The storytelling of the show is structured in somewhat of a controversial way. As a manga reader, I will say that it is entertaining but still sways from faithfulness. The first episode makes changes while also introducing certain characters far too early than they should be. The overall tone of the story flows somewhat well in terms of content despite pacing issues. It shouldn’t be hard for anyone to figure out that something may be wrong through careful analysis. The background foreshadowing such as the bizarre words on the school’s chalkboard or gravestones should make the viewers scratch their head. Also, isn’t it just strange that everything seems a bit too simple at their school?
A main part of the show also consists of the character cast. Yuki is the most prominent character in the series not because of her personality but because of some of her delusions. The show establishes an eerie message that perhaps she is hallucinating or building a delusional barrier around herself. The reality is that there are zombies are school, the classrooms are in shambles with windows shattered, hallways are barricaded, and death is a quite real. Yuki’s personality is also quite cheerful and sometimes is distracting for the audience.
Similarly, some of her friends also plays along with her despite knowing the truth. They include Kurumi, Yuri, and Miki and all of them shows various skills when needed for survival. Their personalities ranges although all of them gets along quite well as friends. Kurumi is more of the fighter for the group with her handy shovel while Yuri plays more of a supportive role. Miki also adds support to help the other girls and even plays alongside Yuki as “Mii-kun”. As cute and colorful as this group is, the audience is still often reminded of what’s at stake.
On most terms of the show, it blends in a form of dark comedy. Sure on the surface, everything seems cherry but the reality is not so cute. The comedy on most part is what you will typically see from series about “cute girls doing cute things”. In essence, the show actually masks its true visage somewhat well with its humor if a viewer is unaware of the premise or coming into the show completely fresh. Meanwhile, Gakkou Gurashi exploits its darker elements with Yuki’s state of mind.
Other characters also gets some of their background story told including Yuki’s friend “Mii-kun” and her teacher, Megumi. The show establishes fairly well that Yuki is overly fond of them. As such, it creates the false barrier about her state of mind. Throughout the show, it’s almost like Yuki is in a world of her own. Yuki continuously shows how much she loves school while the audience knows it’s more than just that. And by this execution, I guess it can be a hit or miss. Some people will find the series overly repetitive after a few episodes. Others may think that the comedy doesn’t mix well with the overlay of the story. Despite this, Gakkou Gurashi succeeds in keeping a thrilling story by adapting with the characters. The style of the show is obviously more than just a slice of life so it often crafts plot twists to make the audience anticipate for more.
When it comes to artwork, there should be no surprise that the girls are designed to look cute. They all wear their regular school uniform with some variations. For instance, we have Yuki’s cat-like hat or Kurumi’s arm-warmers. Overly cute may sometimes become evident throughout the show especially with character expressions. In reality, the setting of the school is designed to look like it was the aftermath of an apocalypse.
It conveys the message to the audience that nothing is normal. The zombies are designed to look horrific with their mindless rampage. Fan service also exists with swimsuits although most of it downplayed. Instead, it’s replace with violence with vague censorship. It’s also noticeable that the body language of the characters shows the audience of their conflicting feelings. Finally, I have to say that the show has a clever way of decorating its OP and ED theme songs along with its symbolisms.
I can’t say the soundtrack is overly impressive but neither is it lacking. Somewhere in between, I think the soundtrack works especially to deliver that eerie feeling when it’s needed. Other times, its recycled usage of the lighthearted harmony is hardly memorable.