Posted on 26 July 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gakkou Gurashi

Here it is, a flashback to the beginning of the outbreak. In a market as over saturated with zombie media as ours it’s rather hard to do this kind of story without treading on old ground. The start of the outbreak is the focal point of every beginning for a zombie movie. Rarely is it explained and always during an unsuspecting day. In this case a day in the life of Megumi, a teacher at the school. But I think this stands out in how it was presented, namely this episode focused on Megumi’s day. We see her go to work and teach as well as help out students all the while waiting for hell to be unleashed. The thing is that this is likely the way anyone would act in a zombie outbreak. Going about the usual routine while ignoring the likes of Sirens and news reports cause you got your own things to deal with and it’s not as if those things affect you. It’s only when it hits you headfirst that everything comes crashing down. This episode gives good insight into just what our characters were like before the outbreak and from the looks of things Yuki’s pre-apocalypse life wasn’t quite as rosy as her delusions made it out to be. She’s certainly more depressed and from the looks of things, bullied. It’s rather depressingly morbid to see that Yuki is happier after the tragedy and after going insane than she ever was before it all happened.

We didn’t see her go insane yet but it looks like its beginning with her freakout on the roof. We did see however how Kurumi got her shovel and how her killing of the zombified senpai really went down. Some people say this show is censored but from the way I see it these cuts to black are more a stylish choice and they are much better presentation that simply showing gore. In these kinds of things less is more. This show isn’t about going around kicking zombie ass, it’s about these girls running away from a harsh reality. So cutting to black and reaction shots to Kurumi beating her crushes skull in with a shovel does so much more than simply showing it. In the end imagination fills in the blanks better than visuals ever could. One thing I might say is a flaw is when the series moves to portray the Moe side of things such as here where the girls camp together inside the building. Unlike other shows the Moe does have a point which makes it at least tolerable but even so it is fairly standard drivel to put up with.

Speaking of direction, it remains fantastic. I am not sure whether I should attribute that to the director, Masaomi Ando, or to the script/series composer, Norimitsu Kaihou, who just so happens to be the creator of the manga series. That may be just why this series is turning out so well, as we have the original creator on the team to make his story work within a new medium.  A lot of anime suffer from being too constrained to the source material which normally has to use different methods of showcasing action or visuals. The most common case is in Shounen anime where you have characters describing how a attack works during a fight instead of just showing it. But by giving the author creative control over the anime it allows him to better change the story for a visual medium. After all, he created it so naturally he would know the best way to present it, instead of an unrelated director attempted to place their own creative filter over someone else’s work. It’s the little touches in the episode that really rewards those who keep a close eye, one such example being a point on the roof were Megumi just realized that something was wrong and there’s a perfect shot showing the shadow cast from the building covering Megumi while the two other girls remain in the light. This series remains solid though the real turning point will be when Yuki’s imaginary world is broken. I complain that the moe drivel of this series is something bothersome but it’s undeniable the factor that heightens the dark side and prevents this from being just another zombie show. It shall be a dangerous act of juggling two opposites in perfect harmony and keeping that act interesting is something that I truly hope this anime succeeds with.

Posted on 19 July 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gakkou Gurashi

 

So despite saying I would cover Chaos Dragon in my summer preview, I have decided to cover this instead. The reasons for this is simple, the obvious one being that Chaos Dragon is a poorly written, badly animated and jarring mess of an anime. But the main reason is that after the second episode I tried to seek out the source material to see why Chaos Dragon was such a mess. I actually managed to find it and to my relief its actually pretty good. But I also found out that the anime doesn’t resemble it in the slightest. The difference between the anime and source is night and day. I found out that none of the writers in the game have creative control over it and it was intended to be loosely based. Though loosely based is an understatement, from the looks of things the anime writer took the character designs and the setting and that’s it. So who decided they could twist this collaborative project into their own little script? The answer is Shou Aikawa. Shou Aikawa happens to have the strangest portfolio of work that ranges from really good(Fullmetal alchemist, twelve kingdoms,RahXephon) to horrendously awful(Angel Cop, Eureka Seven Ao, Violence Jack) and unfortunately for us Chaos Dragon fell in the latter category. I don’t know what he’s really thinking by taking this interesting project and turning it into a poor man’s Akame no Kill, especially seeing as Akame no Kill is a downright embarrassing plodding mess of an anime. The fact of the matter is this anime is now destined for failure as when someone attempts to take someone’s idea and twist it into their own, the result is rarely successful. My second choice for covering this season, Ranpo, also put me on the fence with its second episode as the mystery left no room to be solved by the audience and there is odd placement of comedy. And with Kishi at the helm my expectations for this show have dropped. So with that I plan on covering this anime.

The combination of light hearted moe antics and grim apocalyptic horror remains strong with this series. In many ways stronger than the manga and this anime has some truly fantastic direction so far. In particular the way the camera never truly puts a zombie in clear view does heighten the effect of them. This episode only has the girls dealing with one zombie at a time yet the tension is thick throughout the scene. Perhaps because our group of survivors are not the likes of the fully armed, big breasted combat specialists of High School of the Dead, but instead four little girls with a shovel. That is effective horror gentlemen, when your protagonist is at a great disadvantage against a huge threat. Also was lots of little subtext with heavy hints that the teacher is dead and nothing more than a part of Yuki’s delusion and that shovel girl may have killed the zombified girlfriend of her school crush who was lurking outside the barricade. In particular the teacher honestly acts like a part of Yuki’s subconscious, warning her and giving her ideas on how to help the group without breaking her delusion.

The animation at the beginning was very good as well with the peachy flowing movement  as she talked about her crush on her senpai. And proceeded to darken when her senpai was zombified and she had to kill him with a shovel. If you look closely there’s a frame where the boys hard reaches outside of the blacked barred frame giving the impression it’s reaching for you. The opening remains peppy but slight changes have been made and from the looks of it the opening will slowly get more and more demented as the show goes on. Even the meaning of the cheery lyrics have an alternative dark way of being read. Truly I am surprised at just how well this anime is turning out.

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