School Days (スクールデイズ Sukūru Deizu?) is a Japanese adult visual novel developed by 0verflow and published by Stack, and was originally released for the PC on April 28, 2005. It was subsequently released as a DVD TV game by Stack, followed by an all-ages port titled School Days L×H published by Interchannel for the PlayStation 2, in both limited and regular editions, on January 17, 2008. It was later re-released as School Days HQ on October 8, 2010, with improved graphics, additional story and new endings. School Days has since then received two spin-off titles, Summer Days and Cross Days, and has made several transitions to other media, including a twelve-episode television and two OVA anime by TNK, a two-volume manga by Homare Sakazuki, six novels and a radio drama series.
Like traditional visual novels, School Days is played by advancing through scenes of audible or textual character dialog and making action decisions when they are asked of the player. Choices are internally tree structured so that each selection made will branch to a different story arc, all of which lead to erotic scenes and ultimately one of twenty possible conclusions. In order to view all of the endings, the player will effectively have to replay through the game several times and make different choices to direct the story in an alternate direction. School Days is different from other games of the genre in that it is presented with scenes of animated footage, instead of common static images, and how collections of scenes are divided into episodes complete with their very own opening and closing sequence. The game is audibly stereophonic with a music album of thirty-three individual tracks, sound effects and voices. Progress can be recorded and loaded separately into ten quick save files.
Additional options include a variety of options to alter how the game is played. These include a video playback option in 1×, 1.5×, 2×, 4×, or paused; automatically playing scenes without having to click until decisions arise; altering the game's audio volume, or being able to enable or mute the voices; the showing or hiding of dialog captioning as of patch 1.11; and being able to have a full or window frame game screen.
In School Days, there are twenty-one possible endings for the player to experience. There are fifteen good endings where the main character, Makoto, ends up with one of the obtainable heroines in the game. Of these endings, seven good endings are devoted to Kotonoha, five are given to Sekai, two are for Hikari, and one is with Otome. Of the other six endings, two are harem endings where the main character ends up with multiple girls. In one of these two, Sekai and Kotonoha both get together with Makoto, and in the other, Makoto has sex with various girls almost every day. There is one ending in the game which is only made available when certain conditions are met for one of Kotonoha's or Sekai's good endings entitled "Carnal Desire" (Kotonoha) and "Bavarois" (Sekai) where Makoto ends up getting Setsuna pregnant.
The final three endings featured in the game are the three bad endings which involve the death of one of the three main characters (either Makoto, Sekai, or Kotonoha) in violent circumstances. In one of these endings, Kotonoha kills Sekai in broad daylight with a saw to the neck; in another, Sekai stabs Makoto for leaving her for Kotonoha; and in the last bad end, Kotonoha kills herself by jumping off Makoto's apartment building after he chooses Sekai.
The PlayStation 2 version of School Days features five new bad endings, all of which involve the death of one of the main characters, along with some of the original endings extended. All five new endings involve one or more of the main characters getting ran over and killed by an oncoming train. Four of these endings involve a single death each where Makoto dies in one, Kotonoha dies in one, and Sekai dies in two of the four. The fifth ending involves the deaths of both Kotonoha and Sekai. The HQ version adds new branches of the main story and endings, including a bad one which involves Sekai pushing Kotonoha onto the train tracks, leading to her death, despite Makoto's attempt to save her from the train.
In the manga adaptation of School Days, Makoto confesses about his relationship with Sekai, but this leads to Kotonoha attempting to cut Sekai with a saw, believing she tricked Makoto into a relationship. Makoto intervenes at the last second, but is injured by Kotonoha's attack. As he recovers at a hospital, he discovers during a visit from Sekai that she had gone to Kotonoha's house and killed her in order to clean the slate and start over again with just herself and Makoto before he had met Kotonoha.
In the anime version, Sekai believes she is pregnant with Makoto's child, but is asked to get an abortion by Makoto; however, she is told to go to the hospital to confirm her pregnancy only to find it to be a misunderstanding. Under the emotional stress induced by Makoto's request, she stabs him in the stomach to death with a kitchen knife. Soon after, Kotonoha discovers Makoto's dead body and calls Sekai to the roof of the school using Makoto's cellphone. After a brief exchange, where Kotonoha shows Sekai the school bag with Makoto's severed head inside, Kotonoha attacks and kills Sekai with the backsaw that she cut off Makoto's head with, then cuts her womb open in search of the fetus. Finding nothing, she concludes that Sekai lied about her pregnancy. The ending scene shows Kotonoha on her family yacht clinging to Makoto's severed head.
- Makoto Ito (伊藤 誠 Itō Makoto?)
