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Posts Tagged ‘Gakkou Gurashi!’

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Did you have a good year? I hope so. My 2015 was alright. Pretty unremarkable, a couple of new experiences, but mostly just been working. But for anime though, it’s been interesting I guess. I wouldn’t call 2015 a bad year for anime by any stretch, but thinking back on what I watched while writing this top 10 I was struck by how few series really left a major impact in the fandom, and more importantly how few left much of an impression on me. I think I’d overall characterise it as a solid, if unassuming, year for anime. Still, there’ve been at least a few that I’ll be remembering for a while, and enough that I wasn’t struggling for things to include!

Now, the definition I’m working with for ‘2015 anime’ is pretty broad, but a lot of other people are using it too so it’s nothing too radical or unexpected. It’s what I’ve been using for previous years: a series counts if it finished in 2015, and a film counts if it was first available for me to watch this year. I feel this is pretty sensible – you can’t exactly consider a show “best of the year” if it hasn’t even finished yet, shows that started last year wouldn’t get a chance otherwise, and expecting me to consider a film that I could’ve only watched in a cinema in Japan is just silly.

Before we get to the top 10, I want to talk about some anime that didn’t quite make the cut, but definitely deserve a shoutout.

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A good twist is hard to beat in fiction. The combination of shock and having everything you knew about the story up to that point turned on its head can, when handled well, create a moment that’s deeply affecting and hard to forget. It’s got to be unexpected, but still has to add up given what’s already happened – a twist that comes out of nowhere is often more baffling than powerful, and can even run the risk of breeding resentment.

I think everyone knows Gakkou Gurashi! has a twist going into it. The promotional art depicts a ruined school, so when the opening scenes conspicuously depicts a school in good condition you know something’s up. It attempts to sow the seeds of doubt by showing the occasional broken window or weird shot that doesn’t add up, as if to make you question just how typical this school life actually is, but it falls flat. We know. We saw the trailer, we read the manga synopsis, it’s pretty well-known that Gakkou Gurashi! is a zombie survival show. We know. So when it finally does the shocking reveal that *gasp* there are zombies outside, it means nothing. So yeah, an example of a bad twist, right?

Wrong. In a shocking twist, that twist is a red herring. There’s a second one. A less telegraphed, more nuanced and vastly more meaningful and heavy twist.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD DON'T READ UNLESS YOU'VE ALREADY WATCHED THIS SHOW (WHICH YOU SHOULD, IT'S GOOD)

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD DON’T READ UNLESS YOU’VE ALREADY WATCHED THIS SHOW (YOU SHOULD, IT’S GOOD)

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Gakkou Gurashi!

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Cute girls doing cute things at school… during the zombie apocalypse! It’s easy to have reservations about this show based on that premise, I think for fairly obvious reasons. This is what Gakkou Gurashi! (aka School-Live!) seemed to be billing itself as prior to airing, and while it drew a lot of attention it was not exactly positive. The moe schoolgirl s’life thing has had its moment in the sun, zombies are seriously passé, and the last time high school + zombies was attempted in anime we ended up with Highschool of the Dead and the less said about that the better.

But as they say, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Gakkou Gurashi! proved to be a remarkable series, intensely dramatic, horrifying and psychological. ‘Cute girls doing cute things’ was really only a surface impression, and the reality is far more complex than that.

Note: this review WILL be mentioning some early spoilers. It’s impossible to discuss certain important parts of the series without mentioning those early events, but knowing of those early events ahead of time could seriously ruin your enjoyment of them. So consider this a warning! If you just want to know my general impressions: Gakkou Gurashi! is excellent, frequently emotionally trying, and you should watch it.

There are still cute girls tho

There are still cute girls tho

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