Konnichiwa! Welcome to a new day, the closing of a week! Weekends are a high schooler’s best friend! Unless there’s a test, of course. But anyways, speaking of school, there are a lot of school-related anime out there. Off the top of my head, I can think of Toradora!!, My Little Monster, Say ‘I Love You’, Angel Beats, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, and that’s not even scratching the surface! A big reason that there are so many school-related anime (outside of the fact that most anime viewers are in school themselves) is that the school years are when we start to fully develop as people. We begin to understand who we are as individuals; our ideals, likes and dislikes, and personalities all begin to blossom as we go through our school-age years. And with all types of growth, there are multiple factors that contribute to it, most importantly family and friends. For the next few weeks, I’d like to explore a few ways that family contributes to the growth of the individual, using one of my favorite anime of the summer season, Gakkou Gurashi, as our example. So, grab your pencil case, pick up your lunchbox, and let’s dive into class together!
Warning: Slight Spoilers ahead for the series, but nothing that you wouldn’t have found out by the end of the first couple episodes.
Gakkou Gurashi is an interesting anime for a variety of reasons. It takes the standard tropes of a school anime centered on girls (the “cute-girls-doing-cute-things” cliché) and flips it around, amore into a survival horror/comedy/zombie invasion type show. After a mysterious zombie outbreak, there are only four girls left in the city who aren’t infected, our four heroines who use their abandoned school as a base, the School Living Club. They consist of the courageous Kurumi, the quiet thinker Miki, the motherly Rii, and the bright and cheery Yuki. Each of them brings something unique to the group, particularly Kurumi, the “soldier” of the group. Kurumi offers one of the most basic qualities of family: protection; the shovel-toting girl takes it upon herself to keep her newfound family safe, and is always the first to head into a dangerous situation. She desires to keep those close to her from harm, and out of all the girls she understands most fully the horror the zombies can inflict: on the day of the outbreak, she was forced to fight and kill her boyfriend, her one true love, as he became infected and nearly killed her. The experience, harrowing and painful as it was, gave Kurumi the resolve to keep others from having to go through what she did. She wanted to keep others from hurt because she had experienced it firsthand: she knew the pain and horror that the infection caused, and she wanted to keep others from even the slightest chance of experiencing it. Kurumi’s protection and love provides an interesting parallel to the protection and love offered to believers by Christ, the One who suffered in our stead on the Cross. He wants to keep us from the disease of sin because He knows fully how destructive it is and the pain it causes. And no one knows more than Him the suffering that sin causes, as He took all of it, went through all of our pain and anguish there upon the Cross. And like Kurumi, Christ wants to keep each of us safe from ever having to experience that pain, and so He commands us to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:22) and to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Tim 2:22). He doesn’t keep us from sin because He wants to deprive us, but to protect us, like a loving Father would. And as we continue to trust in Him and believe in His loving protection, we will be safe from the infection of sin that pulls at us each day.