October 04, 2015
Yuki is hand-drawing a graduation album... after all, it's soon to be that time of year for them... and Miki is helping, in exchange for Yuki actually doing her chores. Yuri and Kurumi were apparently gardening, look at those daikons... and no, that's not a euphemism for anything. I'm amused that while I meant to type "euphemism", my fingers actually generated "euphonium". I also badly mangled "euphemism" to the point that spellcheck couldn't quite figure out what I was trying to say. Sometimes I wonder about myself. Anyway, Yuki is a lousy artist, go figure, and everybody makes fun of her for it, also go figure.
Miki, on the other hand, is quite good... to the point where the others are wondering who the girl is with her in the picture. "She was a... close friend," she says with a sad look as we fade into another flashback. Lots of those in this show, huh?
Miki and her friend, Kei, have gotten out of school and have decided to go to the Mall. Great, shopping is always fun, right? Even the sight of something strange happening on the TV isn't enough to deter the two friends from their ritual spending of money. I wonder how they earned it? Not that I'm insinuating anything, heavens no! I'm sure there are plenty of good, logical reasons for Miki to wear a garter belt.
After they hit the music store and Kei buys a CD for her Discman ("The sound quality is better, I tell you!" You tell 'em, girl!), the two high schoolers encounter a little old lady pushing her puppy around in a stroller. Aha, Taromaru is part of this origin story as well! Well, isn't that swell? Eventually the two girls hit the bookstore, where Miki buys The Stand by "Steppen King"... in English, no less. No, no symbolism there in that book choice, ladies and germs! The little old lady and her doggie walk away, and moments later the mall makes an announcement: there's been an incident, there are some injuries, everybody head to the exits.
Except the escalators aren't working (at which point, they're stairs), people are getting grumpy, and the girls decide they really need to get out of the mall. Maybe the elevators, and while I remember the rules about elevators and fires, i.e. "no, bad!", there are worse ideas when your other choice is fighting your way through a bunch of angry shoppers. Just ask anybody who's gone Christmas shopping on the last Saturday before December 25th. Or has worked in a mall on the same day... eeugh.
Have you ever actually run while holding someone's hand? I have, it's awkward as hell. Or maybe that was because of the handcuffs, I'm not sure. How anime girls manage to do it with something approaching grace is entirely beyond me. Once the two reach the lifts, it seems like they're doomed to have to find a flight of stairs somewhere: the elevators are stuck on the ground floor. Until, with a ding, the numbers begin to crawl upwards... they're safe!
Oh. Oh dear. I... um... nah, you go ahead, I'm good, I'll take the next one, thanks. BUG OUT!!! The girls begin running aimlessly, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. I'd love to criticize them for this, but I can't. I mean, yes, I'm genre savvy enough to know that's the wrong thing to do, but what would I do if I was in their shoes? I mean, other than scream in agony since I wear 14EEEs? Right, run aimlessly, trying to figure out what to do. Well, run as well as I could with giant feet stuffed into tiny shoes. And then the lights go out in the mall. Oh, lovely.
They hide in a fitting room for... um... reasons. It's such an incredibly good hiding place that the little puppy they met earlier, Taromaru, finds them almost instantly. Smell the safety! It's at this point they realize that the dog is injured... no, wait, he seems fine, he's just covered with blood. Well that's weird. I wonder why...
Check, please. At this moment, it does appear to be the time for the running, and lots of it. But wait... what's that figure there in the front-center? Um...
Oh god it's the Little Old Lady that owns Taromaru. Owned... I don't think property law applies to the undead. And she's it's probably not a Lady anymore, if she it ever was. Old is debatable now as well, as her body isn't really in a state that can be said to age anymore. But once again, I had a teeny amount of wee scared out of me, so she's got that going for her, I suppose. If you go for that sort of thing. I apparently do. Go, that is. It was a scary scene!
