School Days Anime Annihilation
One of the many uses of the internet during its relatively short life-span has been to promote either the supposed quality, or lack of quality, of specific media titles. One of the titles that has seen much of this use in a negative light is the anime OVA series Boku no Pico. Boku no Pico is a hentai series that depicts sexual relations between underage cross-dressing males. This is also known as a shotacon. With Boku no Pico, it's obvious why the general public and basically everyone on Earth would have no interest in it. However, there are certain other publications that receive a great deal of vitriol even though they are still intended for a general audience.
Of course, I'm talking about School Days. If you were to go to YouTube right now and search for "School Days", the results you'd get would more or less be a slew of videos that purposely spoil the entire plot of the series while explaining how "bad" it is in order to prevent as many people as possible from viewing the show. Even then, there seems to be a few people on the internet who say that School Days is indeed of decent quality. I quickly noticed that those who were against the show used more sound logic than those who found it favorable, who gave little evidence to back up their claims and mostly just said that they "enjoyed it so much." Being the skeptical person that I am, I decided that the best way to deduce which party was truly "correct" would require that I watch the series myself.
School Days is a 12-episode drama anime developed by TNK, a studio only known otherwise for their work on High School DxD, a fan service-ridden ecchi extravaganza. School Days originally aired in 2007 and is based on a visual novel of the same name that was made by 0verflow in 2005.(Note: Keep in mind that I haven't played the visual novel and this review is meant to critique the anime series for what it is alone. I have no idea whether the visual novel is of considerable quality or how the story plays out in it compared to the anime.) The series, at its core, is about the love triangle between male "protagonist" Makoto Itou and two high school girls.
Makoto Itou is the central character in School Days, though i would not call him a "protagonist" since "protagonist" means "for good", and Makoto proves to be the provocateur for all of the conflicts within School Days. On top of this, Makoto has no good qualities whatsoever and has no actual goals in mind besides what he can do to receive the most female attention. To me, he is one of the most bland and unrelatable main characters in anime due to his lack of empathy, indecisiveness, stupidity, and failure to have any chemistry with any of the other characters.
There isn't a whole lot to say about the other characters because all of them are defined by one or two characteristics. Kotonoha is an introverted girl who is slow to accept new ideas that suddenly becomes infatuated with Makoto. Sekai Saionji, a girl who is also infatuated with Makoto, is extroverted and doesn't hesitate. Of the remaining characters, the only one that has a considerable effect on the plot is Setsuna Kiyoura. There's also a second male character (gasp!) known as Taisuke Sawagana, who is defined mostly as "the perverted, comedic-relief guy" by the other characters, who seem to be unaware of the fact that Makoto is much more perverse than Taisuke.
In the first few scenes of School Days, we're suddenly shown this character named Makoto. There isn't really any introduction to him, and the audience is given no reason pertaining to why they should care about this person. Suddenly, Makoto decides that he likes a girl that he sees periodically using the same subway train as him. He then decides to "ask out" the girl, (Kotonoha) to which she agrees. Little do either of them know that another girl who introduced the two to each other, named Sekai, also has "feelings" for Makoto. What I find most jarring about this exposition is that the viewer is given no clear reason as to why both of these girls are so interested in him. Most of Makoto's time spent with Sekai involves them talking about Kotonoha, and no indication of a developing bond between the two (or any affection from Sekai alone) is given, and Kotonoha knows so little about Makoto at this point, so there is no realistic reason for her to have any interest in him. With this, I came to the conclusion that the only reason that both of the girls are so captivated with the main character is because this story utilizes the harem genre cliché in which all of the female characters must have romantic interest in the main character.
Suddenly, Makoto loses his "passionate" feelings for Kotonoha because she is unwilling to let him do sexual things with her. Sekai then decides to allow Makoto to use her to "practice" for when his relationship with Kotonoha becomes more intimate. First of all, why would Sekai even suggest this in the first place, (the believability of this show is equivalent to a standard action shounen) and why does Makoto not feel any remorse for cheating on his "actual" girlfriend? Neither of these questions are answered at any point, because the writer decided that it would be better to just throw in a great deal of ludicrous drama into this series instead of giving us any character complexity or any reason to connect with any of the personalities contained within the story.
