High School of the Dead Review

Highschool of the Dead Season 1 (2010)

Starring: Junichi Suwabe, Marina Inoue, Eri Kiramura
Directed by: Tetsuro Araki

The Premise

I'm sure we can all agree high school sucks. It sucked for us, it sucked for our parents, it's gonna suck for our kids and it'll forever be the basis of shitty tweener Nickelodeon/Disney shows about sassy popular teenage girls who sing incessantly about pre-pubescent relationships and other such dubiously trite pop compost. Well, things get even shittier when a zombie outbreak sweeps through Japan (as well as the rest of the world). As the teens and teachers struggle to survive the global pandemic, they must deal with not only zombies, but moral decay and the collapse of society as we know it. Will they survive the nightmare or become part of it?

The First Stitches

This was an anime that was somewhat new to me. I'd seen it several times on various anime sites, but hadn't gotten around to checking it out because fuck high school. Seriously. But it eventually got to me because of that one four letter word, "Dead". I mean...how bad could it be, right? And as much as I despised high school, at least anime does make it kinda fun...usually.

Mending the Seams

Plot: Zombies. Tits. Ass. Those are the three main things you are going to notice as you watch this anime. Even Mai from Fatal Fury is more subtle.
...okay, maybe not. (original image here)
That being said, in between all of that is a pretty good story that plays out at a nice pace. High School of the Dead does very well at blending Japanese anime writing with the more western zombie movie style for something that likens itself to an animated Romero film.

Characters: The main characters develop rather well throughout the season. There are some forms of the typical horror movie stereotypes, including a brooding straight edge, a bipolar slacker/nerd and a stuck-up bitch. I did find myself enjoying the ragtag group of now-friends, especially during their more dramatic moments. My overall favorite was probably Kohta, the gun freak or Psycho, the sword wielder.
There are a couple more groups in the series, including a group led by a lecherous teacher, Shido. This group felt more like a cult as all the doe-eyed young females following him were more or less entranced and subordinate. Here is a link to all the characters of the show as there are quite a few and it can be a little difficult to keep up.

Yeah...this backrub scene seems nice until you realize she's like 16.

Setting/Atmosphere:  Keeping on par with anime in general, the visual style of Highschool of the Dead is fantastic. And while not "scary", per se, High School of the Dead does keep true to the horror and macabre aspect of the genre through the various locations and mindframes the characters go through. The series is definitely more action oriented, but there is a good mix humor and drama that permeates much of narrative.

Special Effects: The best part of High School of the Dead is the action, hands down. The copious amounts of blood do well to satisfy just about anyone's taste for mayhem, while at the same time, it's not so overdone that it feels like the show has nothing else to offer. The gore is rather tasteful as well, though I wouldn't have complained if there were a bit more. I did feel satiated enough to give this particular category an enthusiastic thumbs up.

See? Even Kohta agrees.

Music/Audio: First and foremost, I absolutely adore the opening song for this anime. As a matter of fact, I did enjoy the overall soundtrack. The ending theme seems to change with each episode, which I could see being a pain for the producers to keep up with, but it's a nice touch altogether. After a quick Google search, I found you can download all of the tracks through this link. I've not tried it yet, so visit at your own risk.

The Binding Stitch

High School of the Dead is an anime worth checking out for any anime enthusiast, hands down. Depending on your preferences, the over-sexualization can become a bit of a nuisance, but it's quickly shadowed by a deep storyline and engrossing characters. Oh, and zombies. Lots of zombies. As a matter of fact, that's pretty much all we really need here. Seriously, why are you still reading this?? Goooo!!

Just go! I'll hold 'em off!!