So here we are, another review for a show we watched at #AniTwitWatches. I can honestly say, us watching this show at the same time has provided a lot of interesting discussion on complicated themes and aspects of this anime. Some of it has been fun banter with us fighting over characters and jokes, while other parts of it have really gone in depth our cinematography, character motivations, pointing blame, and other things. I almost felt like I could have lost some blogging friends just from watching this show, but I’m glad it didn’t. School Days has been a fun yet not so fun topic that really has gone too hard sometimes, but I think there is a meaningfulness to discussing an anime that has this infamous material to it. Come on and join the fun if you want. At the time this comes out, we are probably in the middle of a Girls Last Tour portion of the new season of #AniTwitWatches. Look at this schedule here and join us in some form if you can.
Content and Spoiler Advisory Warning. School Days is a series that doesn’t hold back in terms of sexual content and the real emotions behind it, abusive content and how real it feels, and general murder content eventually. For those of you who haven’t checked out School Days before, you should know what kind of content you are jumping into reading about and possibly watching in the future. You have been warned. I feel like I might be victim blaming here, which is and isn’t the case. Gah, writing about this show is such a trip.
With all the infamous nature of School Days making a strong appearance long before I ever dived into the content of this anime, School Days starts innocently enough. Makoto Itou has a crush on a girl he sees riding on the train to and from school. A shy and well endowed girl named Kotonoha Katsura is that girls named and also happens to have a crush on Makoto too. The problem is that both of them are too shy to ever contact the other in any form for now. Enter Sekai, the girl who sits next to Makoto in class, also likes Makoto, but works toward getting the two together and dating. Something that kind of works out at first, but in the end doesn’t. I mean the first few episodes, guys. Don’t jump to conclusions yet, ok? I had to do the same, because I only jumped in to School Days knowing how some people misrepresented it online through youtube videos.
Kotonoha and Makoto are clearly people who went into this relationship for different reasons and angles. Kotonoha is very fairy princess like in how she sees romance and seeks an innocent time dating a boy she likes until she gets married probably. Hard to tell, but that’s the image we are given. Makoto, the guy that first learned about relationships from a porn magazine, looked for a lot more intrigue and lust. His movements and pushes towards Kotonoha were too forced in a way that she didn’t really want or expect. At this point, you can still chalk him in as a person who doesn’t understand relationships and this relationship could have just fallen apart because it doesn’t really work. Makoto seems like a “I’m not getting what I want, but she is” sort of person when going on normal dates and meeting Kotonoha’s sister. He just wants the satisfaction and that’s it. Something that plagues him for the rest of the show. All of which goes into the show’s themes, I think. Consent is a concept that gets commented on too.
At the center of this relationship struggle is the old myth of keeping a photo of your crush on your phone’s main screen means you will be together forever AND Sekai, with her own motives, attempting to keep Kotonoha and Makoto together for some reason in the beginning. I mean, she kind of sends mixed messages towards Makoto in how she kisses him right before Makoto gets on a train OR has “relationship practice” that goes beyond normal advice and goes towards flirting and making out with massive blue balling it towards the end. Sekai is only one of many characters who denies their inner motivations at first. Many people aren’t clear and cut out in dry in terms of motivations like Kotonoha and Makoto. It’s pretty clear that a lot of people’s motivations here are kind of questionable in terms of actions and wants which is interesting to think about.
The side cast of mostly girls and Taisuke, Makoto’s one friend, really drives a lot of the psychological aspects of this show forward more. I should just say that a lot of those girls have a major crush on Makoto for some actions he’s done in the past. You know, because School Days is an interesting look of a harem anime if the main character had some more “vigor” or lust. At least a lot more then being the usual harem self insert, potato protagonist. This is really where all of the bullying and abusive angle makes it’s appearance in the show toward our main girls. Kotonoha being constantly confronted by bullies that make fun of her all the time, push her around, and only gets worse when one of those girls eventually gets her way with Makoto. All of which increased her dwindling reliance on Makoto. Same with Sekai and Setsuna, her trusted friend. Sekai’s faulty faith in Makoto completely broke when he sleeps around with other girls, but Setsuna sleeping with him broke her. I guess Makoto learned that sleeping around is ok when cheating on Kotonoha with Sekai in the beginning. All the bad.
