The Comeuppance of a Coward: Ito Makoto and School Days

[While there is no discussion of aquatic vessels in this post, spoilers are in these waters]

Watching School Days was awful. It’s not one of those shows that is gripping despite the cringe-inducing events being narrated. I thought Kaiji was tough to watch, but that show had a lot going for it in terms of the the drama and excitement of gambling. School Days only has romance and sex to keep the excitement levels up. As a romance, it’s awful (more like the failure of romance), and as sexual content is concerned, there’s a lot of it but it’s by no means anything more than a visual tease, and not that exciting anyway.

Having said all that, I think School Days is important. I think it’s remarkable and provocative. It’s suggested to me that it is a parody of the tradition of Ecchi and eroge specifically (the more gratuitous sexual harem tradition of harem shows). I have very little experience with this tradition, so I will limit my speculation regarding this particular aspect of this analysis.

But yes, there is parody perhaps by way of deconstruction in that School Days takes the tropes of the tradition apart and puts it back together in unexpected or at the very least non-traditional ways. Like how SDS put it, it answers the question “what would happen if a harem lead actually went after all the girls?” (sexually). Well, there will be consequences. I will look into those, but specifically in the light of the idea of the rake, or the sexually successful young male.

The Dangerous Young Man

There is a difference between Makoto and the concept of the rake. The rake is what would be commonly thought of as a playboy, but the tradition of rakes is an English one.

The long heyday of the English rake lasted roughly from 1660, when Charles II returned from exile, until the death of George IV in 1830. There was a brief revival of some aspects of rakish behaviour among the cronies of Edward, Prince of Wales, in the second half of the nineteenth century. After that, what later became known as Victorian values made such behaviour largely unacceptable.

The first attribute of the rake was cold hedonism rather than grand romantic passion. He was usually a cynical exploiter of woemen, often a reckless gambler, sometime a touchy egoist quick to take offence and to seek redress in duels. He could be a good friend and a bad enemy. He was often aristocratic and sometimes rich.

There were of course womanisers and bullies in other countries, but there was widespread acceptance that the English rake was the most cynical, heartless and brutal of the type.

— Fergus Linnane, “The Lives of the English Rakes”

john wilmot earl of rochesterJohn Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester: one incredibly degenerate douchebag

In anime, such characters would appear in the shojo tradition, either perhaps as a character to be redeemed by women (Ichinose Takumi and Okazaki Shinichi from Nana, Mori Ranmaru from Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge, The Red King from Basara), or as tragic villains (Kiryuu Toga and Ohtori Akio from Revolutionary Girl Utena). These characters can range from mischievous to degenerate, but are otherwise very tame compared to the rakes of (English) history.

What’s important here, is that all of them are Alpha Males, competing or banding together with other alpha males. School Days’ Makoto, is no alpha male.

Makoto is, weak, lacking in self-confidence, naive, and very much the template self-insert character in the harem tradition. However, he is also regarded as “zeitgeist of worthless male leads.” He ends up doing pretty terrible things, all related to sex and relationships with the women he interacts with (some of them are dear friends to each other, some are his friends). He is awful and irredeemable, and he was murdered spectacularly by the one he corrupted the most – actively, and through his irresponsible negligence.

To get to that end however, School Days relies on contrivance to sexually pair Makoto with so many girls. At the onset, Makoto is an Omega Male, that is the opposite of the kind of confident and capable male that attracts women. Sekai is the one who, by lavishing attention to him and showing her own (then) unlikely attraction for him enabled him to “climb the steps of adulthood,” that is, have sex and have the (unwarranted) confidence to get sexual favors from women.

It is remarkable, that with all Sekai’s attempts to make Makoto fit for romantic relationships, he makes no progress at all. He has truly nothing to offer women except a willing penis to indulge their sexual curiosity, and (quite sadly,) their romantic insecurities.

