by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 3 of
The prevailing supposition about the status of the teacher Megumi is that the Megumi we see in the present-time scenes is just a figment of Yuki's imagination. That makes episode 3 a curious episode, as much of it is a flashback to the beginning of the zombie outbreak from Megumi's point of view, one which indicates that Megumi did, at the very least, survive the initial wave of zombification. However, nothing in the present-time scenes towards the end of the episode dissuades from previous evidence that she is no longer physically around: in not one instance does any character other than Yuki initiate a response to her or her actions. And in ghost stories, that's always damning evidence. (There is also the fact that what looks to be the same kind of ribbon that Megumi wore is fluttering from the cross in the garden back in episode 1.)
The real meat of the episode, though, is at least a partial reveal on how the whole zombie apocalypse situation got started. The day in question started very ordinarily for new teacher Megumi and progresses through her interacting with each of the three girls known to be at the school when the incident started: Yuki in the context of after-school tutoring, Kurumi in the context of romantic advice, and Yuri in the context of a visit to the rooftop garden. As with most zombie tales, troubling signs that something bad is in the works appear early on when Megumi ignores an email from her mother while commenting that there seems to be more emergency vehicles out than normal, and the hints only progress as Megumi goes through her paces. What saves her, Yuki, and Yuri is that they are all on the roof when the zombie plague reaches the school, and Kurumi only barely makes it to the roof with her injured senpai/love interest in tow. A following scene confirms what episode 2 suggested: that Kurumi did have to put him down when he went zombie.
The preview for episode 4 indicates that we will see how Miki, who did not start out with the other girls, came into the picture next episode, but for now at least we have the basis of how things got started. Based on how Megumi is portrayed during the flashbacks, and how the girls indicate that they feel about her in the present-time scenes at the end of the episode, I suspect (and note that this is not based on any exposure to spoilers!) that we will eventually see that Megumi, who is told by multiple people that she may not be cut out to be a teacher, truly rose to the occasion in the wake of the initial zombie onslaught and rallied the girls, probably including setting up the barricades and the School Life Club, before losing her own life. If so, that will make for a good story. We also see here the first indications about how the childish Yuki might have gotten to the point of going delusional.
Oh, and I forgot to comment last time that both the opener and closer's visuals have updated slightly to reflect the zombie apocalypse reality. If you started skipping them after episode 1, give them another look.
Beyond choosing Megumi as the viewpoint character, nothing that this episode does is all that original, but it is still done well. It shows that episode 2 was no fluke in getting the tone exactly right, it uses pacing quite effectively, and even the jarring transition back into the girls acting more casually in the present-day scenes still has the effects of implying how much worse the girls' situation might have been if not for Megumi and laying on some bitter irony. So far this is a far more carefully and skillfully-crafted project than it will probably ever get full credit for being.
School-Live! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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