School-Live! Episode 7
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
The timing of episode 7 is not crystal-clear. My educated guess, though, is that it is still part of the extended flashback and thus happens shortly prior to where the story stood at the beginning of the series, as most of what it shows suggests that Miki is still settling in to life with the School Living Club. If this is, indeed, the case then the title of the next episode (“Future”) and the sense of closure that this one provides about bringing the girls together both suggest that the story will move forward from here.
Not that going into detail about how things came to be what they were in the first two episodes has at all a bad approach, or that there has been any sense at all of time being wasted. In fact, I have had no impatience whatsoever with how the series has handled the story, mostly because – let's face it – this is a story where the girls' future prospects are bleak. Hence seeing them try to live as best as they can under the circumstances provides a welcome distraction from the harsher reality. That's why the more light-hearted aspects that most episodes (including this one) have are less a detraction from the more somber and serious aspects and more a rebellion against them. At one point in Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers, Adlet Meyer insists that he is the Strongest Man in the World because he can smile even in the face of the gravest peril. This is a similar situation.
Although the series has touched before on Yuki's delusions not being entirely flawless despite how strong they are, this episode emphasizes that more strongly than before. Her dreams harken back to Megumi and Yuri's original proposal to create the School Living Club as a means to cope, and she seems to have a vague sense that something awful has happened that she's forgetting. The episode's best and most potent scene comes right before the midway point, where Yuki stands at the door beyond where Megumi met her end and is comforted by the spirit of/her image of Megumi, who reassures her that her presence will always be there and that she must talk to others and keep a journal to make sure she remembers – and then Megumi is implied to walk through that door and close it again. The emotional impact of the moment hits harder on a second viewing, after one has had a chance to digest what all of the visual cues in the scene mean and what its long-term implications may be; Megumi's speech is, after all, Yuki's path back to sanity. Even if one takes the most cynical view and looks at it as a person's psyche trying to sort itself out, it still carries weight, and the interesting musical selection backing it is surprisingly effective in its unconventional approach.
Miki also finds a mysterious key labeled “Sakura” which belonged to Megumi and some worries get exchanged about the weather and whether or not anyone else is left out there, but otherwise the second half takes a more light-hearted swing, with Yuki's newest proposal being to make and send letters. How to send the letters eventually involves using a leftover helium tank to blow up balloons, to which the letters are attached, although Kurumi does comically get the notion in her head of capturing and using pigeons for that purpose, too. Being able to send a message to Kei in that fashion gives Miki the closure she needs about Kei, and in a sense sending out that letter is akin to the practice of floating little boats to honor the dead. And while the girls never bring up this point, in a practical sense such an effort is a great way to advertise their presence should anyone actually be out there looking for survivors.
This episode also sees an entirely new closer and some minor but important updates to the visuals of the opener. More importantly, though, it does not falter one bit in anything that it does right.
School-Live! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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