School-Live! Vol. 3 - Manga Review

The School-Living Club has a brand new member, and Yuki is delighted to show her new underclassmen all the fun that lies in store at their zombie-ridden school!

The Lowdown

The School Living Club has arrived back at school safely after their field trip! The trip was plenty of fun, and now the club has a brand-new member, Miki Naoki, making Yuki a senpai! Yuki is tremendously excited to show her new underclassman all the great things about the School Living Club, but her unending optimism may be a little bit too much for Miki to handle. The zombie apocalypse may be underway after all, but that’s not going to stop Yuki from doing her best!

How Was It?

School-Live!’s first two volumes spent a great deal of time showing the workings of the School Living Club from the perspective of its members, and one of the most interesting aspects of this has been the dissonance between the cheery lifestyle of these teenagers compared to the absolute horror of their predicament. In contrast, this volume changes it up by primarily following Miki as an outsider living with the Club, and this is satisfying because she views their living conditions quite differently from the rest. In some ways, Miki functions as a conduit for the reader in terms of asking some of the questions that have been glossed over by the other girls, and this was quite satisfying in terms of peeling back the layers of Club’s current living situation for each of the characters. Although it was much less action-packed and a little bit slower than the previous volume, I really enjoyed this psychological look at the School Living Club from an outsider’s perspective.

The most interesting aspect of Miki’s time getting to know the club in this volume was the way that her perspective was used to flesh out what makes Yuki tick. Yuki’s delusions of living a happy school-life and her clubmates’ attempts to play along with them have been one of the most fascinating parts of this series, and it was satisfying to finally see her called out on this by Miki. This led to a few great scenes between Miki and Kurumi and Yuuri after Miki’s discontent boils over, and I found the extra perspective provided here about Yuki’s mental state to be quite engaging. Similarly well-done was the explanation of why the other girls abide Yuki, and this paid off nicely in a later scene which saw Miki testing Yuki. I felt that Miki asked all of the right questions in this volume, and I really appreciated that the series took the time to explore this perspective in order to finally give us an indication of what is really going on at the club. The foundation built in the previous volumes following the girls from an insider’s perspective did a great job setting this up, making the emotional payoff in this volume quite meaningful in finally pulling down the curtain in a way.

The final third of this volume wraps up the plot in a satisfying way by tying the psychological exploration of club from Miki’s perspective into the overall mystery surrounding the zombie outbreak. I was happy to finally see the zombie outbreak itself finally addressed, and Miki providing the catalyst for this made a lot of sense given the adherence to the club’s adherence to the status quo of their happy school-life seen previously. The mystery is set-up fairly simply and isn’t particularly interesting by itself, but I felt that this volume did a great job of avoiding becoming overly complicated by keeping the focus on the reactions of the characters. This was enjoyable because it made the mystery feel important by fleshing out its emotional effects on the various characters rather than trying to impress purely with its specific nuts and bolts.

The final “reveal” in this volume worked well on an emotional level as well because of the psychological portrait panted of the characters so far in the series, and I liked that it engaged pulled the story back into the realm of horror in a stark manner with a ending cliffhanger. The alternation between overly club’s superficially happy school-life versus the horror of their actual world has done wonders for the tone of the series, and this brought this together quite nicely. The art really stood out towards the end of this volume as well in terms of creating this strong juxtaposition, and I thought that the quick switch between the more cutesy aesthetic and a rougher style conveying the general horror of the world worked well to convey a the jarring split between this series’ two “realities”.

Final Thoughts

School-Live! Vol. 3 is an enjoyable continuation of this series that is lighter on the action but does a great job exploring the psyche of each of these characters. The story felt remarkably complementary as a counter-point to the viewpoints provided thus far in the series, and I liked that a number of remaining questions about the club’s living situation were addressed in a strong and satisfying way. While the main mystery of the outbreak is reveal and isn’t particularly noteworthy, I liked that the focus remained on the reactions of the characters in terms of grounding the outbreak’s results, and I’m eager to see how the story handles this going forward.


School-Live!, Vol. 3
By Norimitsu Kaihou (Nitroplus)

School-Live! Vol. 3 was translated by Leighann Harvey and published by Yen Press on May 24th, 2016. Illustrated by Sadoru Chiba based on the story by Norimitsu Kaihou, the series is currently ongoing and published by Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kiraira Forward. Volume 4 will be published in English on August 23rd, 2016.

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: May 24th, 2016

Translator: Leighann Harvey

Author: Sadoru Chiba + Norimitsu Kaihou

Publisher: Yen Press




Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka