Blu-ray Review: School-Live! – The Complete Collection

Animatsu Entertainment continues their string of ‘Deluxe Edition’ Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack releases and today we take a closer look at the Blu-ray discs found within their Deluxe Edition release of School-Live! So what can expect from this series and more importantly the Blu-ray Discs contained within this release? Well let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Four girls decide to stay over at school: the energetic Yuki Takeya, the shovel-loving Kurumi, the center of the group Yūri who brings everyone together, and the spacey school adviser Megu. However, through mysterious circumstances, the girls find themselves the final survivors in a zombie attack, and continue to live at the school.

Our View:

It’s incredibly difficult to write anything about School-Live! without spoiling some elements of the overall story and as such this should be considered as your SPOILER WARNING. This aside School-Live! is not your traditional anime series and while it may look cute and moe on the outside there is a deeper story to be found with a stronger sense of purpose; and that purpose is survival. In short if you could only watch one anime series this month then School-Live! should be it; as it is deceitfully good from start to finish with its mixture of dark tones, comedy antics and cheerful moe characters.

For those unaware School-Live!, otherwise known in Japan as Gakkō Gurashi! and not to be confused with the School Idol Project anime series Love Live!, is an anime series adapted from Norimitsu Kaihō’s manga series of the same name which sees a group of high-school-girls form the ‘School Living Club’ after surviving a zombie outbreak within their hometown.  You might be thinking? So what makes School-Live! so different to any other zombie-related flick? Well what makes School-Live! special is how the story is played out to the viewer. For starters not only is the series presented in a rather ‘kawaii moe-fashion’ with its high-pitched voice actors (unless you are watching the woeful English dub by Sentai Filmworks) and colourful cast of characters but the story of School-Live begins during the middle of the apocalypse rather than at the beginning.

For instance; the first episode acts like your traditional moe-styled slice of life anime series whereby we see one of the main characters, known as Yuki Takeya, leaving her club room, which is entitled the School Living Club, and meet up with her friends for breakfast. The remainder of the episode we see Yuki interacting with friends in class as well as the class advisor Megu-sensei. All-in-all it seems like your normal slice-of-life series; that is until the closing moments of the episode whereby the school is completely ruined with blood smeared across the walls, dead bodies lying in the courtyard and zombies patrolling the school campus. It’s at this point you realise that something is different… and that it an interesting story awaits.

For me it was a mesmerising first episode; not because it made me doubt my initial expectation of the show but because it ended on a cliff-hanger that demanded you continued watching to finding out more; and boy do we find out. Without spoiling too much (once again SPOILER WARNING) the events of School-Live! Initially centre around the four main characters, namely Yuki,  Kurumi, Yuri, Miki, class advisor Megumi and the playful puppy known as Taromaru before back-tracking to the events that resulted in the girls living at school. It’s a situation where viewers are introduced to the characters first before having their origins (so-to-speak) on how they survived the zombie infestation played out on screen. In my eyes at least it is a clever way of presenting a zombie story as it means we (the viewers) can get attached to these characters.

For the most part at least each episode is a new stand-a-lone story that sees the girls embark on a new adventure; be it swimming in the ‘make-shift’ pool, searching for supplies in the school store or creating a picture book of past events; but each of them have an ‘alternate’ agenda to them thanks to Yuki. I won’t spoil the details here but from Yuki’s eyes the events of their daily lifestyle seem playful and cheerful; when in fact they are not and it’s here where the darker tones of the series begin to uproot as while everything looks fine on the surface things couldn’t be any more worse.

From my perspective School-Live! is an exceptional series that I didn’t expect anything from; and although the series does have that ‘high’ moe factor it provides an exhilarating experience that will leave you on the edge of your seat wanting more. Deception is key to survival in this case and while some episodes may seem like pointless dribble the final four episodes will bring out salvation and a definitive answer to the question we asked at the beginning “what happened to the school?”.

Extras:

Although praise can be given for the overall presentation of the series the same cannot be said for the selection of bonus materials on offer; as unfortunately per the norm only textless songs and trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases are provided.

As someone who enjoyed the contents of the series I did not enjoy the actual opening and ending animations myself; but fortunately we do have textless variations here in the bonus features section.

Meanwhile those who prefer to get teased with ‘potential’ future titles will be glad to see a small selection of trailers (for other Sentai Filmwork) releases included on the disc; in this case viewers can find trailers for Re-Kahn, Punch-Line, Softenni and Rozen Maiden.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: A & B
Running Time:  3:52:03 (Disc 1),  1:17:06 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow & White for Translations)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

School-Live! may look like a slice-of-life moe filled anime series but in actuality that’s not entirely the case; sure enough the events of the series centre around the girls, their class advisor, and puppy but it takes place within the aftermath of a zombie infestation where all they are trying to do is survive. Combine this with stressed personalities, delusions and deceptions on a government scale and you have an intriguing series that not only sounds great but presents itself extremely well as well.

The events of School-Live! centre around the School Living Club, a club formed of girls who survived the zombie apocalypse and are now living out their days on school grounds due to their school being self-sufficient . Each passing episode is another day which see the girls embark on a new adventure, be it stocking up on supplies, organising an activity or creating scrapbooks of prior events but alongside this we have deep meaningful flashbacks the further illustrate how these characters came to form the club and how the zombie attack initially began. It’s an interesting take on surviving the zombie infestation and one that I personally enjoyed watching and as a result by the time the ending comes around we’d learn that everything we experienced until now wasn’t exactly as we first thought; it’s delusional good.

Disregarding the events of the series for the time being this Animatsu Entertainment Blu-ray release of the series, which has had the discs authored/mastered by Sentai Filmworks in America, is exactly as you would imagine it when compared to similar releases. For instance we have the numerous episodes spread across the two Blu-ray discs with both English and Japanese (with English subtitles) audio options being available. Both audio options are presented in their usual DTS-HD 2.0 sound option with the English Dub offering a ‘lower volume’ compared to the Japanese audio track. It’s a common trait with all Sentai Filmwork dubs and the same can be said for the vocal talent which, once again, doesn’t fit well with the characters they are trying to represent. Subtitle wise then it is business as usual (once again) with Yellow subtitles being used for dialogue while translation notes and background conversations offering white text; however in some instances translations are coloured to the same text that appears on screen which is an interesting addition. Its your standard Sentai Filmworks master that sounds great, looks great and plays great on both UK and US region players.

Although the bonus features may be lacking in quantity, or quality, and that the menu artwork for the discs is ‘fan-service’ themed this Blu-ray release of School-Live! is exactly as you would expect it to be when compared to other relatable releases in the past. This aside School-Live! may look like moe-fun, which in some instances it is, but deep down its a survival story with a stronger sense of purpose and meaning.

Score: review-stars-4

School-Live! – The Complete Collection will be available from the 24th July 2017 as a Deluxe Edition Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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