[AniYoshi]_School_Days_-_08_[9173C69A].mkv_snapshot_20.45_[2010.09.06_16.35.09] [AniYoshi]_School_Days_-_08_[9173C69A].mkv_snapshot_20.49_[2010.09.06_16.35.01] [AniYoshi]_School_Days_-_12_[BC5B0966].mkv_snapshot_10.02_[2010.09.06_16.36.09]

But how is the contrivance executed? Episode after episode Makoto becomes worse and worse, but his stock among women rises higher and higher. Back story and flashbacks reveal Makoto to be an upstanding young man, considerate and “princely” (in the Utena sense) to young girls. Sekai does a background check and reveals Makoto to be enjoy a concord of approval from school society. Makoto has always been a catch, the school’s best-kept secret. He’s not an omega, he is at least an Omicron Male, or maybe even higher in the Greek alphabet.

friday night lights tim riggins

In the tradition of American high school love stories, there are always alpha males, and the omicron males are portrayed as outliers even within their omega society. These omicrons are ugly ducklings who clean up nice but often compete directly with the alpha males who are portrayed as insensitive jerks, or as villainous rakes. In Japanese harem anime tradition, the alpha males are non-existent. There is no threatening male competition for our omegas and omicrons. There is no such competition for Makoto.

Sawanaga would have been, and it’s part of Kotonoha’s terrible irony that she let that guy deflower her. But it was the first time wherein the male was not in power – he had no power and posed no threat to anyone despite himself (openly lecherous and obviously attracted to Kotonoha that way). Kotonoha let him have sex with her, she was a gatekeeper who did not participate in the act emotionally, thereby retaining all romantic and sexual power when it was time for her to reckon with him (to dismiss him). This guy is not competition for Makoto.


The Triangle and the Female Protagonists

With all this focus on Makoto, School Days actually has multiple protagonists. The female characters have a lot of agency and have distinct narratives as characters even if they all point toward Makoto. School Days passes the Bechdel Test of Feminist criticism. No one is going to argue however, that this show positively portrays females. To be fair, this show doesn’t portray human beings as inspirations to follow.

Kotonoha and Sekai are protagonists just as Makoto is, and form the points in the primary triangle within the harem. The difference is the levels of cowardice in both. Kotonoha was a coward to face the reality that Makoto is wholly undeserving of her affections and persisted with her delusions. She is a coward in how she lets herself be bullied by her peers. Otherwise, she is a moral center in the show up until the end. But this is a kind of moral center that is passive and victimized. Her morality is straight from the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the meek… Blessed are the clean of heart…”). She is what is pure besieged by corruption. She succumbs to it in the worst way at the worst time, and her recourse to all of this is her spectacular revenge.

Sekai too, was a moral center of the show up until she gave in to the Makoto who she spoiled. Sure, as Setsuna notes she’s inauthentic the whole time, but I submit that there are good intentions there. She would have suffered losing to Kotonoha if Makoto did make his girlfriend happy the way Sekai trained him to, and if he became happy for it. But no, there are suppressed desires among sexes and Sekai had stronger dosages of both repression and desire.


The important thing to consider is how Sekai is the catalyst. She is the active facilitator of the romantic and sexual devolution of their corner of their high school society. The Basketball Club’s antics with the sex tapes indicate a pretty degenerate sexual youth culture, but for the initially “pure” members of the triangle, Sekai initiated the action.

I am fond of emperorj’s description of this show as a descent into hell. Hell in this case is a world of deceitful humans with no accountability, where one’s heart’s wishes are given no consideration. I think it’s also remarkable how sex is an end that is not particularly given thematic or symbolic weight. It is treated as an end for males to arrive to, and as a means for females to arrive to something else.

Females are portrayed as sexually attractive, but there is no portrayal of any actual pleasure from sex, except that when the males get some of it, they want more of it. The females, nothing. We can make the conjecture that they must like it at some level for them to persist in it, but this is wholly ignored and it is very interesting how it’s all ignored. This too, is hell.

A Personal Note

Why do we hate Makoto? Since the tradition of harem literature provides for self-insert characters, I will relate to Makoto as well as shamelessly speak for other male viewers. Of course I will be often wrong in many cases, but I suspect that I will represent quite a few viewers too.

