Numerous anime cause a flurry of praise and discontent upon release. Be they intellectual, action-based, or otherwise. But even with what the worldwide anime community expects from the medium there come surprises. In this case, Highschool of the Dead comes forth in what some call ‘The Decade of Zombies’. Let’s take a look at what makes this boobalicious and gory franchise tick.
The brothers Shouji Sato and Daisuke Sato illustrate and write the Highschool of the Dead (HOTD) manga. This is Daisuke’s only known work but Shouji has a few more works under his belt with Fire Fire Fire in Shueisha, Triage X (see FoxxFireArt’s First Date), and others along with doujinshi. The manga started being published in Fujimi Shobo's Monthly Dragon Age September 2006 and the volumes are done by Kadokawa Shoten. There are currently 7 volumes out in Japan and the series is currently on an indefinite hiatus.Yen Press is handling the US publication and Vol. 4 was released last month with the 5th up for pre-order. The anime is created byMadhouse Studios and came out in 2010 for a total of 12 episodes. Interestingly, the director, Tetsuro Araki, is the man who also directed Death Note and Black Lagoon. Sentai Filmworks quickly picked up the US license and released the English dub on DVD/Blu-ray this past summer. The franchise also includes an OVA (Highschool of the Dead: Drifters of the Dead), a comedic parody manga (Highschool of the Head), a soundtrack CD, a behind-the-scenes book, an artbook, a Secret Box, all sorts of other merchandise, and more fan art and doujinshi than a minor should know about.
Takashi Komuro is a regular highschooler with regular teenage problems. But when a stranger at the school gate bites and kills a teacher all hell breaks loose. The incident quickly turns into an outbreak of panic as the school’s occupants turn into “Them” (zombies). Takashi and other students and faculty struggle to fight back the waves of undead as they group together to find a way out of the school in the hopes of finding their families. Turns out the incident is not isolated to Japan, but the entire world! All questions remain to be answered as Team Takashi runs for their lives!
|Takashi Komuro is the leader of Team Takashi. He used to date Rei but finds himself conflicted when his best friend starts dating her. He’s athletic and stubborn and his weapon of choice depends on what’s handy.|
|Saeko Busujima is the Team’s primary force. She’s progressive despite her traditional background; which would explain why she is the president of the Kendo Club. However, she has a sadistic side that gives her a wicked smile while killing hordes of reanimated corpses. Her weapon of choice is a sword.|
|Rei Miyamoto is Takashi’s childhood friend and former girlfriend. She was held back a grade due to her father being a good police officer and investigating political corruption. She often ends up being a damsel in distress but give her a spear and she’ll be fine. Her weapon of choice is a spear or staff.|
|Saya Takagi is a childhood friend of Takashi and Rei. She is also the Team’s brain and daughter of a rich and influential family. She is another damsel in distress but she is primarily protected by Kohta. Her weapon of choice is whatever she gets handed.|
|Kohta Hirano is the Team’s resident gun otaku. He gets bullied a lot but what nobody knows is he’s trained with members of various military outfits. He is a big help when the odds seem slim. His weapon of choice is any firearm he can get his hands on.|
|Shizuka Marikawa is the school nurse and the Team’s driver/caretaker. She is an airheaded blonde and another damsel in distress but her medical knowledge and Special Forces contact come in handy.|
|Alice Maresato is a little girl the Team saved after her father was murdered. Now an orphan, the Team takes her in as a ‘little sister’. She remains protected so she doesn’t have to fight but does her best to help keep the Team from falling apart. She also picked up a dog that tried to save her and named him Zeke.|
HOTD is one of few anime that takes zombies seriously. That is a big plus but nothing is really found out about the origin of how the outbreak came up. But the action sequences are superb for fans of all things zombie-including brutal kills and the failing of social order. Another good thing is each member of Team Takashi has their own skillset. There are a few moments of comic relief but that takes a backseat to the major draw of slo-mo and fanservice. Madhouse did a great job bringing the manga to life and the anime stays very true to the storyline. The series is rated TV-MA for violence, blood and gore, language, nudity, and some sexual content. As for the sub vs. dub debate, both have experienced talent but the dub script had some rather dumb liberties taken to translate to an American audience and lost some of the gusto. Still, the choice is up to you, the viewer.
HOTD is a series that has plenty to offer: zombies, action, fanservice, variable and enjoyable characters, and a story that leaves more questions than answers. So there is plenty to enjoy for a variety of viewers. The score is pretty good and the animation is topnotch, to boot. Let alone it pleases those who want an anime that follows the canon material closely. Should be interesting to see where the story goes to hopefully bring in some good reveals and twists.
*Author's Note: Big props and thanks to FoxxFireArt doing an awesome job on the HOTD Wiki. He made it so I was able to make this entire Guide from the information and material on Anime Vice-which is a first. I have no idea when a second season will be announced but it will most likely not come until the hiatus ends. If you have already seen the series, or just want a different view on it, check outDunce Cap: Houston, "They" Are a Problem.*