Do you love school so much, you wish you could live there? Meet Yuki and the other wacky members of the Living At School Club! For these kids, school life never ends. A bomb could go off outside, and they probably wouldn’t even notice! Ha ha… n-not that something like that would happen! This is just a normal story about the crazy everyday life of four girls!
Okay so every preview I saw of this show already spoiled the twist, the manga started two years ago, and it’s just the first episode of a whole show, so here you go. It’s a zombie apocalypse show, and everything that happened was all in Yuki’s head.
After watching this episode, I had to go look at the manga. Not because I was so excited by the first episode that I couldn’t wait another week, but because I was genuinely confused where this was going. It felt more like a one-shot. I mean, the episode is non-stop wacky comedy antics with all the usual cliches and extreme overreactions and explaining-the-joke. Then you follow that up by showing that most of those characters are dead and that they’re living in a zombie-infested wasteland. And then… what? A light-hearted zombie apocalypse comedy? Pulling a 180 and turning into grimdark tragedy? Trying to awkwardly mix the two? Either way, the first episode couldn’t possibly be representative, so I was left wondering what kind of audience they were trying to draw in. So to the manga I went.
Reading the manga, I reached two conclusions. First, the manga is actually pretty good. Second, the first anime episode is a horrible adaptation.
The entire episode covers just the first chapter of the manga. That’s a pace of about a minute per page. To fill in the gaps, they grabbed some jokes from later chapters, added a bunch of original characters, and put in a whole extra arc about an escaped dog.
Here’s the thing: Gakkou Gurashi is not a comedy. It’s a survival drama with light-hearted elements. The jokes are there to relieve some of the tension and help the kids deal with the situation, but they are most definitely not the main focus. It’s also, to my relief, not just an edgy “watch cute girls suffer” story. It treads a pretty thin line, but it does a decent job at it.
So back to the beginning. The first chapter of the manga goes by pretty fast. It takes under 20 pages to get to the big reveal. It spends most of that time introducing the characters and school setting, and most of the gags are just single-panel deals. Then you see the ruined classroom, go “Ohh…”, and the real story begins.
The anime stretches all of this out so much it gets tedious. Here’s the thing: the stuff in this episode doesn’t appeal to the same kind of people as the rest of the story. If you like cute-girls-doing-stuff comedies, you may be put off by the serious stuff that follow. If you like drama, you may be put off by 20 minutes of generic comedy. At best, you’d have to be told “just sit through it, gets better”, which is never the sign of a good first episode.
Even though the ‘real’ show hasn’t started yet, I’m still worried. If the anime staff is willing to make major changes, and these are the kind of changes they make, there’s a good chance they’ll screw up the rest as well. I’ll just continue following the manga instead.
First Episode Rating: 5/10
What would it take for me to watch another episode? Not padding every episode like it has to pay by the manga page.