We hate Makoto because we wanted some of what he got. We don’t think he deserved any of the attention he got, but more importantly the sexual action he got. I was no rake in high school, but I was no wallflower either. I was an honor-student-turned-bancho and for years I enjoyed notoriety and attention. Could I have gotten away with some of what Makoto did? Maybe I could have. I didn’t, and I tell myself it’s because I’m a better man than Makoto. (Which is true but…)


Even if I weren’t getting the attention that I did, I would’ve been (as most of us would) a better human being than him, though perhaps most of us can relate to his lack of confidence. In hindsight I didn’t quite lack it as bad as harem leads – I got turned down by my one pure crush after all, year after year. Part of that devotion to the attainable is cowardice too (to fail where I’m supposed to be able to score) – but yes the antipathy towards Makoto is also guilt and regret for missed opportunities in youth.

The important thing here is, we may strongly disapprove of (alpha male) rakes, but a lot of this is Nietzchean slave morality. We hate Makoto because he shares many of our traits, but instead becomes successful like the rakes, in un-rakish fashion: without overarching villainy, without determination and making a project or lifestyle out of things, by being a leaf in the wind of high school sex and romance, and wholly without a chance of, or with such disinterest in, actually being with women and relating with them as human beings.

utena toga x nanami on table

When we see the Kiryuu Togas and the Ohtori Akios fall, we take satisfaction in their comeuppance but somehow enjoy it with a different kind of schadenfreude. We don’t relish their fall, more than we delight in the triumph of the protagonists that best them. Makoto we can or are invited to relish in his fall, his grisly death. We are asked to look at the dark characters in the looking glass (Sekai too), and enjoy their terrible murders.

Me, I’m numbed by it all. I think Kotonoha is the tragic heroine of the show, and there is no redemption, no solace, and no future for her.

The evil in School Days is cowardice, lust, avarice, and irresponsibility. These are all very relatable failings, things we see in ourselves past and present. It is present among almost all characters in the show the same way it is present in different degrees in all of us. Makoto makes it easy for us to relate to all of this, superbly performing his function as a self-insert character in the Japanese harem narrative tradition.

Further Reading

A Diary post on how my experience with an alpha male like Ohtori Akio.
A less mature reflection on the concept of omega males getting attention from high school’s hottest females (Hatsukoi Limited)
Diary of an Anime Lived series in Fuzakenna!
Probably the best example of the School Days experience: a group marathon screening at an anime convention (lolikitsune 12/24/2008)
Some rakes of renown:
Charles II, Rochester, Colonel Charteris: the Rape-Master General (Scottish), the Hellfire Club members
Shout out to all the people I discussed School Days with me on twitter. Even if I couldn’t respond to some of you or I fail to link to your insights that marathon I did watching and discussing the show with all of you (while downing Scotch whiskey) was one of the most fulfilling things I experienced as part of this corner of the anime fandom in the internet (and most definitely made it easier for me to crawl through this remarkable show’s insufferable episodes).

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, comparative, Diary of an Anime Lived and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to The Comeuppance of a Coward: Ito Makoto and School Days

  1. lolikitsune says:

    I was laughing the whole way through.

    School Days will always only be five things for me—
    1. Nice Boat
    2. “I was happy just watching.”
    3. “If I stay with you, I’m worried that what happened to Sekai will happen to me!”
    4. “She wants to have sex with you on a horse… etc.”
    5. absolutely terrible

    So I can’t really take any of this seriously, though I don’t think you expected me to.

    Keep the lulz flowing!

    • Part of the great lulz is to take this show totally seriously, like how I’ve done here.

    • Shance says:

      These are mine on the other hand:

      1. NICE BOAT
      2. Take it easy! Cruise it easy!
      3. You can’t sex the loli. Do it in the sequel.
      4. Bad ends: collect and collect then select.
      5. terribad

      But yeah, anyone who watches this would definitely throw a fit of rage.

  2. IcyStorm says:

    I don’t hate Makoto; I think he’s a role model for everyone.

    • Makoto had sex with all of SNSD, except Sunny. She’s a hag.

    • predatorvmt says:

      Role-model for “overly-horny virgin”, not “everyone”, not even for “normal virgin”.
      Anyone has sex once know that having sex does not worth the loss caused by every action he has made.

      Heck, if an awesome alpha MC aka. “a real model guy/playboy/smooth-criminal” goes after every girls, thing definitely won’t end the same as School Days.
      It’s Makoto’s fault to throw away and let others break his own stuff. He is just stupid, his whole existence is a failure.
      Moral lesson: if you suck, fuck yourselves. Only totally awesome guys can get all the girls!!!
      That’s why authors, if you want to createy a harem MC, make him awesome, smart and smart. (smart is important to NOT make stupid decisions.)

