Day 12: Review/Rant: School Days

A polarizing show leads to a far less than enjoyable watch.

Day 12! We’re halfway to Christmas Eve already, and as we reach the halfway point of this calendar between today and tomorrow, it wouldn’t be complete without at least one-old fashioned critic’s assault. That’s right- today’s a juicy breakdown of a highly controversial anime, one that yours truly is happy to dig into (despite putting it off for a long, long time.)

The Lowdown:

Show: School Days

Studio/years aired: TNK, 2007

AniB’s thoughts: “Another day, another adaptation.” Or at least that’s what I’d like to say, except when the show in question is an utter trainwreck and I steeled myself to watch it on a critic’s honor mixed with morbid curiosity. This is unequivocally a bad watch, but the “why” of it is slightly more nuanced, like layers of a rotten onion that’s been left out in the sun, reminding everyone why it stinks so much. Unfortunately, it’s time to delve into the morass and figure out just what went wrong here.

Before really tearing into the details though, a little background as usual is helpful. First off, School Days never received a stateside dub- and it’s just as well, not only for content reasons but also for critical reasons. And as with any truly bad show, there’s always some interesting stories associated with it- in the case of this one, its infamously violent ending that caused the show’s final episode to be removed off the air for several networks in Japan. This caused the footage to be replaced rather infamously on at least one station with stock imagery, including a Norwegian ferry spawning the “nice boat” meme on the internet, and while this is a fun little piece of trivia, it only begins to scratch the surface of the “why”.

So here’s the heart of it: When I graded out the show, it got points for having the bare bones of a plot that linked together cohesively and achieved its (poorly conceived) goals, but between the cast I wanted to strangle, the janky, awkward transitions into more and more ridiculously stupid situations caused by quite possibly the worst protagonist in anime, Makoto, and the fact that it was an utterly banal experience devoid of much enjoyment.

Among numerous flaws, a major issue lies in where the plot wants to go. It initially wants to be a high school romance…but doesn’t do that well, devolving into a bad harem anime…but also does that terribly, and then after enduring 11 episodes of mind-numbingly bad writing and poor character decisions, that final episode I mentioned goes for a shock twist slasher ending that makes utterly no sense. Maybe it was supposed to be relieving, but I was under the impression I’d wasted hours of my life watching something so that you, the readers, didn’t have to. If this was the proverbial coal in your Christmas stocking for a show, this one is it! Do yourselves a favor and check out almost any other show you can roll on a roulette wheel. It’s likely to have better odds of being good than this unfortunate production.

Animation Quality: Average 2-D anime for its release year (2007); it’s not outstanding in this department, but “adequate” would be a better term. Sadly, this is the best part of this wretched show, which is damning praise considering how remarkably average said animation is. It’s also used in some painfully cringy scenes through this show to just unfortunate effect, and yes, there’s some fanservice in there that’s utterly forced. 2/5 points.

Characters: This may be the least engaging, least sympathetic cast I’ve ever had to cover, which is saying something considering “gems” like Fanboy and Chum Chum are part of that listing.

Makoto Iko is the lead character; a freshman in high school whose natural interest in girls at his age becomes more and more perverted due to both the actions of others and his own misdeeds. He winds up becoming the center of a badly conceived harem and unable to fix his passions and poor decision making, he’s a truly awful character who garners little sympathy with little development. Was this intentional? Probably, but he’s so poor for a lead that following his moves becomes dreadfully difficult after not too many episodes…and this isn’t a long show!

Kotonoha Katsura and Sekai Saionji are your two main girls. One is Makoto’s first romantic interest, who is initially reserved, well endowed and from a rich family-but after events happen, she snaps mentally, trying to possess Makoto. It’s always the quiet ones who lose it the hardest…

Sekai on the other hand is Makoto’s classmate who spurns on the initial relationship between Makoto and Kotonoha, but later develops her own feeling for the boy, leading to a confusing and depressing arc for an initially energetic girl. By the end, she’s also gone off the deep end in her affections with who else- Makoto. In the end, nobody’s really happy, everyone goes insane, and then with the aformentioned infamous ending in my thoughts, everyone winds up dead or insane. Yay.

