Review for My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea
Manga Entertainment isn’t just about the anime. It’s easy to forget that, especially in recent years when the label and its sister Animatsu have delivered show after show, movie after movie, produced and animated in Japan. But right from the beginning, Manga Entertainment and indeed Manga Video before it, were about delivering edgy, subversive, and challenging art for adolescent and young adult audiences. And they’ve cast their net far and wide in pursuit of such material. Right from the beginning, alongside VHS tapes of Legend of the Overfiend and Dominion Tank Police were tapes of The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb. The first two X-Files graphic novels released in the UK were done so under the Manga label. Not too long ago, Animatsu had a short association with Rooster Teeth, bringing us shows like RWBY, and Red vs. Blue. Manga Entertainment might just be the perfect label for Dash Shaw’s animated feature film, My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea.
Dash and Assaf are the ‘ace’ reporting team for the high school newspaper; only editor Verti doesn’t think so. She tells them that they’ll get twice the work done if they go after stories separately. But Dash doesn’t take it too well when he sees Assaf and Verti making googly eyes at each other. He responds in a mature and adult way... he writes trashy gossip about them. That’s the sort of thing that gets him thrown off the paper and goes on his permanent record. Dash can’t have that, so he finds a way to break into the files. Only what he finds is a lot worse. The school principal forged a safety report that hid the fact that the school was vulnerable to earthquakes, just so he could build an auditorium on the top floor.
Quicker than you can say San Andreas, an earthquake hits, a fault line shatters, and the school falls with the cliff it’s on into the sea. As the water rises, Dash and his friends have to fight to stay alive, and find a way to escape, as the school inexorably sinks to its doom.
The film gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p presentation on this disc, with optional DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround and PCM 2.0 Stereo English. There are Hard of Hearing subtitles if you need them. The image is clear and sharp throughout, and given that there’s less than two hours of material on a dual layer disc, you won’t be surprised that there is no problem with compression, aliasing or digital gradients. It’s a pixel perfect transfer of a digitally animated film. The sound is robust, with the surrounds effective during the action sequences, and also in conveying the music. The dialogue is clear throughout.
The disc boots to an animated menu.
The Art of My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea lasts 13:07, and writer director Dash Shaw and lead animator Jane Samborski discuss the look of the animation.
They show up again in The Making of My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea which looks at the broader production process, as well as the cast. This lasts 9:54.
The Theatrical Trailer lasts 1.56.
You also get a collection of Dash Shaw Shorts, five in total, which run to 5:39 thanks to a Play All option.
The very thing that makes My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea so special and unique, might just be what limits its appeal. It’s the film’s art style, which is breathtaking, challenging, and unconventional to say the least. It has a hand drawn, pen and paint style which is a little bit Roobarb and Custard (but not as wibbly), simplistic and juvenile character designs, but with psychedelic backgrounds, and a trippy world design. It is unlike anything I have seen before, and defies easy description, but it certainly holds the attention while you watch it.
It’s a high school disaster movie, with adolescent life politics played out against the background of utter devastation, when the earthquake sends the school careening into the ocean. In true disaster movie fashion, it’s just one person standing against the tide, Dash, who realises the impending danger, and despite the fact that he’s disbelieved, when disaster strikes, he’s the one who steps up to the plate to save the day. Although being an obnoxious teenager doesn’t help in that department, so it quickly becomes a team effort. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is also a parody of the disaster genre in the way that it will subvert expectations, and play with the clichés.
Salvation lies at the roof, so the survivors of the quake have to work their way up the school, dealing first with flooding and sharks on the ground floor, student/faculty politics on the first, a Mad Max style dystopia on the second, and a proper disaster movie ending on the top floor, and they have to work out their personality issues along the way. Thankfully they encounter a Yoda style mentor, Lunch Lady Lorraine, who provides the necessary moments of Zen when things get too fraught, as well as kicking ass in a Double Dragon kind of way.
My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is a great parody of eighties teen movies and disaster movies all rolled into one, and it’s driven by the perfect music soundtrack for its genre blend. You can imagine a suit in Hollywood eyeing it for a live action adaptation, but no live action could ever do its visual insanity justice, and you certainly wouldn’t get the Snoopy dance ending. My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is well worth a watch, but your preconceptions will be shattered.