Highschool of the Dead Review

highschoolofthedeadhdr

It’s always dangerous when someone tells you, “Don’t take it seriously” and “I watch this for the plot!” in a sarcastic manner when referring to a series. Such is the case when I finally attempted to watch Highschool of the Dead for the second time.

hotd6Story
Kouta is having trouble with love issues. His childhood friend Rei, who once promised to marry him, has recently started dating his childhood friend Hisashi. While struggling with this one day, he witnesses a terrifying scene at the gates of his school. A strange man bites the P.E. teacher who then becomes enraged and begins eating the flesh of another teacher.

It’s a massacre straight out of a movie. So terrifying that Kouta immediately pulls Rei and Hisashi from their class which are still in session. After facing many dead, flesh-eating students and faculty members, it’s obvious that the world has become no longer fit for the living.

While escaping their school, they are joined by other students and the school nurse. Saya, is another childhood friend of Kouta who is a self-proclaimed genius that isn’t that willing to fight. Rather she molds a nearby military gun nut otaku named Kohta to fight for her. While Rei is a master of spears, they are also joined by a kendo master named Saeko.

hotd5As with most traditional zombie action stories, Highschool of the Dead makes no apologizes for having nothing to really tell. Instead, it’s a moment to moment action and drama show that focuses on bringing the characters from point A to point B. Throwing different scenarios at the characters and seeing what sticks.

Keeping that lack of overall plot in mind, the show does well in entertaining for the time that it has you. The gore is good, the action is good, and the presentation leads to some over the top silly entertainment.

With the praise out-of-the-way, we get into the more in-depth analysis of the show. As I mentioned in the introduction, one key thing people warn with this show is, “Don’t take it seriously.” Which would be fine if the show knew what it wanted to do. At face value, it’s a fan service action show. Filled with over the top and excessive crotch and panty shots that would make any blushing man desensitized. Which is fine in itself.

hotd1However the show doesn’t keep to that, instead vouching to attempt at serious material often enough to create a jarring experience.  Serious content matter such as suicide, rape, murder, and even often examines child rape. All within the same breath of a boob jiggle or the five hundredth shot of the same girl’s panties.  Almost as if it has some sort of identity crisis, or attempting at being more than what it is.

That said, I don’t believe the writers are ignorant of this fact.  Instead, they seem to own it, and accept it as how they wanted their story told.  Or lack there of.    So while I do critique it here, it probably means very little to anyone that is their target audience.  Those willing to turn off the critical eye, and just watch it.

Visuals
If one thing can be given Highschool of the Dead, it’s the decent visual design and decent action throughout the show. Though at most points, calling it decent can be giving it too much credit. hotd3That’s because when the show isn’t taking extra care in animating crotches and chests, it skimps out on putting money into action scenes and zombie hordes.

Zombies are often duplicated robots made from CG, and when close up they replace them with lifeless still shots (no pun intended). Even still, I never found myself overly bothered by this as the show still provided plenty of entertainment.  Though I have to admit that seeing 5 zombies in one shot, then instantly seeing a concentrated group of 40 appear in the next shot was a bit comical.

Sound
The audio design in Highschool of the Dead is fairly decent in many regards.  While there’s quite a bit of silence given to a lot of the scenes in order to create moods of isolation, the use of remixed rock music is decently done for the action sequences.  That said, most of the music is rather hit or miss.  At points the music is good, while at other moments it feels rather generic and uninspired.

hotd7Verdict
Unfortunately, most of Highschool of the Dead can be best described as a Victoria’s Secret catalog with pictures of zombies sprinkled in. Every now and then you’ll get a quick snippet of fun and entertaining action that aims to please.

With its inability to keep to serious content, comical content, dark gore, or shots of the same panties for the 50th time, there’s a constant struggle to liking or disliking this series as a whole. It had a great idea behind it, but it just never seems to follow through with anything.

Highschool of the Dead is a troubling show for me just because I have a strong desire for a truly dark and gritty Zombie anime. While I got bits of pieces of it in Highschool of the Dead, it never truly took itself seriously. Which may in fact be what you could like of the show. It just wasn’t a home run for me.

Oh.. and don’t touch the OVA “Drifters of the Dead”, unless you desire a 10 minute slide show.  My heart goes out to those that bought that at full price retail.

NOT TERRIBLE, BUT NOT GOOD..

REVIEW VERDICT:
Fanservice, and that’s it

Goods:

  • Decent action
  • Comical outrageous moments
  • Pornless Porn?
  • Likable characters (mostly)

Bads:

  • CG Zombies and stills
  • Fails at serious topics
  • Awkward at times
  • Fanservice ruins anything else
  • “Yes, we’ve seen those panties already”
Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.