All of which gets paid off when exploring the themes of Love and Lust through the “journeys” of the main love triangle. Not perfectly though. Kotonoha is clearly love without lust. She holds onto her love of Makoto through out the series as she goes under one grueling trial against bullies after another at school. Her status of being Makoto’s girlfriend is something she held onto for her own sanity, but she held too hard and eventually broke. At the same time, Makoto is lust without love. He doesn’t seem to care what any girl thinks about him or others while he gets when he gets sex. It’s only when he’s cut off from sex when he knows love, where his lack of understanding of consequences for his actions, eventually gets to him in the end. Sekai is the balance between love and lust. Yes, she’s very lustful towards Makoto and sleeps with him a lot, but she also loves him. She wants to see Makoto happy because she loves him while trying to keep her lust in check badly until she can’t. Makoto wants her lust, not her love after all. All of which results in the show’s ending. You probably know what that is.
With what happens in the show, I don’t think I can really point the finger at any specific person when the going through the tragic story of School Days and it’s very conclusive ending. I think it’s really easy to just point at Makoto for everything, when that’s not the case. Everyone besides maybe Kotonoha, who is the victim of a lot of bullying and either attempted rape or just rape, is at blame for something. I did originally point the finger at Sekai for getting the engine started in the story, but I don’t think she ever expected everything to go so out of control. Same with Makoto whose sexual actions in the show were almost completely done in consent with the other girls in the show. I almost feel like some of his intercourse with other girls went against his consent at times, because he tries to be good before going along with other girls actions. Makoto can be very spineless and go with the flow in inconvenient times. I guess he was broken too. The well of others being interpreted as his own was pretty interesting. At the same time, this is the guy who said awful things to Sekai after she “ruined” his constant sleeping with girls, so screw Makoto.
When we talk about consent, we could also mention how the standard anime girl grabbing other anime girl’s boob thing where one girl “check and compare sizes” with another made an appearance in School Days too. Mainly the swimsuit episode which takes place at a water park, not a beach. School Days is going in different directions then usual, I suppose. But anyway, I’ve been called out by certain people on #AniTwitWatches for not even mentioning the boob grabbing thing and that’s completely fair. Even if this is an action between girls, it’s still a matter of consent which is something that heavily goes into the plot too. Especially in terms of this incident which established a starting point of jealousy between the main girls in the plot in regards to who is with Makoto. Everything matters in one way or another in creating this unique concoction called School Days. This locker room scene moved that pushed consent and jealousy
Speaking of things that make a thing whole, the visual direction and design make School Days what it is too. I know that Jon has already talked about how the art looks old in comparison to 2007 series and why that is on his post, but I feel like I need to get my opinions out too. I feel like in 2007, School Days did look old due to the key character designs but more realistic in hair color. If you compare School Days to something like Clannad with all sorts of girls with hair colors here are much more uniform. Possibly to the point where you can’t tell which character is which without looking at their clothes and body types. A reason why the show may have done it’s horny paning shots other then those being the places Makoto is looking at girls because he’s a horny boy. Possibly a misstep of a decision too? I know I would have dropped this show earlier on if I didn’t have this #AniTwitWatches thing to continue it. Otherwise, I think the art direction and general direction was on point in conveying mood, actions, and feel of the show. Well done.
Putting things together, I honestly find School Days hard to recommend to most people. Especially people who instantly go with their first reactions instead of thinking it through or just the general content of the show. I was one of them who instantly hated Makoto. Most people wouldn’t be interested in something like this or there is the possibly of turning away from the content in question. All of which are fine by the way. People should watch whatever they like. For the people interested in watching School Days after all I said, I think you might find something of interest in School Days to watch and analyze in some ways. So in the end, maybe I will give this series a good? I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed the ride myself and I don’t think I instantly want to get back and rewatch now, but I got a lot more out of School Days then I thought I would. I think it has a lot to say here. Might watch it against in a few years to see if I find anything different though. I’m not sure I would call School Days a deconstruction, but it’s the closest anime I’ve seen to an anime being one.