The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

School Days

Title: School Days
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: TNK
Format: 12 episodes
Date: 3 July 2008 – 27 Sept 2008

Synopsis: Itou Makoto, an ordinary high school student, notices a shy yet beautiful girl who rides the same train as him day by day and begins to have an infatuation for her. Her name is Katsura Kotonoha and takes a picture of her on his cell phone. After his classmate, Saionji Sekai, sees the picture, Makoto decides to have her help him break the ice with Katsura. Saionji agrees immediately, despite the fact that she has feelings for him. A story of heartbreaks, betrayals and backstabbing of life-changing proportions ensues.

The Highlights
Comedic scenes: Purely unnecessary.
Characters: To watch them is to be frustrated, to the very end.
Final episode: A shocker of an episode to an otherwise bland love story gone wrong.
Itou Makoto: A revelation in the anime world… for the wrong reasons.

When is the last an anime actually made you feel frustrated and angsty even before the entire series ended? I can tell you that many would say KimiNozo, including myself… but that series may be usurped of its title of the anime with the most amount of angst. Readers, allow me to introduce School Days, where you’ll meet characters so frustrating to watch that you’ll have a horrid time keeping up with their incomprehensible behavior. School Days is originally an Japanese adult visual novel that involves interacting with a number of school girls who have a thing for him and determining the choices he makes, resulting in either good or bad ending.

I’m indifferent to the fact that School Days is an adaptation of an adult dating sim, and I’m only giving it a chance because I’ve seen a few instances of success within the genre. Guess what, it really doesn’t turn out all that well. The show starts out on a mediocre note, with the typical harem setting where the male character Makoto is surrounded by a horde of girls who, one way or another, will get involved with him. It’s a tried and true formula, which, with any luck, will pull off something new and interesting… and it does. However, it leaves much to be desired.

The biggest problem I have with this series is its characters. They are fleshed out in terms of their emotions, but there are numerous times where I can’t fathom the rationale or logic behind their actions. Their actions in the later stage will contradict their earlier ones, leaving me go “huh!?” for the wrong reasons. Furthermore, it seems that almost everyone in School Days is either heartless or a hypocrite. Save the three main characters, the supporting cast are just filler characters that deserve to be forgotten.

The three characters I want to highlight are Kotonoha, Sekai and of course Makoto. Kotonoha is a character who becomes increasingly pitiful as the series progresses. The thing is, I can’t seem to put my finger on her insistence behavior towards the whole situation. The series doesn’t illustrate why she does what she does and therefore makes it hard to believe her actions as one of the pivotal characters. The same goes for Sekai, where I am left begging for the reasons as to why her decisions, which are important to the overall story, are not being explained enough to be understood. The last character I want to highlight is Makoto who I believe has arguably become public enemy no. 1 among anime fans. Makoto is an incorrigible character who is so heartless that one would have a hard time just keeping up with his selfish ways. I do admit that his passive attitude towards the girls around him and aloofness grates on my nerves, but the real problem here is the credibility behind his thinking.

The creators do a good job portraying the different emotional rollercoaster rides each character goes through, but they don’t go enough in explaining how their character degenerate from innocent adolescent people to those with no sense of conscience or sympathy. School Days may have been the hottest talk in anime circles for some time, but to me it’s just because of its over-the-top final episode which, in comparison to the entire series, is just like giving morphine to a mortally injured man. It is merely an overhyped episode to an otherwise bland story with inplausible characters which drags down the plot along. To all the viewers, you can opt to watch the School Days for its ending but don’t be too surprised by how frustrating it gets once the cogwheel starts turning.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: AC

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