Responsibility as a coping mechanism in School-Live!


If you only take one thing from this article then it should be this. Watch the first episode of School-Live right now and don’t read anything about it. I guarantee you’ll thank me for it afterwards. (I haven’t even tagged this post properly for your benefit!)

Now, supposing you’re still here because you know that you’ve watched School-Live, and you know that it’s centred around a zombie-apocalypse that the main character is unaware of as a result of her post-traumatic stress disorder, I can get on with this spoiler heavy article.

I really hope you aren't spoiling this for yourself.
I really hope you aren’t spoiling this for yourself.

School-Live! (or Gakkougurashi! if you rather) is not about zombies. Of course the zombies are necessary for everything else to happen, but it’s not the reason you watch the show. There are very few times where the characters interact or find themselves in a particularly pressurised situation with their undead neighbours. No – this is an anime series about the relationship between four school girls who take on different roles to ensure their survival and keep themselves sane. It is this second point that I want to primarily focus upon here.

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The show focuses upon four girls (and their teacher and dog) who managed to survival the turbulent arrival and spread of the zombies by holing up in their school and creating the School Life club. The need for a pretence of a ‘club’ is Yuki, who is unaware of the events outside the school as a result of her trauma she sustained watching her teacher be mutilated by zombies.

At the time, the ‘club’ consisted of only two members besides Yuki, Yuuri (affectionately known as Ri-san) and Kurumi. Throughout the course of the show it is clear that both Ri and Kurumi have taken on roles that are essential for the precarious existence of the three girls.

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Instead, I would suggest that Yuki’s condition allows Ri and Kurumi to deflect their own stress and anxiety’s about the situation into responsibility. Ri is on the surface the most mature of girls, the leader of the School Life club, organiser of energy, supplies and general running of the day to day activities. It is easy for the viewer to forget that actually she is just a normal school girl who is no more mature than any of the other club members. While this is epitomised by her indecision in the final two episodes after Kurumi has been attacked, we can see that she still enjoys the things we would expect any normal girl her age to enjoy in the mall and pool episodes.

I would argue that compared to Yuuri, Kurumi has been through significantly more before the start of the show and thus is slightly more able to cope with the situations she is presented with. Following the beginning of the outbreak, Kurumi takes on the role of a guardian, or a solider if you like, beating of zombies with the gardening club’s shovel whenever necessary.

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At times, Kurumi can appear a little too accustomed to the slash and hack nature of her role, giving of a somewhat de-human aura. However, just because a person is able to do complete an action, that doesn’t particularly mean that they like to do it, and this is partly the case with Kurumi. Though she is clearly driven by a desire to protect the other girls in the club, it is her over zealousness to attack the zombies that reveals how far she struggles to deal with the situation. Her overwhelming courage and use of violence in the face of the undead is a way of compensating for the first time she had to desperately defend herself with the shovel on top of the school building.

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While it is certainly true that three Yuki’s would flounder in the context of School-Live, it would be a significant misunderstanding to believe that the club could function as well as it does without her and the attention she requires.

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