- Voiced by: Tatsuya Hirai (games), Daisuke Hirakawa (anime)
- Makoto is the unlucky protagonist of the series. A generally mannered and composed student in year one of class three, his life becomes complicated when he begins to unfaithfully initiate polyamorous relationships with girls that he is unable or unwilling to singly commit to. Although he is originally casual, gregarious and understanding, after becoming a sex addict, it completely corrupts his personality and he instead became apathetic, rash, and egotistical towards others, regardless of the harm or later consequences. However, once he realizes what he has done wrong, he is quick in his attempts to fix the situation. Makoto lives with his divorced mother and has a younger sister named Itaru who lives with their father. He is good friends with Taisuke Sawanaga and Otome Katou.
- Kotonoha Katsura (桂 言葉 Katsura Kotonoha?)
- Voiced by: Tae Okajima
- Genteel and reserved, Kotonoha is a student in year one of class four who is on the Student council and serves as one of the most pivotal characters in the story. A cute and noticeably well-endowed bookworm, she becomes the initial love interest of Makoto early into their second term, and with some effort from Sekai, Kotonoha becomes his girlfriend after she confesses her affection for him. While Kotonoha for the most part is calm and gentle, she has a very delicate constitution, which under stress leads to irrational culpability, delusions and even malice caused by the abuse she endures from other girls. She has a younger sister name Kokoro and lives with their wealthy mother Manami and father in the fictional area of Haramihama. She is disliked by Otome (or any other girl, for that matter) and is subject to her bullying and duress.
- Sekai Saionji (西園寺 世界 Saionji Sekai?)
- Voiced by: Shiho Kawaragi
- Sekai is a student in year one of class three who is the antithesis and foil of Kotonoha. A playful and outgoing classmate seated directly next to Makoto, she takes a curious interest in him during their first acquaintance, and in every medium of the series, helps to establish his bond with Kotonoha. Though genuinely upbeat, Sekai does occasionally show a more serious side, and when sufficiently frustrated can be loud, selfish, overemotional and even manipulative. She lives with her mother Yōko in the fictional area of Motehara-Sakashita, is part-time employed as a waitress at the family restaurant Radish and is also the best friend and unknowing half-sister of Setsuna Kiyoura.
Makoto Ito is a young Japanese high school student beginning his second term at the fictional Sakakino Academy. During his daily train rides to and from school, he becomes infatuated with fellow student Kotonoha Katsura; a girl that also commutes. When a new classmate acquaintance of his, Sekai Saionji, discovers his secret crush on Kotonoha, she helps introduce both of them to each other and over time they grow closer and agree to date. However in spite of her proud and triumphant matchmaking efforts, Sekai inadvertently becomes jealous of the new couple, having also developed feelings toward Makoto.
The following afternoon on her way home at the nearby train station in front of the school, Sekai finds Makoto waiting for Kotonoha to rendezvous for a date. He sits with her and reiterates his appreciation for her help, and feeling heavily indebted, offers repayment anyway he can. Though she believes he is overreacting, Sekai decides to redeem her obligation by placing a kiss on his lips as her train pulls in; quickly rushing into an open passenger car and happily bidding a dumbstruck Makoto luck on his date.
School Days was first available to the public on April 28, 2005, released for the PC. It was followed by an version released for the PlayStation 2, on January 17, 2008 as both a limited edition and a regular edition. To address several errors reported to have kept the game from functioning correctly, 0verflow has released several updates to the game. On July 21, 2005 0verflow released a 274MB patch for original print customers to update the game to a stable version of 1.11. The patch addressed several programming bugs, such as being unable to access certain endings, while additionally installing a subtitles and backlogging feature. A day later a patched commercial release was published.
With the exception of a few minor changes, the original School Days visual novel has been ported to two other platforms. On September 28, 2007, based on version 1.11, Stack Software released a four disc adult DVD TV game edition with changes such as the inclusion of a recollection mode to the removal of male voice mutability and progress saving; replaced by password access chapters. Months later on January 17, 2008, Interchannel released School Days L×H for the PlayStation 2 in both limited and regular editions, the latter coming bundled with the exclusive Valentine Days OVA DVD. Both versions were rated C by CERO for profanity, the limited edition for sexual intimacy, and contain four additional plot conclusions.
An updated version of the game, School Days HQ, was released on October 8, 2010. It features the improvements made on the latest spin-off of the series, Cross Days, including better graphics, is presented in higher resolution, and has better animation.
A spin-off title of School Days titled Summer Days was developed by 0verflow and published on June 23, 2006. Like its predecessor, the game is an erotic single-player visual novel for the PC, the only exception being that it has no ports. The game was released in a highly unstable condition littered with bugs, due to a production error, and the sheer quantity of patches that followed in response. Presently, the game is at a stable version of 2.01. While all the original characters appear in Summer Days, the plot is moderately rewritten to assume that everyone meets during summer vacation, instead of the first two semesters of high school. Setsuna Kiyoura also stars as the main heroine and central protagonist of the game. Another spin-off title, titled Cross Days, was developed by 0verflow and released on March 19, 2010. The story in Cross Days takes place in the same universe as School Days, but does not revolve around the same characters aside from their appearances in the game.