  3. Emperor J says:

    I knew my “descent into hell” description would make good copy. I should mention I had an interesting experience watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes the day after the discussion and contrasting my own expectations of how a certain character (just tying to avoid spoilers here) would react compared to Makoto here. Let’s just say it surprised me a little.

  4. Crusader says:

    I don’t think my joy at Makoto and Sekai’s demise stemmed from jealousy but rather from utter hatred of such a lifestyle and such rampant irresponsibility and hedonism. It’s not that I see Makoto as a vehicle of lost opportunity or the path not taken but as the path that many of my peers hoped to pursue at a time in High School when war came to our door step and few ever stepped up to the challenge while the rest justified their cowardice or simply pursued their lust as if nothing had changed. I see Makoto’s existence as an affront to Zeus, one of utter selfishness and irresponsibility. That for once in anime in a harem series where the cancerous existence is terminated ruthlessly brought me no shortage of joy it is not so much a hell as it ended how every harem should end.

    I am not so great a human being that I value the lives of all, I have seen the face of evil and seen the dark fell deeds of men. I choose to rejoice when one such man dies his blood as an offering to Almighty Zeus in an age where hot blooded manliness is all but extinguished for godless harem animu that comes out every season.

    I don’t think Katsura a coward, even if you call her such she found her courage in the end to get BEST END. Honestly she had no friends, Sekai was a traitor, Makoto had sold her out to Kato and her gang of four. What recourse could she have had? She had foolishly clung to her kind and gentle nature for far too long I grant you that, but how would a girl go about to put an end to her torment? Leaving would be one way, killing them all was how it should have ended, but Katsura was not lucky to be a member of the School of the Undefeated of the East and did not have a Schwartz Bruder to look after her and teach her how to fell trees with a rusted blade.

    • It’s easy to find courage when you so hate the objects of her revenge. Kotonoha is a coward in that she never stood up to her tormentors… but I suppose she makes up for it by eviscerating her betrayer.

      I am not so impassioned in my disapproval with all the characters that I utterly hate them. I suppose I have less hate for Sekai, and Kotonoha because I never put myself in their shoes — merely a function of them being female. But yes, Sekai is a two-faced bitch. I don’t even know if Kotonoha’s discovery is factual, that Sekai was never pregnant. I don’t know if you can validate that with a kitchen knife.

      • Crusader says:

        Having hatred acting upon it is another matter, Katsura was at a tactical dead end she was outnumbered and could not claim qualitative superiority in close combat nor social clout. Again revenge would have required the audacity she only found later in the series, and it was a painful slog to get to that point.

        As for Sekai’s pregnancy we can go with Might makes Right and thus Katsura is the most righteous of the lot of them. Or if Sekai was really pregnant then Katsura has the honor of having unlocked the vaunted double kill achievement in a harem series, either way it matters little only that it was a swift and brutal end for Sekai cementing Katsura’s unchallenged dominance.

  5. Mike says:

    Great analysis, especially the comparison between Makoto and the standard figure of the rake. People can at least partly admire rakes precisely because a lot of alpha male traits are desirable: confidence, initiative-seeking, etc. Makoto has none of them and he doesn’t appear to be in possession of much of a conscience; he’s not only the standard passive weenie of many harem leads, he’s also a narcissist, which sends the repulsion factor even higher. And yeah, I thought the way he descended was a bit contrived, which is in my opinion the show’s chief artistic sin. I felt kind of sick and manipulated by the end of it because the schadenfreunde was rather artificial.

    I feared at the time that this show would start a trend of exploitive and repellent shock shows, with antiheroes one wishes to see stabbity stabbed, but it appears that it didn’t happen. Whether it’s really an enduring landmark remains to be seen. But it certainly got the attention like almost no show in the blogosphere at the time. Those were wild and funny days.

    • Thanks Mike! From your post:

      It may be because at this point, whatever Kotonoha is feeling for Makoto is certainly not love. It’s something much more twisted and perverted, the kind of possessiveness that induces this “good girlfriend” to cut off the head of his corpse, use it to kill her enemy, and caress it to her dying day.

