The most interesting thing about Gakkougurashi is how it completely undercuts the entire supposed appeal of its genre by being fucking horrifying.
On its surface, and for most of the fake-out first episode–(spoiler alert)–Gakkougurashi is a show about four cute high school girls doing cute things in high school; and the most insidious aspect of the show is that a lot of it is exactly that. Much of the runtime pretends to innocently follow the everyday mundane school adventures of four cute little girls; except that the fucking zombie apocalypse is literally happening a few meters away, and tragedy is constantly looming in the background of every single scene.
Watching Gakkougurashi had me in a consistent state of unease–which is the exact opposite of how a show like this is usually meant to make me feel. Hidamari Sketch drapes a security blanket over me and lulls me into a half-awake bliss state. Gakkougurashi can have a scene that’s nearly identical to something which would happen in that show, except that at any moment, there’s a possibility that zombies will suddenly break down the barricades and storm the club room; or that the stupid ass dog will run off and get eaten; or everything will just generally get fucked to hell. Because the series is willing to lay in with emotional gut punches sometimes, these things can be expected to happen–even if, most of the time, they won’t.
There’s never a scene in Gakkougurashi that can just be taken at face value and enjoyed for what it is. Everything is tainted by this looming threat on the psyche of both the characters and the audience–and it does wonders to immerse the viewer into the scenario, because we know that the characters are experiencing that very same cognitive dissonance. Even the show’s music, which in comedic scenes will sound playful and cheery–has this weird, wonky undercurrent which almost reminds me of the Clock Town jingle from Majora’s Mask that subtly winds towards madness as the moon comes closer and closer to decimating the town.
Gakkougurashi blew my mind with the way that it could completely recontextualize what are otherwise some of the most banal and by-the-books b-plots in slice-of-life anime, just by surrounding them with this completely other horror scenario. No matter how convinced I was that a scene was probably going to play out normally and end in a touching moment, I still had this niggling feeling that maybe the show was about to finally pull the rug out from under me and punish my complacence. It made for an emotional roller coaster of a viewing experience, and one of the most exciting things to happen to the slice-of-life genre this decade.
If this video interested you, then stick around on my channel as I continue discussing the most interesting aspects of various media which I don’t have much else to say about. Support me on Patreon to help keep these videos coming, and to more easily follow the wellspring of content which I release across a million channels. Thank again for watching, I’ll see you in the next one!