Review: School Days
February 9, 2012 9 Comments
I usually keep reviews of anime and manga to the podcast, but School Days was something very different for me and I felt like I couldn’t express what I really wanted to say about this show into words, so I’ve decided to create my first review for the blog. School Days started off as any typical romance would: Boy likes girl, boy gets with girl, with the help of boy’s friend (who is also a girl), and a relationship progresses. But School Days is not your typical romance. School Days is something completely different from what I was expecting and, for better or for worse, introduced me to a twist on a genre I have taken a great liking to for a long time now. So without further a due, let’s get right down into what makes School Days what it is.
Spoiler Warning: This post will contain EXTREME spoilers for School Days
School Days is an anime done back in July 2007 based of a visual novel of the same name. It’s the story of Itou Makoto, your average ordinary high school boy. His story starts off with him taking a liking to a girl who commutes on the same train that he does, our other main character Katsura Kotonoha. It isn’t until later that his new classmate, Saionji Sekai, finds out about his new crush and decides to help him in his efforts to be with Kotonoha. Sekai introduces the two of them and over time the two decide to date. Makoto feels indebted to Sekai for what she has done in bringing Kotonoha and him together so he asks her if there is any way he can repay her for her efforts as he waits for a rendezvous with Kotonoha. Because Sekai has acquired new feelings for Makoto in her attempts to bring the two together, she plants a kiss on Makoto. This is the start of many, many things to come. Because as the story progresses, Makoto becomes swallowed up in his own sexual desires towards the other characters of the show, which leads him to dig himself into a deep, dark hole which he will never be able to climb out of.
I took a liking to this show at first. As everyone knows I’m a sucker for a good romance. And this had the beginnings of what I thought was going to be your everyday romance. I was played for a fool. This is not your ordinary romance. This is something far more than that. I got something much more painful and sinister. So let’s dive right in to what makes this show what it is, starting with:
This mother fucker right here. Itou Makoto. This guy is the epicenter of everything that goes spiraling out of control in this show. Why is that? Because this guy is a Grade – A ASSHOLE! Makoto cares nothing for the feelings of others. All he cares about is which girls is going to touch his penis next. And before anyone makes the argument “But he’s just a high school boy with normal desires”, I’m gonna have to ask you to keep it to yourself. I was once in high school myself and had some of the same desires as he did. But I wasn’t going around fucking everyone in school, not caring about what consequences it would entail. I had class, respect for women, a computer, and a right hand. But it’s not just the fact that he sleeps with everyone, it’s the fact that he does it all while pretending to care about Kotonoha and letting others tell him how to run his relationship. Makoto is not a man. He is a shell filled with nothing more than the desire for sex. He will anger you so much that you will be able to open all of your own jars.
And this is what makes him the best character in this show. It’s this characters non-stop hurtful actions that make you hate him so much. Its watching this character make an almost seamless transition from a shy boy with a crush for another girl to a prude that only thinks with his dick that makes this show what it is. Sure, he may show some remorse towards the end of the show, but it is all too late at that point. He has shown his true colors. His actions have already been set in motion and what he has done cannot be reversed. But it’s not just Makoto that gets the award for the most spineless, hateful character. It’s everyone in this show. It’s characters like Kiyoura Setsuna whose only objective was to Makoto to be with Sekai before she moved away, even if that meant sleeping with him to get him to break off his relationship with Kotonoha. It’s characters like Kato Otome, Makoto’s friend from junior high who wanted nothing more than to be with Makoto and stopped at nothing to do so, even if it meant that the “relationship” was one-sided. And it’s everyone else’s actions that cause you to show the utmost sympathy to the only kind-hearted character this show had to offer:
Watching this show makes you want to jump through your computer screen, hug her and tell her that everything is going to be ok. There were times in this show where I wanted to close my computer and never finish this show for the sole reason that someone like her had to go through the constant casting away from Makoto and bullying from everyone else. But it was her determination to say to everyone else “Makoto is my boyfriend! All of you are wrong!” that made me stick with this show. It was her hope, love, and blinded judgement of the one hurting her the most that helped me push forward to the end of this show. But those feelings were also what brought Kotonoha into a deep, deep depression, and this show to a twisted turn I didn’t expect. But before we get to that, let’s go over the events that lead to this twisted turn of events.