      I think this is a good counterpoint for what seems to be some apologetics for Kotonoha c/o Crusader.

      I also appreciate the nods to sadism you presented in your post. I wish I had read it before writing this one. It’s a more romantic view of the intention of the show, to ascribe some genius that it punishes us viewers while expecting us to like it anyway.

      • Crusader says:

        Hey I never said that love was involved, I only said Katsura got BEST END by vanquishing her rival and making off with the her war trophy that should strike fear and woe into the hearts of her enemies. Love has nothing to do with this series, it doesn’t even seem to exist at all….

  6. Myssa says:

    As despicable as some of Makoto’s behavior might seem to people, it really pales in comparison to what his FATHER, Tamaru Itou, had done. Heck, I guess it’s not blatantly known in the Western blogosphere, but it’s understandable since his lurid exploits are limited to the series of games OVERFLOW has released over the years.

    I mentioned it to Ghost on Twitter, but I do think the willful asshattery of Makoto should be compared to what his scum of a sire had done. I can provide a family tree too:

    Pay attention to just how much 沢越 止 appears in every generation, and one would notice with horror that Makoto’s father impregnates his cousins, daughters, and granddaughters. In the games themselves, he boinks ALL women available, with great prejudice. Even when they’re already pregnant.

    • Crusader says:

      If so then Katsura ought to be lauded as a hero for ensuring the Makoto Itou line ended with him, or at least one can hope Sekai was the only one with child. Such a monstrous family that one.

      • Myssa says:

        As if it wasn’t already horrific to learn that, in one way or another most of the cast in School Days were related to each other within at least two degrees — with Setsuna and Sekai being half-sisters AND being technically Makoto’s nieces (since their moms are Makoto’s half-sisters), etc. Makoto’s father has no moral or ethical qualms at all.

    • If we’re lucky 8C will translate those charts. I don’t even know what to say though about this genealogy.

    • tyciol says:

      I think the first syllable of the dad’s name is “Tom” not “Tam”, and I’m not sure Itou is his surname.

      This guy appears to have many offspring and I don’t think he shares surnames with any of them, the common thing seems to be that they take the name of the mother.

  7. animekritik says:

    I actually really enjoyed this show. I had some vague knowledge that the ending was bloody, but it was fun to see how unexpectedly that all came out. I remember thinking Sekai was a really interesting and realistic character, whatever that means. The only thing I disliked was the art, it looked cheap at times..

    • The animation gets crude, which is a shame since the character designs are not unattractive. I also think Sekai is the most interesting character, precisely because of her lack of integrity and utter inauthenticity. Even more so, if indeed she faked her pregnancy.

  8. lolikitsune says:

    So Makoto has daddy issues.

    • Myssa says:

      As far as I know, he’s not even interested in his father, not is familiar with his sire’s amorous (and frankly despicable) history.

  9. Baka-Raptor says:

    The beginning of this show was excellent. Makoto has a crush on a girl just because she’s hot, and then he realizes she’s boring so he wants out. That’s real life. Relationships based on shallow beginnings rarely have fairy tale endings.

  10. blackholeheart says:

    Glenfidich 12 year is how I made it thru this show as well, what a cowinkiedink.

  11. foomafoo says:

    I agree with you that the catalyst of why the show went wrong was Sekai. If it wasn’t for her “lust” and probably jealousy and dishonesty to begin with, then there shouldn’t have been a bad ending although I can’t reassure the probability of Makoto still having sex with other girls. This is why I hate her so much. She could have snatched Makoto in a more “civil” way. err wait, is there any civil way to snatch somebody’s lover. I guess none. She’s screwed up.

    • I want to distinguish two kinds of affinity/lack of in a show:

      Watsonian = the appreciation of a character as a human being in the show.
      Doylian = the appreciation of a character as a created work.

      From a Watsonian perspective, I agree that Sekai is detestable. From a Doylian perspective, I think she’s the most interesting character in the show.

