Zombie Week continues on Anivision, and while steev offered up weapon ideas to consider for defending yourself against zombies, might I suggest bringing some super hot ladies with you? Boobs, they’ll distract even zombies! Alright alright… so maybe it’s not the best idea for Shizuka to swing her boobs around to knock zombies over. But ya know what?
(she probably could) If the zombie apocalypse happens, I hope that my team of zombie killers is as gorgeous as these girls are, to have a guy like Hirano who knows everything about guns, and a leader like Komuro. Though I would prefer to be Komuro myself. Dude has that, “Last Guy on Earth” vibe with all the girls crushing on him.
We talked on Day 3′s podcast about how Highschool of the Dead is about a subject anime hasn’t really covered: the Zombie Apocalypse. HOTD starts off with a zombie seen at the school’s front gate. After a gym teacher gets bitten by the zombie, it eventually spreads through the school, causing widespread panic. People being bitten, kids shoving each other, teachers committing suicide… it’s a pretty horrifying scene to take in. Rei Miyamoto’s boyfriend Hisashi gets bitten and turned into a zombie, forcing Komuro to kill someone he considered a friend. Komuro, Rei and a rather unusual collection of people gather together to find a way out of the school and help each other look for their parents.
Zombies, Action and Boobs. That isn’t the series’ order of importance I believe, but this is the Holy Trinity by which HOTD lives by.
Since this is being posted during Zombie Week here at Anivision, let’s talk about em. Our first glimpse of a zombie is shown just outside the high school gates as it keeps on walking into the gate, holding it arms out forward like most zombies do. Whenever a zombie catches its pray, it takes a really hard bite and the person shortly after joins them in a hunger drive for human flesh. Komuro and the others figure that smashing the zombies’ heads in will knock them out, and Saya figures out in episode 2 that the zombies react to sound and presumes that other senses like sight and smell are non-existent. Komuro tests this theory to success by standing in the school hallway surrounded by zombies and not being noticed or attacked. Only at a couple points during the show does this high school zombie-wrecking crew really put it to good use, most cleverly used in episode 9 when Komuro parked the buggy in a water fountain and taped the steering handle so that it would go around in circles. He and Saeko could’ve just walked away; instead, we get some Saeko fanservice of her bashing zombies with her kendo stick. Addressing a zombie’s senses is interesting, but this is a highly fanservicey show with violence. Just act like they can see and stuff and shoot away!
These zombies are slow, so the guys and gals can take their time doing some of the fanciest zombie kills they can. When Hirano has a gun in hand, his aim is as true as Saeko’s sword is swift in dealing with enemies. Blood is in abundance and the zombies really put a lot of aggression into their bites. The zombies have their moments of good detail, like the screens above or if it’s a certain Korean actor. The process of Hisashi and a presidential adviser on Air Force One turning into Zombies was slow and for the most part painless-looking. While Komuro waited for Hisashi to die and reanimate, a security person on AFO made sure to shoot before the zombification process was completed.
Madhouse did the animation, and I really loved what they did in adapting the manga from an artistic perspective. When I was first reading the manga, the whole time I felt like, “this would kick so much ass as an anime”, and thankfully a studio of such high regard picked it up. They only enhance the experience more with the all of the over-the-top action sequences like the ending to episode 5, how aggressive the zombies become once they grab a hold of people and its use of slow-motion bullet time to show a bullet sail in between Saeko’s breasts. I really like a lot of the scenic backdrops in the show, most specifically the mid-evening scenes where the sun was setting, most specifically a scene like the midway point of episode 2 when the group is inside school watching the news. HOTD’s artistic direction and production is fantastic across the board and there isn’t any dips in animation like some other companies me and you know.
Episode 7 is the highlight episode of HOTD, in my opine. Everything it’s good at, it utilized to great effect in that episode. It had a bunch of ecchi shots of the girls that didn’t even bother to get changed before going out to the Humvee (fuck, Shizuka came downstairs buck-naked before putting on a work shirt). It had great action as Hirano was being BAMF with his sniper rifle helping Komuro drive forward. The element of tragedy even existed with Alice losing her father not to zombies, but rather to idiot people that lived in the house they were trying to seek refuge in; I actually really liked that scene in the series. Komuro doing a tightrope act to avoid the zombies was chilling, tossed in with a bit of a lighthearted moment when Alice had to pee. The CGI animation was done really well with the first-person view of Komuro riding his bike and the Humvee which Saeko rode on top of. A lot of HOTD is great fun, but if you want to know exactly what you’re signing up for, let episode 7 be your guide to what this series is like.
