Yuki Takeya loves waking up at school and spending all her days on campus more than anything. The only thing? She isn’t allowed to leave.
I watched this series when the anime adaptation aired way back in Summer of 2015. Curious about Yuki’s story and the rest of the School Living Club, I decided to pick up a copy of the manga to spot any differences along the way.
And let me say, boy are there differences between the 1-season long anime and the full story of the manga. But not all differences are bad.
Gakkougurashi! or School-Live! is a manga written by Norimitsu Kaihou and illustrated by Sadoru Chiba, beginning publishing in 2012 and concluding in 2019. Neither one of these individuals have necessarily created anything more popular than School-Live!, making it the most widely recognized item in their respective works.
School-Live! is a psychological horror manga focusing on four protagonists, schoolgirls from Megurigaoka Private High School. Kurumi Ebisuzawa, a tomboy-esque girl who carries around a shovel and is a sports prodigy, Miki Naoki, a solemn and generally grumpy girl with a good heart, Yuuri Wakasa, their leader and mother figure, and Yuki Takeya, our aforementioned main protagonist, who is a cheerful, loud, and good-natured girl who is very bad at school.
Warning: From this point forward, there is heavy spoilers, especially if you haven’t seen the anime. Reading past this point will spoil you for the first episode of the anime, and if you are even vaguely interested, I highly recommend you stop here, watch the first episode of the anime or read the first chapter of the manga, then come back.
So, moving forward, we will dive into the actual plot of this work. As you may have guessed, there is much more to this story than initially presented to us — this isn’t your typical slice of life schoolgirl story.
Yes, in fact, the girls we follow are the sole survivors of Megurigaoka Private High School and live on the top floor to avoid the dangers below. Yuki Takeya can’t leave, because if she does, she will surely die due to the hordes of the undead below.
Yes, Yuki Takeya is an unreliable narrator, suffering from hallucinations and delusions that are keeping her safe and shielding her from the harsh reality around her and her friends.
Now, I actually enjoyed the manga. I don’t know if I would say I enjoyed it more than the anime, solely because the manga goes much farther than the anime, introducing more arcs and more characters than the short 12-episode long (and extremely faithful) run of the anime. I suspect that Gakkougurashi! could easily be 3 or 4 seasons long, should they decide to translate everything from the manga into an anime format.
The ending of the manga, without giving too much away, is a bit unexpected coming directly from the anime, but it works within the confines the manga. I don’t mind it, even if the “solution” is a bit strange. The epilogue, however, is extremely cute and what really sells the ending, showing us the conclusion of all of the characters’ individual arcs and wrapping it up in an extremely satisfying way.
If you are coming directly from the anime into School-Live!, you’ll recall that Kurumi had quite a bit of an arc with her backstory from pre-apocalypse. She had a Senpai that she was having a complicated romance with, and unfortunately, he got infected. This leaves Kurumi with a choice to make, causing her to use her shovel (i.e, weapon of choice) to kill the man that she desperately liked.
Kurumi, in the manga, is shown to question herself much more deeply and we see her insecurities bubble to the surface. The anime ends with the girls leaving the school for the first time since the apocalypse began, but the manga goes much farther. In Kurumi’s case, she even goes back home to see if her family is all right.
Unfortunately, they are not.
Kurumi finds signs of a struggle and blood, and upon returning to the group, she claims nothing was there and the house was empty. These small gestures of the characters, in attempts to keep the peace in the group and internalize their pain, give us a deeper look into their personalities and character.
Yuuri, the mother-figure of the group, is one particular character we don’t get a lot of development in the anime for. However, in the manga, Yuuri is able to locate her little sister Ruu. She notes that she’s almost completely forgotten about Ruu due to her struggling to survive in her own school — but after seeing the rubble of Ruu’s Elementary School, she becomes borderline hysterical, claiming that Ruu is most definitely inside, even when it’s evident there are very little chances of any survivors. Despite that, they find Ruu, and Yuuri and Ruu are inseparable for the majority of the remainder of the manga.
Miki and Yuki are given plenty of character development in the anime, and not much changes with their backstories looking through the manga. We only see their personalities become more fleshed out throughout the new arcs that their characters are brought through.
I won’t go into too much detail with the new arcs; but the military and a new group of survivors get involved, as well as a local scientist character who has barricaded herself for survival.
Do I recommend the manga? Extremely. The manga is long, a fun read, and the story and characters are extremely well written. The pacing isn’t too fast or too slow, and you get the feeling that there’s an imminent sense of danger; both from the outside world, and inside the girls’ minds.
I honestly understand why the anime ended so early within the story, and it’s an extremely hopeful — albeit nervous — ending to their story. However, when the manga is available, I would hope that people would read the conclusion of their story!
I’ve yet to read School-Live! Letters, a 1-volume sequel to the ending of School-Live! that is supposed to go more in-depth with the character’s endings, but when I do, I will write a review for that as well.
What do you all think of the manga? Did you enjoy it, are you interested, or do you prefer the anime? Let us know in the comments!
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