Zombie Review: Highschool of the Dead
Recently a friend recommended to me a new manga by the name of “Highschool of the Dead” (Editor’s note: the manga uses “highschool” as one word, so when referring to the title we will as well, though the correct use is 2 words: high school). He described to me the basic story following high school students during a zombie apocalypse and to be honest I wasn’t all that enthused. I’m not a fan of the horror/thriller genre in basically any media. The three items that convinced me to give it a try was A) my friend thought one of the characters in the story was very much like me (it involves being trained by Blackwater) B) It’s got some good (funny) lines and C) Tits. Tits sell anything. After checking out the series, I’m glad I did. Enough so that I think everyone should check it out.
The basic premise behind Highschool of the Dead (HOTD) is basically as simple as I put it above. Our story follows a group of intrepid high school students who have entirely normal lives (for less than 5 minutes on screen) before the zombies start to show up. They are forced to run/fight for their lives, and make a few (busty) friends on the way.
One of the first pieces of information I found about this manga is that it is also being made into an anime. In fact, the anime is currently being simulcast in Japan and America (on The Anime Network). I don’t currently get The Anime Network (TAN), but I think this is very cool. I’ve never heard of an anime series being simulcast in both countries at the same time before. I’m not sure if it is the absolute first, but it is a first for me.
I got my hands on the first 7 volumes of the manga and the first 5 episodes of the anime (of which there will be 12 total). I can safely say that all the episodes of anime I’ve seen follow the manga very closely. There are a few minor changes in the anime (mostly the removal of trivial pieces and unnecessary people) and some minor re-ordering of events. The intro for the anime is also a nice piece of work with some kick ass music.
For the most part, I enjoy the characters; there are 7 “main” characters (in the group) that we follow. I gave them all nicknames because it make it easier for me to remember who’s who. You’ve got Takashi Komuro as Leader, give him any weapon and he’ll bash some heads in. There is Rei Miyamoto as Girlfriend, who’s a bit angsty over Leader killing her boyfriend (who had become a zombie), but still has a thing for him (Leader) — she’s my least favorite character. The most kick ass is Saeko Busujima as Kendo, she kills everything with a sword and a touch of sadism. The un-fighty Saya Takagi as Genius-girl: she’s the brains behind the operations and proves herself useful by figuring out what the zombies respond to. One of the reasons I started watching the series: Kohta Hirano as Blackwater — he’s a pansy ass till you give him a gun, then he goes nuts and kills bitches. Of course the over the top eye candy is Shizuka Marikawa as Nurse Tits, she patches them up, drives, and is tits. Lastly you’ve got Alice Maresato as Chibi, she’s just a little kid that Leader saves, she’s adorable.
The cast is quite fun, and their interpersonal bits can be quite hilarious. There are some other characters who come and go (most people who “go” end up as zombies), but I doubt the main cast will grow any more. Oh, and an important item to note, every female on the series is big on the top side (if you catch my drift, if not: she’s got big tits). The artists have a thing for big breasts, I guess, even with the female zombies. Nurse Tits is, of course, even more well endowed than the rest and as such gets special sound effects when even they feel like emphasizing her breasts for comic effect.
Overall though, the series is more serious and violent, than horror. There is lots of blood, but not as much as Elfien Lied. As of volume 7 of the manga, the story hasn’t majorly developed. That isn’t to say it is slow, it is very action packed, but they really are just getting up to speed. Generally, the overarching story line of any Zombie Apocalypse media is to get away safely ever after (or everyone dies), which hasn’t happened in HOTD yet. They are still at the point of trying to find out if everyone’s family is okay. I’m really enjoying the speed and curious to see how things progress. I’m also interested to see how far the anime gets, because the episodes don’t cover nearly as much material as the manga has (typical).
If you enjoy zombies, violence, tits, or just a well done anime/manga, I recommend you check out Highschool of the Dead. You can even stream it (legally) on The Anime Networks website (if you pay for an account). I know the series isn’t for everyone, some will be put off by the hilarious large breasts (feminists), others by the zombies and the blood (weak stomach). The rest, will get a series to enjoy (and I’m looking forward to the cosplay).
Update 2010-10-04: Since this review was done before the season was even halfway through, I also did a Wrapup Review of Season 1