Fargo's Animated Japanese Fun Time! High School of the Dead

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

High School of the Dead


image

Highschool of the Dead is a 2010 anime, and is currently broadcasting in Japan. As a piece of anime, it's fairly unique. Compared to more western media however, the premise and story isn't all that speical. There isn't any real narrative or 'plot'. For some inexplicable reason, the dead are walking and devouring the living. This isn't 28 Days Later sprinting zombies, this is George A Romero shufflers. The protagonists are high school students who end up getting caught up in the ensuing crisis, and escape their now zombie-infested high school into an even more zombie-infested Tokyo. Each character has their own dark past and their own unique take on the moral situation.

Now, the unique twist on the premise sounds interesting. These are kids and as such their quest for survival should be more interesting than the standard tropes of grizzled army guys or adult civilians. Well, that's one of the problems that High School of the Dead has: The characters may be 'children', but they're also freaking ninjas, and those that aren't ninjas are highly proficient with all sorts of automatic weaponry. As such, there isn't much of a 'survival tale' to be told here. Oh sure, they have to escape situations that at first glance look inescapable, but in the end the series is far more focused on action. Conflicts with the dead don't really hold much tension, as the characters are generally fairly proficient at dispatching the dead in a variety of ways, with a variety of objects.

This isn't really a bad thing, but it takes away a lot of what could have made the show far more interesting. I find it hard to lump this into the 'horror' anime bracket, even if zombies seem to be the central threat. The fight choreography and how each encounter is staged normally means the protagonists have the upper hand, and tension is only really built up when the zombies come in such think waves there is little hope of defeating them all. Otherwise, characters seem to have no problem leaping from zombie to zombie and destroying them with either brute force or a well placed bullet to the brain.

For me, this makes High School of the Dead more an action/horror anime, much in the same field as Gantz. There are horror elements being used here, such as the fairly liberal use of blood and the concept, but how it plays out is much more firmly rooted in action staples. As I said, this isn't really a bad thing. As an action series it succeeds quite well, but I feel the series had potential to be a great horror anime (something there is too few of) if there had been more restraint with the characters and their skills.

image

The show had potential to be far more horrific, but chose a more action oriented approach instead.

Restraint with the characters doesn't just apply to how they handle themselves against the undead horde. The theme of the show appears to be about the losing of ones humanity. There are definitely some interesting moments pulled from this theme, but the main protagonists themselves don't represent it very well. The writers certainly try, but none of them seem to have strong moral qualms about the situation, with the exception of 'lead' character Takashi. Otherwise, the other characters seem far too willing to put 50 Calibre rounds in the heads of zombies.

This doesn't really harm the show too much, as apart from their moral codes the characters are all fairly well developed and their respective arcs are nimbly handled, until the show completely fumbles the ball in the last few episodes which simply stop making any logical sense, with no characters really expanding or growing beyond the first six episodes. In fact, the show just cuts off right in the middle of a massive plot thread. Whether this was for budgetary reason or whatever is unclear, but it kills the narrative. It doesn't really spoil the show however, as the run up to it was still fun to watch.

What does come close to spoiling the show, is the fanservice. Now, I don't really mind fanservice. Being a huge fan of both Elfen Lied and Ghost in the Shell, I can firmly say it normally doesn't taint my enjoyment of show if it's there. Most of the time. The fanservice in High School of the Dead, however, is something that almost cripples my appreciation of the show. The female characters are written as strong women, with their ability in combat situations exceeding that of the two males in the group. In contrast to this, the writers and artists have pretty much taken every opportunity to put them in revealing situations and undress them. To begin with it was fine, but when an episode in which all the female high-school girls take a bath completely nude in hot, soapy water came around, I found myself getting fed up with it. It's totally unnecessary and more than anything really hurts the characterization of the females when they are presented as sex objects on such a frequent basis.

image

The fanservice so blatant and unrestrained it actually starts to hurt characterization.

Well, I guess if you're going to have breasts in your anime you should at least have the decency to make them well animated breasts, and High School of the Dead succeeds in that jiggling, voluptuous department. Being a 2010 anime with a fairly high budget, the show looks good. The art style is nothing astonishingly unique, but it's well-presented and animated, with a certain style and grace to it. You're not going to see scenes of Paprika-esque madness, but the animators did their job and did it well. One could even argue that the show was trying for a more realistic style, with very little need for elaborate art.