To add more to my recent complaints, the amount of fan service in the first few episodes is ridiculous. I mean, how many times is someone going to be taking a bath or undressing or something at the same time that they answer the phone? This would have made more sense if used more sparingly, but apparently TNK thinks that adding in random fan service can make up for the fact that nothing in their story is the least bit enticing.
Furthermore, the fifth episode involves all of the characters going to the pool, (man, I wonder where they got this genius idea?) even though the viewer knows next to nothing about most of these characters and the majority of them didn't even talk to each other within the previous four episodes. It's almost as if it were planned from day one of production that the pool episode was going to be episode five no matter how far into the plot they had gotten up to that point. It just amazes me how this series absolutely refuses to have its characters do anything meaningful with each other to show some kind of connection they have, but instead prefers to have half an episode of only filler and half-naked girls instead.
After this, the plot evolves into more drama nonsense between the three main characters wherein Makoto doesn't give a damn about anyone's feelings (or anything meaningful for that matter) and only cares about when he will have sex next, regardless of who it is with. It eventually gets to the point where Makoto has intercourse with almost every female character in the series (I don't understand why any of them consent and this isn't him just running around and raping everyone). What's even more nonsensical than this is that the area in which they have sex is almost always at school, and no adults or anyone seem to exist to prevent this from happening, which is absurd.
Then it turns out that Sekai's friend Kiyoura (once again, we're given no indication of any sort of deep relationship) is moving away, so she decides that she will also copulate with Makoto for no apparent reason. Kiyoura's self reflection regarding this was slightly alluring, but it all meant nothing in the end.
Towards the end, Sekai informs Makoto that she is pregnant. Makoto, still being a moron, decides to deny this, ignore Sekai and go back to Kotonoha, who had recently become traumatized by Makoto's separation from her. During the final episode of the anime, Sekai reaches the illogical conclusion that she must kill Makoto, an intent that turns into a factual action. Still, it is unclear what killing him was supposed to solve, and also doesn't answer how the hell a normal teenage girl could just suddenly bring herself to kill someone who didn't even do anything that dreadful to her.
After this happens, Kotonoha confronts Sekai. Kotonoha decides to find out if Sekai really is pregnant by cutting her up, obviously killing her in the process. She finds that Sekai never had a zygote in her body in the first place. Keep in mind that this all began after Makoto was in a relationship with Kotonoha for about two days.
Animation & Sound
Probably the only good thing about this series is the animation. Animation is also something that isn't usually judged by arbitrary standards, making it much easier to make good animation (except for the object of currency) than it is to make an interesting or fulfilling story. There are no noticeable flaws in the animation, and I found that the gloomy colors helped a lot in emphasizing just how bitter the story of School Days is. Also, I don't understand the tagline that appears just before and just after commercial breaks. It says "in the school, the three guys met. Their relation had been changed in the season, and turned into three love stories" as if the person who wrote it didn't have any clue as to how proper English is written.
The soundtrack to the series isn't that noteworthy and none of the tracks really stuck out for me. There isn't an English dub for this show, possibly because the ratings were so poor that the thought of making an English dub reminiscent of the dub for Ghost Stories didn't cross the publishers' minds.
As of this writing, School Days is the worst anime that I have ever seen. The characters feel grotesquely inhuman, the plot is ridiculous, the fan service is annoying, and the ending of the show is extremely pretentious in the way that it attempts to make you think that there is more to this series than there actually is, which is probably the reason that many people legitimately believe that this show is watchable, or maybe even a "psychological masterpiece", a remark which could potentially make me burst out in laughter upon hearing. The animation and sound somewhat make up for everything else being awful, but in the end, they turn out to be only a small refuge within a tarnished wasteland. My hope is that people will read this, and, if they haven't already seen it, (which is why I spoiled the whole plot, so as little people as possible will watch it) to stay as far away from this show as possible, as there is absolutely no reason to watch it aside from understanding why it places such a permanent, grisly scar upon the world of visual novel adaptations.