Love, Friendship, and Togetherness in the Time of COVID-19
Norimitsu Kaiho's School Live series is a story about love, friendship, and how bonds with others can help us get through impossible circumstances. Join local otaku Kit and Mercedez as they discuss this series, its virtues, and what it can teach us about surviving in the current times.
We are here, you and here, and we'll all get through this together.
Episode 1: “What is School-Live?”
Welcome to the very first episode of We Are Here: Lessons from the School Living Club!
Today's topics of discussion: What is School Live?
How did Kit and Mercedez come to know about it? And what's this podcast about anyway?
Listen to Episode Here!
[Intro music plays from 00:00 - 00:25 before fading out.]
KIT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first ever meeting of our little school living club. Mercedez, I'm glad you're here today.
MERCEDEZ: I'm glad to be here! I'm really excited.
KIT: How are you?
MERCEDEZ: You know, um... I am doing well actually.
MERCEDEZ: How are you?
KIT: I'm doing pretty okay. I've got my mug of hot water here and I am super excited to start talking about this series with you 'cause boy, does this hit different during the pandemic!
MERCEDEZ: It...It hits very different during the pandemic. It actually is kind of soothing to read during the pandemic...? All things considered.
KIT: I agree and I am really excited especially because I...I'm hoping that the show will get a lot of people to either read or watch School-Live! for the first time. And hey, if that-if you're part of that group, welcome!
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, we are absolutely excited to kind of like... potentially do a guided reading [laughter] through this series. [laughter continues]
KIT: That's kind of what it is, isn't it?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah! I mean, it kind of-it kind of is this...guided reading of like, jumping you into School-Live!, which is perhaps one of the most underrated titles in Seven Sea's library. Like their whole collection of manga. This is probably one of the most underrated.
KIT: Mine says that it's published by Yen Press.
MERCEDEZ: [pause] Whoops! [laughter]
Well, we all make mistakes. [laughter continues] That's okay. That's okay.
KIT: So, we should probably kick this off by talking about what the heck School-Live! is, right? I mean, that's kind of the title of the episode.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I think-I think we absolutely should give an introduction. So, uh...do you want to handle that?
KIT: So, School-Live! is a manga series written by Norimitsu Kaiho and drawn by Sadoru Chiba. It follows the journey of four girls -Yuki, Kurumi, Rii, and Miki- as they try to survive in, essentially, the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. So, the zombie apocalypse has already happened and is kind of continuing to happen. And the series is sort of about how do you move forward. Still, like living in the world after that's happened.
MERCEDEZ: The series has also been adapted into a 12 episode anime series, which I feel like a lot more people are going to know than the manga and I also a live-action movie that hasn't come out in America and that's a crime.
KIT: Yeah, it's-it's quite a crime because I think the live-action movie came out in the late 2010s. I'm...I'm honestly-I honestly can't remember but it really is a crime that we haven't gotten it. Because I think it would be really enjoyable to have.
I would love to see it. I feel like Japanese live-action anime adaptations are always vaguely cheesy. And I really want to see what that looks like for School-Live! [laughter]
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, yeah, cuz that cheesiness is kind of the charm?
KIT: [crosstalk] Exactly!
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] It's kind of-I think the trope is called narm charm, and it's...it's kind of the fun of them, but we...we so rarely get them outside of Japan.
KIT: Right! So, Mercedez, what drew you to this series? How did you find out about it?
MERCEDEZ: So I...I've actually spent a little bit of time trying to think of like, when did I buy School-Live? And I honestly don't remember when I bought it. I want to say I was in graduate school. But I... decided to read it after I was "informed" about the volume one "twist" that happens. And it was enough of a hook that...I thought, well, I kind of...I kind of shouldn't judge a book by its cover, which I had been doing. And I should just actually give it, you know, a good try.
And what I found was a really thoughtful, really heartfelt, really...sometimes painful but in a good way, story that I impulse bought and kept reading because of just kind of the varied amount of complicated readings that you can do with this series. And because of just the feeling that I got from it.
How about you? How did you come to this series?
KIT: Well, I found out about the series when the anime came out. And I remember this was back when I was like really, really into seasonal anime. I had just graduated college so I had nothing better to do, and I used to watch this YouTuber named Dodger. I don't know if you've ever heard of her. She goes I think her YouTube handle is DexBonus.
And...she would do like, seasonal anime reviews where she would do like watch the first episode of everything and give impressions and then like after three episodes, give you know like, is this worth watching, etc, etc. And so I was watching one of her videos on that 2015 season and she was like, "Everybody has to watch School-Live! Like, I'm not going to tell you why I don't want to tell you anything about it. Just watch it."
And I was intrigued enough by that recommendation. And I was like, Okay, well, now I have to know what the big deal is.
KIT: And I watched that first episode of the show, and I've been obsessed with this series ever since.
MERCEDEZ: I mean, it's...it's pretty good! It's a really heartfelt anime and it's a really good seasonal watch.
KIT: And it really is! And I really like-the very first episode of the anime adapts the first chapter of the manga. And, so it ends with the twist that it's actually a zombie apocalypse story. So, for like the first twenty minutes of the show, it's a fairly like, wacky hijinks, slice of life, school anime. And then at the very end is when you find out what's actually going on.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I...I think you could even say for those first twenty minutes, it's the, um..."cute girls doing cute girl things" kind of genre, which I'll admit like, I like that genre, because it's very nice. But the show is so much more than that. [laughter] And it's really good.
KIT: So, I watched the whole show that season and I told her I wouldn't shut up about it when that show was airing. [laughter] I told every single person I had ever met to watch it, because I just was so fascinated by it. And...then I started picking up the manga and reading through the manga. And, I think I have read through the manga at least once a year. every year since like 2016.
MERCEDEZ: But that's really beautiful! Like, as someone who really loves manga myself, I always like it when people say that there's a manga that's been put out in English that they read through annually. You know, it's...it's, it's really heartwarming, and this is a good manga to spend time with every year.
KIT: This is also one of the...the few manga that I own in English and Japanese.
KIT: I have the first—I only have the first volume in Japanese because I haven't been able to find the other ones. But, I definitely have taken that Miki approach to being like I've read the translation, I can figure this out. [laughter]
MERCEDEZ: It's funny you say that because when I lived in Japan, I often eyed buying this manga and Japanese because it's just so enjoyable! [laughter] I wish I had more words than so good and so enjoyable. But it really is—it just...it's very heartwarming, it's incredibly optimistic. And, as the kids say, it hits differently in the times that we're living in.
But I don't think it hits in a bad way. It actually has given me a lot of support, kind of, as we're...as we're going through our own events. [laughter]
KIT: Well, and I feel like the, the pandemic has affected everyone in like unique and different ways, right?
MERCEDEZ: [crossstalk] Yeah, right.
KIT: [crosstalk] Like one person, right pandemic experience is going to be similar to another person's, but it might not be identical, right?
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Right.
KIT: [crosstalk] There's always different factors. And then, you know, you might have somebody who's having an entirely different lived experience.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I think even between both you and I, we've both had very different pandemic experiences. You know, I think about last year in 2020, when the pandemic was happening, I had an international move mid-pandemic.
MERCEDEZ: Whereas, you know, a lot of a lot of people were kind of hunkering down and staying safe. I was on a 12 hour airplane flight. [wry laughter] So yeah, you're right. Every...everyone's experience is radically different.
KIT: Not only that, but you've kind of expect you have the unique viewpoint of experiencing like, the...the handling of the pandemic by two different governments. Right?
MERCEDEZ: Right! Right. I've experienced two...in many ways, radically different, in many ways, very similar approaches to handling the pandemic. Which is...I'll say, it's kind of a interesting insight to have, because most-a lot of, a lot of people didn't necessarily have that. And so, it...it has kind of-reading School-Live! has kind of given me a...maybe a bit of appreciation and a bit of understanding around that situation and having gone through that.
KIT: Well, and I think for me, the the one of the biggest difficulties of the pandemic of course is...is isolation and depression, right?
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Oh yeah.
KIT: [crosstalk] Because the things that I used to be able to do--and I want to give some context here, I recently started therapy, and I haven't talked about that much on like social media or on other podcasts that I do, but it's been really interesting. Having started that process, and then reading this manga again, because in a lot of ways, this manga is kind of reflecting what a lot of my goals of therapy are right? Of trying to figure out how do I...continue to function when everything feels extremely, like, overwhelming and like it's falling apart, right?
KIT: How do you have hope for the future when it feels like there's no way the future is going to be good?
MERCEDEZ: Exactly though, and I'll say, I've also recently restarted therapy, I think I'll have my...goodness, I'll have my third session next week. And it is...it is very hard to--it's hard to do healing when the world is falling apart. It's hard to do something that feels selfish, like healing, when everything is wrong and upside down and turned inside out. And I think...I think maybe I can speak for both of us. I think that's partially why we wanted to do this.
MERCEDEZ: Is... because the world is--the world's kind of going through this massive upheaval and reversal. So, why not put something good into the world?
KIT: Exactly. And, I think that it's been interesting, because, you know, like, one of the thing is that I—and I talked to you about this a little bit before we started recording. But one of the things that my therapist kind of mentioned was, you know, what are things...what are actions that you can take to improve your own situation, right?
And I didn't even, like, it didn't even cross my mind to think about that. And then shortly after I had that session, I started re-reading the manga for for this recording session. And, it really kind of like, helped me sort of, like, re-configure the way that I was thinking about the world.
MERCEDEZ: [crosstalk] Yeah.
KIT: And I'm hoping that by sort of putting this out in the world, talking about it, talking about what can we learn and what can we put into practice in our own lives, that it can help, you know, maybe make some people feel less alone or make a positive change? Or you know, all that, that hot girl shit? I don't know. [laughter]
MERCEDEZ: Absolutely, though. I think...I am someone who very much so believes in speaking power into things. I think, you know, part of being human is rolling the dice pretty much every day. But I also think that there's so much good energy in just putting something out into the world to help support others, especially in a time of need. And so yeah, I think...I think that's hopefully...that's hopefully what we're gonna do. And hopefully, some people will also come to find School-Live! and also really love it. [laughter]
KIT: Yeah! I mean, that's, that's my ultimate goal is honestly, if you watch this anime or read this manga, and you are able to take something away from it or find even like, a smacker of joy, I will feel like I've accomplished something.
MERCEDEZ: Absolutely. Absolutely!
KIT: So I think that’s essentially it. Maybe we should outline what the show is going to kind of be like, I think that'll be very helpful. Yeah! So Mercedez, do you want to kind of talk about what people can expect from future episodes of this program?
MERCEDEZ: Sure, I would love to! Okay, so let me...let me, dear listener, give you the rundown. So each show, we're gonna do a call and response to kind of get you into what we're going to talk about. Every episode is going to have a virtue or a theme. [laughter] I guess, if we wanted to give a virtue or a theme to this episode, it's "Introductions." [laughter]
KIT: Well, I would say if there's a virtue or a theme to be taken away from this, it's...sometimes it's worth it to try to, you know, do something to bring other people joy, right?
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, I guess--yeah, you know what, that's really beautiful! [laughter] Actually, it is. But essentially, we're gonna have a virtue and theme every single episode and--and that's kind of going to be the lens that we're reading each volume through, and kind of examining each volume through.
After that, we're going to go into just some ideas that we're taking away from the characters, from where the plot is going, from the volume. Sometimes, the ideas are going to be really robust. Sometimes they're not. And for the sake of our podcast, we're going to be calling these ideas our rules. So these are going to kind of be your guidelines that we hope that you carry into every week, every time that you engage, every fortnight.
After that, we're going to kind of go back to the Club Room and look at our Survival Kit. What we're taking into our daily life, the things that are carrying us and helping us kind of remember, you know, to keep our humanity, to keep our mental health, to keep ourselves at the forefront as we all continue to the pandemic. Yeah, I think I think that's kind of your general overview.
KIT: Yeah, no. And that's that's really good! I am especially excited because I am the survival Kit. So you know... [laughter]
MERCEDEZ: [giggling] That got me!
KIT: I really had to work that in there somehow. I've been thinking about it all week.
MERCEDEZ: I love it though!
KIT: So yeah, no and...so that's the gist of the show each episode we're going to try to keep it to like a half hour. This first one is probably going to be a little shorter than that just because, you know, it's—it's mostly the introduction. The who are we? Why are we here? Why should you bother listening to us? That sort of thing.
But I'm really glad that you are all are here with us. I really appreciate you taking time to listen to the show, to check out the show. I'm really excited to talk about these volumes with you Mercedez, because you know, fun fact. This is kind of why we're friends.
MERCEDEZ: It absolutely is! This is...this is uh...dear listener, this is what brought us together. [laughter] When, when one day, Mercedez decided to message Kit and be like, "I love your podcast!" [laughter]
KIT: I think I had tweeted something about School-Live! and then you were like, "School-Live?!"
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, you had, and then like, we popped into one another's DMs and a friendship was born. And I...I have to say, I'm gonna get Kit all teary eyed right now. But, I really treasure our friendship. And, I'm so glad that we both started just this conversation about School-Live! and about the live-action movie. It really...has become this really important part of my life that I treasure. And I really treasure you Kit. Like you're definitely my survival Kit.
KIT: Well, Mercedez, I treasure your friendship too, like, I am so happy that like we are friends with one another. I was thinking about it recently. I think this was like last week, Shelley mentioned something about like, "Can you believe that you and Mercedez have been friends for over a year?" and I had like time whiplash, because I couldn't believe.
But, it's been an absolutely wonderful year and I'm so glad that we could kind of like, build the sort of culmination of our friendship and share that with others.
MERCEDEZ: Yeah, it—it really feels like a celebration because this is what brought us together. And now we're sharing this really important thing with other people. And it's...it's just wonderful. And I'm definitely looking forward to like, many years, decades of friendship with you.
KIT: Me, too! Well, thank you all so much for listening to this very first introduction to we are here lessons from the school living club. I am so glad that we are all on this journey together.
I'm here, you're here, and we're all gonna get through this together.
MERCEDEZ: See you next meeting!
Episode 2: Vol. 1
Transcription Coming Soon
Episode 3: Vol. 2
Transcription Coming Soon
Episode 4: Vol. 3
Transcription Coming Soon
You can send all of your questions, comments, and concerns to co-hosts Kit and Mercedez by email them at [email protected] If you get them to us ahead of recording sessions, you might even hear them answered or mentioned in the show!
Additionally, you can find them on Twitter at @shovelcast, as well as on their personal Twitter accounts: @pinkroomba (Kit) and @pixelatedlenses (Mercedez).