On the surface High School of the Dead (H.O.T.D.) seems like it has everything going for it, production by Madhouse and directed by the director of the Death Note TV series. It has zombies, which have been all the rage for at least the last 5 years, and at least in the first episode seemed like it would take a more serious approach to the subject. But dig deeper you will find an amalgamation of fan service, Japanese high school antics, violence and typical bs anime plot. Granted it is done with some competence but don’t expect anything more, this show is entirely alright for just some occasional interesting action set pieces involving zombies.
The show is structured on group of high school students who group together to escape their zombie infected school and aim to find out if each of their families are okay. It looks like they plan to do a lot more than 12 episodes as we only get to one family in this season. The show ends up focusing quite a lot on romance and the situations they encounter as they find a way to travel back to their homes. While watching the first few episodes I was excited about how the Japanese would tackle the idea of zombies. Aspects such as what attracts them and what people and authorities might do to protect themselves were explored but not that much. One particular aspect I though was cool was the barricading of bridges and using a bulldozer to clear zombies on them.
What this show does do quite well, is that at least once an episode there is an genuinely awesome action moment usually involving some interesting zombies. Some of my favourites are the children zombies, which Hollywood is conscious of always excluding, and zombies with weird attire such as the motorcycle helmet zombie. There are also quite a few vehicular action moments that are typical but fun to watch regardless. It is probably not enough to recommend people to watch the show but there is always a time and situation for these type of shows. The epilogue of the season ends with the crew in front of a shopping mall, so we know what to expect for the next season of H.O.T.D.
Rating – C+
Genre – Action, Drama, Horror Length – 12 Episode series Year – 2010
Summary: A more moody episode with tensions reaching their peak and some questions answered. Mr Shido is back and is initially let into the mansion compound. We learn Shido’s father was politician who left his mother who then commited suicide. For some reason Shido then left home to be a teacher. The tension between Rei and Mr Shido is explained, Shido’s father is having trouble with Rei’s police chief father and calls Shido to make Rei fail a grade.
At the end of the episode we cut to US nuclear submarine as they are given orders to launch the nuke. Russia and Usa are firing MIRV’s at each other and it looks like the world is heading into armageddon. A MIRV if you don’t know is a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle with carries multiple nukes on a single ballistic missile.
Summary: While they are now safe at Saeko’s large mansion the group are frustrated being part of a larger group who treat them as kids and don’t give them any responsibilities. Saeko is mad at her family for only protecting themselves and not coming for her. Saeko’s father is the head of an important family and leads with a strong sense of traditional honour.
Episode Summary: Separated from the group Takashi and Busujima head to Takagi’s house, they find it too tough on foot so they go to the bike shop we saw in the previous episode. Instead of taking a bike they find a ground/water vehicle in the garage. To draw the attention of the zombies so that they can sneak to Takagi’s house they drive the vehicle into a pond and make it go in circles. Next we have the awesome part of they episode (it’s funny that there always seems to be only just one) where we see some cute zombie children and Busujima completely freezes. Takashi saves her by blasting the kids away and then they take refuge in a nearby shrine. Here we learn a bit about Busujima’s past where she reveals she was attacked by a drunk while walking home from school but instead of just running away she plays along so that she could turn on him and beat him down with her training sword. They spend the night in the shrine and the next day they reach Takagi’s mansion.
Comment: This show is just so ridiculous, they creators fully know what they are doing. It is definitely not meant to be taken seriously which I probably should’ve been aware of from episode 1. They don’t seem to be going into further depth explaining the zombies and I don’t really know what the overall plot is going to be other than that the survivors are trying to reconnect with their families. I’m having fun watching it in the way that people like to watching bad movies and I’m pretty sure the creators know this too.
Summary: On this episode a father and daughter seek refuge from the zombies and knock on a house with lights on. The family in the home fearing for their survival kill the man (by homemade spear) leaving his daughter alone. Hirano sees this situation from the balcony of the apartment and despite warnings to not make any noise snipes off zombies to protect the girl. Takagi goes to save the girl on his bike and we get some cool bike vs zombie action. Hirano supports Takagi sniping zombies in the way while the rest of the group prepare to leave the apartment on the hummer. Takagi while saving the girl fires of his gun alerting the horde of zombies to him. The girls and Hirano come to the rescue in the hummer and they get the hell out of there.
Impression: Based on the episodes so far I don’t have expectations that this show will be any good in comparison to the other shows going on right now. I could be spending my time watching better shows but it’s too late from a blogging perspective. It’s just mindless zombie action with some interesting aspects and that is probably just what the creators were going for.
High School of the Dead Episode 6: In the Dead of the Night
Summary: Not much to say about this episode, our group of high school survivors are taking a break in an apartment of a special forces agent who is a friend of Miss Marikawa. On the news we find out that 2 million are dead so far in Japan, with victims expected to double over the next few days (seems low since the population of Japan is over 100 million). The cool part of the episode is seeing how the cops handle the barrier at the nearby bridge. The cops are fending off zombies with handguns at first but are then authorised to use whatever force necessary and use a bulldozer to take down the zombies. The awesome violent moment of the episode is a mother holding her child who is infected, the child turns into a zombie and bites her mother.
High School of the Dead Episode 5: Streets of the Dead
Summary and Impressions:
Starts of by taking a break from the high school kids and looks at the situation elsewhere. On a remote seaside airport accessible by ship where only the high ranking officials and the staff necessary to run the airport are allowed. But despite being completely isolated someone infected must have been transported in and now zombies roam the runways. A special forces team was already on the island due to terrorism concerns and were able to secure the area, taking out zombies with a sniper rifle.
Cut to the bus stuck in traffic and Hirano and Takagi talk about survival options. They think that the only safe shelter would be smaller island areas such as Okinawa, Hokkaido and Kyushu. Planes become important to getting people there but only if airports are maintained. In the city the containment strategies by the police and armed forces are to use the bridges as choke points which are guarded by using high-powered water cannons as non lethal crowd control tactic. On the bus Mr Shido is becoming increasingly fanatical (like a cult leader) and Hirano, Takagi, Busujima and Ms Marikawa decide to leave the bus. They don’t get far before they are overwhelmed but when under attack Takashi and Rei comes to the rescue on the bike. The cool action moment of the episode is the dramatic entrance of Takashi by jumping the bike off a trailer from a lower freeway to the one above. And of course the other cool moment is a slow-mo bullet scene where Hirano get to use the gun Rei took from the dead cops in the previous episode. After clearing the present danger Ms Marikawa suggests they take shelter in a friend’s apartment nearby. This friend of her’s is the ace military sniper, who we see in the beginning of the episode, and she has a Hummer who Marikawa calls a tank. Looks like next episode will be low on action and based on the preview it is the anime cliche bath episode.