Cut to that night. The girls somehow avoided being eaten by little old ladies and have found a remarkably well-appointed room. As we find out later, the room has a couch, a washroom, sinks with running water, food, the works. Even futons. It's barely possible that the girls scavenged all of these things, but it seems doubtful to me, considering all the panicked running and confusion they were doing earlier. Either way, that's what they've got. And hey, the rent is cheap.
It starts out well enough. They're safe but more or less trapped, which is probably a fair trade-off all things considered. They've got food and water, and Taromaru, they're set for the long haul. Plus they've got each other for company, and Kei's Discman has a radio in it as well. What more could they want? Help will come, they'll be saved, and everything will return to normal.
Time passes. Help doesn't come, and there's no sign of it coming. Most ominously, Kei's radio isn't picking up anything but silence on the airwaves. In fact, all the two of them seem to know is that occasionally the undead pound on their door... which opens out. Guess draugr don't know from doorknobs.
Time passes, and Kei is getting cabin fever. She's tired of being cooped up in their room, tired of eating the same things, tired of drinking nothing but water, nobody knows they're there so even if there's a rescue mission going on they'd not be helped, and even Miki's getting on her nerves. Trouble's a-brewin', I can feel it in my bones. Or maybe it's just that I'm old and decrepit, one of the two.
The next morning, Kei leaves. She packs some small amount of supplies in her bag, and heads out into the great unknown. Miki's pleas to her are met with a question: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life in this room?" And, leaving her Discman behind, she's gone. The stress of the moment causes Miki to snap and scream at Taromaru... and now we know why Taromaru doesn't much care for Miki. Why in the world would someone sleep wearing a garterbelt? I mean, other than the obvious fanservice aspects of course. Or did I just answer my own question?
Meanwhile, in another part of the anime, Yuki has had a brilliant idea! The School Living Club should have an official outing! How incredibly great is this?!?! And since it'll be an official outing, approved by the school, they'll be able to go against the Club's charter and actually leave the school grounds. Kurumi is quietly horrified, Yuri is less so, saying that it'll be up to their teacher, Megu-nee to approve the idea. Out the door goes Yuki, in a chipper mood.
While she's gone, the two members of the club that aren't brain-damaged discuss what they'll do. While on the face of it, it sounds ridiculous, Yuri quietly points out that they're low on supplies... like the tinned meat they're eating with their breakfast rice. A more cynical version of me would tell them to go to school store, because they've got just about everything on the face of the earth in there, but I digress. Of course, it turns out that their teacher approves the idea. The hell?
So here's the plan: Kurumi is to scale a ladder down from the Home Ec room, run across the Field, get Megu-nee's car, then come back and pick the others up. Piece of cake, right? She's even sure she's a better driver than Megu-nee! Did anybody mention that this is a stupid, stupid plan?
After Yuki gets the teacher's car keys, and why didn't Megu-nee do that, there's nothing left but to just do it. They're all going to get eaten, and the show will end in tears, I just know it. I just didn't expect it to happen this soon, and for this stupid a reason.
Inside, things are going well enough. Yuri and Yuki seem to have a more-or-less clear path to the ground floor, though the journey itself reveals that Yuki is still in serious dreamland. For example, the barricade is there because the stairs are closed for repairs, not to keep the School Living Club from being turned into zombie chow. And where's Megu-nee? Meanwhile...
...things are not going quite as well with Kurumi. The first bit was fine, but once she got closer to her goal, the shambling horrors are actually putting up a fight. In fact, at one point she was knocked down and lost Shovel-kun.
She got better. Now here's where things get really weird... she gets to the carpark, and doesn't know which car is Megu-nee's! She has to figure it out while the walking dead are closing in on her... wouldn't you think to, y'know, ask Megu-nee what her car looks like? She does figure it out, as it has a bear that matches the one on the keyfob hanging from the rear-view mirror. And then...
