Manga: Drifting Classroom
aka: The Drifting Classroom
A very dark manga (original title: Hyoryu kyoshitsu
) by Kazuo Umezu
. It was first published in 1972 and later made into two different live-action movies: A Japanese one
in 1987, and an American one
Sho Takamatsu's day started out bad. He overslept, found his mother had thrown out all his toys, didn't eat breakfast, and left home after getting in a screaming argument with his mom. After arriving at school, class began, and then the school was teleported into a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland.
Also this is an elementary school, and Sho himself is in the 6th grade. And the students have no special immunity to things like starvation, crushing, or psychopaths with crossbows.
Things quickly get bad, as the psychotic delivery man Sekiya takes the food hostage and begins killing students. Then one of the teachers has a psychotic break and wipes out the other adults, then begins killing students. And then... well, let's just say that Kazuo Umezu thinks of a great many ways to kill the students. It doesn't help when they find evidence that they've been teleported into the future and that the world has been completely turned to desert. Or that there does not seem to be any food other than what was teleported with them, and that everything in the world seems calculated to kill them.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Mrs. Takamatsu pines for her son. When she starts receiving psychic messages from him, can she give him enough help to survive in his barren environment?
Provides Examples Of:
- Adults Are Useless: The principal is a complete idiot, Sekiya is pure evil, and Watahara kills all the others and then begins running over students in his car.
- After the End
- Annoying Arrows: The bug monster is able to withstand a crossbow bolt that appears to be made from half a tree.
- Anyone Can Die: Ikigaki is the first major death, and then Otsuke, Ishiki, and Shibata all die in quick succession.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Sho is elected President, and is probably the strongest of all the students. He wins all his fights and outruns everyone near the end.
- Big Eater: Nakata. Done seriously, unlike the usual comedic usage of this trope. Not only do they have very limited food, but his eating powers the monster he summons.
- Bitter Sweet Ending: The surviving kids don't go home, but they decide to stay in the deserted future in order to build a new civilization.
- Body Horror: What happens to those who eat the evil mushrooms...
- Chekhov's Gunman: The offscreen thief in the first volume turns up a lot later. In a gruesome manner. You see, he was partially inside the blast and so was half teleported... and survived on both ends.
- Children Are Innocent: Averted.
- Creepy Child: Scar Kid, who decides to kill everybody because he's been infected with the Plague. Also Princess, after she returns from her journey, and all the children near the end once they begin eating each other.
- Deconstruction: Hey, remember how in Lord of the Flies, everything was pretty much okay until the kids themselves became evil? This series purports to show what would really happen if a bunch of kids were left by themselves outside of civilization. Nature fights back.
- Diabolus ex Machina: Starts sometime in volume 2, when the kids discover they got the world's most evil delivery man. Keeps ramping up (they also got a psychic who can summon monsters without realizing it, and a black-plague infested squirrel). Continues through pretty much the whole series.
- Disability Superpower: It turns out that Nishi, who is on crutches, is the source of the psychic link between Sho and his Mom.
- Driven to Suicide: A teacher slits his own throat after he says he can't take it anymore, and several small children jump to their death as they want to go back to their parents.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Princess is never given another name. Some kids, like Scar Kid, are never named at all.
- Everything's Nuttier With Squirrels: Subverted.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: And how!
- Face-Heel Turn: Otomo.
- Faux Action Girl: Averted, in that Sakiko actually does stuff, although not as much as the others.
- Hammerspace: How did Mr. Takamatsu put enough streptomycin to cure 400+ students in a single package in a single mummy?
- Heel-Face Turn: Otomo, at the very end.
- Hide Your Children: Subverted.
- Hope Spot: Mount Fiji turns out not to be paradise, but an evil more Hellish place than the wasteland outside.
- I'm a Humanitarian: When the kids run out of food, they get desperate. Very desperate.
- Infant Immortality: Subverted and played straight. Plenty of children die, but Yu, the pre-schooler, doesn't.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Otomo's constantly escalating conflict with Sho presents him as a jerk, but some of his ideas, such as feeding the strange mushrooms to Seikya instead of a fellow student to see if the children can eat them safely, or trying to kill Nakata after everyone discovers that his mind is making the insect monsters terrorizing the school, are about as effective as one could muster given the circumstances.
- Karmic Death: Sekiya, killed by the arm and face of the thief. Also Scar Kid, killed by black plague, and Princess, who chokes to death on the water the other kids give her once she returns from her journey.
- Kill It with Fire: Scar Kid's plan for dealing with the black plague.
- Knife Nut: Otomo gets into several knife fights as the series continues.
- Live-Action Adaptation: The 1987 film.
- The Load: Nakata. He eats too much, he whines, he summons a giant monster that kills and destroys, he summons even more monsters that kill and destroy. Considering that so many kids die routinely anyway, it is quite annoying that Sho defends him and criticizes the kids that are relieved when he ends up committing suicide.
- May Contain Evil: The mushrooms.
- Meanwhile, in the Future: The storylines involving Sho's mother generally work this way to some degree, as Mrs. Takamatsu seems to hear Sho's cry for help only at certain times. In the black plague arc, she could just wait in the hospital until she was ready. Gamo likens this to the kids taking a bullet train through time for a while before getting on the regular train while their parents stayed on the regular train the whole time, meaning that the two timelines should be synchronized after the time travel.
- The Medic: Yanase. Despite being in sixth grade, he performs an appendectomy successfully.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: The rules on the psychic link between Sho and his mom are pretty consistent, but other magic, like Nakata's powers, seem pretty random.
- Retirony: Oki.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Nakata.
- San Dimas Time: Averted; see Meanwhile, in the Future.
- Sanity Slippage: Shu's mother is portrayed as undergoing this throughout the series, acting increasingly disturbed as the series progresses. Depending on how you view it the entire series can be seen as Shu's mother's paranoid fantasy, as the entire series is written as if it were a nightmare, she believes that that she is the only one who can save the kids, and she is eventually deified by the them late in the series, showing her to have immense delusions of grandeur. If you subscribe to this theory, then the bomb at the beginning of the series could have been a conventional weapon because you can't trust Shu's mother's recolection of the events.
- The Starscream: Otomo mutinies repeatedly.
- Tagalong Kid: Yu, the preschooler.
- Teenage Wasteland: Though most of the kids are a little bit younger. The lyrics of the Who song are unbelievably apt, though.
- The Many Deaths of You: Rare non-videogame example. Umezu comes up with many original ways to kill the children. Falling off buildings, dying of sickness, eaten by giant invincible bug thing, eaten by swarm of little invincible bug things, drowning in quicksand, decapitation by water, mutating into beasts, eaten by giant starfish, dying of starvation, dying of black plague, burned to death by classmates, killed by decaying robots... and there are more. Plenty more.
- Too Dumb to Live: Several times!
- Voodoo Shark: the explanation for the time travel is that Otomo planted a stick of dynamite in the teacher's lounge. They dynamite transported the school into the future when it exploded. Apparently it was magical dynamite.
- Apparently you can be mummified and left indefinitely in the hospital morgue. All you have to do is ask.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: They may just be kids, but they act responsible and adult pretty fast.
- World Half Empty