  12. Hanners says:

    I can’t really agree that School Days is a parody of eroge – rather, it’s a game to anime adaptation that has eschewed the tradition of picking a “good ending” route from the source material that it adapts, and has instead turned it on its head by choosing the most violent and malicious ending possible. I’ve seen a fair few eroge where there’s at least one ending that ends up with you being stabbed, killed or something along those lines, but rarely do such endings make the trip to TV screens.

    I’m kind of torn on whether this makes the anime exploitative or brave, but I have to commend it for one thing, and that’s the way the final episode really shook me up – I walked away from my laptop genuinely feeling a little wobbly and numb after watching it, and I can’t say that for many other shows.

    For similar reasons, that’s why I’m not surprised by Makoto at any point during the series; he’s a typical eroge male protagonist, and the series makes the mistake that almost every anime adaptation of similar games seems to fall into. Male leads in visual novels are empty, heartless vessels because it’s up to the player to give them a heart and conscience, or to forget any such emotions and just concentrate on bagging as many girls as possible. The trouble is, an anime adaptation can’t give you that ability and so the empty vessel remains so, which is why they become almost universally detestable, especially when coupled with a decision by the producers to cram in as many aspects of different girls routes as possible.

    It’s this kind of issue that makes White Album such a car crash, as Touya stumbles around sleeping with pretty much every female character in a mindless daze while generally being used to. School Days is also car crash anime at its finest… but as we all grudgingly know, usually watching a car crash and its fallout is riveting even if you know you shouldn’t be looking.

    • Well, your thoughts on it make me think that to call it a parody is charitable, but I think I’m still tempted to think of it that way. It’s the turning on its head part that is the crux of the parody idea. Mike Huang’s ideas on sadism is relevant here: how we manage to find ‘enjoyment’ from such a sneering, manipulative, and violent end where we would expect a happy one — that will somehow right all the wrongs we’ve suffered viewing up to that point.

      The deconstruction is: (in the binary opposition, the item on the left is preferred or is the status quo)

      Good end/Bad end
      Good end = enjoyable
      Bad end = not as enjoyable

      School Days as presented makes it ridiculously impossible to come up with some kind of ending that will correct all the moral depravity in its narrative. Hell can’t be frozen over, not even by love. These kids don’t know anything about love. So it makes the Bad End so extremely excessive and utterly without redemption… that even if we indulge some sense of justice in the comeuppance of the characters, we ourselves may or should feel dirty in that we’re a party to murders most foul.

      Why the hell should we find moral satisfaction from a sex-game adaptation anyway? Because we can’t help it. We value the good, because I doubt it that we think of ourselves as anything but good even though we indulge ourselves with some self-insert sex game or an adaptation of such. Makoto as such fucks with the self-insert concept by emphasizing how “YES, THIS IS INDEED YOU” …you know you’re going to fuck every girl in this game by playing every route. If placed in a single continuity, Makoto is the very possibility of your life.

      • Hanners says:

        Certainly, School Days the visual novel skews its ideas of good and bad endings as they all seem pretty disturbing to some extent – A lot of the good endings involve girls getting pregnant and becoming oddly slavish to you where normally this wouldn’t be a satisfactory conclusion at all; indeed, the only good thing about them tends to be that you don’t die horribly at the hands of a kitchen knife. 😉 Again, it’s open to debate as to whether this is exploitative or ground-breaking on the part of the producers.

        Getting a bit off-topic here, but interestingly I’ve been playing ef – A Fair Tale of the Two this week, and its narrative grabbed me to the extent where at one point I found myself entirely torn between two choices. Yes, I can play the game through multiple times and complete each route, yet somehow that wasn’t the point – I wanted to make what I felt was the “right” choice there and then, and I actually felt bad that I left a girl’s heartbroken at the end of it all and genuinely feel like I made a wrong decision. Again, sure I can play it again and mix my mistake, but I was still affected by perhaps not getting my preferred outcome the first time around.

        This is where School Days in both visual novel and anime form didn’t work for me – I never cared too much about Makoto’s actions, ergo I was happy to just go along for the ride, no emotional bond was ever formed to guide my choices.

        • Right, right. In most RPGs I’ve played or seen my friends play… they do a “righteous” play through at first, as if to satisfy their self-image, and make deposits on their moral conscience accout (so to speak).

