We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast of the Naruto Shippuden reviews to bring you something that I wanted to address. Somehow, getting through School Days was easier than getting through Naruto fillers. Who knew?
Y’know, I didn’t realise this was based on a visual novel, and even they have varying degrees of odd and brutal endings. How tragic.
I do have to mention there’s a trigger warning, as the ‘r’ word is mentioned once.
I can unequivocally say that Makoto Itou is one of those irredeemable main characters, and that’s without reflecting on the other characters. In the beginning, he’s an awkward, over-the-top mess in his pursuit of Kotonoha at the beginning, which seems innocent enough considering she’s probably his first romantic encounter. But in the end, he does a complete 180 and rejects all kinds of responsibility for his actions (as though it’s just up to his multiple girlfriends rather than his sorry ass, I suppose). He experiences the phenomenon of not wanting the prize as soon as you’ve won it (in his case, Kotonoha). It’s as though the thrill of the chase was more fun than catching the prize, and as soon as things were steady with Kotonoha, he froze her out and pursued Sekai.
For Makoto, there is no remorse for his actions until it benefits him with Kotonoha. We can tell that his main reason for getting back with Kotonoha is because she’s the only person who wants him after everything he’s done. Basically, Makoto is the biggest douchebag in this anime by far.
As for Kotonoha – in the end, she’s completely yandere before Yuno Gasai made it popular. It was so unsettling to watch, and her incessant denial could only be justified because Makoto couldn’t man up enough to actually dump the poor girl. She ended up acting deluded, but her unwavering devotion to Makoto can be justified by her not having any other close connections within the school environment – she’s bullied constantly and not very forthcoming – it’s only when Sekai makes the effort does she start having those friendships. I do sympathise with her, as she’s been strung along for so much of the anime. But then she literally throws all of that out of the window by, after discovering Makoto’s dead body, severs his head and shows it to Sekai, before killing Sekai and taking said severed head on her family’s yacht. That unsettled me so much, you have no idea. I don’t think I’ve been that unsettled since I was dared to watch the Boku no Pico trilogy…
Sekai meant well at the start, willing to help a guy grab the attention of the woman that he likes. But then she ends up falling for him anyway, which I can sympathise with, but it’s not a situation I’ve been in. But then she starts seducing him by offering ‘training’ where Makoto gets to grab her boob.
Then you have Setsuna, who is Sekai’s best friend, who cared for Sekai enough to warn Makoto about dumping Kotonoha, but then pursued Makoto behind Sekai’s back in the first place. So much for caring for Sekai, I suppose.
Otome, I can feel a little more sorry for in some respects. I mean yes, she bullies Kotonoha which is unwarranted, but then she has had romantic feelings for Makoto for a long time.
Then there’s Hikari, who crushed massively on Taisuke (more on him later). She went to Makoto to persuade him to sort things out with Sekai…but then ends up sleeping with him instead.
Taisuke was (I recall) the only other male character shown to be named in the series. And, of course, he was an absolute lecher, which doesn’t bode well for later on. And then he’es there, r*ping Kotonoha. Oh no…
Let’s just say this: everyone’s the asshole here. There are no redeeming qualities about any of the cast, so I don’t see much point in investing any liking for any of them.
A lot of the plot points were set up, in my opinion, for romantic convenience – everything from the ‘romance charm’ to the bonfire dance at the festival, not to mention the rest room (which turns out to be a ploy to make sex tapes of everyone that goes in there), it feels like a lot of it is in relation to romance and forcing characters into scenarios. A lot of it was unnecessary and could have flowed a lot more naturally if none of these things was in place. Makoto and Otome could have done the deed in an empty classroom instead of the ‘rest room’.
As someone who is currently writing (what is eventually going to be) a novella based on infidelity, it’s definitely something there for inspiration, but then it’s taken to the next level, and not in a good way. To this end, we still don’t understand why Makoto was suddenly sought after by the entire female populace – Sekai and Otome aside, as Otome was explained to have had feelings for Makoto since junior high.
