School-Live! Review: An Anime You Don’t Want to be Spoiled About.

Before reading this review, I would highly recommend watching the first episode of School-Live! if you have not watched it yet.   
Seriously, you do not want to be spoiled about what this anime’s plot before you see if for yourself.
I had no idea of what was going to happen going in so it made the surprise all the better.
If you have made it this far into the review, I will assume you have either watched it or do not care about spoilers.
Based off the manga written by Norimitsu Kaiho, and directed by Masaomi Ando, School-Live! follows four girls and their dog, Taromaru, who have started the School Living Club, where they strangely stay at the bright and colourful school twenty-four hours a day.
These girls consist of the bright and bubbly Yuki Takeya (Inori Minase), the shovel wielding Kurumi Ebisuzawa (Ari Oazawa), the president of the club Yuuri Wakasa (M.A.O), and new member Miki Naoki (Rie Takahashi).

School-Live! follows the adventures of these four girls and their dog.

There is also their teacher and advisor to the club, Megumi Sakura (Ai Kayano), who is especially helpful to the dim witted Yuki.
However, this is where the twist comes in.
The “bright and colourful school” I mentioned?
Yeah, turns out it’s not so bright and colourful because a zombie apocalypse has taken place, leaving the members of the School Living Club as the only survivors, and all the happy stuff is entirely in Yuki’s mind since she has basically created a fantasy world to cope.
So, we are really seeing this story through two lenses, the first being Yuki’s fantasy world and the second being the harsh reality of the zombie apocalypse.
This made for a fantastic cliffhanger in the first episode, which brought the show from looking like a by the numbers slice of life, to a slice of death with plenty of zombies.

I remember audibly gasping when I saw the zombie twist. I figured there was something weird about what was happening but I next expected that.

From here, the story continues detailing how the girls survive their terrible situation, while constantly trying to keep the fragile Yuki’s fantasy world intact for her betterment.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t really result in anything as interesting as that first initial twist.
This is not to say that School-Live! is bad but I did find it a bit hard to get engaged with the characters and events at times, which was not helped by how convenient and obvious some further twists turned out to be.

While the first twist is genuinely great, others feel too obvious or convenient. Thankfully, some of these twists are not saved for the final episodes and revealed quicker than I expected.

It wasn’t until the final few episodes, which racked up the tension, that I became truly invested in the plot and characters again. 
Although, this was also wrapped up kind of conveniently again by the end.

Despite these issues, I would still say that School-Live! is worth a watch.
It may not exactly live up to how fantastic its initial twist is, yet the interest generated by the twist and the intensity seen in the last few episodes do make it enjoyable.
Just don’t expect anything worthwhile and a bit of a slow pace and you will have fun.  

ID: Invaded Review: Diving into the Criminal Mind… Literally.

4 stars
When I heard of the premise for the original anime
ID: Invaded, I was immediately intrigued.
A world where detectives can find fragments of a serial killer’s drive to kill at their crime scenes and use this to create an ID Well, a simulated world where “brilliant detectives” dive in to literally explore the criminal mind, all in order to catch them?
It sounded right up my alley and, boy, was it.
Directed by Ei Aoki and written by Ōtarō Maijō, the story follows Akihito Narihisago (Kenjiro Tsuda), an investigator traumatised by a disturbing family tragedy, which gave him his own drive to kill.
This drive allows him to become the brilliant detective Sakaido, when he dives into the ID Wells of serial killers, as he always finds himself investigating the death of the mysterious Kaeru, with the mystery behind her death always leading to the identity of the real life murderer the force are hunting.

The ID Wells are always interesting to see, with each killer’s inner psyche manifesting in different ways.

Once this killer’s identity is discovered, it is up to the team in the real world to catch them, with one new detective, Koharu Hondomachi (M.A.O), having a particular interest in using the ID Well.
ID: Invaded does a great job with its exploration of the ID Wells and the investigation that is taking place in the real world at the same time.
It creates interesting episodes, with each one initially focusing on a single killer as the story progresses, before it branches out to focus solely on the one behind the scenes pulling the strings: John Walker.
These episodes do a good job of getting you into the heads of the killers, although, it should be noted that quite a few of these serial killers are comically over the top.
The anime also makes you feel for the victims as well.
One particular episode has such a masterful bait and switch that it hit me like a train when the rug was pulled out from under us.

Just like Narihisago, we are hit hard with the relization of the big twist of that particular episode.

The show even managed to surprise me by making one of my favourite characters one of the killers, the Perforator (Yoshimasa Hosoya, and I won’t give his character’s actual name, so not to spoil the first few episodes), as I quite liked the progression of his bond with Honomachi.
It’s not all great, though, because I did find the story’s big twist to be entirely predictable, since I pretty much called it right from episode one.
That said, the events surrounding this predictable twist are pretty mind boggling, in a good way.
ID: Invaded honestly reminded me of Inception here with its weird ID Well inside ID Well settings.
The explanation to how all of this was even possible and how it ties in with who Kaeru is was also quite creative and an explanation I really enjoyed.

Along with being creative, the last four or so episodes also bring the feels, with one scene being so emotional that it is difficult not to tear up at it.

Pairing this with the great character growth of Narihisago, Hondomachi and the Perforator, and we have an enagaging show that I would definitley recommend.
Sure, it’s big twist is predictable and it does get a bit formulaic at times, before the last stretch of episodes, but ID: Invaded is still a good time with some very creative story choices in the final half.