Gores Truly is femme-driven but certainly not man-hating. Occasionally, we want to give our readers a chance to contribute to the horror-fest that we all adore – including those wielding the Y-Chromosome. The following article has been Murder-Her approved. Watch out! It’s an Invasion of the Y-Chromosome!
High school of the Dead is an anime series that takes place in present day Japan. It revolves around an ensemble cast of high school students fighting for survival during a worldwide zombie outbreak.
It features an eclectic group of survivors from Takashi, the daring hero, Rei, the martial artist heroine, Saya, the snobby genius, Kohta, the repressed guns fanatic, Saeko, president of the kendo club, and Shizuka, the ditzy school nurse. You’re not given any time to get acquainted with the characters, but they do have some depth in later episodes.
What impressed me is that HSD opens with a bang. In the very beginning, a school teacher is bitten by a zombie and all hell breaks loose. Zombies attack the school and it lasts until the end of episode two. No character arcs or slowdowns, just non-stop action. The animation is superb and the fights are intense, graphic, and brutal.
Unfortunately, HSD loses steam after episode two. First, the students escape the school and search for a safehouse. With a series named “High School of the Dead,” I anticipated the school being the safehouse – a fortress for which the students to defend and reside. Secondly, the characters aren’t strong enough to carry the slower pace. They’re not that interesting and we know next to nothing about them.
Fortunately, the series is aided by competent voice acting. It’s very good by dub standards. You feel for some of the kids during dramatic moments and it helps to get through the drama until the action restarts. The inevitable conflicts abound, but the group ultimately wants to work together. No one is pointing weapons at each other with hatred in their eyes.
There is one character that’s given the villain role and he’s so over the top you’ll want to fast forward. He’s not on the screen for ten seconds when he abandons a wounded student so that he can escape. No build up at all, just a walking stereotype. He doesn’t serve as the antagonist, more of a nuisance, and he’s gone after a few episodes. My only guess is they’re building him up for something bigger in season two.
The zombies are given a new spin in that they’re blind. They only react to sound. This trait offers a few suspenseful scenes where Takashi must quietly navigate through zombie hordes. Other than that the rules are the same. Get bit, get zombified. Oh, and they’re slow walkers.
Horror is the focus of the series but later episodes (after the school assault) are mixed with a constant stream of comedy. One minute a character is terrified, the next they’re making a joke. Granted, the jokes are good, but it’s this back and forth between genres that cuts deep into the fear factor. Add in a liberal dose of sexual innuendo, fan-service (pantie shots), and nudity and HSD earns “grindhouse” status.
Despite the inconsistencies in tone, HSD is very entertaining. The first season is only twelve episodes and is available on Netflix streaming. If you’re skeptical about committing to an entire series, or Japanese animation in general, just watch episode one. It will either hook you in or turn you away.
Billz hopes to one day prove that aliens are misunderstood creatures that really just want a hug – and to disembowel you. When he’s not running from Purple People Eaters, he’s likely watching monster flicks, or dreaming of one day filming his own.
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