If you love Zombies as much as I do then you will love this great series that follows in the footsteps of the great Romero films and yet has all the quirks of a Japanese anime. This is like an anime version of Walking Dead only the protagonists are High School students. High school of the Dead is set in the present day, beginning as the world is struck by a deadly pandemic that turns humans into zombies, euphemistically referred to by the main characters as “Them” .The story follows a group of high school students, the high school’s nurse, and a young girl as they fight their way to safety through the deadly streets of Japan during a worldwide catastrophic event known as the “Outbreak”. The group sees Takashi Komuro as their leader, in the Anime and the Manga. The local group of survivors consists of six others and a small dog named Zeke, creating a team with one common goal: to survive, to survive by themselves. The authors used role-playing terminology to categorize the specific attributes each character brings to the group. Takashi Komuro serves mainly as the team leader. Rei Miyamoto, Saeko Busujima, and Kohta Hirano are considered fighters because of their exceptional skills with weapons; Saya Takagi described as the wizard due to her intelligence and deduction skills; Shizuka Marikawa assigned the role of priest as she is a licensed physician. The plot is initially concerned with survival and escape from the titular high school and zombies, but as the series proceeds it introduces the additional threats including: societal collapse, in the form of dangerous fellow survivors, technological attacks, using an Electromagnetic pulse bomb, and the possible decay of the characters’ own moral codes.
Now this isn’t a show for the young as the Zombie action is up there with the best violent, brutal and very gory. There’s all the Zombie action you could ever want, people being eaten alive right, left and centre. The Zombies themselves are great they look and act the part, the writers got all the lore in there, the way they react to sound, lack of pain and insatiable hunger. Of course once your bitten you turn into a Zombie there’s no exception to the rules which means some harsh decision right from the start for these characters. Everything you expect from the Zombie genre is here, swarming undead, very tense moments, suspense, zombie munching, bitten colleges, the breakdown of modern society, social concern being thrown away as well as the blurring of moral codes as basic survival takes centre. This is a series of at first escape, then doing anything to survive and then seeing the bigger picture of continued survival in a new world of madness and death. The series builds up very well to the final conclusion. The initial escape and bringing together of these characters, their need to survive no matter what and what they are going to do in this new world. As with most endings in the Zombie genre the end is really only the beginning as the series concludes on the characters setting out on their own mission into a new world now that they know who they are and what they’ll do to survive. Each episode is exciting and fun the resident evil movies could look to this series to see how old school zombie story telling still is great. I mean all the clichés are here; you know to expect head shots, the “he’s behind you” moment, daring rescues, sense of false security and blood blood blood.
What also makes this series so much fun is the evolution of weapons, at first these are just high school students fighting with wooden kendo swords, baseball bats and a broken mop. But as the series goes on they find weapons of increasingly destructive power so you get some amazing zombie kills. To steal a bit of Zombieland, “Zombie kill of the week goes to Kota from Japan for expertly turning a nail gun into a sniper rifle and consecutively getting head shouts”. Zombies are run over by various vehicles, beaten and shot at. Weapons range from a nail gun to sniper rifles, shot gun and of course swords (it wouldn’t be Japanese if there wasn’t a sword expert in the group. The series is also very well made its smooth and wonderfully edited with great scoring. It feels fresh and fast but sudden and shocking as well. Beautiful and brutal compare with the crisp and fluid style it’s got. Scenes of violence and be sharp and brutal but they also seem to flow with very good sweeping shots and great cinematography. This is shown during the escape from school as the animation acts like a camera speeding towards and away for our characters, chasing up to the zombies and in a fluid motion delivering our characters into the scene of violence and into battle. Even in battle like so much anime it’s very sleek and looks brilliant. There is nothing like watching an expert swiftly cut down and kill a group of zombies with grace and ease.
The characters all represent the normal clichés of girly and emotional, confident and smart, poised and deadly, the reluctant leader, ditzy and bouncy, weapon savvy and just plain cute. They aren’t too bad as stereotypes though, even being girly doesn’t mean your weak and being the ugly one doesn’t mean you are a loser. All the characters have their strength and they have their convictions, these are a confident and determined bunch and that is how they have survived. There’s also the romance aspect and the Japanese love of having one guy at the centre of all the female attention and which girl is he going to end up with. Now I can’t really talk about this series without mentioning the gratuitous amounts of fan service it has. In true anime fashion they have gone super crazy on the size of the girl’s breast and the amount of panty shots. I mean there’s a panty shot every few minutes and boobs are bouncing all over the place, I wouldn’t be surprized if you could actually take out a zombie with the swing on these breasts, I have no idea how these girls run, its plain insane. I mean the boobs are so big that the recoil from their guns makes there boobs bounce and jiggle like jelly. But it is rather amusing as you get all this amazing zombie action but you still have the girls wearing so very little as if it’s normal, I mean who fights zombies wearing nothing but a black thong and a white kitchen pinnie!!! And of course there’s very indulgent shots of these girls sleeping and prancing about in their underwear as well as group shower scenes and much fondling. I mean the school nurse wonders around naked and has boobs so big I haven’t worked out how she reaches the steering wheel of their jeep. If fan service really offends you then don’t watch it but if you can see the funny side and like me love zombies so much the fact that the girls leave nothing to the imagination and I now know the colour of each characters panties then go ahead treat yourself to this very indulgent and entertaining anime.
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