Show of hands: who hasn't wanted to do this? I mean, the running across the roof of cars part, not the whole zombiedodging thing. I know I have, though I'd probably just go through. Even with the reduced ground pressure provided by 14EEE feet, car roofs just ain't made to support people. Anime girls, on the other hand...
Moments later, Kurumi comes screeching up to Yuki and Yuri in a swank Mini clone. Note the people named. Kurumi, check. Yuki, check. Yuri, check. Note who I didn't name.
So how the hell is Megu-nee already in the car? Something fishy is going on here... We get a moment of levity as Kurumi says that she prefers gamepads to steering wheel controllers for her driving games, leading to shock and horror from the passengers, and then...
...they drive off into the sunset, into the outside world for the first time since That Day. Which makes me wonder just how long it's been if there's moss/plants growing on the roofs of some buildings already. In Miki & Taromaru's room, there's reason to believe that it's been a couple of weeks, which shouldn't be long enough for greenery to begin to take over a city like that. Unless it's like toenail fungus, in which case the world is screwed. Believe me, I know. Once upon a time, I won a pedicure in some raffle at Duck U. The look on the pedicurist's face when she saw the nails on my big toes was amazing, a cross between "aha, a challenge worthy of my skills!" and "for this, I went to cosmetology school?" Probably because the one on my right foot is split so badly the two pieces actually grow at different rates (and directions!) and the one on my left is... um... if you looked at it from the front, which I don't particularly recommend, mind you, it would look serrated. This also carries over to the top of the nail, so it's very hard on socks. A quick hit with a power sander and it'd be nice and smooth again... and it's thick enough that I'd probably never feel it. Oh. Right, zombies! As the School Living Club makes its way into The Great Unknown, Miki wakes from a nap...
...and finds that Taromaru has left through the transom window. To say she's somewhat distraught by this development would be like saying that socks and fabric in general get snagged on my toenails. And yes, I got a shiver up my spine just like you did just now. Anyway, first Kei left her, now she's driven Taromaru off... it is a sad Miki that we see at the close of Ep04.
Intermission! We're half-way home, boys and girls, but you'd best stock up on drinks and foodstuffs, 'cuz half-way home means we've still got half of the way to go! Right, y'all ready? Let's get a move on!
Miki's still sad as Ep05 begins, but...
...we're in a happy place, at least. I think I've mentioned this one time before, but sleeveless turtlenecks make me all grrr stompa stompa. Throw in the suspenders and I think the character designer had to have grown up in the '80s. Aheh. And then a member of the walking dead decides it really likes the smell of doggiefood, and begins pounding on the door. I refuse to entertain the possibility that it is also fond of sleeveless turtlenecks and suspenders.
After Miki defends the door (aka "pushing against the boxes") for a while, the undead shopper goes away... and she begins to break down, just a bit. I suppose she has good reason. Meanwhile, in a nearby portion of the anime...
...the School Living Club has reached the mall, and wow, what a dump. I have some questions here... like what in the world caused those two big dents about halfway up the front of the building? Do zombies have access to artillery or something? There's not a lot of "them" around... Yuri suggests that it's because it's the middle of a weekday, and maybe "they" still have some vague fragments of memories of their routines. This is actually mentioned in, I think Ep01, as the zombie soccer team still shamble around booting a ball hither and yon. So, very much like regular soccer, just with less diving.
Yuki, of course, wants to just go running in like an eight-year-old, all yells and screams and stuff like that... also of course, she's still in a dreamland where everything is happy and normal and unicorns roam the world and never mind all the broken glass and dead bodies walking around. Only the lucky find of a flier advertising a piano concert in the mall gives everybody else a reason to tell her to be quiet.
Once inside, our intrepid crew discover that, yep, there's walking dead around... not so many that they're an immediate threat, but they're there. A quick dash across the lobby brings them to the Escalator of Doom from Ep04, and... oh look, a piano! The concert must be in intermission. Yeah, that's exactly what it is.
