Gakkou Gurashi! – 01 (First Impressions)

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For two-thirds of its first episode, Gakkou Gurashi expertly lulled me into a false sense of security, looking every bit like another bright, colorful, perfectly pleasant and innocuous moe school slice-of-life, starring a Kaname Madoka look-alike voiced by Hestia, with friends who like cooking, reading…and shovels,  are members of a silly club, and spend much of those two-thirds chasing a puppy.

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And yet, by the time the final third of the episode had come and gone, it was an entirely different show altogether—and a damn intriguing one, to boot; one that made me want to watch it again to see if there were any other clues as to what was really going on before the overt symbol of the just-out-of-focus rooftop grave. 

Things like Yuki saying her teacher “doesn’t stand out much”, Miki being so brazen in interrupting classes, and the fact the puppy is allowed to run around, and Yuki and Miki able to chase after him without any repercussions, all come to mind as other subtle clues.

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Then, all of a sudden, when Yuki returns once more to her class to chat, and Miki comes in after her, everything comes crumbling down. The school is abandoned and full of gloom, death, and decay. The “students” outside appear to be zombies; giving a grim irony to the “school life club” and introducing the premise of a school of the dead/undead having such a club.

And then, perhaps most disturbing of all, is the fact that Yuki doesn’t see any of this. All of the happy life at her school full of living people (other than her three club-mates) was all in her frikking head, and from the look on her face as the episode fades to black, it would seem those illusions are persistent.

How did the school get this way? Did Yuki suffer a mental break and is now in a dissociative state? Are her underclassmen protecting her as she wanders around blissfully unaware of the perils of reality? The mind races at the possibilities. This was a damn good start!

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Gakkou Gurashi! – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Praise be, I was refreshing all day in the hopes ya took my recommendation and gave it a try. As far as other foreshadowing you might have missed…




    And the ‘Steppen King’ book Miki is reading, ‘The Standard’, is a reference to Stephen King’s horror novel The Stand, a post-apocalyptic novel where the majority of humanity has been wiped out by a horrific virus, as far as deep meta goes.

    The opening song, Friends Shitai, is also suffering. Shitai in Japanese can both mean ‘doing things’ and… well… ‘corpse’. The primary lyric of the cheerful opening is watashi tachi wa kokoni imasu, which means “we’re over here”.

    The opening is a cry for help to whoever’s listening.

    You’ll see regarding Yuki, but one immediately obvious thing is that she’s in a disassociative state from the zombie apocalypse, and has been long enough for Rii and Kurumi to get used to it, if not her kouhai Miki as much.

    Since I’ve seen some people want clarification, the dog is real. Miki’s the baseline for all reality, and she reacts to (and is disappointed) by the precious doge.

    Anyway, you’re in for a wild ride and a psychological anime of great import.

    (I’m actually surprised you didn’t give it a 9 since your review was pretty glowing)

    1. I love how Yuki’s state is maintained as the undisputed reality of the episode for so long. There’s foreshadowing for sure, but no overt moving back and forth. We’re in Yuki’s world until all of a sudden, we’re not, and it’s like the bottom dropping out.

      That kind of corner-of-the-eye horror that trickled in reminded me of Kubrick’s The Shining. This show demands a degree of patience, but handsomely rewards you. What the hell, you’re right: an 8 isn’t quite justice for the impact this had on me! And I will definitely be re-watching this to catch what I missed.

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