Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The girls finally arrive at college, but their reception at St. Isidore University isn't as warm as they were hoping. It turns out that the survivors at the school have divided into two factions – the Militants and the Circle. Initially rejected by the Militants, the School Living Club ends up with their college counterparts, but with the information they've brought from their high school, things may not stay this way for long.
Having “graduated” and completed their graduation tour, the girls of the School Living Club have finally arrived at college – St. Isidore University, to be precise, one of the three survivor strongholds listed in the secret manual they found at school. Not only does this mean that the girls have proven themselves capable not just of survival in a protected area, but of making it safely through the outside world, it also gives them a chance to possibly relax their guard a little, introducing them to fellow survivors who are presumably older and possibly more mature.
While it of course isn't going to be that easy for the girls, it is interesting that all of the survivors at St. Isidore also appear to be students – the faculty and staff doesn't seem to have made it to safety. While this (and the fact that most of the survivors are female) is likely due to the magazine the manga runs in and its target audience, it's still worth considering the possibility that it is also relevant to the story's world. Thus far the only adult we've seen truly survive for any amount of time has been Megu-nee, and ultimately she ended up sacrificing her humanity to save her students. Is that what's been happening in general – adults giving up in order that the children can survive? Since the lone survivor of the elementary school was Ruu, not a teacher, and St. Isidore appears to be exclusively student survivors, it is definitely worth considering – and it may have some serious implications for the final stronghold of the Randall Corporation, which by definition should be staffed with grown-ups.
Speaking of implications, I remain not fully convinced that Ruu is truly present and not a figment of Rii's guilty imagination. We don't see the college students interact with her, or even comment much on her presence, and it's primarily Rii and Yuki who seem to physically handle her and who talk to her the most. Given Yuki's fragility, she'd definitely be the most willing to play along with Rii, and Miki's lack of interaction with Ruu hearkens back to her treatment of the phantom Megu-nee. Since it is unlikely that the Militants will play Rii's game, it seems possible that when they finally decide to try to steal the School Living Club back from the Circle we'll get a solid answer.
Of the School Living Club girls, Kurumi certainly seems the most likely to defect to the Militants, or at least to broker some sort of deal. The Militants operate under a strict set of rules, including full-body bite checks in a sealed room whenever someone returns from the outside and the maintenance of a “grave” for the infected, a sealed-off portion of campus where presumably any new infected are dumped. Unfortunately it looks as if, like tick checks when you come in from outside in a Lyme-infected region, bite checks are not infallible, and the Militants and the Circle may have to come together sooner than anyone anticipated. Given that the School Living Club has, and continues to, successfully mixed practical knowledge with the illusion of a normal life, this may be the most desirable outcome – they've proven that with the right attitude and mix of people, life is possible in the land of the undead. If nothing else, no one at the university seems to have gotten their hands on a manual similar to the one from the high school, which means that the Club has a vital piece of information with which to broker a deal.
Of course, Kurumi herself also has a secret she hasn't let anyone in on – as we saw in the previous volume, her treatment with the “cure” has rendered her essentially invisible to zombies. What this information can ultimately be used for feels like a risky answer – if the shot is administered to a non-infected person, will it simply zombify them? How far gone can a person be for the shot to still work? Given that Miki may have found another survivor who could help answer this question, it feels like there's a lot to be learned on the university campus yet.
This isn't quite as compelling as previous volumes of School-Live!, but that doesn't stop it from still being good. The introduction of the new, potentially permanent, cast members slows the action down a little, but by the end of the book, things are getting ready to heat up again. Now that we're two volumes beyond the anime's end (although there are enough differences to make starting the manga from the beginning a good idea regardless of whether you've seen it or not), answers are starting to be dangled ever closer to our reach. If the girls can keep themselves together both literally and figuratively, there may be a way out of the crisis yet.
Overall : B+
Story : B
Art : A-
+ New setting means more potential cast members, Miki uncovers some interesting information
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