School Days: Are we headed for the cliff?

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With the recent episodes of School Days being aired and subbed, the burning desire of fans to go burn Makoto in a fire may have lessened slightly as a lot of the Uber Melodrama which has been kicked up is out of his control.

Still, it's no secret there was a large crowd that came for the Bad End, which only grew as Makoto did more and more stupid things and as characters did more and more stupid things to Makoto, like fall in love with him.

To that end School Days can almost claim the title of horror-mobile, as the most recent episode almost proves that no one...no one is safe from the Makotomobile. (Hint: You don't want a ride on it.)

Granted, there's one girl that has the hots for Taisuke but that goes beyond the realm of horror and into the supernatural, as in "What spell did he cast on her to do that?!"

But the purpose of this post is not to criticize nor support the nearly non-existant bases of the feelings between many of the School Days characters - although, I won't doubt that this sort of relationship isn't uncommon in most high schools. Not to mention, show me any anime meganekko and I'll show you highly biased worshipping.

Perhaps a more important issue for many viewers of the anime is not who has a crush on who or who's stupid for having a crush on who or who's stupid for not noticing stupid's stupid feelings for them but rather when we will get to the slashing (or roof-jumping, or stabbing, or whatnot).

In my previous takes on School Days I've tilted toward the kinder end towards Makoto, similarly to perhaps Kotonoha in the anime. Even as Makoto's brain slowly shifted from his head to his crotch in the later episodes, I stayed on the kinder end of things, suggesting maybe that he live...just not happily ever after. Proverbial life in prison instead of the death sentence.

And in the end I retained some hope for a happy ending, yearning for a Makoto 2.0 that wasn't a completely hormone-driven two-timing jerk.

But, two-thirds of the way through things continue to change and perhaps I've been a little shaken by the fall of even what I thought would be the most Makoto-resistant force to the typically infectious harem vibes that he gives off; it's hard to say whether a happy ending, a sad ending, or a bad one is the most realistic at this point.

So, it's time to step back, and take a look at the two-thirds mark as to where this show is taking us. Naturally, there will be more spoilers so I don't have to talk so ridiculously vaguely after the jump.

My first, almost Kafuka-like impression of School Days and endings was of the "Who would want to see such a depressing ending?" manner. As much of a show with characters that may deserve a bloody end as School Days may be, the fact of the manner was that this is one of those shows that actually airs on TV in Japan for everyone to watch - so certainly there had to be a large mass of unspoiled people out there who didn't exactly tune in to watch throats be cut.

Increasingly though this faction appears to be the minority; in the English-speaking anime community virtually everyone has seen or heard of the bad ends through experience or word of mouth, and I imagine the situation is the same if not greater on the other side of the Pacific. School Days is, if I'm not mistaken, a show that airs quite late at night (perhaps because it so badly wants to be R-15), so it's not horribly susceptible to innocent viewers.

As such, the large majority of School Days viewers just may be the type that are out for (Makoto's) blood. Now, it would be wrong to say that because a lot of people want it, it will happen, otherwise Haruhi would have had 20 seasons by now, Mina would have won, Aeris would have lived, and Makoto would have been long dead anyway.

Still, companies do quite often make an effort to pander to their fans, which is why catgirl maids, childhood friends with 10-year-old crushes, basketball-breasts with no concept of physics, and perhaps harem shows as a whole exist today. And certainly the BAD bad endings are what made School Days the eroge famous (in the English community, at least)
, so they are the most likely to get animated; School Days doesn't seem to have a per se canon path in which one main girl is strongly favored over the other (i.e. Ayu, Konomi, Arcueid, etc) so certainly any ending is open.

The most likely are at this point either the main characters' (Sekai/Kotonoha) or the bad ends, because those constitute the majority of said endings. It is technically possible for Setsuna or Otome (Hikari? The ponytail girl that has the same phone as Makoto) to claim victory still but from an anime standpoint they've entered the game too late - both of them tried to lay stakes on Makoto when, past halfway, there can really be no more serious bets.

Logically I've never really seen a harem anime where the winner did not have major presence with the main character in the beginning - I've referred to it before as "keepalive" checks, where a character gets at least minor attention paid to them in most episodes, and neither Setsuna nor Otome has come close to clearing these bars.

Not to mention, Setsuna's going to France, ponytails don't turn Makoto on and he doesn't appear to like delicious flat chests.

Kotonoha feels more plausible than Sekai because from the start Sekai's been somewhat of an outsider to the official relationship between Makoto and Kotonoha. Arguably Sekai launched the whole series with her kiss on Makoto at the end of episode one, and to that end she's at "fault" for stealing Makoto from Kotonoha. If the series wants to go with the typical "good" ending where the best woman wins, Kotonoha will probably be the victor.

But really, typical is the last thing School Days has been, being a cold, down-to-earth type harem anime in a world full of peaceful, magical, co-existing harems. At this point, I would really place money on the bad ending. As Mikoto has put it School Days almost seems like a lesson in how NOT to do relationships, as pretty much every character has put themselves in the wrong. And how to cap a lesson like that then with an ending that'll stick?

Think of those silly educational videos that one has to watch before drivers. The ones with the grisly footage of cars (and people. and families.) torn to shreds
because someone was drinking, or speeding, or something. It's a bit of propaganda, but it's goal is to get a message across: Drink, and die.

As such, School Days just might be saying: Have two girlfriends, and die. (Or have one of them kill themself) A bad ending to a convulted story. In the end, no one wins. The only way to win is not to be a player. Player, being in the pimp sense.

Go ahead, picture Makoto in a purple suit with a cane. It'll be a good break from the post.

Evidence from the anime itself seems to be mounting as well. The pressure is mounting on Kotonoha like they want her to snap. Aside from the rampant peer pressure from the student council - Setsuna especially - she's come across Sekai in at least two semi-make-out sessions with Makoto, and now coming across Setsuna who's "making a memory just for herself", it certainly seems like Kotonoha is getting the short end of the cliffhangers, which would point towards a snap later down the line.

The question is not if but how, as we've already seen one outburst from Kotonoha in slapping Sekai at the end of 7. If the pressure builds much longer, like if Setsuna shuns Kotonoha at the start of 9 (as she has done so far) and leaves the whole "Why is everyone making out with my Makoto?" thing standing, then we might see something deadly. If the storyboarders are feeling nice, maybe we'll just get an emotional breakdown or something.

In any case, I think the characters to watch over the next few episodes to gauge the stability are mostly the two guys. Of course Makoto's position is very important, especially now; he mentioned in episode 8 how "he's the worst", but it remains to be seen whether this is a sign of somewhat change or just a lapse into sanity. How he acts around Kotonoha (em, how he's going to make out with Kotonoha, whatever) and Sekai, especially considering he knows Setsuna's leaving, will be key.

Taisuke, the only man to ever possibly eclipse Makoto in stupidity, is a minor character but one single action he takes will play undoubtedly a huge role. For those who don't know much of the visual novel, there is something that Taisuke can possibly do at the end of the cultural festival that will undoubtedly push Kotonoha over the edge for sure. (I can't confirm if it directly leads to a bad ending, but it most certainly is a Not Good Moment)

Setsuna is probably the third X-factor; depending on how much she tells Kotonoha at the start of the episode, how Sekai takes her departure, and if she really takes the race for Makoto seriously (as she does have an ending and an entire spinoff, Summer Days), could send the series down completely different directions.

To be honest I'm not familiar with the inner workings of the visual novel, as in what event sends the story in which direction so I can't make educated guesses based on the events so far; but I think that based off the cues in the anime at least so far...it's not going to end well.

For them. It might mean that it ends well for us. Feel free to twiddle your fingers and chuckle evilly.



Nice run-down on what the deeper meaning of the show is, and what is happening and will happen.