For me, School Days lacked a major climax. For a good anime to be worthwhile to keep you watching, there (normally) has to be a solid end goal – Assassination Classroom‘s deadline is the deadline Koro-sensei gives the class, Puella Magi Madoka Magica‘s deadline is the appearance of Walpurgisnacht, for example. But with School Days, there isn’t an end goal, but that’s not normally a bad thing if the plot itself is good – Lamune does this well, as well as the Clannad and Clannad: After Story anime.
To be honest, I think with School Days we were waiting for Makoto to just choose someone and be done with it. Or at least dump Kotonoha. One, or the other. Bottom line is everyone seemed to be more focused on romance than academic stuff. Granted, I was that person that focused more on boys that hated me in school than I did my education, but everything seems to tie around romance. Could you imagine if there was a study session somewhere that ended up steamy or even something that wasn’t remotely romantic at all?
Ultimately, Makoto has the opportunity to face his actions, but ultimately he chooses not to and instead decides to make things worse by drowning himself in the harem that’s suddenly come forward for him. He’s utterly despicable at this moment. I’m still baffled at how easily Kotonoha took Makoto back, after all of the things that he’d done. After all, she’d caught Makoto and Sekai cheating, witnessed first-hand Setsuna kissing him, and she still maintained that they (Makoto and Kotonoha) were still together. What is with this girl?
I’m not going to discuss the censored blood here.
The ending is unique to the anime itself, so it doesn’t fall down any of the original visual novel’s routes. However, this can be considered a Bad Ending in terms of the path it goes down. It is still an awful ending to watch, and it’s the most iconic part of the anime as a whole. It’s why people talk about School Days with awe and wonder at how awful it is, because of this ending. A lot of people, like myself, have watched the anime purely after hearing how bad it was.
The ending was very brutal and was a shock for those first-time viewers. I went into this one (the first time around) knowing the basic ending, so I was prepared for it. But it’s still quite a shock to see people get so angry and murder-happy over one silly boy.
Kotonoha states that Sekai faked the pregnancy, so one of three situations could have played out. The first is that Sekai suffered from pseudocyesis, otherwise known as a phantom pregnancy. This would explain the lack of monthly cycle, as well as the morning sickness she suffered, and the symptoms may have developed as a result of Makoto distancing himself from her. The second situation is that Sekai could actually have been pregnant, but Kotonoha was so far gone that she decided not to believe the evidence in front of her when she sliced up Sekai. The third is that Sekai had an abortion but lied to Kotonoha about going to a doctor, to not give her the satisfaction.
Out of the three options, I think the first two are equally viable.
Honestly, though, it presents an awful image that women are nothing without their love interest, and that they go a bit crazy. In my time, I’ve almost threatened one girl to stay away from my boyfriend – but she was clinging onto him and trying to make her move. But I’ve not gone to the lengths of these girls in this show.
How To Improve…
Now, I don’t like to bash something completely, so I’d rather give some constructive criticism for this anime.
I’d rather the story kept to the initial love triangle of Makoto, Sekai and Kotonoha, rather than roping another six females in and having them do the deed with Makoto. They could have been great mediators for the situation.
Makoto could have easily played both Kotonoha and Sekai at the same time, making for more tension between the three. Makoto could have been begged to end things with Kotonoha by Sekai, while Kotonoha knows nothing of the affair. Everyone gives Makoto the deadline (the festival) to decide who he really wants to be with.
The other girl is heartbroken, but we cut to a year after the events to see that that girl is happy with someone else, and is still friends with Makoto. An alternate ending could have been branched off to show how the tables would have turned if the originally rejected girl was chosen instead. And nobody ends up pregnant!
I feel though, that the visual novel had some shock-factor endings, and that’s why the anime took the route that it did. School Days wouldn’t have been talked about as much if it wasn’t for the ending, I can guarantee that.