Gakkou Gurashi! Chapters 1-25 Impressions

It’s not often I write about any of the manga I read. Recently, I’ve finished Oyasumi Punpun, continued reading Koe no Katachi and started reading Inside Mari online. In real life, I finished reading the Ouran books. While I enjoy all of those in different ways, something completely unexpected caught my eye.

Bored with the selections summer and fall seemed to offer, I had a peek at the TBA section on Anichart. There were only a few things I was looking forward to (besides Girls Work because that is never coming out) and I rolled my eyes at the start of this description until I got to the zombie part. It had seemed like another “cute girls doing cute things at a vague sounding club”. Except here its with the twist that they’re survivors of a zombie apocalypse and the only ones left alive in the school.

I was amazed at such a premise! I always want more zombie anime, so much that I sat through the godawful Highschool of the Dead when it aired years ago. And so out of morbid curiosity I started reading the manga because I was just too excited (and after all, there’s very few details about the anime currently).

Though I must say that whatever I was expecting… it was not this and it was certainly not this good.

(Spoilers for the first 25 chapters)

I suppose going in I figured this would be just cute girls doing cute club activities with zombies as a backdrop. That they might be used as a gag rather than a serious plot device. And while I was only half right, I’d say this series earns it’s stripes as a zombie/horror series. There were a few times where I was holding my breath because I was completely shocked and had no idea what was going to happen next.

I guess I was also surprised with how severe some art ended up looking. Like the art is generally really crisp and nice looking and I really like it. It excels in both looking completely adorable to downright gruesome. I wouldn’t say it’s especially gory. There’s some blood and open wounds and even when zombies are presented as fleshy, it’s not in a super disgusting way.

And hey I absolutely love super expressive faces in manga. Especially when it comes to drama and horror like this. And the artist is pretty fantastic at that, I must say. There were so many great expressions I had trouble just picking out a few.

But as I said, I wasn’t entirely wrong about my prediction.

At the suggestion of their friend Yuki (and we’ll talk about her next), the club often does things like a sports event or cultural festival. In most cases, this is just an opportunity for her friends to get more supplies or scout out things but fun things do end up happening as well, even if it seems completely out of place.

It’s obviously not unintentional. The weird disconnect between the severity of their situation and how aware they are of it, that is. It’s a strange feeling when reading it, I guess, rather than that stuff just being there for the sake of having them do cute stuff.

And Yuki is… well… I guess she was the first big surprise. I’m generally not fond of genki characters like her but that buildup to the reveal? That what has happened has traumatized her so badly that she sees and talks to their dead teacher and sees destroyed classrooms full of their old classmates? That made her one hundred times more interesting. She suddenly became a character and not just an annoying archetype. She’s dealing with a horrific situation in her own way. Which is questioned and annoying to Miki when she first joins their group but when she came to understand, I was pretty happy.

Likewise, Kurumi and Yuuri don’t seem to be all that normal. As expected from their situation. From Yuuri steeling herself so she could kill Kurumi to the way Kurumi looks sometimes when she’s bashing in zombie heads, both girls probably aren’t as on the level as they appear to be. This mixed with the fact they have to try and pretend things are normal and ok for Yuki must add to that stress on their minds.

That being said, despite everything she went though, Miki is probably the most… normal? Or the most sane, maybe.

The reveal that the basement had an antidote was kinda too easy? Well I rolled my eyes at. I don’t know if I hoped Kurumi would have died at that point since it would have been such an absolutely devastating twist and would confirm they were all dying by the end of this probably.

However it lead the way to Megu, of all people, becoming way more tragic. Realizing she could have helped them, that the people around her knew something like this might happen, and then becoming a zombie and leading herself away so she wouldn’t hurt the girls? The fact that zombies retain some memories was unexpected but seeing it come into play like that was heartwrenching.

The girls have a pretty good set up, all things considered. I mean it’s a bit unbelievable that the zombies didn’t overpower their barricade and reach them (I think it was mentioned that zombies aren’t good at stairs but just how bad at stairs are we talking here) or that they made it out of the shopping center and all. But they have solar power and a big garden on their roof and that’s not too bad, really. Not to mention they have the survival guide which should also open up new routes of… well, surviving.

It would make more sense for them to invite more people, then, instead of searching them out which they do discuss at some point. However again just like I would assume they’d be eaten by now, I’d be scared about the kind of survivors they encountered. Especially Yuki. They’re only four schoolgirls, after all. And with Yuki in her state, I’d imagine she could get taken advantage of pretty easily.

Reading ongoing manga is such a pain though. Did that helicopter guy see them? Is he going to rescue them? Is the series almost over? I mean they’ll be rescued so soon but what happens after they are? I mean, they’re dealing with a big, scary corporation that had some part in this, right?

I heard people discussing that Kurumi has to have the antidote often (a la Zombrex) or else she’ll turn but I don’t recall where that came up? Maybe I just missed it.

The Randall Corporation is a reference to The Stand which is the same book that Miki was reading earlier, I assume. Listen, I don’t generally enjoy Stephen King books but I LOVE The Stand. It’s probably one of my favourite books. I was happy to first see Miki reading it and then that reference when they were going over the emergency stuff. Was there any other refs and I missed it?

There is a mention (below) that makes me think the infection that caused everyone to become zombies was likely a biological weapon and may have leaked in the same way Captain Trips spreads across the world.

Or if we REALLY wanted to be crazy, could we connect the two some how? The Stand doesn’t have zombies, though. People just get sick and die. But there was that crazy religious lady saying it was their fault for being sinners and all that jazz. Are the schoolgirls the only ones pure enough to be alive? Or because the girls are alive because of the Randall Corporation, are they in figurative Las Vegas and therefore on the side of evil? Only the good were able to die?

Alright, let’s not get too out of control here. I don’t even want to joke about a moe version of The Stand. Let’s not go there, please.

All things considered, I’m so excited for this anime. It’ll likely only be one cour so I hope they at least cover up to chapter 23 so you get a better idea about who Megu was and so Miki can really redeem herself and join the group. I’m worried about how it’ll be handled though. I want the cute scenes to be as sweet as the grim scenes are as horrific.

And now to wait. Wait eagerly for that great and golden lolis meet zombie anime that I can only hope isn’t awful and doesn’t attract the nastiest kind of fans. But hey, at least the manga’s good, right? I’ll always have that. Seriously, once I started reading it I couldn’t stop and powered through all the chapters available in a few hours.

Still, it’s nice to have a show to be excited about. For better or for worse.

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