Posted by psgels on 20 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, High School of the Dead

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.

Ga-Rei Zero
Shikabane Hime

23 Responses

  1. Gavin says:

    I guess I went in unfairly hoping for drrr + zombies. While I was ultimately disappointed, I enjoyed the stylish romp to the end.

    HOTD’s anime just relies to heavily on HOTD’s manga, which has far more episodes to explain its characters and develop its story. With a revised story, intentionally constructed to fit into 12 episodes, this could have been something special. As is, ill have forgotten it by next summer

  2. Frost says:

    I couldnt even finish watching this… And I agree that entertainment is entertainment, it doesnt need to be smart or whatever, but HOTD was just BAD, like it wanted to be a 2nd rate B-movie but failed miserably, I just couldnt bear the stupidity at some point

    Also hard to believe this steaming pile is one of the most popular shows of season and so many people love it… No wonder they keep pumping 50 moe shows every season, as long as theres an audience…

  3. Hogart says:

    @Frost: it’s not so surprising, is it? I can’t blame the studios if their customers aren’t very demanding. I may not be 15 years old anymore, and have a more discriminating eye for my entertainment, but there’s a lot more kids out there to pander to and it’s a lot easier to pander to them.

    As for HotD, I was bored almost throughout. It’s clear that the zombie thing is as dead to me as vampires, werewolves, et al. I was sincerely hoping that the first true zombie anime I saw might be able to entertain me, but I’m not going to let it get to me.

    At least it wasn’t another of the trillion yokai anime, nor yet another vampire show. But it just couldn’t compete with my established bias towards zombie-themed video games and cheap B-movies, nor was it a particularly good anime. There wasn’t much to it other than the tired fanservice.

  4. Skoopman says:

    I enjoyed it, wasn’t expecting much from a fanservice Anime, but I love zombies anyway. At least there will be an OVA next year:

  5. Camario says:

    80? That seems too high for something like this.

    Honestly…I think you’re being too generous again psgels (or perhaps that’s my impression after seeing you be harsher before, even when it wasn’t always necessary, but I digress).

    Personally, I think this series has been overrated. I would be extremely hard-pressed to give HOTD more than a 75/100 and that’s without complaining about the excess fanservice or the ridiculous nature of certain situations, which would have to lower the score a fair amount.

    It’s not bad in terms of entertainment but I don’t think the atmosphere is enough to almost give it a free pass. Whatever you might say about other current series and their flaws, at least most of them weren’t so exploitative.

  6. Dragne says:

    The score does not justify the content. The amount of flaws this show has is much greater than it’s strengths. The ending is abrupt and pointless, we watched 12 episodes for what? Nothing truly happens. The animation is good quality that is about the only strength. Soundtrack was average, nothing special of note.

    It’s basically Zombies mixed with Love Hina (or any harem anime for that matter). Everything is stereotypical. If it was trying to come across as serious it failed with the fan service. If it was supposed to be a comedy (ala Zombieland) it failed because it wasn’t funny at all.

    It IS enjoyable to watch at parts but I wouldn’t say it was good.

  7. wan says:

    u cant expect an anime to tell you everthing,anime mostly is a show based on manga,they mostly need to be edit to make time.

    want to know more just read the manga.

  8. Dragne says:

    I expect a show to realize if it’s serious or comedic. Even more important I expect a show to have a plausible ending. I can take zombie’s just appearing randomly “on faith”.

    Making excuses for an anime because it didn’t have the time to properly weave a beginning, middle and end is ridiculous. Many shows are based on manga and manage to cram it all in.

    Just seems like this review is incredibly biased in the sense that all the major flaws are completely ignored.

  9. maskedguy says:

    Whoo, at commentators thinking they are people with high tastes, monocles and cup of tea xD

    I didn’t watch this anime, mainly because I dislike fan service of this kind, even though I read the manga xD Anyway, liked the manga~

  10. Michael says:

    People are really really negative here. I think psgels simply enjoyed watching it and therefore could look past its flaws (as did I). Psgels is right. The atmosphere was very well done. And sure, the nazi teacher was overblown, but then again his exeunt from the scene was quite unique in an anime of this time. He’s not good enough to the main evil character of the anime.

    While not perfect, the show at least has a few interesting characters, fun mindless action, and a fairly unique plot.

    So as maskeguy said, I don’t know why people are so negative over this.

  11. Nomus says:

    It wasn’t that bad, especially, when this season was rather shitty. After some time I dropped everything, but Shiki and this. Not because I like zombies and vampires that much, but because other series were just too weak (and I haven’t watched first seasons of Sengoku Basara and Kuroshitsuji).

    All us knew what to expect from this after the promo already. Who takes western zombie-trash seriously? Trash is always overusing everything blood, gore, action boobs (this time). It’s anime zombie-trash, nuff said.

  12. FDEL says:

    This is one awesome anime! Where else are you going to find a zombie apocalypse where the main characters are a team of very competent super-powerful high school students? The atmosphere of most other zombie media are usually too one-sided and pessimistic, but here we’ve got a good match and some very engaging action.

