There have certainly been better years to try to bring an anime stateside, but has there ever been a better time to make a show about Zombies? I think not. Zombies have become the de-facto supernatural creature (though arguments could be made for vampires) AND supernatural disaster at the same time. Books like Max Brooks' "World war Z" and "Zombie Survival Guide" helped kick off a fad that has spanned all genres, from movies (Shawn of the Dead), to video games (Left 4 Dead) and even american TV (The Walking Dead). Having fed on the nerds that began the craze, it is meandering into the mainstream.
So for the Anime Network, scooping this property up I'm sure took all of two seconds to think about. And High School (referred to from now on as HOTD) doesn't rest on its laurels. There is a very good show underneath the nerd pandering. The tension is thick and constant. Characters react to the situation in vastly different, yet (relatively) believable ways. Everyone we've met so far are all likeable in their own way, which will make subsequent deaths even harder (after all, one episode, one down). How many of these first-episode characters will we get to see as zombies later?
The learning curve of the main characters through the first episode is the most interesting thing to watch. Takashi's first instinct is to bring his friends to the roof, and his group stays calm while much of the rest of the school is freaking out. They learn quickly that they have to take out the head, and use their various weapons to dispatch their attackers. As with most opening episodes, not much really happens, but its all so tense and tightly edited that I hardly noticed.
Like all my favorite anime, HOTD has mouthfulls of style. Characters flip through the air as they tell gravity to fuck off. The opening is slickly animated with blood splatters and saturation effects. Character models pop off the screen, and colors are vibrant. Fanservice certainly isn't lacking.
I found the exchange between Takashi and his lady friend right after the credits to be the most interesting. She just broke up with him to be with his best friend, but now that friend is dead, and she reacts in a realistic manner, more so than I would have expected. Its as if her mind is breaking from the stress, and the emotions animated in her face portray that very well. How quickly will she recover, if at all, and who will succumb to the pressure of being inundated by the zombie hordes? I can't wait to find out.