August 02, 2015

Gakkou Gurashi Ep02

Hello, hi, and how are you?  A surprise shortage of work at work hied me home very early on Monday, so I thought what better way to celebrate not having to stare at a computer screen all day than by staring at a computer screen all day and being allegedly funny in the process?  Some time back, I did a little not-quite-a-writeup for Ep01, and decided that if Ep02 kept the energy and interest up, I'd make it a full writeup series.  It did, and I am!  If you're not familiar with the show, read that there linky to Ep01... it'll give you the basics  Or you can just be confused, one of the two.  Now, a word of warning to y'all... I haven't read the manga, and I'm probably not going to anytime soon.  What this means is that I am not interested in knowing what the manga does, says, doesn't do or say or hints at about characters, situations, or coming activities.  If you feel a burning need to say something in the comments about future events, don't.  This is a writeup of the anime series.  Okay?  We cool?  Don't make me be a big awful meanie.  I may be good at it, because I'm a rotten bastard at heart, but I don't like to be a big awful meanine.  So lets put all that behind us and get on with the recappin'!

We open with lovely watercolor-like memories narrated by Kurumi, aka "Shovel Girl."  She was the manager of the school's track team... not because she particularly liked running or jumping or throwing the discus or putting the shot or playing 47-man Squamish, but because she had a thing for a guy, one of the upperclassmen, on the team.  Yes, it's an honest-to-gosh case of "Notice me, Senpai!"

And notice her he does.  And why not?  She's a lovely girl with twintails and she's clearly crazygonuts over him, and even though his hair covers his eyes and really he should get that trimmed a bit, he isn't blind.  Late one afternoon, they're on the roof of the school...

...and he reaches for her.  Ah, young love... ain't it swell?   Even if you can't see his eyes through the thatch he calls hair.  His parents have often said "you really should get that cut, Skippy," because that's his name: Skippy.  "You look so much nicer with short hair.  And you'd be able to read the blackboard better, it'd help your grades."  But Skippy, being a rebellious teenager, and yes, even the Japanese have teenager problems, just keeps on growing his hair and saying "I'll live like I want."  And right now, it appears that what he wants is Kurumi.

Specifically, her brains.  I'll have you know that when Skippy's hand reached through the letterboxing, I actually jumped a little in my seat.  I may also have whimpered like a sad puppy as well.  The possibility even exists that I may have wet myself a tiny bit.  I'm not proud of that, but there you are.  And then ZombieSkippy eats her.  The end.



Or she wakes up from her nightmare, one of the two.  It was all a dream... or was it?

Nope, it's just Gakkou Gurashi and the School Living Club!  The nightmare is real.  And there are zombies, too.  That morning...

...it's time for breakfast!  Apparently they've been eating emergency rations recently, so today's curry (with a dessert of multivitamin, yum!) is something of a treat.  We have a new character too.  The one with pinkish hair is Megu-nee, and she's Yuki's personal tutor... which should immediately raise massive red flags for is as to whether or not she actually exists outside of Yuki's mind.  That everybody else appears to be humoring Yuki's PTSD doesn't help us decide in the least.  They've got a day's worth of classes lined up, so out the door they go.

After they're gone, Miki tells the other two about Yuki's antics the day before... how she was talking to an empty, bloodstained classroom, and how at one point she said that she was having so much fun that almost decided to go home instead of back to the School Living Clubroom.  She's concerned about her friend, and rightfully so... but Yuri, the mom of the group, points out that they're not experts, anything they do would probably make matters worse (duct tape, anyone?), and since she's with Megu-nee, she's as safe as any of them right now.  Just what does that mean, I wonder?  How should we take that?  Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does anybody really care?

Welp, the loony is off at class, it's time to make the donuts go on patrol.  After all, can't keep the living dead at bay with just a stack of desks and some wire... that'd make for a boring show!  Certainly would have changed High School of the Dead completely.  "To think we were so close at the beginning!  We had tables and folding chairs... what we really needed was desks and some wire!  We were almost totally safe!  If only we had known..."

No, no reason I chose this particular screenshot for this next bit, none at all.  What, you think I chose it for the fanservice aspects?  The stockings with built-in-garters, the suspenders... I grew up in a time where suspenders weren't an uncommon sight on women, particularly on leotards.  I also like legwarmers too.  I'm a child of the '80s, what can I say?  Um.  I seem to have gone on wanderjahr again.  Anyway.  Miki and Yuri are performing inventory, and its kinda looking grim.  Supplies are running low, and their power usage is going to need to be dialed back as well.  Seems the school had a rooftop garden long before the zombies came, and there's a whole passel of solar-charged batteries to boot but it's been cloudy of late.  And the night is dark and full of terrors.  One thing the school apparently doesn't have is a shortwave radio, because nobody knows just how advanced the whole zombie outbreak is.  Yuri is confident that help will come eventually.  And by "confident", I mean "talks a good game."  Meanwhile...

...zombie outbreak pretty advanced  right here.  Still, Kurumi is confident that she can handle one.  Like the undead from HSotD, these are attracted to sound rather than sight... and a pingpong ball makes a remarkable amount of noise.  Did I mention that she's got some with her?  She does.  Useful, that.  After distracting the zombie, she knocks it down, but...

...just as she's to administer the coup de brainz, she notices the cellphone it dropped.  Y'know, with the picture of an obviously happy boyfriend/girlfriend combination on the screen?  Oh, yeah, right... these used to be people!  Kurumi has a flashback to the rooftop, gets a little crazygonuts, and...

...speaking of crazygonuts, the day's tutoring session is almost over.  And when it is, summer vacation begins, yay!  When the Ambiguous Educator asks Yuki what she's going to do during her time off, she talks about going to the mountains... but it's not a vacay without a test of courage!  Oh dear.  This is going to go nothing but well.  Still, it's not like they'd really do it.  There's humoring Yuki's fantasies, and then there's just being all stupid and crap, right?

Stupid and crap, right.  I'd like to point out that this screenshot is the point where I lost everything.  While I'm going to try to remember what I wrote, I'm probably going to fail miserably.  I'd also like to point out that everybody is on the wrong side of the barrier.  This is not, in fact, as horrible as I first thought.  Keeping one or two of them safe (or safer) does nothing to enhance the survivability of the other two.  In fact, it makes the chances for all of them worse.  Think about it: two of 'em are exploring, and the get trapped by zombies.  The two in the clubroom can't do a thing about it, and might do some good in the fight.  It reminds me of the Imperial Japanese Navy's carrier force at the beginning of the Pacific War... there were realistically only two types of targets for Kido Butai: ones where all six carriers would be used, and ones where none would be used.  The moment they split the party, Coral Sea occurred.  The Shokaku and Zuikaku weren't available when Midway rolled around, and we know how that worked out.  All or none.  Everybody over the wall, or nobody.  Miki's got some nice legs.  Anybody else remember when ZZ Top was the coolest thing ever? 

Then Yuki starts yelling that the rest of the team better not be thinking about leaving her behind.  Despite being told to be quiet.  There's absolutely no way that anybody was thinking about ditching Yuki and leaving her as zombie bait.  No, not at all.  How could you possibly even consider that?  (tuneless whistling, shuffling of feet)  And then the Tenuous Teacher shows up and Yuki settles down a bit.  I'm really starting to wonder about Megu-nii... which, I suppose, is the whole point, isn't it?

Yuri lays down the ground rules for this "test of courage".  They'll be hitting the School Store and the Library... food and books, a plan after my own heart.  Or, actually, stomach and brain.  They stay together, they stay quiet Yuki, and it'll all be over soon.  Most importantly, they'll stay safe.

Okay, I call foul.  What type of HIGH SCHOOL store sells buckets and branch cutters?  I mean, look, I ran a college store for years, at a school where students lived, and while we did carry supplies, they were of the "razors, deodorant and feminine product" variety.  Not the "bug spray, bukkits and fabric softener" type.  Even if this high school had a dorm, something we've seen no reference to as of yet, why would the students need branch cutters???  Please note that I seem to be perfectly okay with the concept of a zombie apocalypse, but stupid store inventories are unrealistic to me.  (At this point in the original version of this writeup, I went on a fairly long discussion of how I was drinking a can of Bud Lime Straw-ber-Rita and had gotten a slight buzz from it, despite only being 16oz.  Which only served to point out how much of a lightweight I had apparently become, seeing how I hadn't really drank anything in nearly a decade.  I think the phrase "cheap date" were used, too)

Nummy Sticks, though... those we carried.  I always tried to stock some "unconventional" candies in the store.  For example, I was responsible for a small resurgence in the popularity of the Zero Bar at Duck U.  For whatever reason, for a period of about two months, I couldn't keep 'em in stock.  Buy a box, bang, sold in a week.  Get another box, sold out.  Get two boxes, sell 'em in 10 days.  Then nobody would buy 'em, and the weirdness was over.  We also had popcorn and other salty snacks for those weirdos that didn't like chocolate.  I don't understand the appeal of popcorn, never have, but then, I don't have to.  If I bought anything off our salty snack wall, it tended to be Cheetos Puffs.  Not stereotypical at all, no. 

After finishing their raid on the unrealistic school store, they move on to the library.  If it's anything like the store, I assume they'll find an original of Shakespeare's First Folio, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a scroll that can translate Linear A.  While fascinating, the plan is to get some textbooks, some extra books on gardening... and Yuki wants manga.  Well, gotta keep the mind entertained, I suppose.  Yuri and Yuki will go in, Kurumi and Miki will cover the door.  Oh, and they can't turn the lights on because of the huge wall of windows... it'd attract zombies like nobody's business.  Um.  Didn't they say that sound, not vision, was...?  Never mind.  This is a world where high school stores sell dishwasher detergent, it clearly isn't internally consistent.

