi!’s expansive use of comedy. That scene perfectly mixed the hilarity of Yuki’s antics with the soberness of opinion that has to be given to her. The thought of seeing the world in sepia is ironic, since sepia is a photographic effect used to resemble the past, wherein Yuki’s mind is trapped. Yet, in terms of tone, sepia is a lot closer to what we get when the show places emphasis on the horrific reality of things, as it’s generally used for more sobering cinematography. Does the further note on seeing part of the UV spectrum apply more to Yuki, who can see Megu-nee, or the rest of the Club, who can see the danger that Yuki can only partially sense?
This episode also had a great clash between two pivotal moments towards the end; the foreboding gathering of the zombies at the entrance, and the release of the Club’s thoughts, feelings, and dreams into the sky. On the ground there’s danger, while in the air there’s hope – the thoughts of them graduating and how that parallels with the possibility of escaping their fort. The girls really appear on top of their problems because of this, which drives home the idea that we’ve got a much bumpier ride coming in the next few weeks. Once again, Gakkou Gurashi!’s tonal shifts contributed greatly to this effect, as though the girls are starting to really reject the horror of their surroundings – all except Miki, it seems.
I love the fact that Gakkou Gurashi! brings even more thoughts to the table when it slows down; it makes me excited for how all the questions I have about the girls will make an impact of the tragedies that will undoubtedly befall them soon. The storytelling word for what we’ve reached is a ‘midpoint mastery’, which would usually be followed by a new challenge that will test what strength the girls have gathered, or a complete reversal of their situation.
A complete escape from the school, in pursuit of the dreams that they’ve let fly, would be fitting, but what would drive them out of there? Would they then cease to be the School Living Club… in more ways than one?
This is gearing up to being the best horror anime ever. No hyperbole.
(btw sorry for these late reviews, other commitments are really dragging me down :/)