Beyond sympathy and sadness in Gakkou Gurashi!

I always struggle to explain why I like something. For example, I adored Space Patrol Luluco but only managed to write 1700 words about it. Even then, much of that review simply complained about bad reference humor. I couldn’t produce a clear, glowing endorsement. Meanwhile, I ranted for 3700 words about Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria, perhaps my least favorite television show ever (oh, and I was writing about just the first episode). I am simply much better at criticizing than praising. That asymmetry makes me a little sad.

When I want to write about a show that I actually enjoyed, I often disappoint myself. I waste hours of daydreaming, desk-warming time at work struggling to think of something, anything specific to praise and can only come up with something vague like “it was good because it was good.” It bothers me that I can exhaustively justify my dislikes but cannot apply the same rigor to my likes. I can easily describe distaste. But apparently, there is no accounting for taste.

With that said, I liked Gakkou Gurashi! enough to give it a try anyway. I will take this essay as a personal challenge to try to describe something I love without defaulting to criticism or conceding to the many negative or ambivalent reviews on the internet. Though the show has plenty of flaws (the deus ex …dog… could be ridiculous), the overall experience was one of the most emotionally and thematically engaging I have had with television in years.

(English: School-Live! I’ll drop the exclamation because really, who wants to type that over and over again? Also, why not translate it as a simple “School Life?” Is “live” a verb as in “IT LIVES!” or an adjective as in “LIVE FROM NEW YORK?” Questions with no answer… it’s just a hazard of Japanese English I suppose.)

Spoiler Warning:

Gakkou Gurashi is extremely sensitive to spoilers. The less you know about it before viewing, the better. The synopsis on MyAnimeList even says too much. For the remainder of the essay, I will assume that the reader has already seen the show. I’ll hide my thesis about the show’s themes behind the jump, because I worry that even that would spoil the whole experience.

Continue reading “Beyond sympathy and sadness in Gakkou Gurashi!”