Highschool of the Dead: the Collection Review
With more fan service you could poke a blood-soaked katana at, its safe to say that Highschool of the Dead isn’t exactly a wholesome “family friendly” experience. And now that experience can be shared in the comfort of your home with the DVD collection from Madman Entertainment. How wonderful.
It seemed like any other boring day in Highschool for Takashi Komuro, until a commotion starts to unfold at the school gate. Before long most of the students and staff are infected with a mysterious disease that is spreading rapidly all over Japan and the world. A group of young survivors must fight through hordes zombies and psychopaths to find their families and reach safety, but is there really a safe place amongst the apocalypse?
Positives: Now it really depends on your view on “positive” when making a verdict on Highschool of the Dead. Although some may be attracted to the horror survival elements that this anime brings, I however felt that this was lacking consistency in most areas. At times it was all-out zombie slaying which was then out-balanced by excessive fan service and dialogue. I just felt that it was ill-balanced, which was unfortunate considering it would have been its stong point. The greatest positive to this anime in my view was how the circumstances (being a zombie apocalypse) tested their teamwork and relationships. Yes they do have to band together to survive, but their own personal motives and issues creates tension within the group. Despite their conflicts they have created a unique bond that keeps the group together and loyal to each other, no matter what the apocalypse throws at them.
Negatives: Where exactly can you start? I would probably say the borderline hentai fan service. It’s not so much the fan service itself, it’s just so much of it even when its uncalled for. I would really get into the action scenes – but then a random panty shot would take me right out again. It’s hard to treat this anime seriously as a horror, and I just end up feeling irritated and I have to try to get myself back into the action. It shouldn’t be an effort to grasp your attention, as a horror it should sink its claws into your eye-sockets and refuse to let go till the very end. Then again it comes to no surprise as the original artist also works on hentai doujin, so it explains why there is so my sexualisation in the anime. In a way it’s almost forgivable, I just find it so strange and off-putting to have so much fan service in a horror anime.
At times I felt that some of the characters were unlikable and even a liability to the rest of the cast, for example the school nurse. Sometimes I would slap my forehead out of frustration because of how useless she is at times. There is a limit to how air-headed you can be and she went up and beyond. It seems her brain can’t process a zombie apocalypse and her primary function is to serve as eye-candy. Saya Takagi also left a bad impression on me, she came off as irrational and up herself. You could call her a tsundere but I felt most of the time she was tsun-tsun, whilst at the end she shows a bit of affection (almost like Kirino in Oreimo?). It can be forgiven considering she covering up her own emotions and problems, however the fact that she places herself above everyone else just left a bad impression on me right at the start.
As I mentioned before, the action felt inconsistent and Ill-balanced. Not because of the fan service, but because of the pacing throughout the series. Sometimes it was a lot of dialogue throughout the episode, and a little bit of action shoved in there somewhere. It felt like the action was an after-thought, rather than a compliment. I mean it is important to have dialogue to fill in the story and create character development, it’s just it could have been done a lot better.
Overall summary: I have mixed feelings for Highschool of the Dead, I enjoyed the adrenaline pumping zombie slaying and the drama of the students, but then I would be taken out of that feeling and I have to put up with awkward and excessive fan service. I’m not exactly sure how to approach this anime, should I try to view it as a horror or an ecchi drama? It’s hard for me to treat this anime as a single genre, It feels that it’s a mix of different themes that are very incompatible – and end up conflicting with each other. I would rate it much higher if it was more balanced between action, drama and fan service.
+Stong relationships between characters
+Relatively good action
+Nice art work
-Excessive fan service is off-putting and unnecessary
-Lacks balance between action and dialogue
Final Verdict: Try It! despite it’s flaws High School of the Dead is still a very popular title in the fandom, I recommend you try out the first 2 episodes first before you commit to a purchase. You can view the episode for free in the Madman Screening Room.