Note: This is a blind watch through School-Live!. Please do not post spoilers in the comments.
I don’t believe I’ve really talked about Megu-nee. I wish I could say I was playing along with the gag but no, the character simply slipped my mind the first two reviews. That’s about to change now as this episode centers around Megu-nee as she writes down her account on how the School Living Club came to be.
By itself, this episode is really good. It’s considerably less “cute” than the previous two episodes. Gone are the school club/CGDCT affectations and replacing it is a grounded, tranquil look at Megu-nee’s life as a teacher. The character’s struggle to be taken seriously or viewed formally by her students is not treated as a gag but as a more legitimate conflict this time around. At one point, you even see Megu-nee get criticized by the vice principal for getting along too well with her students which, having studied to become a teacher myself, I can attest is a conversation you can run into. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing a whole slice of life anime solely about Megu-nee contemplating if she’s fit to be a teacher. It was really satisfying seeing her enjoy the small victories such as encouraging Yuki to trudge through a make-up test and lending an ear to Kurumi’s romance dilemma (curiously, the first one to one interaction involving these two).
Of course, the zombies would inevitably show up. Knowing that, I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much out of their appearance but honestly, the build up to their takeover of the school still proved to feel tense. Ambulance and police sirens are abundant. The news stations report various incidents. Megu-nee’s inbox gets flooded with urgent emails from her mother, telling her to get to somewhere safe. Soon, it begins to click how the main characters survive. Megu-nee takes Yuki to the rooftop. Yuuri is already there to water some plants as part of her Gardening Club duties. Kurumi arrives with her injured senpai (whose fate goes without saying) and reveals what’s going on. By then, it’s too late and the group realize the horrible situation they’re in. In a way, knowing the end result actually works in the episode’s favor. You know how things will go down and because of that, seeing all the pieces align so perfectly feels ominous and unpleasant.
Somewhat surprising is how differently the scuffle between Kurumi and her senpai plays out in this episode. I thought what we saw in Episode 2 would be it but turns it out to be more of a romanticized dream turning into a nightmare echoing memory. Evidently, Kurumi’s friends were there to see her do the dirty deed and having them present does make a difference. Not only is Kurumi forced to steel herself to kill, the others are forced to realize what they might have to do to survive. The decision to cut away right before you see Kurumi attack her senpai with a shovel is a maybe little odd but I kind of like it. No sound of the shovel making contact with the zombie. Not a single shot showing the result of each strike. Just shots of the characters looking at what Kurumi is doing, shocked and disturbed. The violence is largely left to your imagination and chances are, your brain will come up with a better image than what the animators could’ve drawn.
As much as I enjoy this episode, something about it did feel incredibly off. There’s clearly more to this backstory. If Megu-nee and her students got trapped on the rooftop, then how did they manage to push the horde back and regain some of the building back? When and how did they erect those walls of desks? I know last episode revealed Miki was at the mall during this time but now I have to wonder when she joins the club. Hell, how did she even escape the mall in the first place? When did Yuki finally snap and repress her trauma? I thought for sure it was when she saw the city in ruin or when Kurumi killed her senpai but they don’t appear to be the catalyst.
The most puzzling element though is Megu-nee herself. As the episode returned to the present, it dawned on me that it’s really weird how everyone tends to ignore their teacher now. I mean, this is the one adult in the group; someone the girls depended on in making out of their predicament alive. Now, they talk over her or take it for granted that she’s in the room. I realize that’s the joke with Megu-nee but now, I’m not so certain it is just a joke.
Actually, now that I think about it, it’s usually Yuki who interacts with Megu-nee first and then the others follow suit. Some shots during group conversations also neglect to show Megu-nee unless she shares the frame with Yuki. For that matter, the OP barely features her and ED doesn’t include her at all. And in the case of this episode, you also have the faux-widescreen effect, grainy filter, and the sounds of an old movie projector over the scenes where Megu-nee writes her testimony. That could just be all for style but it really gives the implication that this part of the episode is taking place in an entirely different time, separate from present day even.
I really have to ask: is Megu-nee dead? Obviously, I’m asking rhetorically and I don’t want anyone to give spoilers away but this is the implication I’m getting. Maybe we’ve seen the real one during the day of the outbreak but in general, the Megu-nee we’ve been following isn’t actually there. Maybe she’s one of Yuki’s hallucinations which would explain why the others have a poor habit of neglecting her presence. If that is the case, how and when did Megu-nee die? When did she write her testimony? …Did she write that testimony?
I’m of two minds with this episode. On one hand, this episode is solid in its own right but on the other, I’m so puzzled with it. Maybe I’m just overthinking things. Lord knows I do that a lot on this blog. But in my defense, this is School-Live!. It made me doubt what I’m seeing before. It wouldn’t be beneath this show to pull the same trick again.
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