With High School of the Dead, you have to know and realize what it is before you start watching it. It’s a series that knows its priorities well: fanservice and zombie-bashing. You shouldn’t expect an innovative story here: it pretty much plays out like your regular zombie story. The characters are high schoolers, so expect a lot of whining. If you hate fanservice with passion, then don’t even bother with this show.
Beyond that, though, it really is quite good.
High School of the Dead doesn’t try to pretend to be anything more than what it is, but what it does, it does well. The production values are solid throughout the entire series, the action is solid (and quite creative at times) and especially the background art for this series is gorgeous. The characters in this series may start out a bit annoying, all of the lead characters have their flaws flaws that are explored throughout the series. There even is quite a bit of character development that, while nothing deep, does show the cast growing amidst the total zombie chaos that they’re in.
The biggest reason why I’m praising this series however is its atmosphere. Usually, fanservice series don’t really care about such a thing and are too busy with their uninspired antics, but High School of the Dead is different. Its atmosphere really draws you in, both during the action-packed parts and the quiet scenes in which the characters are simply waiting for the inevitable moment in which the zombies find them. The atmosphere is over the top when it needs to, but most importantly: it is also restrained when it needs to. This allows the characters, who may be quite simple, to show their best sides. It’s the atmosphere that really makes this series into more than just another action flick.
Don’t think that the execution is perfect, though. There still are the times here and there in which the fanservice takes over. There also are a few side characters who are trying way too hard to be evil or controversial, most notable that evil nazi teacher. He adds nothing to this series and only ends up being silly with how ridiculously over the top he tries to be. The zombies themselves also are really basic villains: they have no motivations, no origins, nothing. The only thing that is on their mind is “humans tasty; rawr”. Having said that, they are some very selective zombies. The creators tend to slow down time or make them oblivious, just for the sake of the plot. That’s a case of lazy scriptwriting!
Overall, High School of the Dead seems to be one of the most popular series of the past summer season, but don’t go in expecting a masterpiece. It’s simply a show to sit back with and enjoy the atmosphere and the zombie-bashing, and that is something that this series does really well, and you can see that the creators are having fun with this unpretentious horror-fest.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Solid action, very good atmosphere, tons of fanservice.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Annoying, but the main characters are well portrayed and have well balanced flaws. The antagonists don’t, though.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Very solid, excellent background art, great animation during the fight scenes, solid soundtrack. Great EDs.|
|Setting:||7/10 – It’s zombies, and it’s pretty much your standard zombie storyline with some strange holes in the zombie-logic.|