What They Say:
Slice-of-life meets horror in the latest manga adaptation from studio Lerche. After surviving an earth-shattering zombie outbreak, the new and aptly-named “School Living Club” must find a way to survive amidst the unending chaos of being hunted by those they used to attend class with. This only gets harder when one of the girls comes down with PTSD after the event occurs. Now, on top of surviving an onslaught of zombie attacks, the School Living Club must find a way to keep Yuki Takeya from mentally decomposing in front of them as they try to uncover the reason everything they know has become a nightmare.
In terms of actual audio quality, this collection is equipped with the standard Dolby Digital 2.0 for both English and Japanese tracks. Audio remains equalized throughout most of the series and has no notable spikes or drops. Despite being a show that didn’t exactly reach new heights in terms of its following, the English adaptation for School-Live is rather impressive. The four main characters, headed by the always-wonderful Brittney Karbowski as Yuki Takeya, are incredibly believable and mimic the Japanese actors almost perfectly.
Displayed in 480i, School-Live leaves a lot to be desired in terms of video quality. Though, no one buys a DVD release expecting crystal-clear outlines and vibrant backdrops. The downside of this particular collection, however, is that School-Live’s extensive color palate makes it a bit easier to detect that this DVD is, well…a DVD. At the end of the day, the semi-faded visuals don’t spoil the viewing experience and it isn’t like Sentai did this on purpose. You just can’t expect much out of 480i.
School-Live boasts one of the more impressive packages I’ve seen apart from special and limited edition releases. It’s not like it comes inside of a first-aid kit or anything (Even though that would be cool), but the box art is polished and the back of the case is organized. The key visuals included on the packaging are some of the more notable ones from the series and they do an exceptional job at leading you to believe that this is just another cutesy, slice-of-life anime.
As has become the norm for Sentai Filmworks, School-Live is equipped with nothing but stills to fill out the menus on both discs. And while we do get to listen to some music from the series while we stare at all four of our choices, it doesn’t make the actual menu any less boring and uninviting. It also gets annoying if you leave it on while you’re trying to go to sleep. I didn’t try this, I just know it.
The School-Live complete collection comes with, you guessed it, textless opening/endings and more trailers from Sentai Filmworks! Who was it that decided trailers count as special features anyway? Despite being lackluster in this category, I will award Sentai with bonus points as the opening song for this series is just too darn cute.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Summer was certainly a busy season for Studio Lerche, seeing as this was just one of their three series to air during its course. Out of all of these, however, School-Live! was easily the most well-received by critics. And even though Monster Musume may have had the upper hand in terms of overall sales, School-Live’s anime adaptation still managed to boost the sales of the manga to new heights. This becomes even more impressive when you consider that the director, Masaomi Ando, only has two other directorial credits to his name (Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse/White Album 2). But does School-Live! live up to the hype? Yeah, I would say so.
The anime centers around four girls, lead by the bubbly Yuki Takeya. Yuki, incapable of dealing with a recent zombie outbreak (Which is pretty understandable, I’d say) creates a sort of PTSD-induced mental world where everything seems totally fine. The first episode of the series doesn’t give you that information until its last minute, however. As the camera pans away from Yuki, the true state of the school is revealed and almost everyone we met over the last twenty minutes fades into nothingness. From this point on, the series experiences a complete tonal shift. School-Live sprints away from its slice-of-life demeanor and becomes a psychological drama about a handful of girls dealing with being the last few survivors in town.
Each member of the School Living Club, as they have aptly named their group, plays an important part in keeping the operation steady. Yuki keeps the group motivated and hopeful, Yuuri provides motherly advice and cooks for everyone, Miki brings reason and logic into the mixture, and Kurumi kills zombies with a shovel. (Needless to say, Kurumi is the best and most important). All this being said, it’s only obvious that the School Living Club relies on one another. I mean, when the vast majority of the school is trying to eat you, what else are you supposed to do? This dependence fuels the entirety of the series as each girl learns more and more about not only each other but themselves.
While School-Live may start off as just a weird tale of survival, it turns into a sort of morbid conspiracy theory by the end. There is a metric ton of exposition occurring in the latter half of the series that pretty much flips the whole thing on its head. These episodes shine light on everything we’ve been wondering throughout the whole show. Whether it be, “Why is there still electricity?” or, “How do they get clean water?” everything is answered. It’s one of those rare occurrences where a series actually fills in all of its plot holes (With no thanks to Kurumi’s shovel). It’s actually quite spectacular when you think about it. As viewers and critics, we spend so much time looking for the holes in something and, just when we think we’ve outsmarted the series, it punches us in the mouth with logic and reason.
School-Live isn’t just about school girls trying to survive a zombie apocalypse — it’s thought-provoking tale of how different people handle different crises. It raises many important questions throughout its duration but perhaps the biggest one is, “What would you give up to save yourself?” Seeing young girls forced into growing up and fighting for their lives will always be more impactful than watching some burly mech-pilot fight an equally burly evil mech-pilot for the sole purpose of being evil.
School-Live is a damn good show — it’s a damn underrated show. I hope for the love of God that anyone who reads this review has already seen the series. The impact of that first episode will lose all of its weight if they haven’t. Regardless, School-Live figured out a way to sneak into my Top 10 for 2015 as I’m sure it did for many others. Pick this up as soon as you can and binge the heck out of it. And tell your dog you love him. You’ll see why.
English/Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio, English Subtitles, Textless Opening/Ending Songs, Trailers from Sentai Filmworks.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen