Review: Highschool Of The Dead Part I

I love anime, ever since the age of 14 when I was first introduced to the art form I have been captivated by Japanese animation. The unique visual style, often adult content and exploration of themes not normally explored in the format struck a chord. Over the years my appreciation for the concept has grown and I now boast a fairly large library of imported Japanese goodness. While many titles share common traits it is particularly rewarding when I discover one that offers something new. Enter Highschool of the Dead, almost a hybrid genre, combining  zombie horror with traditional anime elements. My Blu-Ray import arrived earlier in the week and over a number of posts I am going to review the 12 episode series.

Highschool of the Dead is written by Daisuke Sato and illustrated by Shoji Sato. It is based around a zombie pandemic and tells the story of a group of students who are fighting for survival not only from zombies but from the anarchy of the world in which they live. It is a production certainly not for the faint of heart or indeed the very young, episodes are populated with ultra violent scenes, copious amounts of blood and numerous instances of fanservice. The opening episode thrusts us right into the action with students fleeing from impending zombie doom. The series is very dramatic in nature offering fast paced, visually engaging camera work with effective use made of stylised pans and tilts – typical of what one might expect from a production of a higher budgetary value. Perhaps it was the fact that I was watching in 1080p FLAC encoded format but everything seemed to pop just that little bit more than normal. There is beautiful use of colour and the way in which light and shadow are implemented deserves mention.

The first three acts introduces us to many of the main characters. Takashi is a fiesty female student, Takagi a highly intelligent if not somewhat loud one, Busujima Saeko the current Kendo captain and all round bad ass, Hirano a super geek and Dr Marikawam, the one with the uber boobs! Each of these while fairly typical character types are developed well and the interaction between the characters is well developed in the initial episodes. The series is completely uncompromising, never retracting from the harsh reality of what is happening to the world around this group of survivors. One scene early on shows a student losing his mind and jumping from the window of the school building to a rather graphic demise on the pavement below. The dialogue is also rather good in parts “on that day when the world came crashing down I killed my best friend and held the woman I loved for the first time” reflects Takashi in episode one.

There is a constant sense of fear throughout the opening episodes and as they progress we learn a little more about each of the main characters. The survivors also begin to learn more about the zombies or “them” ascertaining that they are responsive to noise and cannot actually see. Fight scenes are well drawn and rendered very well with the gore element playing it’s part in fulfilling horror fans expectation. Highschool of the Dead shows a lot of promise. It successfully combines two of my favourite genres of modern cinema and does so in an artful manner. The camera work is exceptional and the pacing and underlying story dramatic enough to suck you in for the ride. The artwork is well drawn and the audio polished to perfection.

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~ by Paul McGovern on May 7, 2011.

2 Responses to “Review: Highschool Of The Dead Part I”

  1. i watch this on anime on demand. It is a good style but let’s be honest. It’s the way the girls on here keep losing their clothes and how unbelievably large they are created. The story is gripping but the art is just..well, anime-styled (large to very large boobs) and they’re not afraid to talk about as well as show it.

  2. I completely agree with you that it fulfills many elements of fanservice, perhaps at times excessively so. Personally speaking this is something that does not bother me, I actually like this element of anime.

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