Warning: You have been warned
Hell yes! I frickin' love zombies. I dunno, there's something about carveing up leagues of zombies that just makes a man feel powerfull, you know? As a long time fan of Shaun of the Dead, Left 4 Dead and the Ultimate Zombie Survival Guide, I present to you my review of Highschool of the Dead.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here, I actualy think this was the best of the summer anime line up. I'm serious, I saw quite a few I think I enjoyed this one the most. True the competition is very, very close but this one just always left me smileing. But before I get on to what makes me it good, let me point out a few things. Yes, some moments do leave you facepalming and wonder what the hell they were thinking, yes Rei can be a bitch and yes, there is alot of talky plany. Don't like those things? HoTD isn't for you, plain and simple. But enough of that, let's get started.
So the plot centers around a group of Highschool students (duh) in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Supprisingly, hardly any of the series takes place in the overrun highschool, instead the survivors leave the area pretty soon. The survivors themselves are the spear master Rei, the leader type Takashi, the genius Saya, the insanely manly gunman Hirano, the sword wielding Saeko and the total and utter moronic school nurse Shizuka. Eventualy, through strength of arms, they escape the highschool unscathed and what follows is a slow decent in the chaos the world is thrown into and their own journey to find Takashi's and Rei's parents, the rests parents either in another country or dead. Along the way they are joined by a little girl they rescued called Alice and her dog Zeke and thus the group is complete. Already it sets itself apart from the usual think you'd expect in a zombie anything. They aren't holding up inside one building waiting for resuce, they aren't trying to 'kick ass' and they know full well rescue isn't coming. Instead, their main priority is the safety of their loved ones and eachother.
Well, ok, they 'kick ass' a few times
In a clever little nod the series makes clear it knows what it's takeing inspiration from, in episode 1 one of the tracks that plays sounds like it's right out of 28 Days Later. Also in that episode they say more than once that it's just like the movies. One thing the series never draws mention to however is how the outbreak started, or indeed who's behind it. Takashi is the first to see the zombies when a lone one bites a school teacher. Also, they never refer to the undead as 'zombies' or indeed the undead, instead they are simply refered to as 'them'.
Now, get ready to be shocked, these main chracters actualy have DEPTH. I know, shocking, right? Well, sort of depth anyway. They go through character development at the very least in their own small way. At first, of course, they're all seperated and wondering not only what the hell is going on but also what the hell to do. Hirano is probably the one who exercises this best as his first suggestion is going to the teachers or the authorities, though Saya is quick to point out they couldn't do anything anyway. As the series goes on, however, they each come to terms with what's going on and act less like people trying to escape a plague and more like that the horde is just a part of their life now that needs proper attention. Hirano, fucking badass that he is, is the gun master and seems to score head shots every single time. Takashi is the leader and strangely enough is also argueably the weakest fighter, he can't shoot properly at all and his only real talent is hitting things hard with a bat. Rei is the spear expert and is also one of Takashi's many love interests. Her father is in the police force and it is him that they first set out to rescue. Saya is Takashi's childhood friend and self professed genius. She can't fight, and that is made clear throughout, though she is the brains of the group. Saeko is the sword wielder and is also the one with the darkest past, that's revealed later on in the series so I'm afraid I can't accurately convey it. Shizuka and Alice don't do jack and only there to be awesome and/or sexy so...there you go. Oh, and there's the orgy bus, can't ignore that. Yes, you read that right, the orgy bus. You see, there's this real dick teacher called Shido. He talks like a cult leader, kicks a student in the face when he asks him for help and allows his students to have mindless sex in his bus during the zombie apocolypse! Thus it was dubbed the Orgy Bus, for a good time call.
Hirano: Bringing logic to zombies since 2010
Visualy, the series meanders from good to average. It's hard to say 'things go on in the background' when the place is meant to be clear of the zombies so what can you expect there? But the fight scenes are pretty graphic at times and just fun to behold. There's one scene where Takashi ride in on a motorbike. Takashi throws a revolver to Hirano who kills two zombies with an instant double tap while Rei does an elaborate spear to the head move and Takashi throws Saeko through the air who does a spinning sword strike. Holy freaking shit it kicked ass!
As you can tell, Hirano is my favourite
The music is something to mention, it adds a good amount of atmosphere and it suitably creepy and awesome when needed. The series had no ending theme, instead the song that was playing in the scene before carries over the credits. And now, something I probably should mention because no doubt someone will bring it up to me, the art design does suffer from something I like to call 'Eikenitus'. If any of my readers have seen Eiken you might be able to guess what I'm talking about, but if you haven't, allow me to explain. You see, I'm yet to count a single female except for Alice who has a small chest. Every single female, zombie or human, is amazingly busty. I, however, have an explanation. From my 'highly informed source who wishes to remain anon' I have discovered that the artist of HoTD was also a hentai artist, that's a supprise right? But anyway, if you got a think about large chests then stick away too I guess.
Boob smothering: Well, if you were gonna go... :/
I really enjoyed this series, sitting down every Monday morning to watch it was a pleasure and I, for one, really look forward to season 2. Next up for the show is the infamous mall arc, wherein Hirano gets a girlfriend, people die and things only get worse from there.
Final Score: 5/5
Oh and by the way, the Elliot quote at the end of the final episode was funny.