School Days manages to be utterly crap on so many levels of writing that it will totally disgust you. You are supposed to absolutely hate the characters, otherwise I have no explanation for the writing. Oh, and the ending of the series is a cheap cop out to try make us forget everything was utter garbage until then. If only it could shock the viewers into succeeding.
It starts out as a classic harem/romance piece of garbage that lacks any creativity. There are odd camera angles that are supposed to add drama but end up just annoying. There is humor which is at best juvenile. Then, the moment we start looking more into the characters, you can begin to feel the hate. I get it, the lovable idiot with no redeeming features is suddenly the dream of every girl. Of course, that doesn't work if he's the single least likable person in the cast.
If there is any reason people hate teenagers, it is because of the ones that act like the ones in School Days. The cowardice, selfishness, stupidity, obliviousness, and general ability to annoy pervade every nook and cranny of the character driven side of the show. There are the girls that rationalize sleeping with the popular boy. There is the popular boy that will sleep with anything that moves. Oh, how easy it is to hate the main character. The ending nearly makes all the build up worth it.
There isn't any particular story, the characters are disposable annoyances, the animation is subpar, and the sound dull. Very rarely have I come to loathe a cast as much as I have in School Life, and the ending nearly made up for it. Nearly. The main problem is that the drama is that of school kids on steroids. Nobody cares about the guy who sleeps with all the vapid girls who will sleep with him because he's popular and has some superficial charm, let alone the vapid girls. This is a teen soap opera which ends with a cop out that is extremely satisfying yet ultimately empty.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Oh, the end of the series manages to salvage some of the value. It doesn't change the fact that the plot is thin at best, the characters are annoying, and the "psychological aspects" or however you want to call the attempt at depth is an abject lesson in literary failure. There is a vision here, only it's a shame that we have to suffer through ten episodes of complete garbage writing that could be condensed into two, in order to get to two episodes that should have been condensed into one.
The "story" of School Days is character driven. There is no real plot. The whole school life aspect of it is boring. Nobody cares about teens cheating unless they're fourteen year old girls looking for soap operas they can relate to. The drama is so forced and derivative that it will make you cringe. Really, the failure of the story is so extreme that the person who wrote this should have his arms chopped off in fear of something of his making it through again. I get it, people like to "deconstruct" stuff by making it "dark", yeah well... this isn't such a case. Deconstruction requires subtlety and insight, two things the story completely lacks.
In character driven stories, the characters are the ultimate thing in which a series can rise or fall. School Days ambitiously tries to have the main character the ultimate douchebag. Well, that only works if that character is interesting. He isn't. The rest of the cast manages to come off as a bunch of idiots. Everyone is selfish, most are cowards, and most of all, they are with nearly no exception annoying as hell. There is not one member of the cast that elicited any sympathy from me, and quite a few managed to make me hate them.
How do you not do things in order to make a school drama interesting? School Days has your answer. The writing is subpar, and while an interesting concept, it cannot undo the fact that it is sheer agony to plow through until it reaches some sort of a point. Romance falls flat in a story about romance gone wrong. That should tell you all you need to know about the writing.
Art (Animation and Sound):
From an artistic standpoint, School Days is mediocre at best and a horrible failure at worst. There is absolutely zero wow factor in anything, and there is so little in the way of creativity to make up for it that it hurts. The amount of issues which plague the sound and animation is huge, and unfortunately, not only in the tiny details. It isn't very bad. It's just that all the issues here pile up rather than manage to hide behind things the show does well.
Really, I understand that Shaft is a studio that has wild success with odd camera angles used for creative purposes. School Days has a cargo cult for that - it matches the form in a crude sort of way, but the execution is all sorts of wrong. The character designs are taken straight out of an eroge (every breast size available, naturally), and the lack of anything distinctive in anyone backfires spectacularly. The entire animation feels monotone. The color palette is surprisingly cold, and doesn't really fit with most of the series. Overall, there are some things that are nice, but the animation is generic on every level that isn't a failure, and isn't outstanding in any parameter.
Audio can either bring everything together, or be completely annoying. With School Days it is completely annoying. The voice acting is grating, the opening and ending themes both annoying and a bad fit for the show, and the effect use is cliche. The soundtrack isn't bad, and is actually a surprisingly good fit, and a few characters have voice acting that is actually great, though that seems more like a mistake than anything else. Still, I mentioned all the bad things, and that doesn't change the fact that from at least a technical perspective, the execution was sound.
World creation for the writing to thrive in is the ultimate goal of the artwork in anime. Where the writing is terrible, it can add extra dimensions and push a show to a different direction and fix plenty of the faults. What a shame that the art in School Days is so generic and bland, with plenty of mistakes and a severe lack of vision.
People talk about School Days like it isn't terrible. And that's because of the ending, which is much better than the rest of the show. Unfortunately, it did not manage to erase the terrible taste of the rest of the series for me. This show is bad, and the staff behind it should feel bad.