A more stand-out aspect of the production is the sound design. High School of the Dead has a great opening theme, that really captures the aesthetic and fast-pace of the show, while at the same time not being overbearingly brash. The closing themes are also quite well done, with each one being written and recorded specifically for that episode and are sung by Maon Kurosaki. With such an unorthodox approach to the soundtrack, it's actually quite impressive that each closing theme is very well done and each is a damn good song in its own right.

Having to yet receive an English dub, if you plan to watch this series before it hits Western shores you'll probably have to watch it with the original Japanese. The voice-acting is, thankfully, great with each actor bringing a very diverse performance to their roles, although sometimes the female voice actors hit pitches that are almost excruciating in their annoyance, but I can't really blame this on the actual voices, but rather on the characters they represent.

image

While the art and animation doesn't look unique, the production values are still strong.

Extraneous information aside, I am in two minds about High School of the Dead. At heart, it's a good series, with interesting, if not elaborately constructed characters, high production values and some solid writing. The moral treatment of the characters falls flat, and with most of the other themes being almost paper-thing to non-existent, having few relatable characters to connect your audience to the theme is what really hurts High School of the Dead the most. Well, that and the fanservice. Seriously if you're the kind of person who stops watching at a panty shot, then this certainly isn't the series for you.

It's a shame really the series has that burden on it's back. It spoils what could be a far better show, and that's essentially what High School of the Dead is full of: potential. There is so much potential for a really great, really deep show here. As it is, it's interested me enough to keep me watching and I've enjoyed the Japanese take on a western phenomenon, but that's not what I'll give it a recommendation for. I'll give it a recommendation so that people can support what has the potential to be a great series. All it will take would be for the show to mature and perhaps with that, it will grow into something very special indeed.

image

So, in short, it's a series where the zombies are not all that threatening, the characters have messed up morals, and there is a lot of fan service? The zombies play more of a "toy" type of role, being played off of, but never really threatening the survivors?

Sounds...interesting, but if what you say about the fan-service is true, it seems like that would be a large annoyance. This would be especially true in a series where action is the focus. Having random shower scenes does not seem to really fit, and for me at least, would likely make me switch it off.

Still, a good review, letting me know the basic idea of what it's about, and telling what works and what doesn't. Still noticed a couple small grammatical errors, but those tend to be in almost all writing, and they aren't exactly detracting.

Start reviewing things I can relate to!

Marter:

Still, a good review, letting me know the basic idea of what it's about, and telling what works and what doesn't. Still noticed a couple small grammatical errors, but those tend to be in almost all writing, and they aren't exactly detracting.

Start reviewing things I can relate to!

Grammar errors you say? Damned lousy proof-reading skills.

Anyway, I'm going to do some film ones soon, don't worry. I just like to write about what I've seen recently, and what I've seen recently happens to be more anime than film. I'll try and get a proper film (with real people and everything!) up this weekend. Might even go see Scott Pilgrim as I know someone who wants to see it.

Why does fanservice exist?

It's blatent, rarely appropriate, and stupid.

The internet gladly takes care of any kind of sexual needs related to characters thanks to Rule 34.

Onyx Oblivion:
Why does fanservice exist?

It's blatent, rarely appropriate, and stupid.

The internet gladly takes care of any kind of sexual needs related to characters thanks to Rule 34.

Rule 34 exists to simply make bizarre. inappropriate fanservice even more bizarre and inappropriate.

As for fanservice itself, it doesn't actually bother me that much if it's downplayed and it's not the sole focus. It's when it's overplayed and in your face it really gets on my nerves.

The 2nd to latest episode was the pinnacle of stupid fanservice, now don't get me wrong, I don't mind the fanservice in the show, it's basically 1/3 of the show, and if you don't like it, this aint the show for you

But the slowmotion waterbed boobies was just nasty, naaaaaaasty

Oh and the first 5-10 seconds of the anime intro is the best riffing ever

hmm, I have been wanting to check this one out...

I haven't seen this so I can't judge its fanservice. But from an action standpoint, somtimes it just isn't realistic to not show any kind of panties or whatever if the girl is wearing a skirt and doing these huge stunts.

I mean, if there was any kind of realism, doing anything action-ish in a skirt would be pretty revealing. Would editing it to make everything covered or only giving you a top down view be the best course of action? I dunno if I'm really defending anything, just trying to give another viewpoint.

FargoDog:
Well, that's one of the problems that High School of the Dead has: The characters may be 'children', but their also freaking ninjas, and those that aren't ninjas are highly proficient with all sorts of automatic weaponry.

I've only read parts of the Manga but all I could think about was how the hell did kids from a country that outlaws firearms get so damn proficient with them? That and the fan service really turned me off of what could have been really good.

