Concluding a two-part flashback, the School Living Club gathers supplies, tries on clothes, and picks up a lonely girl and an over-excitable dog in the process.
I actually expected Gakkou Gurashi! to make the second half of it’s Miki-dedicated flashback an even more heart-wrenching experience, but the tone in this episode felt more fitting. Last week we took Miki into the very depths of despair – it’s only right that Yuki and the School Living Club are the ones to bring her out of it, making the episode feel more joyous and triumphant. Seeing the girls go shopping as though they’re taking a privilege few others can have (being dead and all) added to the mall visit being a true school outing – fun, with something important gained. Of course, this also contrasted greatly against the show’s typically immersive action sequences, the deafening cry of the alarm being a stand-out moment.
Some might say there’s less tension since we know Miki will survive this flashback, and there’s no denying that the physical danger of the zombies is missing. But there’s a good reason for that; this back-story is all about connecting with the emotional horrors Miki went through and how she emerged from them. She desperately cried for help after being surrounded by zombies, after first deciding to break out of her shell because she saw that she need not be alone in this nightmare; both those things demonstrate a need for companionship, whereas Kei left her friend to escape from the mall. The contrast between these parted friends is absolute, and Miki’s character is fantastically developed from it.
Unexpectedly as ever though, Yuki got even more development this week too. It seems her earlier version of PTSD wasn’t as strong as what it is now, with memories of her zombie classmates and even a flash that surely represents Megu-nee’s death breaking into her consciousness like never before. If her illusion has become more and more reluctant to let in the truth over time, that will only make it more explosive when if finally shatters. Top marks to the writers and Lerche for rekindling my fears for Yuki like this every episode.
Kurumi also got something unexpected – a death flag. Just as when they were clothes shopping, the group continues to make life-or-death situations a much calmer affair by pinky-swearing over decapitating a friend if she turns sour. Then again, this might be more of a warning that anyone in the group could turn nasty, with Kurumi’s wishes encapsulating the mindset everyone will have to have towards each other. With that in mind, how hard will it be for Miki – who must crave these friends more than anything – if one of them starts biting at the dust?
Around all these deep and dark forebodings, Gakkou Gurashi! continues to pile on the cuteness and comedy. Yuki’s instant love of Taroumaru did more than just incite a sweetness overload though; it made her seek after the dog, which led the group to Miki in the first place. Technically Taroumaru is the reason for Miki’s salvation, along with the risk Yuki took, so it makes even more sense that Miki would want to reconcile herself with the puppy. Even though she spurned the poor thing, Taroumaru came back to Miki in her our of need. I can see a few comparisons between this instinctive kind of compassion and Yuki’s undying love that she has for the School Living Club.
The biggest horror of this episode, however, was the thought of all those people trapped in a theatre with one zombie spreading its affliction. Again, the show hits hardest with the unseen. All we need are the results and Kurumi’s horrified thoughts on them in order to get a picture in our heads – the same likely going through Kurumi’s – of the carnage in that otherwise innocent cinema, and to be horrified at the living as well as the dead in how they were barricaded in. How much worse might it have been since it was a horror movie, and people might not have immediately noticed what was wrong?
Rii-san is the last of our cast due for some back-story spelunking, so I’m excited and afraid to see what she’s been through, given the fact we’ve been given the fewest hints about her past. Surely there’ll be a much more tender side to her, since her personality veers between calm and collected authority and appearing to Yuki like the devil incarnate.
Also, now we know they have bikinis. Now we know what we’ll eventually be getting. Frankly though, I don’t mind. It’ll surely be a chance to interrupt more anime normality with blood spilling into the otherwise clear waters of a swimsuit episode.
I wonder if zombies can even swim…