Boobs (pantsu also)
The women of HotD are, let’s be honest, attraction #1 to the series before the zombies. Character designer Masayoshi Tanaka did a great job at bringing the manga’s sex appeal into anime/color form. Three out of 4 Anivision hosts awarded Saeko as hottest female character in last year’s awards podcast (Jrow voted elsewhere, but does own a Saeko figure), and she is just amazing in the series. Her quickness and swiftness in slaying the zombies was mesmerizing, and of course she will forever be popular for the line, “I am wet!” Ahead of her on that all-important bust chart is Rei. She’s a hot girl with a nice body and wearing some nice panties, but she’s pretty shallow especially after begging Komuro to come back to her and thinks she owns the man. Saya brought the tsundere/megane to the harem of HOTD, and her reactions to a lot of Hirano’s more awesome moments were fun. I do wish she got a little more time with Komuro to add a 3rd option for him to consider sexually. Also, with Saya’s mom being perhaps the hottest babe on the show, imagine an older Saya! WOWZ~ And then there’s Shizuka, whose bouncy tits had sound effects to them and she could squeeze water from between them. As a nurse, the show played to that strength tremendously by having her be the driver of the vehicles in the series. All of these girls have the hots for Komuro, and judging by the way the camera is angled in a couple episodes, we’re left to wonder if Rei and Saeko locked lips with him.
To veer off a bit into a look at the other characters, Komuro is a very likable lead and definitely deserving of the Leader role he is kind of given thru the series. While he really doesn’t have a strong action trait like Hirano, Saeko or Rei, his skills become apparent mostly when he makes up his mind to do something. From shooting the guy at the gas station to saving Alice to grabbing Saeko’s breast and unleashing her demonic side, Komuro was a cool guy to follow along with on the show. As for Hirano, put a gun in his hands and he becomes somebody else. He was as turned on by the guns as he was Saya or Shizuka.
There are a few side characters to bring up. Shido is a recurring villain of the show as he has a past with Rei that gets revealed close to the end. He’s a straight-up asshole whose designed for us to hate and laugh at when he gets his come-uppings. Rika, sharpshooting friend of Shizuka’s gets only a couple scenes in the anime. I personally cannot wait for the moment she meets up with the group. I’m already playing out scenes between her and Hirano in my head. And then there’s Saya’s parents, the most badass zombie killers the anime introduces. Saya’s father Souichirou actually has a past with Saeko’s father, learning how to wield a sword from him. If HOTD gets a second season, I hope time is spent more with these characters; not so much the Takagi parents.
Sentai Filmworks licensed the series and released the Blu-Ray collection in America back in late June. At Amazon’s “as-of-typing” price of $38.99, you get the 12-episode series on 2 BD and not the Drifters of the Dead OVA that came after. Before I continue, the japanese dub with subtitles are A-OK and nothing to worry about.
The dub performances are not too bad, but it’s in the rewritten dialogue for the dub where things get a little weird. I get the sense that Sentai wanted to avoid mentioning that it was in Japan and not only threw out Japanese references or locations, but tossed in references more localized for US release. For example, waiting in the bus, after Saya insults Hirano’s weight once more, he mentions that he started P90X before this all started. In episode 6 when Komuro and Hirano open the locker with guns, Komuro asks if they are in Sarah Palin’s house. Yeah… and then when Saya sees Saeko looking at the Koi Pond, she suggests that Saeko has a side job at PetsMart while not slaying zombies with her sword. I’m against this method of treating a show as their own and toying with the script in places. I busted out laughing at the Sarah Palin line just in sheer ridiculousness.
I watched the dub all the way up to episode 10, and just couldn’t take it anymore and preferred to hear Miyuki Sawashiro do Saeko. With no real special features and a lack of a limited edition that might’ve included a figurine or perhaps a volume of the manga, you will need to be a big fan of the HOTD saga to buy it. I am a big fan.
It’s Based Off a Manga, Right?
Yes, it is. Sato brothers Daisuke and Shouji (not 100% sure of that fact) are still rolling along with the HOTD manga, and with only a 12 episode TV series to work with, only so much could be done before bringing it to, as the T.S. Eliot quote is used at the end, “a whimper” of an ending as we see the group approaching a mall. Events in episode 1 were modified a touch, but the biggest change was when Saya’s mom rescued the group. In the manga, Komuro and Saeko don’t separate themselves from the team at that point in the series; it’s a little later on when that happens. The manga is up to chapter 29 as of review, so if another anime series is being planned, I believe it would have to come in 2013 to give itself a little breathing room from the manga. That said, they’ll maybe rush it and release it summer next year.
I found the soundtrack for HOTD to not be really memorable and that it kind of gets lost amidst the sound effects of boobs bouncing and zombie heads being slashed off. However, the opening by Kishida Kyoudan and the Akeboshi Rockets ranks very highly in my all-time opening tracks, and there are 13 different ending themes by Maon Kurosaki. I’m a fan of endings 1 & 5, and I do like ending 11 since it sounds similar to Muse’s “New Born” in terms of arrangement.
We joked with Sean Ryan at the end of episode 91.5 about how I enjoy the series despite knowing its flaws. Highschool of the Dead is not afraid to admit that it follows the Zombies/Action/Boobs plan to the letter. The series displays some elements that might be used later to add depth to the series and there are interesting character links here and there, but for now it is simply an unabashed, kickass series about high-schoolers killing zombies and looking hot while doing it. It’s a 12-episode series that can easily be marathoned as action and fanservice never run dry thru the duration of HOTD. The manga’s ongoing and releases around once a month or so; who knows if there’ll be a season 2. I certainly hope the pic above isn’t meant to define the anime’s actual ending. At least these 12 episodes are a fun ride throughout and the animation by Madhouse is excellent. I feel this series is…