Gakkō Gurashi! – A review

“This is a weird one”

Light Spoilers inbound

‘Gakkō Gurashi!’ focuses on the daily lives of 4 highschool girls as they live their entire life out of the school under the guise of the “School-Life” club. It reeks of classic Slice-of-Life anime but it took me a while to get around to it for two reasons. One, that synopsis is really generic, it lacks anything to really grab me. The second reason I didn’t watch it till this week was also the reason I didn’t watch it until now. If you follow me. This anime is a zombie show, in the style of The Walking Dead, focusing on a close nit group of survivors as they struggle to make it day to day. It wasn’t high on my list due to it seeming like a really weird tonal mix on paper and I felt it couldn’t really balance itself without a massive amount of difficulty.

But I found myself with a hole in my life this week and a need to binge watch an anime show from start to finish, and with my current university research into horror and the spooky season of Halloween coming up I felt it prudent to finally give it a go. This is a pretty good show. It is also pretty weird though. its mixing of the tropes of Slice-of-Life on this backdrop of violence and terror eminent in a zombie show (there is plenty of blood and gore all over the place) make it feel quite jarring in places when it goes from a swimsuit episode to a pan over a grave the girls keep on the roof.

I found myself enjoying it as an anime of two halves, the Slice-of-Life pieces where decent enough, being nothing new, whilst the zombie pieces of the anime actually felt griping and at times tense. However, I don’t think this anime could’ve worked without one or the other. The Slice-of-Life sections are a great way to introduce the small group of characters and build believable relationships that seem to have existed for a while. They also help to build the tension in the zombie sections as you actually now root for these girls because of spending half an episode in that vicarious bubble that Slice-of-Life provides.

All in all this is a really interesting anime from an experimental perspective. It definitely could’ve been done better, I have a lot of issues with the way they characterise Yuki and how the other girls interact with her. I found it very difficult to actually sink into the narrative when I was constantly questioning their treatment of her. It also has some pacing issues that once you read the manga (I binge read it after finishing watching) become a lot more apparent due to an obvious desire to have all of the cast present during the first episode (Miki Noake is not actually introduced in the manga till roughly chapter 5 whilst the anime places her in the first episode only to flashback later in the series)

I would definitely recommend at least watching the first episode just as a lot of effort went into visually coding the setting. The Slice-of-Life story telling is there to obviously act as a layer to block the more sinister undercurrent seen in the actual backgrounds. For example broken windows and Kurumi carrying a shovel and referring to it as a weapon. It’s almost uncomfortable as this palatable sense of uneasiness pollutes the narrative. It’s utterly fascinating to look at, even if the rest of the show ends up being just ‘pretty good’.

Your Name: Review

“A beautiful romance film that surronds the veiwers with Makoto Shinkai’s staple: Nostalgic melancholy, now refined”

This is going to be a blog of two halves. The first being a tame, spoiler free, review of Makoto Shinkai’s new film Your Name. The other half you’ll find at the end of this post in the form of a google link to a few more spoiler filled thoughts on both this film and its realtion to themes explored in 5 centimetres per second.

The reason for this is simple and quite obvious. This is a really good film, it’s well written and voiced. As well as being gorgeous. (Why does the east keep out pacing the west in terms of animation quality? It’s insanely unfair and maybe worth a future look) But its greatest strength, is that I went into this expecting something simple. I expected a kooky body swap story about a teenage boy and girl experiencing each other’s life’s freak Friday style. And I got that, but also a lot more.

The film centres on Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, two high school students from different walks of life. Taki lives in Tokyo, holding down a part time job and living independently. Mitsuha lives in the country, wishing for a life in the city. The two discover, that for unknown reasons, what they thought were dreams were actually the pair swapping bodies intermittently. Both discover small comforts in each other’s life and make attempts to live normally, to some effect.

The first half hour of the film is by far its weakest point. It feels like they condensed three episodes of an anime into a fraction of the time, meaning it comes across as rushed. Story beats could’ve been fleshed out to create a better foundation for these two characters. On top of that, I had to re-watch two rapid time lapse sections in this first part just to get a decent grasp on what was happening. Once I had crossed the half hour point though the film gained its cohesion and finally found its footing.

Your Name serves as a touching love story framed soaked in a familair poingent melancholy that tugs at the veiwers nostalgia from beginning to end. So give this a go it’s another great outing for a great writer and director.

Spoiler discussion: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VzQt8fSK_i0UpbbIUN8ljp7NvHGBhitRE5xRtl6UFbA/edit?usp=sharing

Header image: https://wall.alphacoders.com/by_sub_category.php?id=239404