Deception is an infamously difficult trick to pull off. Luring the viewer into a false sense of security only to completely subvert their expectations is especially difficult in anime, where visual hallmarks and predictable tropes have become so cemented in the medium that it’s almost dangerous to try something new. School Live! valiantly tramples over this assumption with bloody, adorable footprints and a delightful spring in its step.
Starting off as a traditional slice-of-life comedy, it quickly twists into an apocalyptic tale reminiscent of High School of the Dead and 28 Days Later. At the centre of this graphic tale is Yuki Takeya, who loves school – perhaps too much. She darts across the corridors with reckless abandon to greet fellow students and teachers. It’s cute to the point of annoyance, but that’s because it’s a coping mechanism for living in a battered, broken world. With everything she knows gone, poor Yuki has totally lost it.
Yuki and her somewhat more capable, less insane friends are members of the School Living Club. Why? Because in School Live! leaving school grounds will more than likely lead to being devoured alive by the undead. They live, eat and sleep in a shell of their former school. It’s a brilliant setting, with broken windows and bloodied hallways juxtaposed wonderfully with the otherwise bright and colourful aesthetic.
All of this makes for an entertaining horror comedy with strong characters, a distinctive setting and a unique combination of thematic elements we haven’t seen before. It’s also genuinely scary at times, made all the better by a cast of characters you care for. Reviewed by Jordan King
Release date: 24 July 2017
From: Manga UK
Format: DVD/Blu-ray Collector’s Ed. Combi
Price (RRP): £49.99
Age rating: 15