Anime: School Days
Genre: Romance, Psychological, Drama
Length: 12 Episodes
Rating: 7 out of 10
Two lovers agreed to make their tryst in a seedy motel where they proceed to fall into the lakes of one another. Passion, pain, pleasure envelop the room creating a mist hinted with romance. You see, one of them has sworn their heart to another yet she remains unaware. This is the essence of School Days.
School Days is an anime that can undoubtedly evoke a plethora of different feelings: disgust, anger, sadness and emptiness. It is not a pleasant viewing, nor is it an enjoyable one but in the end it will linger in your mind like a guilty memory. Are School Days worthy of all this hate? Or perhaps something more substantial lingers underneath the surface?
School Days starts off a typical high school romance show; a young man, Makoto Itou, has a crush on a girl who isn’t aware of his existence named Kotonoha. He wants to approach her but lacks the courage to do so. One day, one of Makoto’s female classmate, Sekai, notices Makoto gazing at a picture of Kotonoha and makes it her business to help him in pursuit of his romance, but things quickly begin to unravel.
School Days avoids the typical romance formula and gets to the confession during the second episode. It doesn’t waste time and gets to the romance head on. What lies beyond is a torrent of lust, betrayal, lies and unbridled passion. We quickly begin to see characters fall to their lesser, more selfish desires at the cost of others. They don’t act out of ignorance but with malicious intent. They understand the reprecussions of their actions but they don’t care. That is what makes school days so unique. It isn’t afraid to break its characters down to the point where they are nothing but primal human instincts. Essentially, School Days transcends its genre and becomes a character study. Characters change throughout the story, most of the times for the worst.
There are several twists and turns in School Days, but almost none of them are the result of contrivance. Every action makes sense in the context of the character. Characters never act like assholes just because the plot demands it; they do it because in it is in line with their pre-established character. Take the male protagonist, Makoto Itou for example. The reason he cheats on Kotonoha is because their relationship lacks physical and emotional intimacy, which causes him great unhappiness. His descent into a lothario is slow and gradual. He realizes he gets no satisfaction from his current relationship, and begins to pursue Sekai, who is more than willing to appease him.
The love triangle continues to become more intense as the show progresses. Although there are several sex scenes, they are all laced with feelings of guilt and remorse. You can see Makoto and Sekai struggle with their guilt and all the while Kotonoha is unaware. The moments are handled with care and don’t rely on screams and tears to convey the sadness. All the feelings are expressed minimally and with great restraint. This only serves to add to its atmosphere.
The female characters are also not merely sex dolls. They all have their reasons for wanting to have sex with Makoto. Some of them had crushes on him since they were children. Others because Makoto stood up for them or protected them. Some just heard he has good dick. Even the most superficial reasons have a realistic element to them because that superficiality exists in the real world. You don’t need a grand reason to be attracted to someone.
The primary love interests are not merely there to appease Makoto; they also have their personalities and back stories. Kotonoha was bullied as a child by both boys and girls. Thus, she has a hard time connecting both physically and emotionally with others. Sekai struggles with depression and loneliness and will do anything to feel wanted. Her mother is constantly working and she rarely ever sees her. All of these details affect the dynamic of the love triangle. This adds delicate shading to the romance and makes it all the more compelling.
School Days is not perfect, however. There are moments that are too extreme that break the immersion. The ending is one of those moments. School Days maintained a level of realism by balancing action and consequence. Also, at points it becomes too depressing to enjoy even. That isn’t a technical flaw, but for the viewer you will easily become emotionally drained after several episodes. There are also, the occasional instances of boredom where nothing seems to occur. However, these flaws don’t affect the overall package.
School Days is many different things to different people: trash, disgusting, disturbing, and brilliant, genius, a work of satire, a work targeted towards perverts. When leaving School Days, I can honestly say I was left in awe. What it bad? Was it good? It left me with a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. But now, I can see that school days is something I don’t regret watching. If you have the high fortitude, I recommend you give school days a try.