Books and publications
School Days transitioned into several paperback novels. Two novels written by Tome Okada and published by Harvest entitled School Days: Sekai Chapter and School Days: Kotonoha Chapter were released in November and December 2005, respectively. Another novel written by Takuya Baba and published by Jive entitled School Days: Along With You, Sky (スクールデイズ 君といる、空 Sukūru Deizu: Kimi to Iru, Sora?) was released on December 16, 2005. A novel written by Hiro Akizuki and published by Jive for the TV anime series entitled School Days: Innocent Blue (School Daysイノセント・ブル School Days: Inosento Buru?) was released in April 2008.
0verflow released a drama CD entitled School Days: Little Promise on February 24, 2006. An Internet radio show to promote the TV anime series entitled Radio School Days ran between June 26, 2007 and March 28, 2008, published by Lantis Web Radio and Onsen. Three CDs were released between November 21, 2007 and May 21, 2008 containing all forty radio broadcasts. The show was hosted by Shiho Kawaragi (voice of Sekai) and Soyogi Tōno (voice of Kotonoha). Two drama CDs were released by Lantis for the anime series on August 8, 2007 and October 24, 2007.
A manga adaptation illustrated by Homare Sakegatsu was serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's manga magazine Comp Ace between May 26, 2006 and September 26, 2007. It was also collected into two bound volumes published by Kadokawa Shoten under their Kadokawa Comics A label. The first volume containing the first six chapters was released on July 26, 2007, and was followed a second bound volume on November 26, 2007, containing the remaining six chapters.
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There has also been two manga anthologies produced by different companies and drawn by a multitude of different artists. The first manga anthology, an adult manga entitled School Days Kotonoha chapter Anthology Comic EX was released by Oaks under their XO Game Comics label, on September 25, 2007. A second manga anthology, released by Ichijinsha under the title School Days Kotonoha Comic Anthology, was released on February 25, 2008 under their DNA Media Comics label.
A twelve-episode anime series was developed by TNK with joint production by Avex Entertainment, Lantis, Marvelous Entertainment, Pony Canyon and Jinnan Studio. The anime aired in Japan between July 3, 2007 and September 27, 2007 on TV Kanagawa. On July 4, 2007 Chiba TV and TV Aichi also began to air the show with TV Saitama, TV Osaka and AT-X respectively picking it up a day after each other. The series has since been released in six limited and regular edition DVD volumes. Each volume contains one disc with two episodes NTSC formatted in full-color with Digital Theater System audio with each limited edition volume coming bundled with a numeric respective six track radio disc titled Radio School Days Shucchōban, Hoshū. The School Days anime adaptations contain fifty-six music tracks, fourteen of which are vocal themes by various artists. The remaining forty-two are background music tracks arranged by Kaoru Okubo.
Two OVA episodes were also produced and released. On March 28, 2008, a month after the final TV series DVD had been released, TNK released "Magical Heart Kokoro-chan" (マジカルハート☆こころちゃん Majikaru Hāto☆Kokoro-chan?), a magical girl parody spin-off, in both limited and regular editions; the former bundled with a six track radio disc. The other title "Valentine Days" (バレンタイン デイズ Barentain Deizu?) was a DVD exclusively bundled with the limited edition School Days L×H PlayStation 2 port, released with the game on January 17, 2008.
Delay of finale
The day before the final episode was scheduled to air, a sixteen-year-old girl killed her father with an axe in Kyoto. In response, TV Kanagawa replaced the episode, which was known to contain similarly violent material, with half an hour of scenery and classical music to avoid association with the murder. Other stations airing the anime followed suit, except for AT-X, who remained indecisive at the time. In the following week, 0verflow announced that a screening of the episode would take place in the Tokyo area as part of the release of the series first DVD volume, and would require a copy of either the PC game or Summer Days PC game for admission. However, AT-X announced that they would air the last episode on September 27, 2007, with minor alterations in airing times. The screening of the episode that 0verflow announced showed the uncut version of episode twelve, including the blood color change from black back to red, adding back all sound effects that were removed from the broadcast version, and fewer flashbacks. The uncut version of the episode was included in the DVD release on February 27, 2008.