The supporting cast for this show is both unmemorable and doesn’t really do anything to raise the merits of this unfortunate lead trio. 0.5/5 points.

Story: Gets a bare minimum of a half-point for having a narrative that actually goes from point A to point B. I don’t have much more to say about it other than I’ve seen episodic shows with more interesting episode to episode plot-lines than this overarching story…and those had nothing to do with each other! Jumping from bad romance to bad harem to bad slasher at the end, it’s a depressing slog filled with unlikable characters, poor decisions and utterly surreal outcomes. Then again…it’s based on a VN that plays out like this, but I doubt even the game is as poorly executed as this show’s plot! Just eye-opening in the worst of ways. 0.5/5 points.

Themes: A trail of mentally broken girls and an obliviously malicious main character is not a good look for any show, especially one begging to have some scrap of positive momentum in it. There’s no levity and no thematic brilliance here in this clunker of a script. 0/5 points.

Don’t Insult the Viewer: Brutal writing combined with a terrible cast and an impossibly inane story is quite insulting, to quote this category. Unremarkable music does nothing to save this score, or this show, and perhaps the biggest affront is being “bad, boring and a waste of time.” That’s exactly what School Days accomplished. 0/5 points.

Overall: 3/25 (12%): “It’s a show”- that’s the best I can say here. What a disaster on every level. From vapid storytelling to a downright unlikable cast, and a show that seems unable to make up its mind what it wants to be- and then executes none of it well, it’s a forgettable, frustrating and poor outing of a show. The best part is when it’s over, frankly.

Like what you see? Do you agree or disagree with this piping-hot criticism? Leave a comment!

Author: anibproductions

I am the founder and writer of AniB Productions, currently a blog with a focus on animated shows from both the East and the West. Love Buffalo sports, good political discussion, and an interesting conversation wherever I go.

8 thoughts on “Day 12: Review/Rant: School Days”

  1. I think you are overly harsh on this one (granted I think this show is really good but). There are a lot of things, just based from the way you describe things, that you seem to not have fully grasped. I know when you watch something you really don’t like, however, that you can easily do this so please don’t think I am trying to come at you or anything here.

    First, you want to know why the boat scene was the original broadcast ending, and that actually has to do with an unfortunate murder that took place in real life, that was fairly similar to how the show ends. Obviously, not one-for-one, but that’s why they did that with the final episode, it wasn’t to build hype for some twist ending or anything like that. In fact, this is a relatively normal practice with anime that has happened even in recent years (even in Western shows, especially crime dramas).

    One of the other bigger things I noticed is that you talk about Sekai as if she had no feelings for Makoto at the start of the series. The whole reason she tries to set him up in the first place is that she doesn’t actually think he’ll succeed, and thus will be easier for her to win him over. Basically, she liked him from the start.

    These two points have to do with just the anime specifically and are my main points of refute but there are a couple of other minor things that dive more deeply into specific troupes, Japanese ideals, etc… that I really wouldn’t expect anybody to have read into as deeply as I did when I watched this so I’m going to go ahead and skip over those.

    However, I should note that you place a lot of blame for the events that transpire solely on Makoto. A lot of people do, but that isn’t really fair. Sekai repeatedly tells him to keep doing this stuff and further complicates his decesion making throughout the whole series. There are even times where Makato is all, “Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be doing these things” and she’s all, “Nah, you good bro.” I’m not saying she gets everything she has coming to her, but she is certainly the core of the several issues that crop up.

    This last bit is more just a heads up on the VN then anything, so while they shouldn’t really impact the anime review, they might be worth knowing (and your readers may find interest in this). School Days chose to adapt the VN in a far more interesting way, and that was by tackling the biggest, and worst, endings you could achieve. Think kind of like Higurashi does, but it never gets to the part where everything works out.

