Continuing on the theme of family in Gakkou Gurashi, another important aspect of familial relationships is encouragement. The world of the four girls is a bleak one: populated by the undead bearing the terrible infection, and their only immediate goals are survival. They don’t know how long they’ll survive in their school, or if any help will come at all. They have enough supplies to last them for a long time, but it’s a constant struggle to keep their supply stocked while avoiding the zombies that lurk in the lower levels. It would be easy for them all to slip into despair…but then there is Yuki. Yuki infuses their dark circumstances with a joy and happiness that is essential to the group; she encourages them through her actions, words, and personality, bringing light to their dismal situation. She is especially helpful to Miki, the fourth and newest member of the group, as Miki was found by Yuki, Kurumi, and Rii when they made a trip to a local mall for supplies.
Miki had been hiding there with her friend Kei, until Kei had decided to leave the mall and explore. Miki was left behind…and was nearly eaten by the zombies had it not been for Kurumi, and she was taken back to the school with the other girls. Miki tried to fit in…but her grief over the loss of Kei still tugged at her, and it was not until Yuki took her under her wing did Miki begin to recover. But…why was Yuki so joyful? How did she manage to retain her cheerful spirit despite the fact that zombies have taken over her town?
Yuki managed to remain joyful because she couldn’t see the horror of the world around her.
The day the disease spread, as more and more of her classmates were infected, and as she managed to escape with Rii and Kurumi, Yuki was nearly destroyed by the pain of her loss…so her mind compensated by giving her the illusion that she was still in school, and that everything was fine. She explains the reason they live in the school by saying that they are part of the “School Living Club”, still attends classes, talks to friends who don’t actually exist, and continually interacts with her teacher Megu-nee…who herself was killed during the outbreak. Yuki was able to bring joy and happiness into the lives of her friends despite her disability to see the reality of the world around her, but it came with a price. As she believed that everything was alright with the school, she was the biggest liability to the other three girls, and they all kept an eye on her in case she accidentally wandered off or got hurt. A fitting parallel to life outside of Christ’s family: unbelievers are still loved by believers, still interact and get to know them, but they are blind to the truth that the world is a dark place, inhabited by dark creatures that seek to infect and claim your soul. They don’t know what’s going on because they cannot comprehend it…so they continue on in their darkness, unaware of the terror around them. And Yuki also continues…for a time. Near the end of the series, as the zombies finally break into the area where the girls keep themselves, Yuki is confronted with the true nature of what she’s been hiding from. She is forced to let go of her selfmade illusions and to accept reality for what it is. And instead of breaking down, Yuki steps up to the challenge: she saves Miki and helps to keep her family safe from the undead who seek to kill them. And through it all, Yuki’s joy and spirit of encouragement is strengthened as she steps into a role where she can truly and fully support her family. As believers, we’ve been awoken to the true nature of the world: we know the pain and damage it can cause. This is why we are called to be a light to those around us, to spread the Gospel, and to be an encouragement to believers around us, because we are all part of God’s family. So as you go through the week, as the various trials and pressures pull at you, remember to take time to encourage someone close to you. We all need it more than we think.