The sudden swap of the last episode to scenery footage led to shock and confusion among the fans. A contributor of the English-speaking 4chan image board posted screenshots of the episode, dryly commenting that the "last episode of School Days is live action" and writing "Nice boat" next to an image of M/S Skagastøl, a Norwegian Fjord1 ferry. The phrase "Nice boat" immediately became an Internet meme and reached massive proportions in Japan, spreading via screenshots of the 4chan thread and a flood of "nice boat" comments on Nico Nico Douga videos of the scenery footage. It ranked tenth in Yahoo! Japan's keyword search ranking for the week of September 17 to September 23, 2007, and appeared as a hidden message in the first episode of the anime Ef: A Tale of Memories. Kadokawa Shoten also parodied 'Nice Boat' with a short video posted on YouTube on February 13, 2009, when the first episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya was originally planned to premiere. The phrase was so well-known among fans that 0verflow decided to name its booth "Nice boat" for the Comiket 73 in December 2007, selling "Nice boat" merchandise along with its normal line of specialty items. In the later released "Magical Heart Kokoro-chan" OVA, Magical Kokoro-chan is seen riding in a raft with the name "Nice Boat" written on the side.
The School Days visual novel contains a total of thirty-three tracks, eight of which are vocal themes. The other twenty-five are background music track arranged by Kiriko / Hiko Sound. The game's opening theme is "Still I Love You: Mitsumeru yori wa Shiawase" (Still I Love You ～みつめるよりは幸せ～?) sung by Kiriko, and the main ending theme is "Anata ga...Inai" (あなたが・・・いない?) by Minami Kuribayashi. In the PC version, Sekai's ending theme is "Bye-Bye Tears" by Yozuca*, and Kotonoha's ending theme is "Hello My Happiness" by Miyuki Hashimoto. The sub-heroines share an ending theme in both the PC and PS2 versions: "Secret Zaurus" (シークレット ザウルス Shikuretto Zaurusu?) by Yuria. The ending theme during Christmas Eve in the game is "Futari no Christmas" (二人のクリスマス Futari no Kurisumasu?) by Rino. The ending theme played during the game's bad ends is "Kanashimi no Mukō e" (悲しみの向こうへ?) by Kanako Itō. An insert song used during the folk dance is "Let me Love you" by Haruko Momoi. An album entitled School Days Vocal Album featuring the vocal themes was released on April 28, 2005. The game's original soundtrack was released on July 21, 2005.
Reception and sales
According to a national ranking of based on the sales of bishōjo games in Japan, the PC release of School Days premiered at number one in the rankings. It was then dropped to the second place the following two weeks, and the seventeenth on the next ranking, but was raised back to the fifth in the following chart. It then remained at the twenty-seventh for the next month, and was then removed from the chart. School Days was the most widely sold game on Getchu.com for the first and second quarter of 2005, and is the ninth most widely sold game for the overall year.
The anime received good reviews from Anime on DVD. With reviewer Mark Thomas stating, "I am so far utterly enthralled by the story. It is incredibly well put together, and frankly, I am not sure how well it would be working up to this point without such a detestable cast. The story is solid, and they are doing a good job of building some great tension between the characters." Thomas also commends the anime for its strong story, great initial foundation, and its seriousness. In his review of the final four episodes he concluded, "I really enjoyed School Days, but it is not an anime that is for the faint of heart. The opening episodes do not really hint at being a particularly dark anime, but it ultimately gets there, particularly with the ending. It is uncomfortable and disturbing from at least the midpoint, but it was so well done, that I appreciated it for going where it went."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Script error
- ↑ Script error[dead link]
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- ↑ "School Days (TV)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- ↑ "TV Kanagawa cuts final episode of anime after teenage girl kills father with ax". Mainichi Daily News. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- ↑ "Preempted School Days Episode to Show at Tokyo Event". Anime News Network. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ Chris Salzberg (2007-09-21). "Japan: Axe Murder, School Days and a Nice Boat". Global Voices Online. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
- ↑ Fukuda, Jun (2007-09-26). "Fed Up With the Encouraging Overreaction Bias (偏見助長する過剰反応うんざり Henken Jochōsuru Kajō Hannō Unzari?)". Yomiuri Shinbun.
- ↑ "'Nice Boat' Video Posted Instead of Haruhi-chan Debut". Anime News Network. February 13, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- ↑ "Comiket 73 0verflow Nice boat website". 0verflow. Retrieved 2007-12-22.
- ↑ PC News ranking for bishōjo games; School Days ranks 1 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2005).
- ↑ PC News ranking for bishōjo games; School Days ranks 2 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2005).
- ↑ PC News ranking for bishōjo games; School Days ranks 17 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2005).
- ↑ PC News ranking for bishōjo games; School Days ranks 5 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2005).
- ↑ PC News ranking for bishōjo games; School Days ranks 27 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 18, 2005).
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 "School Days Episodes #01-#04". Mania. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
- ↑ "School Days Episodes#09-#12". Mania. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
- School Days visual novel official website (Japanese)
- School Days L×H official website (Japanese)
- School Days HQ official website (Japanese)
- Anime official website (Japanese)
- School Days (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopediako:스쿨데이즈