    One thing that always turns me off of zombie movies is how stupid or helpless the main characters are, and that even when they’re smart and practical, rule of horror still kills them off just to intensify the atmosphere. That doesn’t happen here, not at all.

    If there’s one thing to complain, then it’d be the over-the-top fan service, but even in that vein, it’s not as bad as say… Tenjho Tenge or Ikkitousen.

    I anticipate another season. “Cramming it all in” is never a good solution when you have too little episode budget to fit a larger story. The “density” of story per episode for this seems ideal, and the manga needs to grow a bit before there is enough material for another season.

    Lastly, if it’s enjoyable, then it’s good. If it’s not enjoyable, then it’s bad. That’s all there is. Personally, this beats Neon Genesis Evangelion by this rule alone, though I think by saying that I’ll be getting some death threats.

  13. John says:

    There has been a second season announced, but it won’t be airing till next year this time.

  14. psgels psgels says:

    John: really? Where did you read this?

  15. John says:

    I read it on wikipedia. Sure, not the most reliable, but it was cited.

  16. John says:

    Interesting. I just went to wikipedia to double check on it, and it wasn’t there. Either somebody took it down, or I’m just crazy. Possibly could have been an announcement spoiler, so it was removed.

  17. Joe says:

    I can’t believe you gave this a higher score than Code Geass. Code Geass was far from perfect, but this was just terrible.

  18. 1 says:

    Code Geass had a messy story and the characters were poorly done, ‘cept Lelouch and CC. I can understand why HOTD got a higher score from the blogger than Geass, this show kept me interested at every turn and the atmosphere (and gorgeous backgrounds) allowed me to enjoy it, despite the fanservice.

  19. B-Ruce says:

    The show is/was well made(idk if it’s cancelled or not) it had sort of an original topic, but the fat guy and the main male character were so unoriginal, okay so the main guy knows some sort of Kung Fu, he’s a bad boy with issues. The fat guy goes commando with a nail gun and he’s sort of pro or something. The other characters were okay even excellent. But this anime is good for like what 2 or 3 seasons before the start dropping N and A bombs on the place. What I mean is the ONLY FRANCHISE THAT CAM DRAG ON A ZOMBIE SAGA IS RESIDENT effin EVIL THAT I WILL FOREVER BE OKAY WITH CUZ Millard Jovovich is the baddest zombie killarney evaa!!

  20. emily says:

    There only doing an ova next year and no second series? That pretty much sucks then because usually they never do a good job closing an anime within an ova series. The other thing I have to comment while the anime was good so far the one thing they did go a bit overboard was the ecchi that was in it. I feel they could have taken some things out that made it pretty erotic. I would say this anime is more borderline hentai then most animes.

  21. Raion says:

    I like the first couple of episodes, but that was it, as soon as we got to the nurse’s place i knew things were going to get worst. A show like this could’ve been good, but fanservice and poor plotpoints kinda ruined it for me, for instance let’s find Rei and Takashi’s parents, they rear off that. just not good enough for me.

  22. Frankie says:

    I actually couldn’t get through this….It was just so predictable..and as a female I just couldn’t stand all the fanservice… (like Heaven’s Property has it but that’s like the whole point with it’s dirty minded jokes lol and Strike Witches but I admire their fight and aweosmeness..yea kinda not fair)..And I actually liked the main character. It was the girl he liked that just totally pissed me off..and i just got to episode 2…so yea. i never got through it but i might try it again..might.

  23. Raven says:

    In my opinion is that the characters are very abnormal for regular teens but they are pretty cool especially

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 10. 2015 01:08 AM)
    Although it looks like my final picks for the season are in, subete, garo, young black jack with me on the fence about utawerumono.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 10. 2015 12:59 AM)
    Okay new garo you’ve got my attention as a violent action show, but you can go further than that. Also I can’t see these protaganists having the same charisma as Germain and Ema.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:09 AM)
    @Kaiser Sunny looks interesting but I’ll be honest, when I say Slice-of-Life I actually mean Cute-Girls-Doing-Cute-Things.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 02:07 AM)
    @Kaiser I actually haven’t seen Black Mass.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 9. 2015 12:57 AM)
    These new Batman shorts called ‘Batman of Shanghai’ are pretty awesome:
    Props to Wolf Smoke Studios for the style and execution. I think this borrowed a lot from the Studio 4°C segment of the Batman: Gotham Knight anthology series. I haven’t been this entertained by a Batman cartoon since the original Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 11:09 PM)
    I have to finish the world is mine someday…and read all of Yamamoto Naoki’s works, looks like some good obscure seinen there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:52 PM)
    @Realist: Slice of life fan, you’ll want to go off and read Taiyou matsumoto’s work, Sunny being one of them.
  • Kevin
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:50 PM)
    @ninjarealist Ha u that one nigga that jet lol nice way to sneak back, I missed you. Remember me?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Realist: I imagine you will be seeing black mass?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:47 PM)
    @Realist: Oh by the way I remember ages ago you recommended Meserine to me, not the biggest gangster fan out there and this did suffer from the usual issues of the bipic format but some great action bits in it =) and Vincent Cassel doing what he does best.

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