by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Kurumi has been infected and is flailing around in agony. Yuri is overwhelmed by the prospect of having to fulfill her promise to kill Kurumi under such circumstances. And Miki, despite successfully locating the medicine which might save Kurumi, is cornered in a room by zombies, much the same way that she was cornered at the mall. Zombies are also swarming through the halls and roof that were once safe zones, and thanks to them the power is now out (perhaps for good). As bleak situations go for the School Living Club, this is approaching a worst-case scenario.
But unlike a lot of zombie apocalypse titles, School-Live! has never been fatalistic or nihilistic. It has always focused on finding ways to live even when death is (literally) all around, and the one character who has always embodied that is Yuki, the crazy and pathetic one who has nonetheless always found some way to keep everyone's spirits up. Hence it quite fitting that she looks like she is going to end up being the one to save them all – not just their spirits, but their very lives, too. The way episode 11 builds in that direction is both beautiful and emotional.
And yes, that means that Yuki is finally coming to accept what has happened and thus break out of her delusion. It showed signs of weakening at the end of last episode, with her allowing herself to see that the window was actually broken, and cracks big-time when she is beset by the zombie of one of her former classmates (from episode 1), who has joined others in streaming past the collapsed first-floor barricade. As she helps snap Miki out of her shock and get them both into a locked room, she seems to be accepting at least the threat if not the full reality of the zombies. After Miki leaves to go for the medicine, Yuki finally accepts that she has to take action, too. Under the guidance of Megumi's voice (significantly, she no longer is visually part of the delusion except in a flashback), she goes to the fateful door on the way to the broadcast room – and this time, she takes that necessary step through, crying even as she stands in the bloodstain presumably from Megumi being overtaken by the zombies, and says her good-bye. It is a scene which had to happen eventually, which the series has carefully been building towards for several episodes now, and its timing and meaning on both character development and dramatic levels lend it even more impact than you might initially expect.
The episode isn't not all about Yuki, though; not by far. Yuri's part is comparatively simple and ordinary: she has to struggle with whether or not to kill Kurumi to keep her “don't let me become a zombie” pledge. (This is, perhaps, the most ordinary part of the episode, as we have seen this kind of scene many, many times before.) Despite only thrashing around in the present time, Kurumi also gets a moment in the flashback where she and Yuri contemplate whether or not the zombies have any consciousness left, and how she hopes they don't given how many she has personally taken down. Miki's time is much more involved, as she uses everything at her disposal – Kei's CD player, objects skittering across the floor, even Kurumi's shovel – to make her way to the underground shelter. She does ultimately have to face zombie-Megumi, and proves true to what she said last episode: she was the only one of them who could take Megumi out. Turns out that the medicine was in a case in Megumi's journal-writing room (which was, as I expected, in the shelter), and hand prints on the case suggest that Megumi was, indeed, trying to get to the medicine but tragically didn't make it in time. The problem for Miki is that zombies fuddling around on the roof managed to set the generators on fire (as well as themselves), which knocked out the power, and the emergency power in the shelter kicked on with a siren which attracted the zombies, thus boxing her in. But given that Yuki was headed to the broadcast room, that could also be an indicator of what Yuki could do next episode to draw the zombies away.
Under other circumstances I might accuse the writing of stretching the story a little here so that the episode ended at a dramatic moment, and indeed, this is the only episode which starts with a flashback (even though it only lasts about 30 seconds). However, on reflection just about every single scene was necessary in its own way, and that leaves things almost flawlessly set up for a strong, satisfying finish. The storytelling elements in play here are by no means original, but they deliver nonetheless, and at the end deliver hard.
School-Live! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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