Review: The School Nurse Files (2020)
Based off of a 2015 novel, SNF follows Ahn Eun-young, a 30-something school nurse who could see what she calls jellies since she was a child. They're spirits and creatures that are the embodiment of emotions, often times polluting people's spiritual energies or worse. I know I loved her character immediately when in the traumatic flashback to her childhood she states, "And I was destined from birth to help others in secret. Fuck."
Armed with her toy rainbow sword and a bb gun, she uses her abilities to destroy the various jellies invading the school grounds due to it being built over a cursed pond. Navigating her day-to-day duties along with her secret responsibility, she also becomes involved with teacher Hong In-pyo, who is uniquely tied with the history of the school and is also guarded by a powerful force field aura.
That aura also comes in pretty handy as it can supercharge Ahn Eun-young's abilities, giving her a fighting chance against the more dangerous creatures that pop up.
The show has an interesting and engaging pace to it, although there are some odd narrative leaps that go unexplained. After one of the major disasters revolving around a giant toad monster, a few of the students seem to be in on the nurse's secret and kind of form a little scooby-gang without much of an explanation. It's kind of nice though as some of the these missing expositions are for pretty common tropes that we often see in this type of fiction. Of course a couple kids are going to help her out as that's just what usually happens when a hellmouth opens under a school and a chosen one has to prevent disaster, so why waste time with an entire scene showing that?
On the flip side, there are certain elements that I was still unsure about, and it can be confusing as I don't know if that's because of odd narrative leaps, them inferring something that I just missed out on, a cultural or language barrier, or if I just straight up blacked out a few scenes. I'm still not sure about the relevance of the ducks. And they seem kinda important.
As the show progresses things do get a bit darker and creepier in tone. There's an interesting balance as we bounce between the unique quirkiness of the show's atmosphere and some of the more sinister conspiracies and plots. One moment we're dealing with the abject sadness of a dead spirit's haunting and then we get these cute little guys:
While there are a few elements of the story that leave you wondering about exactly what's going on and what means what, I never really found any of it to be frustrating. Granted, I'm still not entirely sure what happened at the climax of the final episode (and usually that would be a problem), but I also enjoy some of the ambiguity to the fairly mysterious world that they've created.
I'm hoping that there will be a season 2 at some point as there are still quite a bit of loose threads. One of the main antagonists never really gets to do anything by the end of the series, nor is there much resolution to one of the secret factions attempting to take control of the school. Plus, there are just some really interesting characters and it would be nice to see them fleshed out just a little more.
But most importantly, I need to know more about the ducks. For they shall haunt my dreams until then.