The Drifting Classroom by author Kazuo Umezz
This is the spoiler full review of The Drifting Classroom, if you would prefer to stay spoiler free but still want to read about how this horror manga almost made me cry then please visit here.
The Drifting Classroom is a classic horror manga series about a class of young children spontaneously transported to another time. They are put into a situation in which they must figure out how to survive and hopefully how to get back home.
It’s an ensemble cast of characters, all young elementary school aged kids. But the stars are Sho, the leader, and Yu the unbelievably adorable 3 year old who was in the wrong place when the classroom drifted.
Seriously, I can’t even explain how fucking cute Yu is. He’s literally the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. He has a cute little face and little overalls and he’s obsessed with his tricycle and he’s just the most purehearted little s.o.b I’ve ever seen on paper or in life. I love him. So much it hurts.
Ahem, but the book starts with Sho, he’s had a big fight with his mom before leaving for school that morning. Then the classroom drifts and he feels so guilty about his last interaction with her. She will also be an absolute wreck when she finds out he’s missing.
Quickly after the classroom drifts trust between the teachers and students evaporates. The adults are maniacal selfish monsters and the students do their best to survive the first round of challenges, murderous panicking teachers.
They quickly manage to kill each other and themselves off. It’s chaos how fast that happens. Except for an evil Lunchroom Man. He takes all the food for himself and even straight murders some children over it.
The children work together to take him out and share the food. But this Lunchroom Man will keep on coming back no matter what anyone does. It’s the one constant in this new world of theirs.
The children find out that they didn’t transport in space, but in time. They determine this by finding a monument dedicated to their graves. Creepy.
Meanwhile, back in the original time, Sho’s mother hears his voice but no one else does. She leaves a weapon for him to find in the future. He’s able to find it and use it to defend himself against the crazies. Of which there is no shortage.
Through all of the craziness the children vote for Sho to be their new Prime Minister. He’s a natural leader and deserves the position. But now they’re being attacked by giant bug monsters!!
In a bizarre series of events they determine that the bug monster can’t attack if you’re asleep or have a blank mind. Since most people can’t sleep or keep their mind still under duress the bug monster kills quite a few children. The rest decide to go on the offensive.
They find out the monster came from one boy’s mind. They attacked the monster and it just turned into a million little bug monsters. Filled with guilt and despair the boy kills himself to stop the monsters. It works.
Next up in the line of horrors, the children break out in a plague. The bubonic plague. However, this plague also appears in the original timeline. Sho’s mom steals a bunch of medicine and hides it in a corpse that will become a mummy for Sho to find. It works. Yup.
With the plague over the kids need food. They start growing some but their garden becomes infested with odd mushrooms. The kids who eat the mushrooms become slaves to a one eyed god. And the Lunchroom Man comes back out of nowhere to try and steal more food.
So now we have these one eyed monsters. Turns out they’re the future evolved form of humans. And they want to kill all the humans cause they’ve only heard bad things.
The kids become divided and a war begins. Amongst the chaos Sho is treated to impromptu appendix surgery. This whole scene was a nail biter let me tell you. Legit anxiety from this whole section of the book. At this point I was really quite fond of Sho and really wanted him to pull through! And he does, phew!
There is also a very intense scene involving the kids needing to leap over a chasm. I was so worried for them! Especially little Yu who is the super brave first to jump to show the older kids they can. This little boy doesn’t have a ton to do plot wise but every time he showed up my heart just swelled!
As is necessary in these kinds of stories the side of the children that doesn’t have our heroes resorts to cannibalism before they’re able to truce with the good side.
They decide to work together on a hail mary plan to go back home. This involves explosives and prayer. The plan only works well enough to send home little Yu. The rest are stuck in the distant future. However, the explosion opened up an underground stream with clean water so maybe they can work together to make it habitable.
Yu gets home, with his tricycle, and gives Sho’s diary to Sho’s mother.
You’ll just have to take my word for it for how unbelievably happy I was to see Yu get a happy ending. I don’t know, I just love him like I love my own nephew. I very nearly cried with joy at how happy and cute he is hopping on his beloved tricycle and getting to go home. It filled me with emotions, real emotions!
So Sho’s mom feels sad she’ll never see him again but proud of his leadership and that’s just going to have to be good enough for her ending.
The Drifting Classroom is not a perfect manga. It’s ridiculous, over the top, vague about a lot of parts, and doesn’t adhere to logic. But I loved it. The characters really bring it to life. We’ve all seen many stories like this before but this is one of the few with children this young, and children this young that actually die.
It’s a truly special horror story and a classic manga for a reason.
4/5 dreams of ramen 🍜🍜🍜🍜
For more great horror manga check out No Longer Human
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