The tears! I can’t stop the tears!
What’s the Story?
Yuki and her friends are part of the school living club, where the members actually live in the school they attend. Yuki is a cheerful soul and searches each day for new and fun events to take part in. Her life is a happy one. There’s only one problem…the zombies. You see Yuki is actually quite delusional, and her and her friends are the only survivors of a zombie epidemic in the city. How long can the girls actually survive on their own though? Prepare to cry people.
Go watch this show. Skip the review, just go watch it right this instant. It’s beautiful, it’s mesmerising, it’s incredibly dark and heartbreaking, yet also amazingly fun and hopeful. What are you still doing here? Go watch this show!
Okay, fine. Since you’re still here I’ll do the review, but just go watch the show afterwards. This anime had me from the end of the first episode. Admittedly the first 20 minutes of the first episode I was kind of just waiting as Yuki and co got up to hijinks with their dog. I’d been promised zombies and there was no sign of them. I wasn’t even that fussed about the concept, I was only checking it out because I was bored and wanted another show for my first impressions post. Then the zombies turned up. At this point the episode grabbed me by the collar, slammed my head into the laptop and left me dazed on the floor, loudly screaming ‘Oh I’m sorry, do I have your attention now?!’ Yes, yes it did. The ending to that first episode is fantastic, especially when you look back and realise all the little clues that were peppered throughout the episode. After that I was hooked, I had to know where this show was taking things, and I’m glad to report that this show only gets better from there.
I do find it strange how much I love this show, mostly because of the zombies. Like I said I was only checking this show out because I was bored, and I have to admit that zombies aren’t actually high on my list of favourite monsters (actually they’re probably one of my least favourite monsters). I don’t find zombies that threatening, unless you get them in a swarm they’re not all that dangerous (a point proven by this anime were a kid with a shovel beats single zombies all the time). They don’t have much in the way of skills, or motivation (I always like to explore what makes a villain tick, that’s kind of hard when the villain doesn’t have a brain to tick).
So why has there been an explosion of zombie films and TV shows in recent years? Because the zombies are never the interesting part of a zombie show, it’s how the people react to them. How do you cope when someone you love has been infected? How do you survive when the entire world is out to get you? How do you cope with the mental anguish and fear of knowing that nowhere is safe anymore? How do you hope for a better future when the world is so overwhelmingly full of despair? That’s what makes a good zombie show, putting your characters under a microscope and seeing how they react to the end of everything they know. That’s what this anime does, and it does it so well.
Now I credit Madoka Magica as the anime that reduced me to a weeping puddle of goo on the floor, but that was only by the end of the anime (mostly because I was foolish enough to binge watch it all in one night), but this anime had me crying so many times I’m surprised I haven’t drowned on multiple occasions. The last episode alone had me crying on about four different occasions. This show knows how to hit you hard in the feels. Each character’s pain is traumatic and heartfelt, you can connect with each person and the horrible situations they’re being put through. You feel their terror and their sorrow as life crumbles all around them. Yet this anime isn’t a depressing one (ok, so maybe it’s depressing about 50% of the time), there is hope and joy in this series. We get to see the characters enjoy themselves, have a day by the pool or a sports festival, building up friendships, normally right before something horrible happens. The contrast between the light and the dark in this anime is beautiful. It amazes me how quickly joy can turn to despair, and vice versa. This is encapsulated in the series finale as things take one tragic turn after another, yet there’s still time for a graduation ceremony, and a sense of hope as the gang ride off to an unknown future.
Not that this show is entirely all about high school hijinks and emotional trauma, there are other good things about this series too. Early on in the series I was wondering how they could survive in a school all by themselves? Where was the electricity coming from? Was the water safe? How long could their provisions last? All of these questions were answered as the series went along, actually building up a decent mystery as we learn that the school may have known this zombie outbreak was coming, but where did the zombies come from? This mystery is never actually resolved (which makes me beg for a season 2), but there are enough hints laid out that I can guess at what happened. So while mildly disappointed, I’m still content.
Also the show manages to make zombies moderately interesting, mostly by asking the question as to whether zombies remember who they were. Now this makes things rather troublesome when the girls have to kill people they used to know, but this is a show where the girls are content to let Yuki stay inside her delusional world rather than make her confront her grief, so I’d say the ethics are already murky.
All in all, this is a fantastic show and I can’t recommend it enough. It is dark and tragic, yet has moments of utter joy. The characters are all great. The story is well told. For a show that I only checked out on a whim, I found something beautiful that I shall cherish for years to come. And if that isn’t one of the best things in the world, I don’t know what is. So what are you waiting for? Go watch this right now!
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.