Rylot:

FargoDog:
Well, that's one of the problems that High School of the Dead has: The characters may be 'children', but their also freaking ninjas, and those that aren't ninjas are highly proficient with all sorts of automatic weaponry.

I've only read parts of the Manga but all I could think about was how the hell did kids from a country that outlaws firearms get so damn proficient with them? That and the fan service really turned me off of what could have been really good.

I think its because one of the Kids is a Gun nut and the other learn about them quickly?
Im not really sure myself.

OT:Nice Review but this is defiantly something i will NOT be watching.
Its just not for me.
I do like gore but the fanservice is just absolutely ridiculous, even though that really is the whole point of the series.
Plus out of what iv read/seen and looking up the characters iv only found 3 that i think are good characters, the rest are all just Derp to me.
Plus im all for things not being realistic but...whenone character fires a Sniper Rifle at a zombie, using one girls breasts as a cushion to reduce the recoil(?),and a character that's in the way dodges it by leaning back, and her breasts pull a Matrix as the bullet passes between them.......
I Just...wow.....do you realize how fast they would haft to be moving for them to do that!?
Anyway....just my opinion.
I do like the art and the shout outs it has for other more Famous Zombie Movies but, its not for everyone.

Anyway great review.
Though i would say don't expect the show to do much, even the director has said that "The majority of the people who watch this series are here for the breasts and blood, and that's what were gonna give them".

Good review!

Onyx Oblivion:
Why does fanservice exist?

It's blatent, rarely appropriate, and stupid.

The internet gladly takes care of any kind of sexual needs related to characters thanks to Rule 34.

I honestly don't know.

Personally i think a majority of it that exists out of non-ecchi series is there to make sure people watch it regardless of how good/bad the actual anime is.

One of these threads pop up every week, but I'll bite again:

I LIKE zombies, survival horror and boobies.
I DON'T like cartoon boobies, pointless panty/bra shots and the showing of which getting in the way of the characters and the story.

If I'm in the mood for it, I'll watch porn. But when I'm watching anime I'm there for the action, the story and the characters. A little bit of fanservice is harmless, but HotD takes it way too far.

Seriously, why the hell was Saeko wearing a g-string to school...especially on a day she had a kendo class? Seeing as I'm watching fiction I can suspend my disbelief when characters miss seemingly obvious things...but last week's episode with the fence was just ridiculous. Sure it was a plot device for this week's episode but ehhhhhh.

Ignoring the fanservice I am enjoying the series, but if I had something else to watch I wouldn't waste my time on it. It could be so much better if they concentrated mainly on the actual surviving and the love stories were a secondary plot, for example the scene with the police on the bridge was excellent, as was the president in air force 1.

Good review though =)

Not bad, you got some potential here

The funny thing is, in a show full of boobs, sexual themes, fanservice, Hirano (glasses gun nut) is the best character, and he tends to get at least one psycho grin each episode
BANG BANG BANG BANG, LIFE IS BUT A DREAM!

High School of the Dead: A excuse to watch boob jiggles, various underwear and sexually suggestive action perform by underage school girl. A softcore horror porn if you will.

Harn:

I've read some of the manga and I liked it more. There was a lot more interesting things done with..

In the anime, they don't really touch on that again or at least have yet to, and considering the small amount of episodes left I doubt they'll be able to do much with it.

Ooooh, I love HotD ^^

One thing that people need to keep in mind is the person behind it is normally writer/artist (Can't remember which) of various 'H' anime/manga I believe.

So in the respect of him attempting to do something outside of his normal genra, good on him, it turned out rather well. (Even if they did have to yank on his leash a few times ^^)

FargoDog:
It's a shame really the series has that burden on it's back. It spoils what could be a far better show, and that's essentially what High School of the Dead is full of: potential. There is so much potential for a really great, really deep show here. As it is, it's interested me enough to keep me watching and I've enjoyed the Japanese take on a western phenomenon, but that's not what I'll give it a recommendation for. I'll give it a recommendation so that people can support what has the potential to be a great series. All it will take would be for the show to mature and perhaps with that, it will grow into something very special indeed.

Very much agreed.
I must also say that it has indeed been getting much lighter on the fanservice since the first few eps as the makers settle into the new genra. (Read above)

Now I need to get off my arse and track down the latest ones, I think I am up to ep6. o.O

Great review. I'll keep an eye out for your others.

FargoDog:
I've read some of the manga and I liked it more. There was a lot more interesting things done with..

