I've heard a lot of things about High School of the Dead, but mostly how it's a combination of zombie horror and anime fan service. I was convinced by a few respectable anime fans that this anime was garbage, but since I just got a mini vacation from the university, I thought that it's been a while since I smashed a terrible anime into a million pieces, and since High School of the Dead was free to watch for Amazon Prime members on their instant video library, I put my sights on this one. Holy moly, was this a detestable piece of animated slop.
I loathe this so badly, I now consider it the second worst anime I've ever seen, right behind Elfen Lied (the previous “second place” champion of terrible anime was Fullmetal Alchemist, but that's another kettle of fish). It's even more sickening considering that there's so many gushing reviews for this total waste of time, money, and effort. This just shows that quality standards demanded on the behalf of anime fans is falling faster than rain during a hurricane.
High School of the Dead focuses on a group of teenagers in a high school that soon find themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak in Japan. They must band together to survive and possibly even find the truth behind the zombie outbreak.
This is one of the most tonally-inconsistent anime titles I've ever seen in my life. The tonal inconsistency is the biggest “death sentence” for this anime. There's so many scenes in this anime that switch tones and visual styles at the drop of a hat. At one moment, you'll see really gruesome killings at the hands of zombies and right afterward, you'll see dumb, over-exaggerated faces, plenty of redundant breast and pantyshots, nosebleed gags, and ecchi comedy. It's like the mongoloids that created this anime couldn't decide between making a zombie series or a high school teenage dramedy, so they took the worst route imaginable and mashed the two together, and they mesh about as well as two ferocious streetdogs fighting for dumpster scraps.
I swear it's almost like the monkeys with Microsoft Word who wrote this anime were trying to outdo Elfen Lied in terms of horrible tonal shifts. Among the worst examples of the bad tonal shifts is the episode where all the female characters bathe together and aren't the least bit hesitant to grab each others' breasts and spraying each other with shower heads. Aside from this not being sexually appealing or funny, it's followed by a man and his daughter trying to hide from the zombies, and the dad gets killed, followed with the girl crying over her dad's dead body. Another example of odd tonal shifts is that the nurse has a brief fantasy of her as a maid cleaning her friend's apartment, which doesn't fit in with the fact that there's zombies all over the place, killing people. Even worse is that there cartoon-ish “bouncing” sound effects and other sound effects that are more appropriate for a Looney Tunes short than a “mature” anime centered around a zombie outbreak. The tonal shifts and changes in serious to silly visual styles harmed this anime so badly, that I was totally unengaged by anything else and was just waiting out until the end.
There was no creativity in the way the characters were made. None of them have much nuance beyond the most base stereotypes, and this makes them unlikeable and especially uninteresting. Among the worst characters in this anime is the nurse (characters are forgettable to the point of not remembering names). She's dumber than a coffee can full of nails and whines a lot about everything, yet the students take her with, despite the fact that's she's practically nothing but dead weight. This shows that this anime is without much logic, either, as the nurse is beyond stupid yet is somehow holding a job healing minor ailments that befall students at school. Another among the worst stereotypes is the chubby geek (I think his name is Kota), as he represents all the worst stereotypes of ostracized kids due to his unhealthy fixation on guns and his choice to wear black clothing. Easily among the most annoying characters is the pink-haired one, since she has an ego bigger than Kanye West's (she's always claiming to be a genius) yet proves to be useless in 99% of the anime, and is further damaged for the fact that she's just a cookie-cutter caricature of over-achieving honor students (uptight, belittling others, and constantly harping over her intellectual prowess). I was hoping for a Russian Tu-160 "Blackjack" bomber to fly into this anime and drop nukes over everything.
Aside from the fact that this anime is rampant with bad tonal shifts, it also doesn't help that in terms of its themes and overall story, it wants to have its cake and eat it, too. So much of the time is spent in this anime trying to be a constant vehicle for fanservice to fuel teenage male anime fans' fantasies, yet there's hints of it trying to be higher than what it is as it also tries to make commentary about whether or not the real monsters are the humans or zombies (highlighted by the hysterical school teacher who tries to form a cult with some of the surviving students). Instead of adding depth to the anime, it just feels like tacked-on social commentary thrown in there to make this anime seem smarter than it really is.
This anime goes even further into pretentious terrirtory where there's a segment that tries to tie in the storyline of this anime with Mutiny on the Bounty. This scene didn't make the anime anymore "artistically-developed," but just trying too hard to be more than something stupid.
LACK OF ORIGINALITY
One of the things that struck me the most about High School of the Dead is that it's nothing but a salad bowl of all the most base cliches from the anime genre.
Lots of jejune violence? Check. Majority of female characters are schoolgirls? Check. Unimaginative character personalities? Check. Lots of unfunny ecchi comedy? Check. Half-baked storyline? Check. Lots of redundant fanservice? Double check. Half-baked ending? Check.
It's apparent that none of the people who made this anime wanted to make something that was a labor of love or to add anything of artistic merit to the anime genre. They just looked at all the most lucrative aspects to anime and mashed them together. Because so many anime fans today are zombies that will gush over anything (especially those in America), their strategy apparently worked.
With this being an anime that's supposed to be heavy on zombie-slaying action, this didn't deliver at all. Despite the plentiful action scenes, the absolute dearth of quality character development or character personalities stripped away all tension in these scenes. The way these scenes are made are so predictable, as there's plenty of scenes where you think one of the main characters is going to get eaten by the zombies, there's a “deus ex machina” moment where the zombie(s) in question get slain before they can infect one of the main characters. I should have kept count when these scenes occurred, but there's more than enough to take away any tension. Not that this would have helped out a lot since the clashing tones damage this anime beyond repair, but it would have helped if the writers were more creative and had one or two of the main characters die off. I should also point out how absurd some of the action scenes are, since there's a scene where one of the guys runs out of ammo during a fight with the zombies and grabs the brown-haired girl's gun, but because of the strap attached to her, he has to push her down and sandwich his arms between her breasts. I rolled my eyes at least twice when this occurred.
Now you must be saying “Can't you just get over yourself and enjoy the action and ecchi humor for what it is?” I answer with a gigantic “NO!” The humor in this totally lacks creativity, since these types of ecchi jokes have been repeated ad nauseum in previous anime, and they don't do any good (especially for folks like me, who have a giant disdain for anime comedy as it is). If I wanted humor, I'll go watch some Angry Grandpa videos or Dumb and Dumber. Speaking of that, I swear there was a gag that was ripped off from that hilarious movie. There's a scene where the group leader saves a little girl from the zombies and is carrying her on his back, and she has to go to the bathroom, and because she couldn't hold it in, she wets herself and the guy's back. That scene was funny in Dumb and Dumber, but not in this.
The animation and artwork certainly had a lot of time and effort put into it, but good visuals alone NEVER make a worthwhile anime. Despite being a huge technical achievement, this is easily Madhouse's worst creation thus far (some others include Chobits and Trigun). To think the same studio that cranked out Perfect Blue and Battle Angel also made this.
The background music in this anime was pretty forgettable, and the music in the intro wasn't any good. It's just pop-rock that doesn't fit at all with an anime centered around an apocalyptic zombie attack.
There's a great deal of gore in this anime. There's plenty of bloodshed and of people getting eaten by zombies, and even some dismemberment. The nudity and sexual content isn't at all extreme for me, since there weren't any female parts totally exposed, as the animators were chickens and conveniently covered up any nipples or genitalia. This is apparently supposed to feed into nerdy teenage male anime fans' fantasies, but even when I first started watching anime at the age of 14, I didn't want to see “teasing” imagery, I wanted actual female nudity, and I sure don't want any “teasing” content now. Plenty of ecchi comedy revolving around butts and breasts, and none of them were funny.
Since there's so many scenes with fanservice and absurd female behavior, this anime totally reeks of misogyny (no points were added or deducted for allegations of misogyny, these are merely observations), yet I'd bet a dozen Snickers bars that the drones gushing over High School of the Dead would quickly smash Doomed Megalopolis for allegations of misogynistic content.
If you're looking for Japanese animation to feed into your most personal fantasies of women, man up and get some Bible Black DVDs instead (or watch BB on the internet). Bible Black makes no bones about being absolutely filthy smut and actually does a much better job at making erotic horror than High School of the Dead does, due to more competent story and character development, along with a much more consistent, serious tone.
If you want adult anime containing artistic merit, check these titles out instead.
Shigurui: Death Frenzy Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne Doomed Megalopolis Perfect Blue Battle Angel Wicked City Ninja Scroll Ergo Proxy Ghost in the Shell Armitage III
High School of the Dead is horrifying for many reasons, but actually being a scary anime series isn't one of them.
I wasn’t really expecting much when I saw the first season (12 episodes) of “High School of the Dead” and being based on the manga series by Daisuke Sato and Shoji Sato, I have to admit, it wasn’t exactly my type of anime series. However, I would be lying if I said that the anime series and the direction by Tetsuro Araki didn’t know who their target audience were. A lot of male teenage Japanese kids and even those adult males who loved “Ikki Tousen” would … more
I already eviscerated High School of the Dead with my full review, but I feel like doing some more. Much like Elfen Lied, High School of the Dead is a deliberate attempt by the animators to cram in all the worst clichés of the anime genre in the attempts to rake in large amounts of cash from fickle anime fans (in which there's no shortage of). This anime is full of characters flatter than crepes, gobs of goofy action scenes without a … more
Taking place in a Japanese high school, several school board members are attacked and bitten by a man at the front gates. Immediately, those who are thought to be dead rise up and begin biting whomever is next to them. A student by the name of Takashi witnesses all of this. He rushes back to his class to spread the news. Eventually, the entire school is thrown into chaos, with students being mauled and killed by their own classmates and faculty. Takashi along with two of his friends, Rei and Hisashi, … more
High School of the Dead is among the biggest disappointments for me. After a second thought, I had to lower the rating to this, and if I continue to dwell on it, it could very easily end up deep in the negatives. The ridiculous fan service and tonal shifts ruins every single thing it does right.
Highschool of the Dead (学園黙示録 HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD, Gakuen Mokushiroku?, "Academy Apocalypse", abbreviated as H.O.T.D.) is a manga series written by Daisuke Sato and illustrated by Shoji Sato. The story follows a group of high school students caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and a nuclear holocaust. The series was serialized in the September 2006 issue of Fujimi Shobo's Monthly Dragon Age, and the first volume was released by Kadokawa Shoten on March 1, 2007, with a total of seven volumes available in Japan as of April 25, 2011. The series is licensed in North America by Yen Press, and released the first volume on January 25, 2011. An anime adaptation produced by Madhouse aired in Japan from July 5, 2010 to September 20, 2010.