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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

High School of the Dead Rating and Review

Series: High School of the Dead
Animation Studio: Madhouse
Original Run: 12 Episodes
English Licensor: Sentai Filmworks
Adaptation of: Daisuke Satō and Shōji Satō's manga "High School of the Dead: Gakuen Mokushiroku"

Summary: Everyone loves excitement in life, well most people do. Well, in a typical city of Japan, everything starts to take a turn for the worst. Takashi Komuro was your average high school student going through his worries, like any other kid. He had a crush on a childhood friend, Rei, but since she had thought he didn't care for her, she ended up becoming his best friend's girlfriend. Upsetting, yes, but other than that, life was peaceful. That was then. The beginning of the end was sudden and he couldn't believe his eyes when he witnessed it. Like any other day, he was sitting on the stairs of the school when he happened to see some strange figure in the distance bumping into the the front gate. It was odd, but people usually are, or so he thought. Some teachers also noticed this man and approached him but, that was the worst possible thing to do in this situation. This odd individual suddenly grabbed a teacher and bit him causing massive bleeding which led to his death. Horrified, Komuro couldn't look away and witnessed the corpse of his teacher bite another and from there, Takashi had to warn Rei. Of course, she didn't believe him and simply got mad at him, but when the school's PA system came on, the horrifying truth was revealed as a horrid scream was heard on the other side. This sends the student and teacher body into a frenzy and everyone begins to act nuts.

Takashi, Rei, and his best friend, Hisashi, try and escape the school, but in doing so, Hisashi is bitten by an infected teacher but holds out for a while. The trio escapes to the rooftop and managed to find some "weapons" laying about (ex. baseball bat, a spear from a school activities club, etc.). They also barricade themselves by creating a makeshift wall, as the zombies can't climb over it. Unfortunately, since Hisashi was infected, be begs Takashi to kill him as a human so he doesn't become one of "Them".  With Rei's cries of refusal, and Hisashi's dying breaths (and vomiting of blood), Takashi falters and Hisashi becomes one. Rei begs him to to kill him but in order to protect her from being bitten by her dead-boyfriend, he smacks his undead best friend's skull in. This causes some friction between Rei and Takashi but the two make up and focus on getting out of the school. 

Meanwhile, across the school other students are struggling to stay "alive" and another pair is managing pretty well. Saya Takagi, and Kota Hirano, and unlikely pair are also on the move to escape. Saya is a brilliant rich girl who may not have much fighting experience but she has the mind of a genius as she tries to figure out what "They" respond to and what is going on exactly. Kota is a game nerd that no one really paid any attention to but his experience as a gamer only helps him in their current situation as he manages to make a decent and lethal gun out of some wood and a staple gun. The two eventually meet up with Takashi and Rei, along with an upperclassman who is the kendo (Japanese sword-fighting) club's president, and the ditzy school nurse. Note that they are all pretty much strangers to one another besides Takashi, Rei, and Saya (she's Takashi's childhood friend). After some pretty intense action, Saya informs them of her observations that the zombies don't react to touch and they don't appear to be able to see, but they do react to sound. They use this to their advantage and lure the zombies away as they try and head to the school's bus to get out of there. They also come across a few more students that have managed to survive and they also run with them. As the group hops into the buss, a very sleazy teacher, Koichi Shido, follows them into the bus, and Rei states that it is a mistake to bring him as he is the worst kind of person. The bus manages to get off of school grounds, after running over a few "un-dead" students, and they think the worst is over but they soon realize that it's happening all across the world. Because of tensions between Takashi's group and Mr. Shido's group (as he starts to form a cult with the deranged students that take to his poetic words of hope and a new world), the two separate.

Takashi's group's primary goal throughout the entire series is to get to their families' homes and pray that they are still alive. They do meet up with other characters and pick up one more member of the group, Alice, a young girl whose father was killed in cold blood by scared household members that wouldn't allow them shelter in their home. Unfortunately, it is a false hope that all (most) of them carry as they need something to believe in, in this horrible time. The series shows the characters' morality decay as they begin to kill the once human individuals (including children), along with the fall of society in such a disaster. So if you love horror, action, and don't mind a bit of fan-service with some psychological elements to a series, this might be one to take a look at.

A.I.'s Rating: 9/10

A.I.'s Review: This is actually a recent series that aired this year, and it was one of the better horror series I've watched. Given, I could have done without the fan-service, but the series did do a good job in making the un-dead really pop. I watched this series out on a whim and I guess I watched it for the action and development of the story and the characters. The first two episodes are probably the most interesting ones (or so I think), as they have that punch of "That is just freaky." Now was this series "scary?" well, I thought it was more suspense than anything, as I didn't get nightmares from it or anything and the zombies are your stereotypical walking dead that slowly teeter and totter about. The only reason I lowered the score was because of the unnecessary fan-service as I felt it took away from the series' main point. There are some comedic elements to it but it always goes back to the issue of society and the collapse of one's own morality code. I thought Takashi's commentaries of how he knows he is changing into someone that will never be able to go back to being "normal", were great as it really showed the effects of this "end-of-the-world" scenario. Mr. Shido's group definitely became corrupt and fell to the animal desires of man. The story reminded me a bit of "Resident Evil" with this random "sickness" that is spread throughout the world and is transferred through bite. But in this series, they have no idea where this virus came from and who made it.

The ending is open-ended as the original manga series is still ongoing but they are going to have a couple of specials on the DVDs when they are released. I can't say what they are going to be about, as they could continue to story or simply be another installment of fan-service. Well, in any case, "High School of the Dead" is a fairly good series and pretty entertaining for the most part. I included the trailer for the series below, and please note there is fan-service, blood, gore, and other things that might not be suitable for certain individuals. But other than that, enjoy!

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