Of course Yuki goes tearing off alone on her hunt for manga.  Also of course, there's a zombie in the library, and it's shuffling off after the source of the sounds.  I bet you thought I was going to link to the "shuffling horror" that I've used a few times before, didn't you?  I'll have you know I have some self-respect... I never reuse jokes.

The Phantom Teacher appears and gets Yuki to shut up and sit down; hopefully the Shambling Deceased won't notice them huddled behind the books on podiatry.  I'm trying to think of something that'd be less frequented in a high school library than books on foot care, and having a hard time coming up with anything.  Grooming Your Nose Hair: A New Resource, maybe.

Aha, now we discover why the School Store sold bukkits.  It's so Miki could have something to whack as to make noise to distract the zombie from the Fungal Growths And You section.  You know people love and care for you when they'll beat a bukkit to distract zombies from you.  I suspect that people would gently caress a very soft pillow for me.  Perhaps wave a featherduster in the general direction of the zombie.  Maybe squeeze sponges at them?  In any case, the sound is enough to bring the zombie librarian a-runnin'.  Shamblin'.  Staggerin'.  However you look at it, it ain't fast.

Right into Kurumi's trap.  The last thing it sees is angry twintails, a sharp shovel, and all of its hopes and dreams of reorganizing the light novels goes out the window.  Along with most if its brainz.  No more tying its hair up in a bun held together by pencils.  No more shushing.  No more reading glasses and sweater twinsets.  All lost, like tears in the rain.  Or like shovel in the brainz.

That night, all is not well with Kurumi.  She dreams of her senpai again, and how she planned to follow him to whatever college he attended.  He seemed to have welcomed this idea, too... and then he reaches for her on the rooftop one day and makes Wonderduck wee himself.

And then Kurumi meets Shovel-kun for the first time.  Moments later, senpai meets Shovel-kun for the last time... and a partnership is formed. 

She wakes up, gasping and sweating, and not in a good way.  Fade to black, roll credits.

Well!  That's quite the episode, that was.  Not much I can say about it, it was just a very good, dramatic, tautly told zombie show that has almost no zombies in it at all.  That's good... it'll make it all the more dramatic when we DO face 'em for real.  I think we'll be continuing this.  Oh yes, yes we will.

Next Episode, and I never thought I'd be saying this again and meaning it: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:59 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 2499 words, total size 18 kb.

1 With regards to the school store, it likely carries most of the things that the clubs and student council nee. Remember that the student councils in Japanese schools do cleaning and grounds maintenance. Heck the home-ec classes fix the bentos in the schools that don't have cafeterias and sometimes run them in those that do. When I was young, I went to a school with a store in rural VA and even without that dynamic you could get some cleaning supplies.

Regarding Megune: I THINK she's real (that was certainly my big question after episode 1)

This answered my big question regarding power I had missed the bit about the batteries and the cloudiness. Thanks.

Um. Didn't they say that sound, not vision, was...?
I don't THINK so. However, even if they did, while sound seems to be important to the ambulatory deceased, since it's unlikely they've done an eye-test on one of their shambling former classmates it makes sense not to take a chance.

This show is beautifully paced.

Let me second Wonderduck's admonition not to spoil anything. Even if you are outside the attack radius of northern Illinois you might be within mine.

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 03, 2015 04:29 PM (jGQR+)

2 How did Brickmuppet's comment get signed "Wonderduck"?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at August 03, 2015 05:18 PM (+rSRq)

3 Elves.
Erm....

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 03, 2015 06:24 PM (2yngH)

4 At a guess, Wonderduck needed to edit the comment and so reposted it but forgot to change the user name.

But maybe elves.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 03, 2015 06:26 PM (2yngH)

5 (sigh)  Yes, I goofed the second time.  I didn't like the formatting the first time around so I deleted it.  Since 'Muppet appears to be totally unable to comment on The Pond, I had to do it for him.

Posted by: Wonderduck at August 03, 2015 07:04 PM (jGQR+)

6 Duck, you forget - we would not merely whang on a bucket but in fact would rev one of the old eight-cylinder F1 engines in the parking lot for you.

Well, that and to get the achievement for killing over 56,000 zombies. But partly for you, man!

Japanese school stores do occasionally have weird inventory. They do some jokes about it in GA. They've got at least some chance of having any particular object that someone needed for something and couldn't get at the time...

Posted by: Avatar at August 04, 2015 04:29 AM (qxzj1)

7 Oh, '80s music videos...

I didn't even watch this and the hand-breaks-the-letterboxing effect creeped me out. Pretty sure I'm never actually watching the show at this point! (Yes, I'm a wuss. I know.)

Posted by: GreyDuck at August 04, 2015 07:31 AM (/zxpg)

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