I love a good suspense thriller, and while the first volume of A School Frozen in Time dedicates a lot of its time to setting up the plot, there are indications that once things start to get rolling, it’s going to be a wild ride. The story centers on a group of six classmates who arrive at school on a snowy day only to realize that there’s no one else in the building. What’s more, they’re locked in and no matter what they do they can’t find any means of escape. Oh, and one of them… might have jumped to their death mere months before.
ASFiT’s setup is eerily creepy, and is the main reason I wanted to pick this manga up. However, all though it’s expected, a lot of its early material is dedicated to setting up circumstances surrounding Takano, Hiroshi, Mitsuru and the rest. A good chunk of the first volume focuses on getting the group to the aforementioned creepy parts while establishing that doors and windows won’t open, their phones don’t work, and that every single clock has stopped at a very specific time: 5:53pm. Creepy! As that’s the time the suicide took place. Words scribbled on the chalkboard ask, “Do you remember?” and every single one of them realize… they don’t. Theories start getting thrown around and rapidly the teens decide that remembering is their only means of escape!
Whoa, whoa, whoa…hold the non-working phone! Getting to this conclusion seemed a bit rushed and while I took issue with how fast everyone just accepts their fate, I am here for the thrills after all. Seeing them struggling in denial wouldn’t really move the plot along, so I can forgive the storyline for putting things on the fast-track. I just won’t mention some rather cliché moments wrought with disappearing items and random noises freaking everyone out. Hrm… maybe the teens have all seen one too many horror movies and that tipped them off?
Joking aside, the characters are a bit pigeonholed into recognizable molds: the delinquent, the soft-spoken kid, the hyper girl, the perfect student, etc. but they still have their own distinct personalities which saves them from becoming just another face in a horror flick. Everyone’s interactions feel genuine too and, while I feel like a bad person for saying this, it’ll be interesting to see how their dispositions clash and breakdown as more… erm... walls get covered in blood. Yeah, that’s right. There’s some implied gore, but if you like some of that mixed in with suspense I think you’ll want to pick up ASFiT for sure.
Honestly, the story didn’t really grab me until only a quarter of it was left, and then all I wanted to do was read more! That cliffhanger… what the heck did they see!? What happened!? And if somebody is a spirit, can spirits die again? I have theories of my own and I’m sure there’ll be some twist that gets those theories broken good… and not to mention the students themselves. Overall, I have high expectations for the forthcoming volumes of A School Frozen in Time so let’s hope that not everything gets ripped to shreds… or do we?
Before Naoshi Arakawa tackled death in Your Lie In April, he teamed up with Mizuko Tsujimura to deal with suicide and memory in A School Frozen In Time. The concept was what initially drew me in and is my main drive to reading the next volume. As someone who has read Drifting Classroom, there really is something special about trapping kids in a confined space and seeing what happens. In that horror manga, it shows that Lord of the Fireflies isn’t too far off. But in the suspenseful A School Frozen In Time it forces the characters to remember memories they would rather forget.
I would say the concept is the main driver because the main eight characters are a bit shallow in this volume. While some are able to differentiate themselves, most blend into the group. When they do get the spotlight, though, they really shine. Mitsuru looks like an average shy guy, but that isn’t the case. There’s a kindness to him and understanding of people that you can’t tell just from his initial introduction. If there's so much hiding underneath the surface of one character, there must be more to the others as well.
I appreciated the slow-burn, thriller aspect of the manga. Suspense is hard to pull off in manga because of the nature of reading. You can’t control the pace of a person reading it or if their eye catches a panel on the next page. So when my muscles tensed up during a particular scene, I knew Arakawa was doing something right. The horror elements are understated, instead trying to get into the minds of the characters. I was surprised to find out this was Naoshi Arakawa’s first serial manga, as the art is just as good as his later work such as Sayonara Football.
The volume ends with lots of questions and little answers. If the story continues to explore the characters and enhance the suspenseful elements, then the answers will be worth finding out.
A School Frozen in Time manga volume 1 features story and art by Mizuki Tsujimura, the author of Your Lie in April, and Naoshi Arakawa, the author of Anime Supremacy!
On a snowy school day like any other, classmates and childhood friends Hiroshi and Mizuki arrive at school to find the campus eerily empty. Before long, they find themselves trapped inside with six other friends, and even stranger, all the clocks have stopped at a very specific moment—the exact time when a former classmate jumped off the school roof to their death three months earlier.Add to CartLearn More