The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

School Days

Title: School Days
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: TNK
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 3 July 2007 – 27 Sept 2007

Synopsis: Itou Makoto is an ordinary high school student. On the way to school every day, he rides the train together with a shy but beautiful girl, Katsura Kotonoha. He takes a picture of her on his cell phone, and secretly admires her from afar. However, his classmate, Saionji Sekai, finds out about his crush on Kotonoha, and get them together. Before Makoto’s first date with Kotonoha, Sekai kisses him before boarding the train home, much to his astonishment. Thus, with each character holding a different expression on his or her face, the story begins.

The Highlights:
Kotonoha: Slightly creepy.
Makoto: The dregs of human society.
Camera angles: Ridiculous.
Plot: Escalates quickly… too quickly.
Setsuna: More screen time, please.
Nice Boats: Two.

When I first picked up School Days, I thought to myself, “The directors of this show are either absolutely retarded, or complete geniuses.” Turns out, they were the latter.

Indeed, I used to think there was simply no justification for a School Days anime. First of all, it’s based off an eroge, which usually dooms an anime to failure. Secondly, School Days the game was fully animated, with more than 20 different endings, with each full path spanning roughly around six or seven anime episodes. So why? Why are they making an anime?

That question wasn’t answered until the gut-wrenching ending of this 12-episode anime. The first eleven episodes, in my opinion, weren’t completely worthless, as some would like to dismiss. There was never true comedy in this series, rather, hate and resentment is built up from the very beginning. Makoto is purposefully depicted as a heartless womanizer, in order to make absolutely sure he draws zero sympathy from the audience when, inevitably, his downfall comes.

That doesn’t mean the first six or so episodes of the show are good. Mind you, I’ve had one of the best laughs ever watching the show (laughing at how bad it was the first half). It’s not even eroge adaptation standards. It’s lower that that, but that’s mainly because Makoto hogs too much screentime, and we don’t get to see a lot of the girls.

Come second half, the show becomes much better. Suddenly, I’m not laughing anymore. My expression becomes one of utter amazement as I watch the turn of events unfold. And (after waiting three weeks for the finale due to the “Nice Boat” fiasco) I was treated with one of the best endings to any piece of written or animated work I have ever seen.

The setup of School Days can be cynically compared to a Shakespearian tragedy, with the first half establishing the characters without much plot. Then, a key event happens that kicks the plot into motion, and by the end of the show, everyone has changed drastically in some way that can never be reversed. This show somehow manages to get the viewer involved. You see Kotonoha’s transformation from a shy, busty girl into a love-crazed fanatic, and feel a small chill down your spine (or, at least, I did). You see Makoto on screen and you feel like leaving the room and shooting someone. You want to slap some common sense into Sekai. You wish Setsuna could have her own series. Et cetera, et cetera. Ultimately, the characters are nothing near lovable, but the more loathing you feel for them, the better the show becomes.

Finally, a quick word: the anime plot deviates tremendously from the eroge plot, drawing from around seven different branches of the game. The ending is one that is originally written and beautifully executed, something even veterans of the game did not expect at all. Even if you have played the game, the anime is still worth a watch. The ending is one that will go down in history, and the series itself will be known as one of the best eroge adaptations ever made.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Akira

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