While the rest of the Club raids a music store... indeed, the same one Miki and Kei visited at the beginning of Ep04... Kurumi heads off alone to plunder a grocery store for canned food. Before you get all verklempt about a grocery store being in a mall, there were two malls in the town where I went to grad school; one was a full-sized, full-featured mall, the other a small place that I'd term almost an indoor strip mall. That one also had the theatre department's black-box space. God, I hated that space. Just miserable to work in... sure, I was spoiled by Duck U's purpose-built black-box theatre, but still. Anyway, both malls had grocery stores in them; indeed, the one in the strip mall was probably the second-largest in town. So a school store selling weedwhackers makes no sense, but this bit actually does.
In the middle of her plundering, there's a surprise encounter with... Taromaru, who she doesn't know is named Taromaru, of course. Both characters have... um... dramatic reactions to the sudden appearance of the other. Hopefully they'll hit a clothing store so Kurumi can pick up some new underwear if you know what I mean and I think you do. After fighting with the dog over that one can on the floor, and why she's doing that when there's entire shelves chock full of canned food a couple of feet to either side of her is beyond me...
...oh crap. Again it's time for the running! There were quite a few of the shambling horrors in the place, which I just realized must smell incredible. Look at the broken doors on the frozen foods there on the left... all that stuff will have thawed and spoiled. Actually, think of all the stuff in a grocery store which will go bad, then imagine it all in one place with dozens of walking dead. You'd need a gas mask just to get past the cash registers, let alone back to the bentos. Holy crap, I just thought of something! The folks from Ben-To! just lost their reasons to fight. What a tragedy! What a loss to the world! And no, having such fighting skills as theirs is of only small advantage... do you really want to go hand-to-hand with a thing that can infect and kill you? Kurumi sure doesn't, she bugs out in a hurry. Just as Yuri and Yuki are getting worried about how long she's been gone (though the two have very different reasons for why they're worried), she and Shovel-kun return to the music store.
And Taromaru sneaks in before the security shutter is closed. Ladies and Gentlemen, the School Living Club has a new member. After a quick check to make sure he hasn't been hurt or infected, that is. Hm, that's a scary thought, animals being carriers of the zombie-making-thing. Imagine a pack of undead cats roaming the alleys looking for undead mice and undead catnip...
Our intrepid adventurers make their way to a home appliances store on the upper levels of the mall, where it's noted that there aren't many of them around. The thought is that they don't handle stairs well. Hell, with my knees I don't handle stairs well, and the walking dead are... well, dead. Shouldn't come as any surprise they can't manage stairs, really. Yuri grabs a Emergency Alarm... pull the string and it triggers a piercing scream. "To frighten off the bad guys." But... but... wait... the zombiethings are attracted by sound, not frighten them off! I'm confused! Next stop...
...clothing store! Well, of course. They're girls after all, and before anybody gets all uppity that I'd say such a sexist thing, please be aware that Yuri says exactly those words in the show. Of course we get a mini-fanservice fashion show for the next few minutes. In lieu of doing the work of stitching all the pictures together myself, I'll just link to this gallery and let you look at them there. Don't worry, I'll wait. You back? Cool, I went off and took a nap while you were gone, great timing. Once they're done playing dressup, they head up to the fourth floor, and at this point in the show I missed something subtle the first time I watched. Here, lemme set this up for you. The gang is climbing the stairs up to the fourth floor, and we get a shot of their shadows passing a map on the wall.
I've edited the sequence into two pictures, but do you see what I'm talking about? No? Let me make it a little more clear then... whose shadow is missing? While your blood runs slightly chilly and you wonder just what's going on with Megu-nee anyway, let's get back to the story. The main story. Y'know, the one with the idiots in the shopping mall. Aforementioned idiots finish climbing the stairs to the fourth floor which seems to have a movie theater... seems to be an odd place for such a thing, but who am I to judge?, and...