    The game itself plays like an interactive anime, and not a traditional VN. However, that’s just a note I’m tossing in here. Obviously, the, “good” ending for the game is having a harem. Really though, that’s pretty boring and totally unrealistic. I mean, think about it, how would a relationship like this end in real life? Maybe not in murder, but this kind of thing does happen, and more often than you probably give it credit for.

    Anyway, I did enjoy reading your thoughts but there are aspects that some people might like that would have been nice for you to include. This is very much like watching a soap opera with constantly escalating stakes that eventually boil over. Even if you think the show is awful, a lot of folks have found enjoyment in making fun of the series. Or, you could be like me and pull away a lot of interesting points (but at that point I’d be writing a whole post so we’ll stop here).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to tack on a bit more, just wanted to toss this in here because it is important, I totally think this is a trashy show with horrible people, and can recognize how that is a MAJOR turnoff for some. Just forgot to mention that above.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Jon! Thanks for the very detailed reply (and add-on). Yeah, this show wasn’t my cup of tea whatsoever, and for good reason I found myself reluctant to publish something I knew I’d go after rather harshly- unless I’d back up what I said.

      To this end, I might not know the entire context, but this review was written with what I had in front of me for a show, and well, it came out pretty strongly, for sure. I don’t think you’re “getting on me” or anything- in fact, getting feedback like this from a fellow blogger/reviewer/writer is part of what makes doing this sort of work amazing.

      Now, into the details…I didn’t really dig into the dynamics of Makoto and Sekai on the level I could of. One reason is simple: I wrote this review rather quickly, as it’s in the middle of this daily countdown I’m doing for Christmas, but the other reason is that I was keeping it a bit simple. I would agree Makoto is not entirely to blame in the narrative, but Sekai’s role is really tragic to watch unfold. There’s some well-meaning intentions at first but it goes horribly awry for her, and that’s painful to watch as it goes on.

      I do think what I said was pretty blunt in this review, and I do understand what other people can take from this show, but I’m not going to extol the virtue of what is at best a mediocre show (that said, the whole “worst endings” twist from the VN is a pretty interesting fact). And yeah, I’m sure pretty twisted things happen in life- but not usually in this genre, or just the way it unfolds here. I’m fine with such scenarios in a narrative as long as it makes sense in storytelling and I can’t say it did here, outside of some fleeting shock value.

      The fact that you wrote me a super detailed comment was very kind of you, and it is an extremely insightful one as well. I don’t like to rip on shows this hard usually, but in this case I felt I had the grounds to do so, all things considered. Thanks very much, this was an awesome comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, thanks for the detailed reply as well. I can totally see your point of view. Also, after having done a series where you gotta get stuff out quick like this, I can see why you didn’t have all the time to fully articulate every thought as well as you may have otherwise.

        I also understand not having all the context to a show, especially if you didn’t like it and didn’t want to bother looking into it more. Not gonna fault you for that at all.

        Glad you didn’t feel like this was an attack on you or anything, I always feel really bad about writing these longer comments when I disagree with the author especially.

        You mention, “… but not usually in this genre, or just the way it unfolds here.” which makes me think maybe you had some improperly set expectations (maybe by others or just based on the art or whatever) which I could totally see that ruining any positive thoughts you might have had on the show.

        Circling back to the VN, yeah it is NUTS and , like other VN’s, fleshes a lot more of this out. It even has the option to skip the porn stuff, which I for one appreciate.

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment with an equally thought out and well-worded reply. Glad we could walk away with some more insight into each other! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it was my first (and hopefully last) time when I did the show. I also agree with you comment…character interaction is a big part of what can make or break a show, and it certainly didn’t pan out here.


  2. Of all the shows I’ve watched, School Days earned my lowest score on MAL: I gave it a 1.

    To put that into perspective, I gave Taboo Tattoo a 4! And I really didn’t like _that_ show!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! That’s pretty eye-opening. I really don’t set out to give shows a poor grade, but School Days more or less did most things poorly on some level and I would agree with you, based on my own review here and personal experience: it was bad. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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