Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Preview: Highschool of the Dead

As you can tell from this blog, I'm a big fan of anime. What you may not know is that I'm actually a pretty avid zombie fan. I enjoy all the Romero films, and have an extensive knowledge of the Zombie Survival Guide. So what happens when you take my two favorite things and splice them together?

A summer series that is clearly aimed to win my heart but most likely would prefer to eat my brain!

I've actually been following this series for the past year and was begging the "anime gods" for this manga to get animated. Well low and behold, Madhouse came to my rescue and delivered a delightfully gory, stylish, and sexy adaptation of Daisuke Sato's story.

The series kicks off by introducing our angsty hero, Takashi. He's had a crush on his childhood friend Rei, but it seems that through the years they've been growing apart and thus Rei's feelings have gravitated toward his best friend Hisashi. As Takashi is sulking outside, he spies at what seems to be a drunk man ramming his body onto the school gate. Wanting to show off to his attractive co-worker, the PE teacher decides to rough up the stranger, only to be greeted by his teeth. The wound proves fatal, and the instructor expires only to rise up again as a walking corpse. Of course, the other teachers do not realize this and succumb to vicious attacks from what use to be their fellow peers. Takashi grabs hold of the situation and pulls Rei out of her classroom, along with Hisashi. The three fight their way to the school roof, with Hisashi taking a bite to protect Rei. After much deliberation upon their makeshift safehouse, Hisashi realizes that he will turn into one of "them." Takashi is now tasked to kill his best friend, much to the dismay of Rei. On the first day of their new semester Takashi ends up killing his best friend, embracing the girl he's been in love with, and witnessing the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

Madhouse has done a fantastic job splicing in horror, action, and ecchi all into one neat package. The feast of flesh on screen is portrayed with students and teachers getting slaughtered, with buckets of blood decorating the campus. The scene of sakura trees mixed in with a horde of zombies is both ironic and somewhat of a beautiful nightmare. The character models for each potential hero and herione look gorgeous, even though all the ladies seem to be extremely well endowed (I'm looking at you nurse with the boob pillows).

This show plays off all the zombie conventions in one swift motion. From "Infection is transferred through physical injury like a bite or scratch to the realization of a zombie's only weak point, the head." The anime does not try to add in anything new to the zombie formula, and that's what makes it work. I'm glad there's no character with super powers or explanation as to why the zombies showed up. Taking a page from George Romero, the madness just happens and the viewer will now be following the survivors of this undead carnage.

This show has a lot of promise for me, and I pray that the animation will not take a huge cut after the 2nd or 3rd episode. Even though I know what's going to go down in the next couple of episodes, I'm curious to see how they handle all the action sequences and the much more erotic scenes (I'm sure the use of steam will be in order). Seeing as this is an anime, I'm sure there will also be content that is added to space chapters of the manga out and flesh out points that were quickly glanced at. My only real concern is how Madhouse will find a great stopping point for this series because it is still ongoing. The manga has an erratic release schedule, so I can only see this series going so far. Either way, I'm glad that I finally get to have my two favorite things in the world come together in one big fusion: panty shots...I mean anime and zombies!

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Bottom Line: Zombies + Panty Shots + Beautiful Animation = A No brainer hit with Jim...because the zombies basically ate the brain.

Chances of Jim following this series: 100% success rate. I've seriously been waiting for this series since it was announced in the winter. I could turn into a zombie right now, and instead of feasting on flesh, I'd be plopped down on my computer watching this show.

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