This article contains spoilers for the School Days anime.
A series of selfishly-made bad decisions. A downward spiral of people treating other people badly to satisfy their own ends. A tragic story of people callously taking advantage of one another.
All three describe School Days. The infamous visual novel and TV anime is often described by fans as infuriating, a distorted take on the harem romance comedy genre, in which a love triangle quickly devolves into a love pentagon as protagonist Makoto Itou goes for the harem ending, to tragic results.
What begins as an innocent teenage romance quickly breaks down once people start using one another. Sekai tempts Makoto away from Kotonoha. She hadn’t been true to her own feelings when she set the two of them up with each other, so she attempts to appeal to him physically, using his teenage urges to gain his affection.
Her physical appeal works, but only so far. Makoto ends up using her for the easy sex she gives him. She hopes to turn him around and make him fall in love with her, but, in so many words, he’s already getting what he wants from her. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
As the series continues on, the web of lies and using grows deeper.
Setsuna uses Makoto to help satisfy her guilt over leaving Sekai to go overseas.
Makoto uses Setsuna’s desperation as a way to get more easy sex.
Otome tries to seduce Makoto, only to get used for easy sex.
Taisuke takes advantage of Kotonoha in a moment of vulnerability.
The characters’ callousness and selfishness destroy one another emotionally and psychologically. Many “fans” (term used lightly) of School Days would say “don’t be Makoto,” but “don’t be Sekai,” or “don’t be Setsuna,” “don’t be Otome,” or “don’t be Taisuke,” are all equally pertinent pieces of advice.
Makoto’s transgressions are well-documented. He cheated on his girlfriend and went for the harem ending, with blatant disregard for how it affected the people he was with. Makoto, however, is far from the only character in the wrong.
Sekai’s problem is that she’s too emotionally immature to be selfish when the situation calls for it. She knows she wants to be with Makoto, but doesn’t make any moves in that direction. Instead, she sets Makoto up with Kotonoha, in a play to make Makoto happy at her own expense. She only starts working in her own self-interest when Makoto is already deep into his relationship with Kotonoha, and the way she does it is to try and appeal to him physically.
Sekai’s other problem is that she’s afraid of rejection, as evidenced by the fact that she’s willing to use her sexuality to win Makoto over, rather than trying to convince him legitimately.
In contrast with Sekai, Setsuna’s problem is that she’s too selfish. Her role in the series is as another wedge between Makoto and Kotonoha, but her reasoning reveals her nature. She attempts to keep Makoto “faithful” to Sekai by involving herself in the situation without knowing the whole story, which only serves to further complicate things.
The reason she goes to all of this trouble is because she’s leaving overseas soon. This is a problem because she knows Sekai is emotionally unstable. Setsuna doesn’t think Sekai can function without her around, so she attempts to push her personal hang-ups about Sekai onto Makoto, not bothering to ascertain whether or not the situation is as she thinks it is, or moreover, as she wants it to be.
She even goes as far as to sleep with Makoto, under the agreement that he’ll stay faithful to Sekai. This not only fails her as a tactic, but reveals that her allegiance is not to Sekai, but to her own desire to feel content about leaving.
Otome’s problem is that she’s willing to settle for less and be taken advantage of because it brings her close to what she wants. Similarly to Sekai, however, it’s far from close enough. Otome wants a relationship, but Makoto’s content to just sleep with her, get dressed, and leave to dance with another girl.
Taisuke’s problem is that he’s an idiot, a whiner, a pervert (and not in a charming way), and a combination of both super-thirsty and super-picky. He’s desperate for female attention and constantly lamenting the fact that he’s single, but fails (or refuses) to see Hikari’s affection for him. In truth, he wants Kotonoha (because he likes her body) and disregards the clearly complicated situation between Makoto, Kotonoha, and Sekai in order to make his move on Kotonoha, to disastrous results.
Taisuke’s transgressions could also extend to betraying his best friend. A common unspoken rule between guys is to “never date/sleep with your friend’s ex,” which, given not only that the situation between Makoto and Kotonoha was clearly a foggy mess, but that Taisuke pursued Kotonoha immediately upon getting the mere notion that she’s no longer with Makoto, Taisuke was clearly in violation.
Many of the disastrous events of School Days could’ve been avoided by the characters internalizing a commitment to treating others well, treating themselves well, and understanding the situations surrounding others.
Instead, we got a series of events caused by people selfishly using others, destroying their own psyches by settling for less, and taking advantage of situations they don’t fully understand in an effort to satisfy their own ends.
· Be mindful of people’s situations and avoid getting involved in complicated affairs if you’re not willing to fully commit to exploring the entire situation.
· Respect yourself enough to not stay in situations that will destroy your psyche.
· Don’t compromise on what you want out of a relationship. Don’t let someone get what they want out of you if they aren’t willing to fulfill what you want.
· Your hang-ups are yours to deal with. It’s not fair to push them onto other people so you won’t have to deal with them.
· Treat people well, including yourself. It may sometimes be the long way toward satisfying your ends, but mistreating others or yourself to satisfy your ends comes at the cost of further complicating matters, which often works against you in the end.