High School of the Dead – Bow to Saeko-sama!

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Bow to your queen, people!

When there are zombies, you should really read the How To Survive a Zombie Outbreak. If somehow, you are stuck in a Japanese anime with tons of zombies, a melodramatic brat, a whiny girl who nearly breakdowns and a few other random characters, you know you need Saeko. Saeko, the most awesome zombie killing chick of the anime world. This is my Saeko, and this is her show!

Summary

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Takashi was playing truant, as the world around him is going to transform. We see how Takashi is taunted by Saya Takagi, a supposedly intelligent girl who shows some interest in him because he is a redeeming idiot. Takashi, from the stairs, saw a man hanging outside the school gates. As the teachers confronted him, they were bitten and gradually transformed into zombies. Takashi immediately grabbed Rei and Hisashi to escape before anything happens to them. Instead of rushing through the main gate like the rampaging students, they moved up to the balcony. However, while meeting a zombie along the way, Hisashi got bitten. The other main characters also see some short action. They finally reached the balcony and set up a barricade. It was clear that Hisashi was going to transform into a zombie. Hisashi begged Takashi to kill him before he turned into a zombie. As Takashi killed him, Rei accused him of killing Hisashi because he was jealous. He then wanted to volunteer himself to kill the zombies, but Rei begged him to stay. She needed him.


Thoughts

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Hell ya for the show I have been waiting for ages! It started off very well with a In Medias res style of opening, which is always up my alley because it makes you anticipate what will be happening soon. I found that in shows of conflict like High School of the Dead, it can be done in a very effective manner, and I felt that it started off capturing your attention to see how these three unknown characters find themselves in this situation.

What happened after that is one of the best eye catching OPs montage (not the song, because the song is sung quite poorly) of the season for sure with some very cool stylization of the main characters. The ED was also very awesome in my opinion, which made the whole experience just that much better. The animation was also smooth, even though there seemed to be a concern that Madhouse might not be able to keep up with the animation quality. I believe they can to a decent degree, because Madhouse’s anime offerings have been pretty good for the recent anime seasons. That said, I still worry a little if they have blown their budget on the OP and ED too much, because it is seriously good.

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The characters are barely developed as yet due to the pretty slow pace. Without providing too much spoilers, I actually didn’t like the two main characters right now. That said, they feel real rather than cardboard characters because they cry, they try to fight fate and they are trying their best to keep their humanity despite the horror movie screening right in front of their faces. Throughout the episode, we see despair, betrayal and even suicide for many teachers and students. The fact that they struggled with their fear and yet continue to live is an endearing trait despite the emotional (which felt very fake in my opinion) part at the end. I generally like stories with apocalyptic settings simply because it usually has this despairing feeling, and it encapsulates the variety of the human spirit.

However, here’s the bad part of the show. Tits, panties and fanservice. Generally, I am very intolerant of fanservice, and Madhouse has done it in a pretty blatant and silly way. As Kurogane noted, it is really weird that they focused on the panties when a girl gets attacked. I generally find fanservice an aberration, but I think that the characters are worth it for now to watch it. It’s tight, the story is engaging and other than the blatant fanservice, it is pretty much a very good first episode. I will say, if your tolerance for fanservice is extremely weak, do not try this anime. It will get worse, I assure you. Everyone else should give this a shot.

Recommendation: 8/10 (Too much boobies/panties, but so stylized and gritty. Worth a look for sure!)

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37 Comments

  1. Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    DIPS ON BUSUJIMA SAEKO!

    Seriously, this show needs a badass girl when everybody is pissing in their boxers/panties. Where can you get more srz bzns when you have female zombies eating up female humans?

    Oh, do note that there is a scene in the manga, I call it, “The Sex Bus.” Readers of the manga will know.

    • Impz
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, I know what you are talking about. No, you don’t get dips because I already got her by making this post and declaring my absolute love for Saeko. You can get lost.

      ….and my mind just blew wide with your female zombie on female human action.

      • Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        I know some fetishists will be drawn instantly to this. Then again, Japan has already done with zombie moe. I seriously am concerned when they push the boundaries where the sun doesn’t shine.

        Oh, well. REPLAY!

    • Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      The correct term is dibs, not dips. Therefore I call dibs and I win.

      I remember reading the manga of this one a while back… wasn’t too impressed. Felt parts of it were way too emo and senseless fan-service. But due to the apparent high quality of animation I think I’ll be forcing myself to watch it all and enjoy certain segments of the plot.

