Pretty hard hitting that episode – in the course of but a single episode the stakes were raised. This happened on both on a local level in the reveal of the fate of Megu-nee and especially on a larger level regarding some hints as to what happened in the first place regarding the whole “zombie apocalypse” to begin with. We get some hardfast answers yes – but we get a much larger panorama of puzzles that arise, and many of which have a very low chance of really receiving answers in the current circumstances … and even if they could be “answered” per se, would they really help in a practical sense? Yes indeed … things are looking … grim.

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The first thirty seconds of episode eight were for me both chilling and heart breaking all at once. For those who remember, at the end of episode three we saw Megu-nee in what appeared to be a closed room somewhere with lots and lots of drawers or file cabinets lining the wall from floor to ceiling, and only her back as she continued scribbling in a notebook of her memories and recollections. As if continuing that scene, this episode opens with a bloodied form of what is obviously Megu-nee shuffling about zombie style in this room, and we are shown the walls smeared with blood and the notebook itself – the last entries seem to be her writing even as she was taken over by the process of zombification, trailing off into scrawls, with the last entries that look anything rational or legible being the names of Yuri, Kurumi and Yuki. I must say, though, that the background music for this scene was exceptional – the thirty seconds of this sequence was extremely powerful.

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Much of the episode itself focused, interestingly, on Yuri, and was dedicated to her searching for what lock the key Miki discovered (amongst Megu-nee’s belongings stored on the top of the cabinet that fell on Yuki’s head last episode) could possibly fit to. After a brief interlude where we discover the disconcerting fact that Taroumaru seems to have learned how to slip out of his collar and run wild afterwards we see Yuri searching through Megu-nee’s desk in the staff room and remembering the times she spent with Megu-nee. It even touches on how Yuri was the one who posed the idea for the School Living Club (not Megu-nee, as I thought from last week’s episode) and also shows what turn out to be the final moments Megu-nee and the three girls spent just before Megu-nee was wounded in the zombie attack – and after which she apparently escaped and made her way to the closed room where she began writing in the book until she was finally taken over by the zombification.

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Later that evening a troubled Yuri is joined by Miki (who also cannot sleep) and after comparing notes they discover that they have been unnerved by the same coincidences regarding the school being way too conveniently stocked with facilities to enable long term survival. The two of them decide to undertake a more thorough search throughout the staff room (that is, not just confined to Megi-nee’s desk and belongings)  and after a little while are also joined in this by Yuki, who woke up from a bad dream, it seems. After some searching they come across a sort of “secret compartment” in which there is a tiny strongbox that the key happens to fit. After Yuki heads off to “inform Megu-nee” that they discovered the box the key was for Yuri shows what she has found to Miki and the newly awakened Kurumi. Apparently there was knowledge amongst the higher ups of the school (and presumably by the local authorities?) of the possibility of a dangerous outbreak taking place due to some kind of biochemical weapon and the school was one of the places prepared in secret in advance in case such an emergency should take place. Well…it apparently has. And apparently Megu-nee also knew of such a thing as a possibility ahead of time?

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This new information explains some things about the facilities of the school and about what happened, yes – but it raises many, many more questions at the same time. And not just intellectual questions, either. I think Kurumi’s reaction of slamming her fist on the table and wondering what in the world is going on here pretty much sums up some of the viewers responses as well. There was a collection of papers talking about what might happen, yes, but also apparently outlining what emergency procedures should be taken as well … and, well, unsurprisingly it looks like the procedures failed, and failed miserably, in the face of the actual biochemical weapon outbreak when it took place. But why did it take place? What is going on? How much did the higher ups know ahead of time? What were they doing fiddling around with such dangerous things in the first place? Is anything being done now? As can be seen, there are many, many questions to answer. By the way, for those who thought that this series was simply a “psychological drama” or the like surprise! We have involved, overarching storylines and plots as well!

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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