          Then they go crazy doing every damned thing possible. It plays out so thoroughly in sandbox type games like Grand Theft Auto. I never played it, but had loads of fun hanging out with my brothers who did (Vice City was our fave) throwing the moral compass out the window.

  13. Jack says:

    I truly believe you’ve put more effort into thinking about School Days then the creators of the work.

    In the best possible way of course.

    Then again, works this bizarre and unrestrained are often fodder for insightful posts such as these.

    It is strange how the more appalling a show becomes the easier it is to write about it. I mean, what’s there to say about a show that’s excellent in every way?

    • I wouldn’t underestimate the creators… though some of the reflection may be done after the fact. But thank you!

      I agree that works that are whole and complete… lack nothing, and certainly not ink spilled in a blog post format. This is partly the reason that there isn’t a lot of posts on:

      Monster (anime)
      Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (manga)
      20th Century Boys (manga)
      etc etc

      But this is not to say the above aren’t thought-provoking! That would be quite false. I don’t usually write about the particularities of merits and the lack of it in a work, but in this case it defined my experience. This show was awful to watch while remaining incredibly interesting. That’s remarkable!

  14. sadakups says:

    Seriously, this is one show that I could not stomach seeing again. You know when there are times in anime where the “OH SH-” scenarios turn to be interesting, it’s the total opposite in this show.

    But then again, that’s what made the show memorable. It really made the situations in the show bad to worse and that infamous ending really sticks to anyone who has seen it. Well at least the ending worked considering the events leading to the end.

    And yes, poor Kotonoha. I really lost it when she had those lifeless eyes. Makoto really needed to die.

    • Yes, you’ve articulated precisely how I imagine the show affecting a viewer.

      I think the “wanting the character to die” is in itself a whole world of discussion. Tell me what really goes through your head when you feel this way. I really want to know.

  15. kadian1364 says:

    Funny I completed this show just this week also, but only because its a “staple” in the community. I realized early on, whether right or wrong, to not invest much emotion into it. As others noted, stylistically and qualitatively School Days is 95% like other terribad harem adaptations, remarkable only in the eventual direction of its narrative and the satisfying splat of its ending.

    I watched this thing on Crunchyroll, and peeked at the comments after every episode. It was constantly “Makoto this” and “Makoto that”, but we’re right to note he merely shares responsibility in their ring of deplorable behavior. Makoto is a snake and unthinking sleaze, but predictably simple in that way. His exploits were only made possible by the harem of willing enablers that encouraged him, Sekai chief among them. By the end I was doing my best evil mastermind laugh because finally, natural selection was at work! >:D

    Also, I think all these comments and the entirety of twitter deserves a log in the Ghost of Discussions. Brilliant stuff.

    • At first I was Makoto this and Makoto that as well. It wasn’t until it was obvious to me that the other triangle points were protagonists.

      What you said about enablers…

      I think this is very important. As I’ve mentioned in the post, the evil is irresponsibility… and perhaps less overt and active malice. None of them wanted to actively hurt or betray anyone. It was a matter of them serving themselves first before the interests of others.

      There are two enabling activities… the passivity c/o Kotonoha, and then the active encouragement provided chiefly by Sekai and then everyone else. Yes, even Setsuna made the offer first. Kotonoha was the only one that truly needed to be chased.

      As for the commentary here, I don’t think the Ghosts of Discussions is enough. I’m going to round up and annotate the discussion in a full follow-up post. As you said, the quality here is superb.

  16. otou-san says:

    Frankly I don’t think you overestimated the creators too much, if at all. I like the satire angle, always have. How I viewed the story when I saw it — and I found it to be brilliant for this — was as a plan to introduce small elements of realism into standard eroge format, and via that method hold a mirror to the player/viewer.

    Girls in eroge are goals, not people. Sexual encounters are “scenes,” not physical events that carry lasting meaning to their horny teenage participants. So you keep the same path and mechanics, but you add consequences, everything gets too real too fast and slides out of control.

    I think that’s why Makoto makes everyone so uncomfortable. Sure, you hate him because he’s a “jerk” or whatever (and he’s not exactly, he’s just the king of horrible inaction). But what you really hate him for is looking too much like yourself. It shatters the pleasant illusion of what it’d really be like to live inside an eroge or harem.