  2. Posted July 5, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Just finish watching this it was AWESOME. Didn’t realise there was a manga though!! may just have to check it out, don’t know i it’ll ruin the anime for me though. Really looking to see where they go with the show so far so good!

    • Impz
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Yep, but the mangaka has stopped drawing it after 5 volumes. He got bored or something. (official reason is hiatus). I honestly am not sure how the anime will go (only 12 episodes) but we are likely to see an anime ending. I don’t think it will be that bad honestly. As such, I will definitely be blogging it ^^

      • Posted July 5, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Yup me too!! in fact I just finished my views on it on my blog! ^^

      • Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:59 am | Permalink

        Manga is back and should be coming out on a monthly basis starting this week.

        As for the anime, I think that there’s a good point on the manga’s story where they can stop without having to create a new ending. Kinda like how they’re handling Black Lagoon.

        • RegisNex
          Posted July 12, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

          Black Lagoon is awesome especially Revy one of THE most badass women i ever did see and Saeko you can see she’s going to be the same

          • ectholion
            Posted July 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            not too intrested in this show to me it seems to be an anime adaption to “dawn of the dead” and that movie didnt impress me much. im just waiting for them to lock themselves into a mall… plus way tooo much fan service. BUSUJIMA SAEKO is awesome though.. now if only they would kill off all the other characters and have her go on a romp through vampire land killing all in her path i could probably get into it. if not im sticking with occult academy for Maya is full of win.

  3. Akedus
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Eh. I hope you are able to keep stomaching the fanservice to watch this show – if it follows the manga at all there will be plenty of boobs and panties. Depending on the timeslot (I’m no guru of those aspects of anime) I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the nudity from the manga made it into the show. I assume you are aware that the source manga was drawn by a hentai artist?

    • Impz
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Aye, I am very familiar with it. Don’t spoil it for the non-manga readers. I still want to trick… I mean persuade others to actually give it a try. Now, you use the magic H word. No one will watch it except people like us :(

      • Akedus
        Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Sorry, didn’t know the H-word would incite such a reaction; I figured that, with so many eroge-to-anime adaptations (not to mention stuff like Utakata and Spice and Wolf which were drawn by another H-artist) that people would be willing to overlook the previous works of the author.

      • Mel
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:11 am | Permalink

        Nja come on. There are only three pants to see and all look very “dressed”.
        Also they got the anatomy right in the bottom – section. The boobs are like always .. but I think only one deep look into the neckline, but that was ok too.

        Who knows, what the animators are doing on the long run.
        Anyway: the graphics look interesting. They use some continuous camera shots to show the movements in the school yard. That’s quite nice.

    • Tenryu
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      i was wondering about that(character designs) thanks for clearing that up

  4. Soulstrider
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Saeko? Pffffffff, she is just a mere shadow compared with the pure awesomeness Kouta Hirano.

    Anyway my favorite show so far, usually I dislike fanservice but I do think it mixes quite well with this kind of “horror” show.

    • Impz
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      LOL WHAT.

      Ya, strangely enough it just works somehow. I do know that the manga goes into all ways to make sure that the horny boys get their fanservice. I am a little turned off by that, but the character dynamics and the painful revealing of human weaknesses is very interesting imho. I am willing to look beyond the boobs and panties for it.

  5. Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    >not green hair
    >not dfc
    >not trap

    Impz, I am disappoint

    • Impz
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:46 am | Permalink

      But she holds a kendo and kill zombies/people for kicks. Even though it’s not green haired, not dfc and not trap, she is just too awesome to ignore.

  6. Metalsnakezero
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Really liking the start of this show. While there is a lot of fan-service it can be overlooked with the whole survival aspect of the show and characters once we get further in.

    @Impz
    Have to agree on your choice on Saeko.

  7. 13sugars
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Hands down and hats off to this anime for me. Those zombies should eat Campanella with all that blood and gore. :D For some reason, I enjoyed some satisfaction when Hisashi slapped Rei for her annoying hysterics. (rofl)

    Btw, you gave them the wrong Zombie Survival Guide. Here’s the true and right 32 Rules when there’s a zombie outbreak in your neighborhood :D (lol)

  8. Posted July 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    From its brutal opening, straight through to its well drawn action sequences, believable characters and wonderfully bleak closing, High School of the Dead gets pretty much everything right.

