I've never written a review on any anime up to this point nor do I have the organizational skills to somehow skillfully weave a synopsis and a review...I'll try though?
I've been putting School Days on hold for about a good year - seeing as it had controversial reviews/ratings, I put it on the backburner to watch it eventually. Funny enough, it only took two days to breeze through it.
It starts off in a very typical manner - your cliche school life anime where your bumbling, slightly perverted male protagonist falls in love with the shy and beautiful long-haired girl who happens to take the exact same train to school. Throw in your energetic and cheerful wingman(woman?) who plays matchmaker, and hilarity ensues as our said protagonist tries his best to win the heart of his love. Well, not quite.
The first few episodes do very well to convey a typical school life romance anime - lighthearted and comical, it was hard for me to believe that it was anywhere near a psychological/horror anime - However, within the first 3 episodes, subtle hints are dropped that Makoto (the main character) was not your regular spineless boy that somehow ended up in ecchi situations.
Continue watching and you begin to see the transformation of Makoto - rather than pursuing a budding high school romance, Makoto brings out the blunt reality of what boys really think about and want in high school: Sex, and as much of it as possible. And thus, the twinkle and shine of Shoujo/Shounen quickly gets thrown out the window and spirals quickly to a very dark place-a real anime deviant.
Not to ruin the story any further, I won't go into any more details - However, within the short time frame of 12 episodes, I was duly impressed with the incredible transformation from typical high school boy to womanizing, sex-addicted, ambivalent sociopath. You will undoubtedly loathe Makoto's character (as I absolutely did) and that is exactly why I can't help but to praise this series for making me have genuine hate for a fictional character! Eventually cold and uncaring, Makoto goes from a seemingly thick-headed teenager with good intentions to a total weasel who shirks all of his responsibilities and problems.
Continuing with characters (as I feel are the real highlights of this series), Katsura Kotonoha is yet another anime norm gone sideways with her huge breasts, long hair and shy personality. To add even greater cookie-cutter parameters, Kotonoha is easily bullied and has an undying love for the male protagonist of the series (sound like a million other series) - yawn, been there, done that. However, her personality turns from calm, loving girlfriend to obsessive, broken, and in denial - she plays out the ending beautifully and I love how my notion of shy, level-headed bishoujos were completely shattered by her.
Moving on to Sekai (who would name their kid 'World' ?), who plays the bubbly matchmaker, really slams down the entropic hammer on both Makoto and Kotonoha. On one hand, she genuinely cares about both of them and tries quite hard to ensure that the relationship works out...and then, she fights her own desire to be with Makoto and that is where a really beautiful psychological drama blooms. Sekai is the catalyst for practically everything that goes wrong and has you questioning the whole time whether or not she planned it all out, or if she's just a poor little girl who fell into a bad mess due to her feelings. Not only is she guilt-ridden for buddy-fucking Kotonoha, but Sekai has to deal with Makoto's libido which eventually leads to his inevitable wanton ways where he repeatedly cheats on her (like he did with Kotonoha) and plunges her into depression.
Can't say that much else about this anime other than that the other portions were at best, mediocre...music was appropriate but not that memorable. Animation was decent and the storyline had potential to really portray that cold, stark picture of betrayl and corruption...but I'd say it couldn't quite nail it. However, the characters were an absolute breath of fresh air (maybe I've been watching too much mainstream stuff lately) and it was definitely something to be able to see how the characters all gradually fell into their own dark holes. It's definitely a good anime to pick at the thought process of all the characters, but it gets tiring as to how some parts are just poorly unrealistic (Everybody's Makoto? Seriously?).
Definitely not a warm, fuzzy anime (which I always enjoy), but it brings out a good impression of how relationships can break people in so many ways. The ending definitely did not bring everything back to fairy land, but it certainly "righted" things to a certain degree. I highly recommend this for those who have a taste for depravity and leave your sanity and sympathy while you're at it.
overall score: 7/10
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