I think School Days is one of those shows where even if you haven’t actually watched it, you probably still know how it ends. That was the case for me. Before today, I had never actually sat down and watched School Days in its entirety, and I only watched it because so many of you guys voted for it. Oh, I had definitely seen its infamous ending on Youtube, and I had always had a vague idea what the show was about. But until today, I did not realize, however, that School Days was about more than just a love triangle gone wrong. In fact, girls pretty much throw themselves at our main character left and right, even when they know it isn’t the right thing to do. What I’ve come to learn most of all, however, is that this is a hateful, little show. You can measure badness in a lot of ways, and perhaps School Days isn’t bad because it’s poorly made or anything like that. It is bad, however, because the show is utterly soulless.
Maybe it’s the fever talking, but after marathoning School Days in a single night, I feel nothing, No outrage, no sadness, no anything. But according to some of my readers’ comments, School Days should have had a more polarizing effect on me:
“…in the end, I went for School Days, based on how entertaining Harem Hill is, and how tightly School Days fit into the Harem hill paradigm – until it departs from formula in that manner that made it infamous and stand out from dozens of identical Harem stories out there.”
“As fun as bashing School Days sounds in theory, it’s kind of a dead horse by this point.”
Because I want to see you rage.”
“School Days would be fun more if you were doing a blind run via the visual novel (just one route), that way you don’t know what ending you might get or where the story is going. As for the anime, it’s actually pretty bland until the infamous ending which I’m sure you know about already.”
“I’m glad you put School Days on the poll, because I’ve been curious of what you might think about it.”
“…School Days would crack me up.”
But again, I’m not raging. I’m not laughing. I just don’t feel anything. Frankly, I have a hard time giving a shit about School Days. This is just a bleak, misanthropic little show. Some people have called it a satire of harem anime, but I don’t see it. I’ve said elsewhere that the best way to satirize something is to take that something seriously. So what happens when you try to take the harem genre seriously? What happens when you take your average, horny teenage boy, and stick him in a situation in which all the girls want to fuck his brains out? Would you end up with something akin to School Days? Maybe. Does School Days thus show the inherent flaws in the classic harem formula? I don’t think so. I think the show merely sneers at the conventions instead of subverting them in some pursuit of truth. Yes, it’s certainly the case that most bland harem leads are sexually inert. Give them a chance to grope a girl, and they might do so inadvertently, but they almost always apologize after the fact. And this is where the buck stops for School Days.
Yes, Makoto is a selfish, horny teenager who will bang any girl with a pulse. And yes, the girls throw themselves at him inexplicably just like what you would find in your average harem anime. But the problem with School Days being satire is that it isn’t actually serious enough. Just because a girl ends up carving another girl’s stomach open doesn’t mean you’re being serious. Had the anime truly taken the harem genre seriously, we would have gotten some “Voila!” moment in which the characters realize that the harem dynamics are utterly incompatible with real life relationships. But not once did anyone ever say, “Yo, let’s stop what we’re doing before we actually hurt someone.” Girls like Hikari and Otome eventually shun Makoto, but only for their sake. Makoto eventually returns to Kotonoha’s side, but again, not because he actually feels any remorse or guilt for hurting her like a normal person would. He falls to his knees and cries in front of her out of concern for what he has done to her, not what she has become. So the show isn’t satire. The show is quite earnest, actually. It’s quite earnest in its hate.
Essentially, no one’s human. Everyone’s just a concept, and their job in the story is to inflict as much pain and suffering to each other as possible. School Days doesn’t make real human characters act out stupid harem dynamics. It merely says, “Look, this is the worst case scenario in a harem. Isn’t it fucked up?” So the ending is purely masturbatory. The individual characters are stupid, and their actions meaningless. Not a single character in this show displays a single ounce of humanity. Makoto’s best friend rapes Kotonoha out of nowhere just because it would be a shocking thing to have in the story. The bullying girls all meet up at Makoto’s apartment to bang him just because “[w]e shouldn’t be the ones who are missing out, either.” They just want to see “how ‘good’ he actually is.” Satsuna lets Makoto fuck her if he agrees to break up with all of the other girls for Sekai’s sake. Finally, Kotonoha snaps just so we can get a cool action shot of her attacking Sekai with a bloody cleaver. You soon realize that these aren’t real characters with real human feelings or motivations. They’re just concepts designed to maximize misery within the story.
The harem genre tries to pretend as though its tropes and conventions are possible. A satirical look at the harem genre would then reveal how utterly broken those harem dynamics really are when you apply them to real, actual people and real, actual relationships. But like I’ve said, School Days doesn’t employ the use of real, actual people. School Days takes a cast of reprehensible human-looking simulacra and has them all act in the worst ways possible. The show relishes in coming as close as possible to human misery. The show wants to convince us that we should cheer for Makoto’s death. The show wants us to hate each and every single one of its characters, and there’s nothing remotely tongue-in-cheek about it. We are meant to wholeheartedly embrace the anime’s ultimately nihilistic ending. Yes, Makoto gets what he deserves! Yes, the yandere bitch snaps and kills Sekai! Oh man, she even chops off his head! That is so metal! But then what? As you watch Kotonoha cradle her former lover’s head on a boat, what are you supposed to feel? What has the anime actually accomplished?
I feel nothing for School Days. It’s a hateful, little anime with nothing to say. In the end, School Days is no different from the cardboard cutouts it jeers. There’s even something rather smug about the way it embraces its own misanthropy. So in the end, it’s hard to give two shits about a show like that.