Gakkou Gurashi! Review - Living Your Worst Nightmare


gakkou gurashi wallpaper

School-Live!

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Horror, Mystery, Psychological, School, Slice of Life
  • Airing Date : July 2015 – September 2015
  • Producers : Sentai Filmworks, Lerche, Nitroplus, NBC Universal Entertainment

Gakkou Gurashi! Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Raise your hand if you have ever wished for a zombie outbreak to occur during school time, just so your boring classes would come to an end. If your hand is now in the air you might want to check out the new hit show of this season, Gakkou Gurashi.

This anime tells the story of high school girl Yuki who loves nothing more in the world than her school. She enjoys everything connected to it: her classmates, her friends, her teachers and especially her club, the School Living Club. Together with the three other club members she lives school life to its fullest and enjoys every adventurous day. But beneath her carefree life lies a second, more horrible reality that Yuki fails to see.

This is how the story of Gakkou Gurashi can be summed up, but there is much more to this show than you might expect at first glance. There is a reason why so many people are fascinated by the story and cannot get enough of Yuki and her friends. Today we want to discuss the reason behind Gakkou Gurashi’s success in a quick review. Enjoy!

Gakkou Gurashi wallpaper

What is Gakkou Gurashi! Like? This Anime is for people like what?

First of all, Gakkou Gurashi is obviously a recommendation for fans of horror shows. This being said, you should not expect too much blood or gore; there is an appropriate amount of these elements, just enough to make the story believable, but they are definitely not the main focus. Rather, the producers tried their best to create an eerie atmosphere that will slowly get to you; you should be able to appreciate smaller and subtle details in order to enjoy it.

Secondly, people who are eager to find unique shows that dare to try something new should watch Gakkou Gurashi. I am not claiming that this show reinvents the wheel, but there are definitely certain elements that I haven’t seen before, at least not in the form this show presents them. Gakkou Gurashi plays with several anime stereotypes and it was refreshing to see a new interpretation of popular genres.

What’s so appealing about this piece of work?

What stands out the most about Gakkou Gurashi, in my opinion, is a great attention to detail. This does not only apply to the lovely characters or the storyline itself, but also how the main concept of this show is executed. These details help creating a natural flow of the story and slowly build up to the finale and last episode of this show.

Another aspect that is already noticeable in the very first episode is the combination of cute and grotesque. The story starts out with lots of school fun, laughter, smiling characters and other clichés of overly happy anime shows. Soon enough, reality kicks in and with it comes a good dose of horror and desperation. These two opposites are combined in a more than unique mixture that continues throughout the show.

Gakkou Gurashi! Main Characters List

Takeya, Yuki

Yuki Takeya Gakkou Gurashi!

Voice Actor :Minase, Inori

Yuki, who always has a smile on her face, is the main protagonist of the show and most of the events are told from her perspective. Even though she is in her last year of high school she still looks and behaves like a small child. She is not the smartest girl in her class and constantly needs help from her classmates and her teachers.

She loves her school and everything connected to it with all her heart and she wishes her carefree days could continue forever. The School Life Club enables Yuki to be even closer connected to school life and she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her fellow club members and friends. At heart she is still a helpless child, but if her friends need her she will step up and be there for them.

Sakura, Megumi

Megumi Sakura Megumi Gakkou Gurashi!

Voice Actor :Kayano, Ai

Sakura-sensei is a teacher at Megurigaoka High School and the person in charge of the School Life Club. She cares deeply for all of her students, especially for Yuki, and tries her best to be more for them than just a teacher. Unfortunately, this friendliness results in a certain lack of respect which, for example, becomes obvious when students call her “Megu-nee” instead of Sakura-sensei.

A lot of people, including her own mother, don’t believe that Sakura is cut out to be a good teacher. The main reason for this are her friendly nature and lack of authority skills. However, Sakura is mainly concerned about the well-being of her students and is trying her best to make their school days as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Naoki, Miki

Miki Naoki Gakkou Gurashi!

Voice Actor :Takahashi, Rie

Miki is the last student to join the small School Life Club. She is two years younger than the other club members and tries her best to show them the proper level of respect. Miki is a quiet girl that does not express her emotions the same way Yuki does, but rather keeps her thoughts logical and strategic.

The club members meet her on a school outing to a local mall; before that the girls have not met each other even though they attend the same school. Miki might have a cold facade, but just like the other club members she cares deeply about the people close to her. She is usually seen together with her best friend Kei.


Contains Spoilers

Gakkou Gurashi! Review

Those of you that have already watched Gakkou Gurashi - and thus made it to this section of the review - will understand how hard it is to properly talk about this show without spoilering its content. Even though the plot summary already makes it clear that there is more to this show than just carefree schooldays at least I was not prepared for what Gakkou Gurashi turned out to be.

As a fan of zombie and horror stories I really enjoyed this anime. What makes it so special in my eyes is the fact that it deals with the mental damage caused by an apocalypse rather than the actual events. Here, we don’t see people that suddenly turn into superhero-like war machines and deal with their new world as if it wasn’t a big deal. Instead, we have a group of scared high school girls that have to witness their classmates turning into monsters. I am sure that if similar events were to happen in reality, more than just a few people would react like Yuki and just turn a blind eye to everything happening around them.

This show feels real. That’s what makes it special.

There are a couple of things that made this show stand out for me personally. First of all, the changing opening sequels are probably my favorite detail. For those of you that skipped the opening while watching the show - like I myself love to do - let me explain real quick: the bright and colorful opening of the first episode slowly changes over time as the show progresses and more details of the story become clear.

The changes are subtle and gradual so that you are not really sure at first whether they are actually happening or if you are just imagining them. By the end of the show the opening has turned into a gloomy representation of the events of this story.

Secondly, the producers decided to use the typical way-too-happy and way-too-cute anime stereotype as a stylistic tool. When I watched the first episode I was shocked by how silly it was and how this could be one of the most anticipated shows of the summer season 2015. As soon as this side of the storyline was contrasted with a dark and frightening horror show I was hooked. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Gakkou Gurashi is a parody of these joyful kind of shows, but the creative masterminds behind this anime definitely played around with existing stereotypes.

Another small detail I really enjoyed and want to share with you is the fact that you never see the faces of the zombies clearly. They are mostly drawn as dark shadows in the back, with weird features, making grunting sounds. Some people might see this as laziness or a lack of creativity from the producers, but in my eyes this was a smart decision that contributed to the overall atmosphere of the show. After all, the Unknown is scarier than the challenges you can face directly.

Gakkou Gurashi wallpaper

However, despite my general enthusiasm there are also some things that bugged me about this anime. No show is without flaws so let’s talk about the things I didn’t enjoy.

More than once the plot is just too convenient. I mean, which school has solar panels on the rooftop as well as enough self-grown food in order to be self-sufficient? Also, none of these girls have any experience with weapons or martial arts, but still they somehow manage to survive a zombie apocalypse. Even though I am a fan of the overall plot, I have to point out that the circumstances which enable this story to unfold are sometimes a little bit unbelievable.

This especially occurred to me in the very last episodes. The whole anime builds up suspense and obstacles for a great finale and suddenly all problems are solved at once by unbelievable luck. In the end, everything comes down to a ghost-like appearance of Sakura-sensei leading and helping Yuki to save her friends. Knowing that Sakura-sensei is only an illusion born by Yuki’s mind I have to ask myself how she comes up with a solution to all of their problems.

Besides, let’s be honest: in the hypothetical case of a zombie apocalypse really happening even the most careful and most skilled people can die by sheer bad luck. It only takes one bite and your life is over. You actually want me to believe that a delusional girl with the mentality of an elementary school kid who isn’t even able to see the zombies surrounding her survives all of this? I understand that there are more than enough people ready to protect Yuki in this show, but I still find this detail a little bit too unbelievable for a storyline that otherwise tries to be as realistic and believable as possible.

Also, even though the girls seem inconsolable about the death or rather transformation of their best friends and classmates, their families are only mentioned once, and that very briefly. Wouldn’t they be wondering whether their parents survived or how their siblings are holding up? I understand that the producers tried to focus solely on the events at school, but it would have made it a little bit more realistic for me personally if thoughts and worries like that could have been added.

All of this being said, in the end I still enjoyed Gakkou Gurashi. A lot. My complaints only concern smaller details that might even only represent my personal point of view. Also, I feel obliged to add these critiques since this review could have easily turned into an overly positive tribute to Gakkou Gurashi. This show evoked real feelings in me. After some time you get used to anime and start foreseeing the twists and turns of most shows. When something refreshing and new comes along you just cannot help it but feel strongly about it.

1. School Life Club

Gakkou Gurashi Highlight 1

The School Life Club is a way for the girls to explain to delusional Yuki why they have to stay on school grounds and cannot go home anymore. For Yuki, this club revolves around celebrating school life and everything connected to it. The members sleep and live in classrooms in order to be even more connected to the institute. Sakura-sensei as well as the other girls try their best to stay positive and make the best of the situation while fighting for their survival.

2. Taroumaru

Gakkou Gurashi Highlight 2

Taroumaru is a puppy and unofficial member of the School Life Club. It was Miki who first spotted him at the mall and cared for him at the beginning of the outbreak. This young dog seems to be more intelligent than other animals and even helps the club members to find and rescue Miki during their school outing. He is loved by all club members, especially Yuki, and makes their new lives a little bit more bearable.

3. Megurigaoka High School

Gakkou Gurashi Highlight 3

Megurigaoka High School is the school that the club members attend and also the setting of Gakkou Gurashi. It is an exceptional school that turns out to be a perfect hideout for a zombie apocalypse. It is a self-sufficient building that utilizes rainwater, has special power supplies and even vegetables and similar crops growing at the rooftop. The School Life Club manages to survive inside their former classrooms despite the zombies roaming school grounds.


One of the most important qualities that good anime need to have in my eyes is the ability to appeal to a broad audience. This is definitely the case for Gakkou Gurashi. Even though it primarily speaks to fans of horror shows, it has a lot more to offer. The story is tragic, but also heart-warming, scary and interesting at the same time. You have a completely new twist on school life and school clubs as well as great character development and even a little bit of fanservice.

Gakkou Gurashi was a highly anticipated show of the summer season 2015 and now I can understand why. I am more than eager to hear your personal opinions and thoughts on Gakkou Gurashi, so feel free to share them in the comment section down below.

Cornelia Wagner

Writer

Author: Cornelia Wagner

Coffee enthusiast, world traveler and writer at heart. Left Europe to live and study in the insanity called Tokyo.

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