Well friends, here we are. The last School-Live! episode review. I finally finished the show, thereby fulfilling the first review poll. Yes, there’s still Yuki Yuna to finish as I write this (or not considering there’s Season 2) but that’s technically a bonus from me. For all intents and purpose, it’s the end of the road. It’s been a long time coming, too long in fact. I still regret how slow and infrequent that first go around was but I’m also glad that I stuck with this project in the end and did what I agreed to do. And considering how much I’ve enjoyed this show, I would’ve hated the idea of giving up on that basis alone.
The finale begins with Yuki heading to the broadcast room which is, of course, “guarded” by some zombies. She improvises a bit and uses the baseball bat she brought though given her meager strength and the fact that the bat is not a shovel, the zombies are able to overpower her. It’s a very intense scene given the stakes and the fact that Yuki is completely alone. Surprisingly, Taromaru comes to the rescue. The implication is that he still faintly remembers Yuki and feels the instinct to protect her. It’s neat albeit a bit contradictory to him attacking Kurumi a two episodes back. I guess the dog plays favorites.
As one would suspect, Yuki uses the broadcast room to get the zombies’ attention. In the last review, I expected her to make some noise to play some music to get the job done, similar to how Yuuri used the alarms in Episode 5 or Miki used Kei’s CD player in Episode 11. Surprisingly, that’s not what Yuki does. What instead happens is Yuki taps into the zombies’ memories on school and announces on the loudspeakers that school is officially over and it’s time to return home. She says more than just the announcement but more on that in a bit.
Thanks to Yuki’s plan, Miki delivers the medicine in time and Kurumi is cured. I would’ve grabbed my pitchfork if Best Girl died here so I’m ecstatic that she’s back to normal. The injury she got from Megu-nee remains so Kurumi now dons a jacket to cover it up and not going to lie, she’s rocking the look. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Taromaru. Considering how far his infection went, I’m surprised the medicine worked on him at all but that is a moot point as he’s left in a severely weak state, the infection clearly taking its toll on him already. I suppose it’s nice that he was his old self for a little bit. Poor dog at least gets to enjoy one last meal with everyone and dies on Miki’s lap. If he died while as a zombie, that would’ve been very unceremonious.
With the school in such a poor state now, it comes to no surprise that the School Living Club decides it’s time to leave the place for good. Some new supplies are found underground and the zombies appear to be staying home now but those aren’t enough to outweigh the new cons. It makes much more sense to leave. Fortunately, Yuuri finds a map from the emergency manual detailing other shelters in the region. One spot in particular, a university, was marked by Megu-nee so the club decides to make that their destination. Nice to see the club advisor still guiding her students.
Before leaving however, the club holds one last activity: a graduation ceremony. All the talk and hints about graduating actually amounts to something! It’s a very heartwarming scene. The room is fully decorated. The girls write their own diplomas as well as their farewell messages to Megu-nee. Miki and Yuki give speeches about the club’s time together. At one point, you hear what appears to be the girls’ rendition of the school anthem as part of the BGM. Yuki ties some of her hair into twintails which looks so adorable that I’m disappointed she doesn’t keep that look after the ceremony concludes. Considering how long they’ve been in the school, it would’ve been anti-climatic if the girls just pack up and leave. This is the end of an era after all, not just to club experience and surviving the zombie apocalypse but also to the girls’ academic careers. Ending it all with an actual graduation is the right way to go.
I think my favorite part in this entire episode is how mature Yuki now seems to be. Part of that is visual. At the beginning of the episode, one of the zombies rips off one of the wings on Yuki’s backpack. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I’ve always thought the backpack was meant to make Yuki look angelic, denoting her innocence, however real or fabricated it is. With one of the wings removed, I interpret that as saying Yuki is a fallen angel of sorts since she’s no longer in the “heaven” she created for herself. Another change is the fact that Yuki no longer wears her hat, having decided to leave it buried alongside Taromaru. I’ll admit, the symbolism behind it eludes me. Maybe the black color and the cat-like appearance is meant to say Yuki is like a black cat, a symbol of misfortune (which is maybe ironic given how she’s helped her friends)? What I do know is that Yuki does look way less childish without her hat. She looks more her age now.
