As a preface, this review is not spoiler free. However, even reading through spoilers might hook you into watching this show.
Gakkou Gurashi centers around the “School Living Club”, a club based on the idea of loving school so much, you make it your actual home. As such, Yuki Takeya, along with her fellow club members, Yuuri, Miki and Kurumi, enjoy their happy-go-lucky everyday life at school. This is where everything starts crumbling down though, as this guise is only a fabrication from Yuki’s mind!
The school she loves so much, is the girls’ last broken-down shelter against a zombie infested world. And their chances of survival are slim. Worst part is, the other girls have to disguise this apocalypse as a colorful highschool life so Yuki doesn’t suffer a mental breakdown.
The show’s most unique theme is not the zombie apocalypse in the background, or the psychological illnesses sprinkled in with the characters, but rather, just how much of a by-the-books moe show it actually is. Or at least, needs to be, to keep Yuki happy.
After the initial plot twist, the show carries on just as any other slice of life anime would, but never actually feels like one.
To elaborate, a cute girls doing cute things anime would hold you by the hand, and gently lead you to a moe Nirvana. Gakkou Gurashi, on the other hand, keeps you on the edge of your seat, always gritting your teeth in preparation for when the next twist punches you square in the face.
Something I’ve noticed a little while ago is just how similar this show is to “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni”, yet at the same time, takes a totally different direction with the idea.
Both anime start of portraying a group of friends enjoying their school life, and if you ignore Higurashi’s opening scene, they both seem quite normal. That is, before both shows reveal what is actually going on underneath the whole slice of life facade in the first couple of episodes.
Where Higurashi transitions into a full-fledged horroe/mystery show, Gakkou Gurashi keeps its identity as a moe blob to the bitter end, only teasing you with the possibility of all hell breaking loose at the slightest touch.
This could end up making sitting through the whole show jarring if you go in expecting a zombie post-apocalyptic horror, only to leave with a cute girls doing cute things anime.
If you’re just looking for cute girls, then this show has you covered. The character designs are gorgeous and the animation feels fluid aswell. The level of attention to detail is off the charts; things like perspective and what characters stare at in every scene are always accounted for. Things like visual metaphors and hints are abundant, yet not needlessly complex.
I’d personally recommend this show to everyone, even if solely based on the merit of how distinctive it is from literally anything you’ve watched. It’s also a high quality show with passionate people behind it, and that really gets across.