    • Girls in eroge are goals, not people. Sexual encounters are “scenes,” not physical events that carry lasting meaning to their horny teenage participants. So you keep the same path and mechanics, but you add consequences, everything gets too real too fast and slides out of control.


      I think this is what needs to be distinguished. School Days presented these and added consequences within a single continuity. It’s not like consequences aren’t present in VNs, they’re integral. However, the novelty and value is in the presentation of a single continuity.

      Compare it to other adaptations, who will have different shows entirely (e.g. Fate stay/Night) for different playable routes.

  17. Canne says:

    ‘We hate Makoto because we wanted some of what he got’
    That sounds eerily true but I think it is only for the male audience. Female viewers would probably have several other reason for hating him.
    Personally, I hate him because even at the end Makoto hasn’t realized that what he did was wrong. His death is not so satisfactory to me o_o

    • Indeed. I honestly can’t imagine a female viewer finding any value in watching this show.

      Also thanks for sharing the lack of satisfaction with his death. I honestly didn’t want anyone to die because death seems a paltry cost to bear responsibility for everything that’s happened. This goes for everyone involved.

      • tyciol says:

        In terms of Makoto-anime (because judging him in the VN is subjective based on what route you take) what exactly did he do wrong? The only person he really treated like shit was Kotonoha (pretending they weren’t dating) and even then, it’s not wrong to be private about your love life and deny people’s inquiries about your romance.

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  19. greywarden says:

    Makoto Ito is the worst anime character ever made ….

  20. adaywithoutme says:

    I never actually watched School Days, although I followed episodic blogs about it enough to be fairly aware of what went on in it. I am always interested when I see serious analyses of the show done since it is a show which is generally just dismissed with a toss of the head as being unworthy of greater consideration. And, yeah, it isn’t a good show and its intentions are fairly base, but one can draw a lot of fascinating stuff out of it and what it means vis-a-vis the larger anime culture and those who participate in it.

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  22. predederva says:

    I don’t think “parody” is the right word. It implies humor and this is not a funny show. “Deconstruction” works better. I noticed you used both, but I feel that feels more correct. Words are important. “Dissection piece” would also work. Anyway interesting take on the show. I loved it and reviewed it. I see what you mean by the “drama and excitement of gambling”. Good way to put it.

    • It is darkly comedic. It’s not played up for laughs but I do get the joke.

      I do appreciate the precision you try to bring into the discussion, and it is useful to make distinctions. But, there is a plurality of meaning — School Days, as most things, is more than one thing.

      • predederva says:

        Well I’ve just always felt “parody” is a type of comedy. I feel it’s more precise to label things like this, and Shadow Star Narutaru as “Deconstruction” or “dissection pieces” . The two are related, no question about it. As they point out how silly, unrealistic, problematic, etc the tropes/genre really is. One way of doing this is with humor, cracking jokes, and pointing out how absurd this really is, the other does it by playing the tropes straight. What would happen in the REAL WORLD? Words are the conduits of meaning they say. But that’s just how I would have written it. Just my opinion/take on these things 🙂 .

        And yes School Days is much much more then just a decon of the harem genre. It’s also a compelling and suspenseful character drama, with realistic people facing realistic problems. And a few other things. Quite a smart little show…

        • I’m a bit hesitant to ascribe too much intelligence in the work itself, though I’ve no problem acknowledging how provocative it is to generate intelligent discussion. I also strongly hesitate to ascribe realism to it. It is highly implausible for me to imagine such a bland person being the most interesting male in an entire population. It is our familiarity with the conceits of the harem genre that lets this kind of show be watchable in any way at all.

          • predederva says:

            There’s stuff in it that would never happen. If any school had a club room where kids could easily screw around in, that be insane. I would never call the show realistic. The characters are realistic, in how they act and feel. Big difference.

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  24. sumoni says:

    This is an old post, but I just finished this show. I found what you typed to be very interesting and insightful compared to what others had to say. Unlike a lot of people I can’t hate Makoto since Sekai somewhat unleashed the beast. So many characters have insecurities you can see from a human point of view why they did the things they did. Though that doesn’t make them right. Like Scott Pilgrim. Despite what “cool” character he is, he’s still an asshole who two timed and suffers from his own shortcomings.

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