The Drudgeon reviews High School Of The Dead – Episodes 001-003

High School Of The Dead - Episodes 001-003 25 min., 2010
Written by Yōsuke Kuroda
Directed by Tetsurō Araki
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★★

How Japanese high school kids deal with the living dead.

* * *

The series follows a handful of students after there is a zombie outbreak.  Now, this is an anime series that has a lot of “fan service”.  What I mean by that is that there are quite a few panty shots, gore and bouncing boobs.  Then again, so far there has not been any actual nudity.  They have the “fan service” but if you decide to watch it you may be surprised by how smart the actual story is.  The interplay between the characters is very well written and most of them don’t act like normal characters in the middle of a zombie outbreak.  They are “tough” but they all have emotions that they are trying to hide.  As I write about each episode I am only going to mention the voice actors the first time that they appear as to take up less space.  Lastly I will not have an overall list of characters until (maybe) the end, because I find it very silly to learn about a character that doesn’t even appear until seven episodes in.

Episode 01 – Spring Of The Dead

The series begins with some of our main characters, Takashi Komuro (Junichi Suwabe), Rei Miyamoto (Marina Inoue) and Hisashi Igo (Mamoru Miyano) fighting their way to the roof of the school.  We then flash to a young Rei telling Takashi that in the future they will be married.  We learn that now, some years later, Rei is dating Hisashi, Takashi’s best friend.  Takashi ditches class and goes out onto some stairs and sees a man bumping into the front gate.  Some gym teachers approach and one of them is bitten, and in turn he starts to attack the others.  Takashi runs to his class to get Rei and Hisashi.  He tells them what he saw and they leave the class.  As they leave the principal comes over the PA and starts telling the kids that they have to follow their teachers because some violence is breaking out at the school.  After every one hears him getting attacked, panic ensues.

This is a strong first episode that really sets the pace and feel for the show.  So far you are only given the bare minimum about each character, but they give you just enough to want to know more.  My favorite part of this episode is when the school kids react to the principal getting killed.  People just freak out and you see shots of people getting kicked out of the way, pulling on hair to get out and even kicking friends in the face to escape.  It’s the way that I would actually see people reacting to a fucked up situation like that.

Things we learn this episode about these zombies.

First (like most) their bite causes others to become one of them.

Second, they don’t attack everyone.  If they are feeding they really don’t take their attention away from it.

Third, they can contort their bodies.  When Hisashi has one in a choke hold, it twists its own head around to try and take a bite.

Fourth, the transformation takes only a few seconds if the bite is severe, but if it’s only a small bite it takes a few minutes/hours.

Fifth, destroying the brain is the only way to “kill” them.

Episode 02 – Escape From The Dead

We pick up right after episode one with two characters that only made brief appearances in the last episode.  First we have Saya Takagi (Eri Kitamura) who is (according to her) a genius and Kohta Hirano (Hobuyuki Hiyama) the local nerd type.  They strike a bond, mainly from Kohta fawning over Saya, and decide to go and get some weapons.  Kohta gets his hands on a gas powered nail gun and that’s when we finally realize that he is a gun nut and his has now found his calling.  We also meet the school’s nurse, Shizuka Marikawa (Yukari Fukui), and the leader of the school’s kendo club, Saeko Busujima (Miyuki Sawashiro).  Shizuka is pretty much the running joke of the series.  She is extremely ditzy and she has boobs that are just an absurd size (which make a boinging noise when they bounce), but she does seem to have a good heart.  Saeko is the calm, cool and collected type that shows very few emotions.  She saves Shizuka from some zombies and she also kills a student that was just bitten.  She gives him the option and he wants to die.  Shizuka tries to protest but Saeko explains that at least this way the boy will die with honor, showing us that she has a very strong sense of honor.

This is another solid episode that brings more characters into the action and by the end of the episode our primary cast is all together.  The characters are starting to flesh out more and as new ones are introduced they are slipped in with no problem.  There is also a scene that I really like where Kohta and Saya are testing the zombies.  It’s pretty interesting.

Things we learn this episode about these zombies.

First, the zombies feel no pain.  Saya throws a wet paper at one of them and they don’t react.  So they actually feel nothing.

