Episode 10

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 10 of
School-Live! ?

School-Live! has been a very good series up until this point, but with episode 10 (aptly-titled “Rainy Day”), it faces its stiffest storytelling challenge yet: what to do when there is no more room for frivolity, when “cute girls doing cute things” is no longer a buffer which can be used against the ugliness of the girls' situation and things going terribly, terribly wrong. Here it shows that it has studied and prepared well, for each of the several major twists that happen has been carefully prepared-for and set up by previous content. Hence no development even remotely comes out of left field, and yet the episode lacks not a bit for nail-biting intensity. I've said this before about this series, but once again, I don't think it could have done any better with this part of the story than what it does here.

The episode begins by confirming something that I have suspected ever since we got confirmation of Megumi's death: that it was, indeed, the trigger for Yuki to go delusional. (Although apparently, based on a flashback of Kurumi talking to Megumi right before it happened, she was not in a stable emotional state to begin with.) It also confirms that Megumi was lost in protecting the girls when they got caught and surrounded while trying to expand out the barricades, and that rainy weather was what probably put them in an unexpectedly difficult situation. Yuri's statement at this point about how “all our hopes and Megu-nee's love went into that barricade” seemed ominous at that point, because what would then happen, metaphorically speaking, if hope and that love both failed? By the end of the episode both of those have happened, so the final disturbing sounds and images which suggest that one of the barricades is collapsing comes as no surprise.

But a lot happens before that. When Yuki notes that Taroumaru is absent, everyone sets out on a search. Kurumi, shovel in hand, follow paw prints to a lower floor room where they haven't been before – the one mentioned in the emergency manual, in fact – where she encounters and is attacked by an apparently-infected Taroumaru. (We never see his face above his jaws, though, so we can only assume that he has been zombified. Whether this is actually censored or just a lighting trick of the episode is difficult to determine.) She traps him in a room and goes into a partly-flooded corridor to confront the zombie responsible, only to discover that it's Megumi. (A comment she makes at this point suggests that the girls were fully aware that Megumi had to have been zombified and were wondering themselves why they had not seen her.) Though prepared to strike Megumi down, she hesitates; it is Megumi, after all, even though she is a zombie now. And what happens when a person hesitates in the face of a zombie?

Yep, Kurumi is infected now, too, but apparently the transformation is not immediate. She makes it back in time to reveal what happened to the horrified Yuri and Miki, who also get to witness the start of the spread of the infection on Kurumi. But hope isn't dead, for Miki discovers in the emergency manual that the secret underground level should have medicine for treating the infection, presumably provided that it is administered in time. Hence Miki resolves to take the shovel and go after it, on the reasoning that she won't have the emotional attachment to Megumi that left Kurumi vulnerable, while Yuki shows further signs that her delusion is cracking. And so, unfortunately, is one of the barricades.

Frankly, I don't have a problem that the story leaves itself this kind of an “out” on tragedy befalling one of the girls, as the existence of such a medicine at the school is quite plausible; if it would be anywhere other than the source lab, why not in a facility specifically designed as a refuge against a biomedical calamity? That does raise the speculation that the existence of such a medicine might be why Megumi is wandering those lower corridors; she presumably knew about it but could not get to it in time. And is that late scene with her in the journal room another flashback, or is it a current-time scene suggesting that she has just enough consciousness left to realize what she's done? Given the lack of flashback haze, I'm inclined to believe the latter.

At this point I'd normally say, “if there's a flaw with the episode,” but honestly, I don't think there is one this time. Everything about the episode – the facial expressions, the emotions, the visuals, the carefully-chosen dialog, the foreshadowing, the irony, the pacing, the tone, and especially the musical score – is dead-on. Those who have been looking for meaning in the regular adjustments to the opener and closer may also note small but significant changes to both for this episode; the former adds two new images to the montage right before the second round of the chorus, ones that replace the former images of Taroumaru and Megumi's memorial cross, while the latter – which in this case is the version which shows the girls all sleeping in a ruined room – now shows Taroumaru's empty collar and leash. (Notably, though, Kurumi is still depicted.) Another detail from that closer also now springs out: when Yuri fades out at the very end, there's a knife on the chair which would have been under where her arm had been draped, and it's the same knife which she contemplates using on Kurumi if she has to.

Coincidence? I seriously doubt it.

On a lighter note, here is a live-action version of the opener made by some Japanese fans. Remarkably good!

Rating: A

School-Live! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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