In the anime, they don't really touch on that again or at least have yet to, and considering the small amount of episodes left I doubt they'll be able to do much with it.

Yeah, I figured they'd make that slimy teacher guy a much more prominent lead vilain, but he hasn't showed himself for a while. Atleast, in the anime.

Nice review.

And if you think that "bathing" episode was bad wait till you see episode 8, it has - I shit you not - Matrix-style boob physics.
I still really like this show despite the excessive fanservice. There's just something about animated zombies that clicks.

Very nice review. I've watched all the episodes of the anime so far and this sums up the series quite well. I haven't read the manga at all so I can't comment on whether its better or not (if anyone has read the manga and watched the anime, could you tell me which one you prefered? Please?).

Like I said your review sums up the show very well. The zombies don't seem to be that much of a menace to the main characters as they are all (well most of them) very skilled in combat. I guess the series is more about the struggle for the main characters to adapt in a world where much of society is gone, so thus, so are most of the rules.

And the fanservice... *sigh*. Some fan service is nice but it can get ridiculous at times in show. The main characters are in the middle of a fight scene. How about a panty shot. Sure, why not? *Sigh* Ah well, have to take the good with the bad. Plus the creator(s?) apparently were in the hentai business (or something similare) if I remember correctly. Old habits die hard?

Overall its still a good series with its share of flaws. I like it and recommend for others to at least check it out to see if they enjoy it too.

Winfrid:
The funny thing is, in a show full of boobs, sexual themes, fanservice, Hirano (glasses gun nut) is the best character, and he tends to get at least one psycho grin each episode
BANG BANG BANG BANG, LIFE IS BUT A DREAM!

I have to admit Hirano is my favorite character. His enthusiasm seems to make me smile every episode with my own slightly psychotic glee.

I enjoy the anime, and all it's fan service.
I love zombies, I love anime, and I love boobs. Is that so wrong?
I think the fan service gives it more of an identity. As a fan, it wouldn't be HSotD without it.
Hell, the fan service actually made one of the fights a lot cooler, in my opinion. I just love how ridiculous it can get XD

Other than that, I love the action scenes and the cast (Hirano and Saeko are my favorite characters.)

I had missed a few episodes and just caught up today
I love this show, sure its pretty generic a far a zombie story go, its done well and the animation is good and it funny.
to me Highschool of the Dead's overuses of fan-service is pure comedic gold
their is no way that anyone could convince me that the fan service is to be taken 100% seriously
it like one big running joke, For Christ sake this show has a f**king Orgy bus spoilers.

What he says, make sense.

It's action-oriented.
It's not scary.
It has a shit load of panties shots and bouncing boobies.

It's something I watch once a week.

I watched the first episode. I even read the first volume of the manga. But then...I kinda just forgot about it. Same thing has been happening with almost every anime I've been watching.

this show scared the shit out of me

Great work on the review.

Just a tiny remark. This is of course very relative, but I would say ghost in the shell and elfen lied lies way below normal levels of fan service. For me, fan service is exclusively sexual elements in a more or less humours/not very serious setting. I don't remember everything about elfen lied, but don't think it was that much.

As for Highschool of the Dead, I found it to be one of the most entertaining animes I've watched this year, recommended if you like zombie splatter/action and can take lots of fanservice with a smile ;)

ANImaniac89:
I had missed a few episodes and just caught up today
I love this show, sure its pretty generic a far a zombie story go, its done well and the animation is good and it funny.
to me Highschool of the Dead's overuses of fan-service is pure comedic gold
their is no way that anyone could convince me that the fan service is to be taken 100% seriously
it like one big running joke, For Christ sake this show has a f**king Orgy bus spoilers.

I completely agree. Haven't laughed this much since that one show where a girl used her boobs to reload a revolver, using no hands, grenadier think it was called :D

Gigaguy64:

Onyx Oblivion:
Why does fanservice exist?

It's blatent, rarely appropriate, and stupid.

The internet gladly takes care of any kind of sexual needs related to characters thanks to Rule 34.

I honestly don't know.

Personally i think a majority of it that exists out of non-ecchi series is there to make sure people watch it regardless of how good/bad the actual anime is.

Yup. The answer is sadly, supply and demand.

Even if you, your social circle, or even the majority of the entire country of anime-fans hate it, some still watch it, and even if they didn't, there is a much bigger group that enjoys it, craves it and pays for it. You just need one look out the window to see how the world is degrading, because sex sells, no matter where, even in politics.

