I’ll go to my grave defending School Days, and I’m not talking about the ending. I mean the entire show. In all these years running the blog, I have never seen a show that intrigued me more than School Days. A show dismissed by many, but to me, a well of interesting characters and stories. I’ve discussed the other chararcters in dives before, but I held off on discussing the male lead. No longer though, and I’ve got plenty to say. After the cut let’s take a dive into School Days Makoto Itou
Reception towards School Days seems go down the usual road. People love the ending and the main lead’s legendary come-uppance, but hate everything that leads up to it. The heart of that seems to come to Makoto himself. People think of him as a scumbag, a two-timing indecisive asshole who has not redeeming qualities. Someone who deserves every inch of what he gets in the shows’ conclusion. Looking at the show itself, I can see why that is the case, but I do think it is a narrow-minded and frankly unhealthy view.
I can only speak for myself, but when I look at Makoto Itou, I see a young man who is not only ruled by his libido, but someone who has been completely failed by the adults in his life. In the entire anime of School Days, there is no guiding hand for him. No one to tell him what he is doing is wrong, or to warn him that he is literally playing with fire. An adult with life experience could have sat the boy down, told him that he needs to look at things straight in the eye, and make a decision. That he and Kotonoha aren’t good for each other, or that he and Sekai’s affair is going to blow up in his face. But there is none of that. Instead we see Makoto run wild with zero supervision and foresight and those unchecked feelings end up consuming. Furthermore, it is also important to look at the stage of life Makoto is in when School Days airs. While some may not understand this, I think it is crucial.
Picture this: your a teenager in the throes of puberty, the most volatile and emotionally turbulent time of your life. You are a hurricane of emotions and feelings, and all you want is to act on instincts you don’t truly understand. All of a sudden you land yourself in a relationship with the hottest girl in the school. You should be overjoyed, and your body is probably focused on one thing ‘the mission.” But then, the girl turns out to be meek and shy, and unable to give you the sexual satisfaction you want, and instead of just calling it quits and finding someone else, you are too chicken shit to do anything. THEN, your best female friend, who was also key in getting you together, ends up allowing you to ‘practice with her’, seemingly being okay with acting as an outlet for your sexual needs. This is then followed by all the others girls in your class coming to you and offering “no strings attached’ sex whenever you want.
If you are a straight man, look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn’t go down the same path. That if you were in a situation with no guiding hand, no parental figure to tell you that this is wrong, you wouldn’t do the same damn thing. If you are honest with yourself, chances are you would be a Makoto too. You would dive face first into that world of sex, because you don’t know any better, you haven’t been taught otherwise. Right or wrong, Makoto is a victim of circumstance. Of an environment that caters to his carnal desires without the reflection that comes with growing up. The girls are his enablers, and it is only until it is too late that the chickens come home to roost, and by then, Kotonoha is so far gone, and Sekai is so desperate to keep him that it doesn’t matter. I don’t envy Makoto, but I pity him. I pity a man who could have been easily saved, a man who could have been guided easily out of this situation if there had been someone to do so.
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an attempt to give Makoto a free pass, or somehow say his sins are forgivable. Far from it, Makoto is totally a scumbag. He is inductive, arrogant to a fault, and despite having multiple attempts to do the right thing, keeps making the same mistake over and over. A man who thinks with his dick instead of his brain, much of what happens to him and the other girls is partly his fault. The inability to simply accept that he and Kotonoha aren’t good for each other, or showing the patience she needs is on him, wholly and completely. But more an attempt to make people see that his actions are the result of a cause, and perhaps there is a reason to feel bad for him. While the violence inflicted upon him may be fitting, it important to accept, or at the very least entertain, that Makoto may be as much a victim as he is a villain.
I cannot speak for everyone who will read this. We all have our own lives and own experiences. There are many who will read these words and dismiss them, but I think there are those who believe that School Days is at a heart, a story about the failure to communicate, and the dangerous outcomes that can come from people unable to be honest with each other. It is a dangerous warning about teenage love run out of control, and what might happen if there is no guiding hand of an adult or trusted figure to help guide teenagers through these emotions. There are no real heroes in School Days, but there is no real true villain either. Maybe next time you watch the show, you’ll take a closer look at Makoto Itou and see what I see, and perhaps, maybe just feel a little bad for him.
At least that’s what I think.