Second, they are blind.  They follow sounds and that’s about it.  They will walk into a wall for hours trying to get to a sound they heard.

Episode 03 – Democracy Under The Dead

Again we pick up right after the last episode with everyone watching a new broadcast.  It turns out that this is happening all over the world and no one seems to be safe.  They all decide that they need to get the fuck out of there and go and help their families, and anyone else along the way.  They grab the keys to a school bus and start leaving.  They run into some other kids and help them.  But while trying to get to the bus one of the kids accidentally hits the railing with his “weapon” and all the zombies come calling.  They make it to the bus and as they are about to leave they hear some more kids and a teacher coming.  Rei says the teacher’s name, Shido (Kisho Taniyama) and then harshly says that they should leave them.  Takashi is having none of that and they end up saving them.  Unknown to the kids on the bus we get to see a side of Shido that only Rei seems to know about.  While running one of the kids sprains his ankle and asks for help.  Shido just looks at him and says there is no need for him to live and proceeds to kick him in the face and leaveshim for the zombies.  Once on the bus Shido starts talking about how he should be their leader.  This could lead everyone to trouble.

Now what’s worse, zombies that go around killing everyone or humans that take the opportunity and use the situation to make themselves basically a cult leader?  The answer to the question is up to you, but this episode kinda brings it into question.  Now I don’t know if Shido is really going to be a cult leader, but that just seems like the type of guy he is.  I like episodes that toss out a question like this.  They make you think.  Another question is do you save the people that are assholes and the ones that you know are going to try and destroy what you are working on or do you just let them die.  If you left them for dead, are you just as bad as them?  Good episode with some good questions, and they aren’t even forced down your throat, these are just questions that I see.

Things we learn this episode about these zombies.

First, these zombies have no “fear” of fire.  Not being able to see or feel anything makes it impossible for them to “fear” it.

Second, there are both fast and slow zombies.  The vast majority are slow, but there are a few fast ones.

Overall the show is going along great.  Each episode so far is a four in my book.  There aren’t any slow spots where you are checking the clock but there are enough scenes where you get to know the cast.  Both parts are important.  You need your action but you can’t forget about the characters that you are supposed to be rooting for.  This show does a great job and here’s hoping the next three are just as good.

Special Thanks to Vic de Alday for his request.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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3 Responses to The Drudgeon reviews High School Of The Dead – Episodes 001-003

  1. Erik D says:

    I just wished they had decided on which series they wanted to make….I’m very much not against Fan Service, but I really felt it detracted from the tone way too much. They had some powerful scenes (especially later on with the rioters and the cops) but seeing all the bouncing boobs and panty shots…well, they might as well have played “Yakkity Sax” during all the chase scenes. I definitely agree with you about the good parts though. For me it was like watching the hentai series “Mysteries of the Necronomnicon” where I ended up remarking “Huh, all this damn porn is really getting in the way of this interesting story”

    • Jori says:

      I agree with you 100%. It’s a shame that they felt they had to resort to that because it is a phenomenal series by itself. This is one of the more engrossing story lines I’ve encountered in a long time.

    • Lackey says:

      One of the things I’ve noticed is that consistency of mood/tone seems to be much less important to anime than to other western narrative forms. For example,

      …she has boobs that are just an absurd size (which make a boinging noise when they bounce…)

      That’s a comedic convention, not a dramatic one; it might not be out of place in something like, say, Zombie Strippers; but place it in Day of the Dead or 28 Days Later and it would entirely destroy the mood. To take that further, if I hadn’t known anything about the series before watching episode 6 (the only one I’ve seen), I might have assumed the series was supposed to be a comedy–not the first time I’ve done that with apparently dramatic anime series (I somehow also got the impression that Bleach and Cowboy Bebop were intended to be comedic).

      And that’s something I tend to find annoying: for whatever reason, I want titillation separated as much as possible from narrative. If it can be integrated into the story, fine, but I hate it when narratives stop the plot entirely to indulge in fanservice, which is why I can’t take Torchwood seriously. I’ve even been known to get irritated with porn or softcore trying to have a plot.

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