Posted 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.

Suggestions:
Kurozuka
Ga-Rei Zero
Shikabane Hime

Posted on with categories: High School of the Dead




So, the good thing is that the creators really pulled up and delivered a worthy finale for this series. The bad thing is that the story just stops in the middle, the show stops just as the characters are about to find out whether Takagi’s parents are alive. There is one OVA left, but with that one I again doubt whether it will provide full closure.

Now, we could hope for a second season, but Madhouse has a bit of a strange policy when it comes to its sequels. To name an example, they did make a sequel for Saiunkoku Monogatari and Chi’s Sweet Home, but they did not for Claymore. Generally speaking, they very rarely make sequels.

In any case though, I’m not unhappy with the way this series ends. This episode was restrained, yet entertaining. The atmosphere never faltered, and I like how this episode did conclude the story of Saya’s parents. We’re not exactly told what happens to them, but this can be left to imagination easily, and I actually think that it’s more powerful than if the creators would have outright stated whether or not they survived or got slaughtered. This episode also put a lot of meaning into their relationship with Saya, and it’s also good to see that the nurse and her friend got one final conversation.

Oh, and especially the backgrounds in this episode were better than ever. I’m surprised that that’s where most of the budget went here, but works really well, and this episode looked utterly gorgeous because of it.

Overall, out of all of Tetsurou Araki‘s works, this does remain my least favourite series. However, he still put forth a very skillful adaptation here, with some great production values and atmospheres, he really did the story justice for as simple as it may have been. This was the first fanservice series I have ever blogged. It’s a genre that I usually dislike because they often focus too much on the fanservice and forget to make the rest of their series interesting and compelling. High School of the Dead did not. Overall I consider 2010 to be one of the least impressive years of anime since 2005, however the fanservice genre is one of the few for which I feel that it has gotten better. That’s not to say that we’ve gotten rid of the crappy fanservice series of course (*coughkissxsiscough*), but I admit: we’ve gotten quite a few good ones.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 13 September 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



I was expecting the worst here. I mean, at the end of the previous episode, the way that that demented teacher knocked on the door was like saying “Hello, I’m your endboss. May I come in?”

Thankfully though, this episode fully acknowledged that he was a disaster, and instead of the earlier episodes the creators chose a very restrained way for his story: we get a bit of his history, then we get to see what he did to Rei, then we get a confrontation and after that he’s simply kicked out. I really did not expect this kind of subtlety from a show that markets itself with zombies and boobs.

There were some parts I didn’t like, like at the start of the episode in which those adults refuse to cooperate (but then again, I also don’t understand the hordes of people who demonstrate for the most moronic reasons), but overall I like this change of pace. I already said that this series sets itself apart with its atmosphere, and there was this strange melancholy during that scene in which all those nuclear bombs were launched that I really liked.

At the same time, I like how the creators chose the climax of this series to revolve around rescuing the loved ones of Rei and Komuro. It’s down to earth, yet it’s bound to be exciting, there’s going to be an interesting deadline that the creators can use. The thing with this series is that its action may not be as good as Sengoku Basara, nor is its premise really refined or original not to mention the pointless fanservice, but it is much better balanced and varied than the other major action title of this season.

Edit: a small correction here: I just discovered that High School of the Dead will just be twelve episodes long. So yeah, it’s going to end next week, which makes it quite a strange choice for a semi-final episode.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 6 September 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



That’s… interesting. Three episodes before the end, this series suddenly decides to abandon its brainless action and fanservice formula for the duration of the episode in order to get some depth on the characters, and in that department this probably was the best episode yet, despite being not the most exciting episodes. It’s definitely going to be interesting if this series would decide to go into a completely different direction, if it wasn’t for that ridiculously over the top cliff-hanger at the end of this episode that showed that this was just a single episode mood-swing.

I have watched hardly any zombie flicks, so I don’t know how often they deal with topics like in this episode, but I liked it. The most interesting part here is that the main cast here was in the wrong: now that they have become part of this larger group of people who are trying to survive, they don’t fit in, they refuse to give up the valuable weapons they acquired, they don’t help others and instead of keeping calm they start fighting with each other. Still, this episode worked. I like how the characters in this series have the right combination between flaws and positive character traits.

But yeah… that nazi teacher will be back in the next episodes. Unlike the lead cast, he is a character whose flaws are ridiculously unbalanced within his character, up to the point where most of his airtime was just a string of annoyance, and the same goes for the students that he turned into his slaves. If anyone is able to ruin the finale of this series, it’s these guys.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 30 August 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



Well, I guess we all knew what this episode was going to introduce: the LOVE TRIANGLE. Generally, I hate those things because A) they’re annoying, B) go nowhere and C) they way too often get in the way of the real plot. It was a good episode overall, but at this pace I do hope that the final four episodes will remember that this series is focused on horror and fanservice. The romance should just be there to get the best out of the characters.

Either way though, it’s episodes like this that make High School of the Dead into more than just a gore and boob fest, because Saeko did get quite a bit of attention, and we learned a lot more about her. And to be honest, I actually liked the way that Takeshi developed his crush for Saeko a lot more than his angsty side who can’t get over a childhood crush who dumped him years ago.