    The cast is composed of the few who react quickly, calmly and violently to carve out their escape. They are modern, media conscious people who watch TV and play video games. They know what zombies are and they quickly arm themselves accordingly. Most importantly, they don’t dwell on the former-human-identities of their assailants until they are safe or emotionally broken.

    It should be obvious from the subject matter but it is worth noting that High School of the Dead is moderately graphic. While blood spray and baseball bat based head smashing is kept tasteful, a significant amount of attention has been paid to panty shots and boob jiggle of the living, the dead and the in between.

    My only concern with this show is that, in the long term, some unnecessary cliches may creep in. While they make no meaningful appearances in the opening episode, a silent wooden-sword wielding girl from the kendo club and a potential gun-nut otaku are around. More concerning is the buxom sleepy nurse character. If any of those characters take on a recurring gag-role, I feel the sincerely messed up relationship between the 3 core characters will suffer.

    • Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:58 am | Permalink

      More like a core 6 (which should be complete by the next episode).

      • Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Yeah, from the first ep we see the sword girl, the otaku and the nurse… but the relationship seems most relevant between the boy, the dead boy, and the 2 love interests

        curious how this will all play out

        • Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          At the risk of some minor spoilers. The nurse is both their getaway driver and the provider of the hardware they’ll end up using later. Meanwhile the gun nut takes an important role later on.

  9. zeroryoko1974
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    The BFF part had me in stitches. That was just hilarous.

    • RegisNex
      Posted July 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      yea i was LMAO so much everyone around me thought i had lost it

  10. Emperor
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Finally somethin new XD some fresh wind lol

  11. Lowlife
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    I am stoked about this show. Love Zombies, love slice of life, now we have slice of un-life zombies!!!

    I must agree with too much fan service. Seems I was looking at a pair of panties every 4-5 minutes. Now I appreciate fan service, but it’s a bit over the top. Was the manga as fan service centric as this?

    Also I am very happy we have simultanious Japan and USA release. I am seeing more of this and I am happy the Japanese companies have finally realized that there is no merit in holding a title for a year and then releasing it in the US (I’m talking to you Evangelion!!!!!) Also I think this will cut down the illegal downloads.

    W00t! can’t wait for eps. 2.

    • Posted July 8, 2010 at 12:43 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t call HSotD “slice of life” as it’s a pretty action packed series.

      And while the manga was packed with fanservice, the anime seems to be tacking it to “beyond the impossible” levels.

      • Lowlife
        Posted July 8, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        But this is life, after the zompoc. And I said “Slice of un-life” :P jk.

  12. Briar
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    I was annoyingly amused that the idiotic whiner with the beetle antennae blushes when she’s in danger of getting eaten by some random ugly zombie. Panties shots are bad enough; blushing at impending death? Huh.

  13. Posted July 8, 2010 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    I can certainly see the appeal: high production values; high school setting; zombies; survival story; gore; fanservice… if you like all of these things in one package. Personally, and as others have mentioned, I think such fanservice doesn’t gel very well with such emo-violent scenes, but then I admit I’m not its target audience (i.e. not a guy or a zombie-/ gore-/ dick-centred fanservice-loving fan-girl). The in medias res opening scene was very good though, but I disagree that the OP was all that, I thought it was simply trying too hard (e.g. see the Drrr!! OP sequence for a masterclass in how-to-do-a-stylish-but-subtle OP sequence). Finally, I’ll stop hating on it and hope the rest of you enjoy it, I’ll probably be watching/ maybe blogging Occult Academy for a more lighthearted look at the supernatural this season…

  14. Posted July 8, 2010 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Upon further reflection. I realized that most zombie b-movies (and grindhouse in general) are schlock full of fanservice themselves which is probably where this series/manga is coming from.

    • bravery23
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      I am in totally agreement with that..Coming in to this season I thought I wasn’t going to find anything worth watching and will most likely watch this since I am in love with zombie movies to begin with.

      On another note something I found interesting was the song used during the final scene of the episode. It’s the song, “East Hastings” by Godspeed! You Black Emperor, which is used in 28 days later (another zombie movie). Both the movie and this episode use a heavily edited version of the song.
      Thought it was something interesting worth pointing out.

  15. Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Dammit Impz, where is the blog for episode 2?!

  16. Robert
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I honestly wish they would just would just make a season two, or at least friggin’ continue the damned manga already it’s soooo annoying when an epic series like this just gets shelved(even if it’s only temporary). I miss the epicness…

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