Too many new characters and less of an advancement of the world hurt what could be a divisive volume for long-time School-Live! readers.

School-Live! Volume 7Title: School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi!)
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Houbunsha (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story: Norimitsu Kaihou (Nitroplus)
Artist: Sadoru Chiba
Serialized in: Manga Time Kirara Forward
Translation: Leighann Harvey
Original Release Date: June 20, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press

They say college is all about meeting new people, and that fact seems to be true even in a post-apocalyptic world. In this latest volume of School-Live!, the girls finally make their way to St. Isidore University, but only after nearly being shot with a crossbow and having to go on a car chase.

I think this volume is likely going to divide a lot of readers. Is Volume 7 a jumping the shark point, or is this a natural story progression to represent the different stages of life? While School-Live! has been about the three — later four — girls working together to survive, the School Living Club seems to be getting ready to split up. So if you like seeing the balance between Yuki and her friends, I don’t think you’ll be seeing much more of that in the near future.

Instead, Kaihou has introduced a slew of new characters to prepare for a multi-pronged attack on the zombies and also show some different approaches to this pandemic. The School Living Club meets the Circle, a group of three girls who pretty much lay around and play games, watch movies, etc. (aka a NEET’s dream life). They seem to know even less than Yuki and the gang, but the Circle’s leader, Touko, gets fired up after realizing people younger than her are taking action. So if you were hoping for a lot of new information about the state of the world, prepare to be disappointed. The volume spends almost more time discussing the prospect of new books than on how the infection was started.

While three new characters would already be a substantial addition to the main cast considering the original three to five, the story also introduces a rival group at the college. The Militants — which include the first real male characters of the series — are far more strict and don’t take any chances with injured folks. A pair of these Militants will no doubt be playing a large role in this arc. While no doubt I am supposed to feel empathy toward these individuals, I feel like their history has less impact when so many new characters are introduced at once. Because even besides the Circle and the Militants, we also meet two other college students. All these characters showcase various ways people are living during this situation, but a character-driven series like School-Live! shouldn’t be tripling its cast size in one single volume.

As I mentioned, this moe series finally introduces some male characters. Of course, to keep the focus on cute girls, the male characters are on the Militants’ side, but it does add a little variety outside of doe-eyed young women. Circle member Aki is pretty fashionable despite the limited resources, but Touko kind of goes against the look with her mad scientist or “best friend who is a fujoshi”-style appearance. Regardless, if you’re prefer to have girls over guys in School-Live!, then you’re in for a treat: a new character has to strip down to her underwear to prove she’s scar-free. Her hair doesn’t do a good job of hiding her bust, and another female even checks her underwear. I don’t remember such blatant fanservice before, so is this a visual shift to go along with the story changes? What’s next, zombies who only manage to get ahold of the girls’ shirts? I don’t mind fanservice, but I’d hate School-Live! be reduced to the stereotypical ecchi manga with a half-naked female being groped by mysterious creatures.

All in all, I was pretty unimpressed by School-Live! this time around. Too many new characters means almost no one got a chance to shine this time around, and we didn’t even get any new information about the state of the world in exchange. Disappointing.