That’s not to say that it was actually good romance of course, as according to anime logic it seems that whenever a guy and a girl are together in a tight situation they are 100% sure to fall in love. But still, I never started to watch this series for its realism. One thing that I am very glad of is that this series doesn’t try to be funny. The creators could have easily turned Takeshi into a horny peeping pervert in this episode with a stupid grin on his face, but they didn’t. The creators could easily have made the most horrible puns and fanservice jokes throughout the series, but instead they knew that those jokes suck in 99% of the cases. Instead, the jokes they do make either work decently, or are harmless enough to ignore.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 23 August 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



I still believe that these are some really strange zombies. I mean, usually from zombies you’d expect the mindset of “humans tasty. rawr”. The zombies here however… they only respond to certain sounds, and even then they just have this tendency to not move for any period of time. I guess that this is a bit of a problem that came from adapting this thing from manga to anime: I imagine that it may have been plausible in the manga, but in anime form it’s getting a bit ludicrous.

The climax of this episode was a bit weird in more ways than just that. I mean, beyond the zombies: the characters could easily have jumped over the fence and run away. Sure, they would have lost the car, but at least they would still be alive. What kept them from doing that? Sheer fear? And yet… the soundtrack in this episode and especially in the final quarter of this episode was the best of this series so far. What this episode lacked in sense it actually made up with its tension.

This episode also put a lot of attention on the guns this time, especially with the way in which Hirono had to explain the workings and details of all of them. The fanservice… was just crazy. Ah well, at least it was creative. My main problem with fanservice is that it often is cheap, completely pointless and annoying, but that was nowhere near the case here.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 16 August 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



… they really are going to remain in those outfits for the rest of the series, right? Ah well, I guess it’s nowhere as bad as in the previous episode, and this is something that should have been expected from this series from the start. What matters is the atmosphere: as long as that one’s good, I’ll be happy with this series. When the fanservice gets in the way of this atmosphere, that’s when I’m going to start whining.

This episode did its job well: the city is in a complete chaos and people are continuing to kill each other. People who once were kind now are just looking out for each other. The lead characters are one of the very few who are in the position in which they can really use their heads and start saving people, because they ran into a house with enough supplies and guns to take care of themselves. And I really liked the part in which the characters decided to save that little girl. The CG-zombies were one thing, but the atmosphere and music was very good there. The insert songs also worked surprisingly well. I’d only wish that the creators would have been more subtle with that peeing scene, but why am I expecting subtlety from this series?

This is pretty much wishful thinking on my part, but I’d love to see an epilogue of this series, after everything is over. Like, at the end of the final episode of this series we get a quick view of what the world is going to look like, one year from now. Whether humanity survived, or that there were still no organized actions taken against the zombies. I’d love to see the creators’ take on that, even though I know that that’s far from the focus of this series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 9 August 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



Um. Yeah. I’m not going to blog softcore porn here…

Regarding the parts of this episode that weren’t part of High School of the Boobs, this episode created a new layer of chaos by finally showing the police being forced to take drastic measures, and actually kill people. It’s all a big build up to the second half of this series, and at least that part of the episode worked well.

This episode also introduced a really weird plothole with the dog. It was barking, it made noise, it was loud… and yet the zombies didn’t seem to care. I mean, these really are the most selective zombies I’ve seen, only responding to certain sounds while completely ignoring others. It’s a shame really. Zombie dogs would have been quite interesting here.
Rating: – (Let’s just move on here…)

Posted on 2 August 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



Well, yeah. There isn’t much to say about this episode, really. It was clearly building up to that one fight scene at the end, and while nicely animated, this episode lacked the atmosphere of the previous episodes. We’re also introduced to a new major character, who turns out to be one of the best snipers of the country who just happens to be a childhood friend of the nurse.

Most of all, this episode was used for the background of the different characters, most notably the people who remained on the bus and who weren’t hypnotized by that psycho teacher. It’s not the most exciting episode because of that, but it’s good to see that we finally get to see for exactly what kinds of relatives they’re worried. Now, all that’s left is for the rest of the episodes to actually use this.

The one major event was that psycho teacher was finally ditched, which definitely is a good thing. However, I doubt that the creators intended him to be just a plot devices to get the characters out of the bus, only to lead them to another vehicle they can use (that armoured car). Especially considering that the creators in no way have explained what was up with that one student who was suddenly yelling at Komuro. Because of that I fear for the future of this series, especially because the creators were hinting at a bath episode next week…
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 26 July 2010 with categories: High School of the Dead



Not since Engage Planet Kiss Dum have we seen a recap this early in a series. Obviously, something went wrong, though thankfully only the first half of the episode was a recap: the rest of the episode was new material, but even then you could see that a lot of corners were cut here, like a number of far-away shots and convenient censoring that obstructed nearly the entire screen (though admittedly, some other scenes did have very good animation).

My guess is that something went wrong with the outsourcing. Madhouse seems to be a studio that outsources a lot, and my guess is that the part of this episode that some outsourced companies were responsible for failed to deliver their work on time. Hence the sudden inclusion of a recap.

Anyway, about the actual new content of this episode, it was mainly meant to show how even the people who didn’t turn into zombies can snap and cause chaos. With the authorities gone, people have just turned to killing in order to survive. It’s an interesting varation on the “punks are beating up random people”-trope.

Oh, and there were a number of small new scenes in between the recap (it’s as if the creators want to force you to actually watch it), but the only noteworthy thing about it is that we did see organized efforts in getting everyone to safety. That smirk of that teacher however… was just too much. I can understand that the creators wanted someone with a personality that will cause conflicts, but with this guy you can just hang a neon-sign above him reading “I am an asshole”.

Also, this episode showed that Zombies react to not just any sound, but the sound of metal. People talking and yelling seem to be just fine. This really seems to be a bit of a weird design choice, if you ask me.

Oh, and the creators? They’re definitely Shaun of the Dead fans. This episode featured another cameo, and both the title of the series as the title of the episodes are references to its title.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

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