While the ending lacks a major emotional punch, School-Live! fans will be satisfied that the School Living Club's college debut is mostly wrapped up.

School-Live Volume 9Title: School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi!)
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Houbunsha (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story/Artist: Norimitsu Kaihou (Nitroplus), Sadoru Chiba
Serialized in: Manga Time Kirara Forward
Translation: Leighann Harvey
Original Release Date: December 19, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press

Now that School-Live’s English release has caught up to the Japanese volumes, this is likely to be the last one for quite a while. Fortunately, before it went on hiatus, the series mostly wrapped up its current arc.

Yuki and the others have faced near-death experiences before, but this time, they must face threats from other humans along with the zombies. The Militants still accuse the Circle of infecting one of their members, and their leader’s agitation and desperation increasingly rises. Meanwhile, Yuuri is still hallucinating, Kurumi is fighting her infection, and Militant Ayaka continues to view everything as nothing but entertainment for her. Throw in the fact that the School-Living Club’s members spend most of the volume separated and the Circle captured, and you have the setup for a very dramatic volume.

Despite all the horror, the story is very light on shock this time around. Shihou and Takahito are both armed with weapons, the zombies get closer to the university grounds, and Yuki even winds up right in the middle of the zombies. Yet more than before, it feels like one lucky break or change of heart right after another that causes almost everyone to dodge death.

Obviously, the girls have some natural luck — they’re still alive after all – but as Yuki, Shihou, and others come to terms with the struggle to live, I wanted to see some reflections as death approached as well. Something to really shake up the story and hook readers to agonize over the wait until the next volume. Instead, the school outing that was planned seems to be changing to a school transfer, and the story leaves open the chance for Ayaka to return. Why? I don’t know. Only probably 90% of people are mindless, flesh-eating zombies, so School-Live! definitely doesn’t need a cruel narcissist to threaten their lives.

However, while Miki may be the one on the cover, all the four main girls receive some wonderful moments of characterization. Yuki goes hatless for a key scene, and she may have revealed another piece of the puzzle for readers. (One of the college students has a theory about the outbreak, but Yuki’s statement may cement her theory.) I was afraid Yuki would throw a childish tantrum about the group staying together, but she actually has to consider her options and take steps to keep them together, despite being the weakest link. Kurumi and Yuuri have their own personal demons to face, and Miki, despite being the youngest, steps up in almost a leader-like role. And while she had survived for quite a while on her own, her thoughts make it clear she doesn’t want to go solo again. I did not like the sudden influx of characters in School-Live!, so I’m glad the manga went back to starring Yuki and her friends.

The other major highlight is the art. It isn’t often we see the zombies as something other than vague blobs in the story, but they are drawn in more detail to emphasize how close they get to some of our heroines. Takahito’s crazed expression while clutching a nail bat is certainly more than enough to scare both the girls and the readers. The artist provides a nice mix of full-page and multi-page spreads in between the traditional multi-panel layouts, and it’s always interesting to see if Yuuri will ever see the real Ruu-chan or the bear.

School-Live! fans will be satisfied that the School Living Club’s college debut is mostly wrapped up, but it lacks a major emotional punch to keep you in suspense for the continuation. In many ways, it feels like the final episode of a one-cour anime with a manga continuation. It’s a solid ending, but is it enough to make readers want a season two? Only you can decide, but at least make sure you check out the current arc’s finale.