...Taromaru starts barking like a madman. Dog. Mad dog. Taromaru is rabid? Didn't they describe the "zombie virus" in World War Z as being a form of rabies? OMG Taromaru is Patient Zero, the index case, the whole cause of the End of the World! As I've mentioned before, I'm watching the series only as I do the writeups, so I literally don't know what's going to happen, and I'm going to just totally freak out if it really turns out that Taromaru is the original vector. But he probably isn't. Meanwhile, in another part of the anime...
...Miki thinks she hears a dog barking. As opposed to a dog singing Duran Duran songs. A dog reciting the Gettysburg Address. From total despondency, she's suddenly showing signs of life again. But then the barking stops, and she doesn't know what to do. She listens more, but after not hearing anything for a long time, slides back into a depressed, immobile state. Kinda like me for 11 months, except she looks better in a garter belt and skirt. Back with the gang...
...Kurumi thought she heard something, like a chair falling over. Combined with Taromaru's rendition of Hold Back The Rain, they're thinking that maybe the dog's owner is nearby, a survivor that needs to be rescued. While that's pleasant thinking, why don't they consider that Taromaru is barking because there's zombies around and maybe one just bumped into something? Because there weren't many walking dead on the last floor...
Oh boy, there's a Black Sheep / Fido / Les Raisins de la Mort triple-feature! Sweet! Kurumi is positive she heard the sounds from in there, so they've gotta check it out. More correctly, Kurumi will check out the inside, Yuri will keep Yuki from doing something stupid, and Taromaru will recite poetry.
While none of this is actually voiced in the show, here is Kurumi's real and true thoughts at this moment: "A barricade! The survivor must have piled all this stuff in front of the door, then closed it and put the broom across the handles to keep the walking dead out of the movie theater! That's pure genius, we need this person to join the School Living Club!" That's the only reason I can think of that she would move everything out of the way, remove the broom and open the door. For someone who has shown herself to be capable and intelligent, this seems to be somewhat less than brilliant...
Oh god, they're showing From Justin to Kelly in here! What sort of madness is this?
Even worse than than a Norbit / Freddy Got Fingered double-header, it's a whole movie theater filled with movie critics! Or the walking dead, one of the two. It's kinda hard to tell them apart, truth be told. Be glad I didn't say "anime bloggers", because nothing could be worse than that. Come to think of it, you could replace either movie critics or walking dead with "anime bloggers" and "nothing could be worse than that" would still apply.
Surviving a zombie apocalypse requires great cardio, because there's a lot of running involved. Running to avoid them. Running to bypass them. Running to get away from them. Run run run run run, it's all running. Kurumi has not much of a head-start on them, but zombies in Gakkou Gurashi don't run. If it was just her, she'd be safe no problem. But it's not just her. It's also Yuri, who is capable enough.
And it's Yuki, who's little mind appears to have just snapped like a twig. It goes without saying that she's just seen the walking dead shambling towards her, and all the intricate mental games she's been playing to not deal with the end of the world has just gone in the trash can.
As the School Living Club runs and runs and runs, and oh look there's only three people, Yuki keeps asking what's going on, and Kurumi keeps saying "everything is fine, just run" as they run willy-nilly hither and yon...
...and they run right past the hallway that leads to Miki's hideaway. It takes her but a few moments to make her decision. She sweeps everything into her backpack, hesitates for a second when she sees Kei's Discman then takes it, too, and she's out the door. But was the time it took too long?
The group has reached the top of the escalator that leads to the lobby and past that, the car and safety. The amount of walking dead in the lobby has increased, to the point where Kurumi is concerned. They can't stay there, though, because the horde behind them is closing in. Yuki's not going to be any help, clearly. Yuri's no combatant either. What she can do, though, is create a distraction: she throws a handful of glowsticks into the corner of the lobby, drawing away a good amount of them. Kurumi then simply says, "follow me", and...
(ding!) Path is clear! The merry band has a clear path and a quick sprint gets them out of the lobby and to safety! They hop in the car and pull away, heading back to the school and the familiar halls they call home.