Now I could go into all the details that lead to this turn of events, but if you are reading this you already know what happens: the dinner, Makoto making out with Kotonoha in front of Sekai, Makoto telling Sekai to get an abortion, and Sekai finding out that Makoto threw out her dinner. All of that leads to this
My co hosts Dave, Vensito, King, and Gabe can back me up when I say that I laughed my ass off when Sekai killed Makoto. He got his just desserts. He finally got what was coming to him. Karma. But the journey doesn’t end there. Kotonoha comes to visit Makoto and finds him dead. But she shows no sadness. No tears. Nothing. Instead she texts Sekai with Makoto’s phone and tells her to meet her on the rooftop of the school. Sekai arrives there to a duffel bag sitting on the bench. As she walks towards it, Kotonoha reveals herself, asking if Sekai did go along with the abortion. Sekai gets upset with her about this, her questioning of whether she is really pregnant, and when she states that she is Makoto’s girlfriend. Sekai always wanted to be Makoto’s girlfriend. Which is odd seeing as Sekai was the one that set the two of the up to begin with. She goes on to tell Kotonoha that she did everything for Makoto’s sake. “And for what?” she asks. Kotonoha tells her to ask Makoto herself, directing her to the duffel bag. When Sekai finally looks into the duffel bag, a look of shock and horror come to her face, and she gets sick to her stomach. Kotonoha then wants to confirm whether Sekai really is pregnant. So she lunges at her with a bloody saw. As Sekai pulls out the bloody knife she used to kill Makoto, she stops her, and cuts her throat, killing her. Which leads up to two dead characters. At this point I’m pretty much in a disarray. But what happens next is what really hits me the hardest.
I almost fell out of my chair at this scene. Finding out the truth to Sekai’s pregnancy in this fashion is what got to me. And the way the show presented it was extreme. If it wasn’t for the fact that the very next scene was Kotonoha on her boat holding Makoto’s head in the middle of the ocean, I probably would have sat in a daze for a good hour. And then the ending starts to play. And I think it is over there. But then you get a little snippet at the end of the ED, with Makoto saying this:
“I noticed that she rides on the same train I take at the beginning of the Second Semster.”
“The only things that I know about her are that she’s in the class next door.”
“She seems to like books, and always reads them on the way home.”
“Although it was only a small discovery that we rode on the same train everyday, it’s just that being able to gaze at her,Katsura Kotonoha, from afar, a little bit,…”
“…brightens my School Days.”
All the while showing the rest of the characters going about their lives at school as if nothing happened, and ending on seeing a sakura leaf landing on Makoto’s cell phone sitting on the benches on the roof of the school. It has honestly been a long time since an ending to an anime hit me that hard. Not emotionally, or even a surge of excitement, but with sheer shock. As I said earlier, I thought this was going to be your everyday sort of romance. It turned out to be something entirely unexpected.
At first, I had no idea what kind of score to even give this show. I was in such a shock by what I had experienced that I literally couldn’t even sleep after finishing it. That last episode sat in the back of my mind for the next 24 hours. Finally, after a week of contemplating, I settled on a 7/10. It took some thinking to finally realize that I actually appreciated what this show had done. It is a romance like I’ve never experienced before. Romances I’ve watched before, and loved, are boy meets girl/girl meets boy, boy and girl get together, rainbows, flowers, unicorns, love, etc. All that shoujo-y stuff I love so much. This started off being like that, but took a dark turn I never saw coming. And I’m glad I was able to watch this, so I could experience a different romance that what I’m used to. And to wrap up this review, I leave you with this: