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 be right at home with the series.
Please keep in mind that I like watching my anime series in the original Japanese language with the English subs, and as with “Black Lagoon”, this makes a lot of difference. It sets the tone and the mood of what you are watching, and I prefer the original language.
Example: Japanese Language Komuro with subs: “I’m not sure if that makes me happy or angry” English Dubbed Komuro: “I’m not sure if I should kiss you or slap the shit out of you”
Japanese Language Komuro with subs: “This is annoying” English Dubbed Komuro: “Let’s end this little road trip with a fucking bang!”
I rest my case. English dubbing ruins the Japanese creation most of the time. So let’s go for the review shall we?
One day in a high school in an unnamed Japanese city, the dead have started to walk the Earth and they have set their sights in the school for their feeding frenzy. One zombie leads to spawning another as the students bond together to fight off the zombie assault. Led by sophomore Takashi Komuro, the small group is made up by a spear competitor called Rei, a High school sword competitor named Saeko, a nerd with a knack for firearms named Hirano, a rich kid with a high IQ called Takagi and the busty low-IQ school nurse. Together they fight their way to safety, as they form new acquaintances that may or may not help their cause….but is there anywhere to turn to when the whole world seemed to have fallen victim to this pandemic?
We all have to admit that any creation, series or movie with the zombie premise always have a thing or two in common; a tale of survival and how humans can turn on one another. Zombie stories either have a social commentary or something that gives us a message about how we are so dependent on established society--when it collapses we all revert to selfish creatures. Well, being adapted from the manga, director Tetsuro Araki tries to incorporate something that has proven to be an effective formula for drawing audiences, titillation factor and raw sexy posturing and the expression of bouncing breasts.
I know what you are thinking, and I would agree with you. I mean, why does an anime series have to use this device to get people to watch them? “High School of the Dead” is very stylized, and you have to know its target audience to understand that it isn’t being pretentious at all; it knew what it wanted to do and does it very well. I mean, the female characters are the very expression of power over males and they are intelligent in their own way. I suppose the Japanese wanted to get this message across; true, it may be too exaggerated and it does come dangerously close to annoyance since I am not a fan of Hentaianime. However, try to view this from a hot-blooded male teen’s point of view, and it does have its own set entertainment value for its target audience.
Another thing that made me snicker as to how the direction was creative in exercising that ‘tease’ factor in some of the action scenes. There is a lot of action to be had with “High School of the Dead” and our little group does engage the zombies in a manner that fit their character. Bullets fly in between Saeko’s cleavage before it hit’s a zombie and there are a lot of panty shots while the women are either attacked or in battle. I am not praising the way the director seemed to go to the limits, and it did appear to be part of its bombastic style and I merely accepted it. The animation work is fluid and definitely the fight scenes have their worth. I mean, who wouldn’t like a hot-looking woman in a skimpy outfit who kills zombies?
Now, really I am not sure whether what I’ve said are positives, but it is what it is with this anime series. The series does become inherently darker as the series progresses. We learn more about our characters and there is even a developing love triangle between Takashi, Rei and Saeko. There is some sexual tension between the three, and it all adds to their history. Saeko is one dark character and she may well be what is needed for this situation while Rei had a history with Takashi, and it is an expression of ignoring people and choosing what only one wants to see. Supporting characters are also introduced in season one who will probably play a major part in season two. Takagi’s family fall into the shadow of Japanese hierarchy and reflects the Bushido tradition. As with most zombie tales, the series asks the questions as to who is fit to survive, how humans can be selfish and how humans have the pitiable habit of taking advantage of every situation. Zombie stories was deep into 'clinging' on to humanity and Takashi's rescue of a small child was an expression of this, while the authority figures need to control was an expression of fearful reaction.
I know, I seemed to have accepted the series for what it was but I have to admit that the series‘ wasn‘t as polished as I would‘ve wanted it to be. There is a school teacher that just becomes a brain-washing ‘messiah’ but the way they played it was too forced and rather without any impact. Around episode eight, the series experiences a tonal shift as it becomes a lot darker, as it goes into the depths of human behavior. Philosophical and social ideas are expressed, that may well set the tone for the next season. But to the first episodes, the direction kept to its shots of titillation, and this presented a problem as those appeared unnecessary.
“High School of the Dead” wallows in adolescent obsession. It is filled with T and A, panty shots, some nudity and hinted at sex. It also has enough action and blood with some gore to satisfy the zombie horror fan. It is confident and precise in what it wanted to be, I cannot knock it for being exploitive when it was clearly its intention. While it may not be the kind of anime I would enjoy if I was sober, it is solid enough that the story was kept moving in a brisk pace and was able to maybe make one check out the next season. I mean, you can tell from the cover if this anime series is for you, and if what I've described interests you, then this series does do it pretty well. However, if you are looking for intelligent, serious, tasteful and mature anime, you would be better off staying away from this one. I saw this with company and we had a ball; pizza and loads of alcohol would enhance its viewing experience…..
Recommended for fans of “Ikki Tousen” and a RENTAL for Everybody Else. [3 Out of 5 Stars]
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 … 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
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.