OR, they hole up a small room where they can let Yuki rest for a little while? The hell? Just a couple more moments and they'd be safe and sound! Yuki's running a fever, and we see she's having flashbacks, probably false memories, of her classmates all turning into undead in front of her, but she could be having those in the car just as easily as in the room, right? While she sleeps, Kurumi talks about what she saw in the movie theater and makes Yuri pinky-swear to "do what needs to be done" if Kurumi gets infected. And then Yuki wakes up, and the group heads to the car. Meanwhile...
...Miki finds one of the glowsticks Yuri threw (and dropped) at the top of the escalator. There really was someone here! Except she's nowhere near as brave or prepared as Kurumi, and the walking horrors are massing at the bottom again. She's not trapped exactly, but it's not a clear road either. Back at the car...
...Yuki is insisting that she's heard someone calling from inside the mall, and she's getting quite energetic about it all. Of course, nobody else heard anything. Except Taromaru. He wriggles out of Yuki's arms, goes all barky and runs back into the mall. Yuki follows. Kurumi's thoughts are obvious: "I'm going to get eaten for this idiot" and runs in after them. Back inside...
...Miki was out of options. The horde at the top of the escalator had closed in, but halfway down she realized that zombies had begun to come UP the escalator as well. So she jumped over the edge onto the piano, with a thump. Of course, this draws more undead towards her... one of whom was probably a punk rocker because he leans hard on the keyboard, making even more noise, drawing even more walking dead. All she can do is scream for help.
The good news is that there's other people there! She really wasn't hearing things! And Taromaru! The bad news is that there's not an army of them armed with broadswords and assault rifles. And then...
...oh dear. A shapely, stocking-clad ankle is grabbed by a zombie with an appreciation for legs, Miki goes down, and surprisingly, it's YUKI that leads the charge to rescue her. What she's planning on doing is beyond everybody, but here you go. Kurumi goes after her, but there's way too many for her to take on with a shovel.
It falls to Yuri to cause another distraction. Yep, three screaming rape alarms makes a good distraction for things attracted by sound. For the record? Holy crap, they were loud... I had to turn the volume down in fear of drawing the ire of my neighbors, and I don't particularly crank the volume on anything.
And Yuki is the first to reach Miki. With Kurumi clearing the way of any random stragglers that get in their path, they're home free. You may notice some distortion in this screencap; that's the visual representation of the screamer alarms. It looks better in motion, believe me.
As the group exits the mall, supply run finished ("we got a girl!"), they head for the car... and Miki asks if they had seen another girl? When the reply comes back negatively, she turns and looks back at the mall and thinks to herself, "I'm a little late, but I'm leaving too, Kei." Hey, is someone missing from the happy band, hmm? Fade to black, roll credits.
Holy crap, that was a helluva couple o' episodes! Pretty much anything you could possibly want from a zombie show, and easily better than anything High School of the Dead coughed up, that's for sure. There was even some fanservice! What more do you need? Oh. Me, finishing up these writeups faster? That's fair, I'll get right on it!
Next episode: more zombies!!!
(note: this is the first 5000+ word post at The Pond, beating out Rio Rainbow Gate Ep14 for the record of "longest post" by somewhere around a thousand words.)
But seriously this show seems to be made of pure WTF-sauce. I'm glad you're doing these recaps. There's no way I'd be able to actually watch. Too many zombies.
Posted by: GreyDuck at October 05, 2015 07:43 AM (rX7cO)
Posted by: Ben at October 05, 2015 07:57 AM (S4UJw)
Ask yourself this, Ben:
Posted by: Rick C at October 05, 2015 06:30 PM (FvJAK)
Either that or Yuki can see ghosts. I guess that's possible, too.
Posted by: Ben at October 05, 2015 08:16 PM (S4UJw)
Posted by: ReallyBored at October 06, 2015 11:33 AM (ulGxe)
Posted by: Wonderduck at October 06, 2015 04:56 PM (a12rG)
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