kurumi ebisuzawa

Voices at the End of the World: Gakkou Gurashi

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“There are days when nothing goes right. There are days when you stumble and fall. There are days when you just want to cry. To cry a lot. To sleep a lot. Or even to eat a lot. It’s alright as long as you pick yourself up again. Until the day you no longer draw breath.”

-Gakkou Gurashi, Vol. 5, Ch. 28

Mild manga spoilers to follow.

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To Megu-nee, With Love

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“I am Sakura Megumi, I was the Japanese teacher at Megurigaoka Private High School . . . no, I am still the Japanese teacher. Even if this building no longer functions as a school.”

-from Megumi Sakura’s journal, School-Live!, Episode 3

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A School Living Club, Not a School Survival Club

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“Then, if we stay together, we’ll be immortal!”

-Yukari Hinata, Yuyushiki, Episode 5

Nearly all high school slice-of-life stories – K-ON!, Yuyushiki, Hidamari Sketch, Azumanga Daioh, even Free! immediately come to mind – pit the looming implications of graduation against the every day life of series participants. High school is a perfect fishbowl setting that allows for exploration in friendship group dynamics while the audience puts on their rose-tinted nostalgia glasses and celebrates their personal youth through a happier framework.

Graduation becomes something often dreaded by in-universe characters, as it will inevitably tear them apart. While they scramble about organizing their future plans, graduation to the viewer becomes the final curtain that closes across the stage, effectively ending the narrative.

As the audience is presumably watching a slice of the characters’ lives, the implication is that life goes on after that series or manga volume, just as their life continued – or will continue – following high school. It is this structure that School-Live! plays with.

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School-Live! and Creating Dramatic Tension

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In another series, Kurumi Ebisuzawa may have had her wish fulfilled. Joining the track team to pursue a relationship with her senior – as much as one can pursue a romantic relationship by staring from a distance – Kurumi scores a chance to make her romantic dreams come true when that same senior meets up with her on the school rooftop.

The scene is perfectly crafted. As the two look over the railing at the sun setting over their town, the atmosphere is ripe for a confession.

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