Personally, I like the serious shows best, but I am able to enjoy heavy echi elements such as those used in HsotD (beer helps :D)

V3x:

Gigaguy64:

Onyx Oblivion:
Why does fanservice exist?

It's blatent, rarely appropriate, and stupid.

The internet gladly takes care of any kind of sexual needs related to characters thanks to Rule 34.

I honestly don't know.

Personally i think a majority of it that exists out of non-ecchi series is there to make sure people watch it regardless of how good/bad the actual anime is.

Yup. The answer is sadly, supply and demand.

Even if you, your social circle, or even the majority of the entire country of anime-fans hate it, some still watch it, and even if they didn't, there is a much bigger group that enjoys it, craves it and pays for it. You just need one look out the window to see how the world is degrading, because sex sells, no matter where, even in politics.

Personally, I like the serious shows best, but I am able to enjoy heavy echi elements such as those used in HsotD (beer helps :D)

Same here, i love Serious shows and crazy fun shows but, it seams like in order for a show to be fun there must be Panty Shots and Breast Grabs.
Its almost used as an excuse for the Writers to get lazy.
Instead of making sure the Plot works and the Characters grow over the series, "Lets just have Lovesick Idiot fall on Hot Girl A and Accidentally Grab her Breasts!"
"The popularity will go through the roof!".

I love Manga and Anime like Rurouni Kenshin because it had a great story, nice characters, and it was a good mixture of Comedy/Drama/Action...without resorting to Fanservice for Ratings.
And a lot of the time the Fanservice gets so degrading i cant take Female characters serious at all.
And a lot of it happens in supposedly NON-ECCHI anime.
Its kind of sad to me.

Now Ecchi Fanservice in a Ecchi series is A-Ok with me,its just not my thing.
HsotD is great in this aspect because it does what it set out to do VERY well, even if it gets retarded sometimes while at the same time trying to stay somewhat "Realistic".
BREASTS ARE NOT PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF DODGING OBJECTS THAT QUICKLY.

But anyway i prefer Fanservice of the Gore type.
Which Rurouni Kenshin did well in that aspect as well.
:)

V3x:
Great work on the review.

Just a tiny remark. This is of course very relative, but I would say ghost in the shell and elfen lied lies way below normal levels of fan service. For me, fan service is exclusively sexual elements in a more or less humours/not very serious setting. I don't remember everything about elfen lied, but don't think it was that much.

Thanks :)

I've always considered fanservice to be simply sexualisation, whether that be humorous or not. But even so, there's quite a few scenes where the sexualisation is humorous, although there's none in Ghost in the Shell that's humorous, there's just a lot of blatant nudity with no real reason for it. When there's nudity/sex that doesn't add anything to the show or film I consider it fanservice. Of course, it's all subjective so I can see where you're coming from.

I think when it's specifically humorous that falls into just plain 'ecchi' rather than fanservice overall.

Based on what I've heard here and elsewhere, and the clips I've seen, this show would unfortunately be more appropriately titled "High School of Sleazy Camera Angles and some Zombie Stuff going on in the Background".

Though usually never one to to scorn the allure of the female form, there's nonetheless a time and a place for everything. Every 30th second in even intense action combat scenes is not that time or place.

Imperator_DK:
Based on what I've heard here and elsewhere, and the clips I've seen, this show would unfortunately be more appropriately titled "High School of Sleazy Camera Angles and some Zombie Stuff going on in the Background".

Though usually never one to to scorn the allure of the female form, there's nonetheless a time and a place for everything. Every 30th second in even intense action combat scenes is not that time or place.

It gets far worse as the series goes on. Even outside of action scenes, having a bath in a steamy room and having a splash-fight while the house is surrounded by the undead is generally not great timing or productivity. Given the setting, there shouldn't be any unnecessary fanservice. It's so annoying when things like that ruin a show.

Gigaguy64:

Now Ecchi Fanservice in a Ecchi series is A-Ok with me,its just not my thing.
HsotD is great in this aspect because it does what it set out to do VERY well, even if it gets retarded sometimes while at the same time trying to stay somewhat "Realistic".
BREASTS ARE NOT PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF DODGING OBJECTS THAT QUICKLY.

But anyway i prefer Fanservice of the Gore type.
Which Rurouni Kenshin did well in that aspect as well.
:)

To be fair, you could probably bundle High School of the Dead into Ecchi quite easily, but the problem is that it shouldn't fall into that category. It's a show that should be about zombies eating people and the mass killing of said zombies, not how many panty or breast shots you can cram into your 20 minute running time.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked