I went with a Walking Dead reference because I couldn’t for the life of me, think of a better reference from The Stand (I tried). The fact that this has any reason why it would NEED a reference from The Stand is reason enough alone for it to be on the list this year. Incidentally, look forward to my kickstarter in 2015 to fund an adaption of The Stand with Marina Inoue as Frances, Yuki Kaiji as Stu and Junichi Sawabe as Larry. Do you think we’ll ever see an anime with Stephen King’s name attached? That would be wild.
Anyways, The Stand only is only referenced twice in Gakkou Gurashi. Once is blatant, with one of the characters reading the actual book when they’re first introduced. The other is that a big company involved with the zombamby outbreak is called the Randall Corporation, a reference to the villain of said book. It’s not because of these things (even though I love the book and it’s the only thing I like by King) that this is on my list, however.
It’s because Gakkou Gurashi is so damn good.
Gakkou Gurashi sounds like it should be awful. It sounds like it should be some how worse than Highschool of the Dead. Cute girls doing cute things while surrounded by zombies? Yeah, how could that be good. And sure, you know what, yeah there are times when the series dips into the realm of ridiculousness by actually having the girls do cute silly activites but this only serves to make the many, many dark moments so much more striking and brutal.
There aren’t any details on when the anime is coming out (which is the whole reason I read this in the first place so many months ago) but if you don’t plan on reading it before hand, stay well away from spoilers. There are so many amazing twists and turns in this story that it would be such a damned shame to have them ruined without experiencing them in either the anime or reading them.
Discovering and reading Gakkou Gurashi was definitely a highlight of the year for me. It’s surprising, intense and full of despair. If you want a zombie story that’s more like 28 Days Later rather than The Walking Dead, one that focuses on the mental wearing down of survivors and features the rarely seen (at least in my experience) perspective of someone who became a zombie, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this fantastic series.