Less college days than Lord of the Flies, the clique wars of School-Live Volume 8 spawn a new wave of human monsters, at times seeming a commentary on The Walking Dead’s zombie-infected, but very human, battlefield.
My favorite thing about School-Live, however, is that Nitroplus and Sadoru Chiba aren’t simply using the characters as mouthpieces for their own agenda, but allowing a dialogue between multiple perspectives, showing us in the microcosm of the zombie apocalypse that the world is less a place where communication happens than a stage that dramatizes divergent ideas. Volume 8 is particularly noteworthy in this regard, at times theatrical in the way that diverse characters get multi-page monologues or soliloquys in order to argue their point of view.
The noblest perspective in Volume 8 also comes from Rise, the best communicator. However, though Rise is able to get people to listen, her appeals to objectivity seem absurdly optimistic (“…intellectual curiosity is the concept upon which humanity’s foundation is built”) in the light of a zombie apocalypse, especially when the dwindling food supply may soon put them in compeition with the zombies for the human livestock. As we’ll see from a few examples, there is no “new normal” in the post-apocalypse world of School-Live, there are only splintered, selfish subjectivities. Though when we see what the new characters were like before the apocalypse, the point may be that objectivity and normalcy were lies of mythic proportions, and there have only ever been individuals, habits, and behaviors.
Cue Ayaka, the sicko solipsist, who believes the zombie apocalypse was made entirely for her. Whereas before, every day was “suffocating,” when she treats the zombies like pincussions for her daggers, she thinks “This is amazing! They’re all dead, and I lived! I’m free! I can do anything…they just don’t understand…This world exists for me. Just for me.” Stab, stab, stabby stab stab.
The alpha male of the college clique, Takahito, exhibits a less dynamic narcisissm (“We needed resolve. Someone needed to stand at the top. It could only be me. I was chosen”) perhaps to make Ayaka seem psychotic by comparison.
Not only are the new characters given soapbox time, but Kurumi’s zombifying memory plays tricks on her during a dream which is staged as an internal monologue in which she questions which set of memories are real. Her memories of killing zombies have a flip side of repressed memories of eating humans. Though she lives to deny the reality of her infection, she is very aware of what is going on, and has established protective measures such as sleeping in handcuffs, presumably in the event that if she goes full-blown zombie in her sleep, it might give her friends the chance to kill her or escape.
When Kurumi’s undead nature is discovered by Takashige, she uses cold zombie cunning—eerily underscored by her silence during much of this scene—to kill him. Though if zombies can use self-defense as an excuse to prolong their false lives, she definitely had provocation, as he was a bit of a sadist (“…or do you not feel pain anymore? I can help you test that, you know”). When he strikes her in the shoulder with his crowbar, and she doesn’t feel a thing, she has the sad look of someone who can’t live in denial any longer, and then rattles her shovel on an iron fence to attract a swarm of zombies.
Though I wasn’t looking forward to the premise of School-Live changing from a few friends surviving a zombie apocalypse to a human clique war against the zombie backdrop, Volume 8 was my favorite in this series, and the human villains of the college arc are making this story-line a delightful chapter. Nitroplus and Sadoru Chiba are doing an excellent job wrestling with human evil, as opposed to the unintelligent horror of the zombies. Not only do I enjoy School-Live, but also Volume 8 and the college arc get my strongest recommendation.
School-Live Volume 8 arrived in stores on September 19th, 2017, and you can find a list of online booksellers through Yen Press. You can find my review of School-Live Volume 6 through this link.
Yen Press sent the review copy.