Visuals aside, it’s also Yuki’s personality that has matured. She’s still her silly self for the most part but you can tell that she’s gained some perspective after recovering from her condition. When Yuki uses the broadcast room, she follows her announcement by expressing her fondness of school, echoing what she said about it in Episode 1. The difference is that in Episode 1, she gave that statement to show how she wants to stay in school forever. Here, she finishes her statement with an admission that all things must come to an end, including school, and though she’s sad about it, she realizes now that it’s better this way. Later, during Taromaru’s funeral, Yuki notices that Miki is trying to contain her grief and advises her not to. Yuki says doing so will cause one to forget the things important to them. That’s obviously something she can easily attest to, having tried to remember Megu-nee without acknowledging her death and thereby forgetting what her teacher actually did for her.
It’s not just speak. You can tell that Yuki takes her own words to heart. She approaches Megu-nee’s grave, even ties her uniform’s ribbon around it to replace Megu-nee’s (which flew away last episode). Before this point, she would’ve ignored that grave entirely. During the graduation ceremony, Yuki gives a speech and breaks down and cries in the process. Not only does it show her sadness to leave the school for good, it also shows that she’s not going to hold back said sadness as feeling that way is now important to her.
Last episode would’ve served just fine as Megu-nee’s final appearance but the finale does bring her back a couple more times. The first is when Yuki approaches Megu-nee’s grave, flashing back to their last conversation. You find out that the last thing Megu-nee told Yuki is that she’s glad to be her teacher which apparently is also what the real one said before dying. It goes well with Yuki stressing the importance of remembering things the way they are. The next two appearances are frankly a bit odd. During graduation, Megu-nee is shown, holding the the messages the girls wrote for her. It’s a nice scene that’s perhaps more symbolic than literal but it is weird in that Yuuri is the one who sees her. Later, you can notice that Yuki’s reflection on the car window isn’t hers but Megu-nee’s. Again, perhaps more symbolic than literal and it does at least work better here considering Yuki’s connection with Megu-nee.
A couple of curious stuff happen during the ending. The other dog Taromaru went looking for in Episode 9 seems to make a cameo, having dug out Yuki’s hat from his grave. I have no idea what this could amount to, considering that the girls clearly aren’t bothering to look for the other dog. It’s kind of hard to be glad too as that stinking dog is what got Taromaru killed. Kei shows up right as everyone leaves and we learn that she’s now a zombie. I wish School-Live! kept her fate a mystery but I really like how brief her reappearance is. Her back is to the frame so the only way you know it’s her is via Miki’s reaction. It happens so quickly, the show doesn’t really dwell on it. Neither does Miki for that matter. By now, she’s made her peace that the last she saw of Kei was at the mall. Finally, we have the post-credits scene. A new character we’ve never seen before wanders through some ruins (looks like the place in the first ED) and finds one of Yuki’s letters. It’s a sequel hook through and through.
I would very much love to see a second season of School-Live!. Who knows, the manga ended last year so waiting to adapt more material is over now. However, it has been five years since the anime aired and while that doesn’t entirely rule out a renewal, it’s enough time to make the odds seem low. I also checked the disc sales; the average sale for a volume was 2,700 copies which is a pretty low number in 2015. If I want to find out what happens next, my best bet is the manga.
And I very much plan on reading it. I’ve nitpicked plenty here and there but I honestly do love School-Live!. From its characters to its tone to its presentation, this is now one of my favorite anime of 2015 as well as one of my favorite CGDCT and horror anime. I’m very curious to see what happens next and if the manga is as good as or even better than its adaptation, than I’m more than psyched to try it out. And when I get to the manga, expect to see me keeping you posted about how that’s going. I’ve really enjoyed blogging about this story. Why stop here?
ED: “Friend Shitai” by Gakuen Seikatsubu
I guess the song fits now given the optimistic note the show ends on…but it still LIED to me.
Thanks for reading!