Am I the only person who is getting a little sick of Zombies? I mean, granted, it’s not as annoying as the Vampire craze a few years back, but it’s getting to the point where it reaches that level. It seems that the best way to get people to buy your game or watch your movie or read your book is to make the main focus Zombies, becoming more than a marketing ploy than a real topic. Now that’s not to say everything that has zombies that has come out in the last 10 years or so has completely sucked. Shaun of the Dead is still beloved as a hilarious horror comedy, The Walking Dead has garnered a HUGE following leaving us with a glorious game from Telltale, and Zombieland is one of my favorite movies of all time. But what makes these works, well, work is because they are doing something different with the idea of a zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead is more of a soap opera with it’s focus on characters and MULTIPLE character deaths, Shaun of the Dead is a smart comedic look at the sub-genre, and Zombieland is just a fun, buddy comedy that takes advantage of the fact that it is a zombie movie. So where does that leave our topic of today, the 2010 anime Highschool of the Dead? Is it another cheap cash-in of the Zombie genre, or is it actually a decently made, well-executed entry? Well, to answer your question, it’s neither. It’s a HOLY CRAP THIS IS FREAKING AMAZING OH MY GOD zombie entry that’s a cheap cash-in on that cashes in on the ecchi genre of anime. I think I better explain.
Highschool of the Dead is set in present day 2010 Japan, beginning as the world is struck by a deadly pandemic that turns humans intozombies, euphemistically referred to by the main characters as “Them”. The story follows a group of high school students, the school’s nurse, and a young girl as they fight their way to safety through the deadly streets of Japan during the worldwide catastrophic event known as the “Outbreak”. As the cast tries to survive the zombie apocalypse, they must also face the additional threats of societal collapse, in the form of dangerous fellow survivors, and the possible decay of their own moral codes.
Let me start off by saying I friggin’ love this anime. From the characters to the animation to the story to the writing. But before we go further into why I love it, let me address the elephant in the room. This anime is notorious/infamous for it’s insane excessive amounts of female fanservice, which is an Otaku (Anime Fan) term for anything the show does to appease it’s fanbase. It could range from giving a popular character more screen time, to the more famous example, COUNTLESS SEXY FEMALE SCENARIOS. In Layman’s terms, breast zoom-ins, panty shots, and bottom shots. I mean, even during some serious moments, a panty shot can come in from nowhere, that’s how bad it is. Now, while this may come off as extremely sexist, I have no problem with it in this anime. Why? It’s kinda hard to say. It may be the fault of the dub, which plays the whole story as a dark comedy or the fact that it’s so blatant that it comes off as unintentionally hilarious. I know a lot of people can’t stand excessive fanservice of this caliber, so if you are one of these people, I can completely understand why people do not like this series. But personally, it doesn’t really effect me that much. And hey, if I’m looking at an ass, it might as well be an ass from a character I like, and luckily for this show, most of the characters are extremely likable. Which is a great segway into the main reason I love this show, the characters.
If I had to choose one thing that I liked about the characters in Highschool of the Dead, is that none of them are idiots. A big problem for me with teen-centered shows or movies, or hell, even zombie movies and shows, is that the characters are idiots. They don’t react like how normal people would. Thankfully Highschool of the Dead has a cast that is relatively smart and likable: Takashi Komuro, the leader of the rag-tag group of survivors; Rei Miyamoto, Takashi’s old flame and best friend; Saeko Busujima, the calm and collected katana wielding valkyrie; Saya Takagi, the arrogant yet brilliant hothead; Shizuka Marikawa, the ditzy but well-meaning busty school nurse; Arisu Maresato, the cheery little girl whom they rescue; and my personal favorite of them all, Kohta Hirano, the nerdy fat kid who starts off seemingly useless, but over time, reveals himself to be a gun fanatic who is a sharpshooter with just about any weapon.
But why are they smart? Well, for starters, they realize what you are not supposed to do around zombies in a matter of seconds; and that isn’t because they are science majors or anything, but because they understand BASIC COMMON SENSE. I also like the fact that they do address some biological problems with the zombie drama, specifically, the fact that the zombies don’t decompose even in the hot summer sun. It’s writing like that that makes this a bit more than your typical cheesecake, testosterone thrillride.
Another big praise I have for the series is the animation and cinematography, and I’m not talking about the jiggle physics or the countless cleavage shots. The animation for the series, while not on Studio Gainax levels of amazing, are still pretty damn good in their own right. And since this is an animated zombie show, you can go to places and show a lot more than any live-action show. Again, I’m not talking about the tits and asses. If I had to choose the most awesome moment of animated zombie action badassery, it would be Samurai School Girl Humvee Tilt Zombie Kill.
Is HighSchool of the Dead a “good” anime? Maybe not. But is it entertaining? Oh hell yeah,no doubt! If you have 6 and a half hours to spare, I’d highly recommend watching all 13 episodes. Even if you don’t like it, I think you can still take away one or two things you like about it.