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Watch & Learn: High School of the Dead #1

The undead love underwear.

The undead love their underwear.    
The undead love their underwear.    

When you’re browsing through a long list of titles, it’s hard to neglect something called HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD. I’ve heard about this for a while now. The title gives me odd mental images of some kind of fun, spooky romp like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or maybe even the MONSTER SQUAD. In actuality, the show’s a bit more emo and pervy then I expected.

My sentiments about zombies are about the same as my sentiments about vampires (which you can read in more detail here) - - they bore me. They’re an exploitative genre ingredient that’s dropped into something with the idea that their presence alone is supposed to perk your interest. To me, they're turn-offs; signs of lazy imagination. If you break it down, every zombie project’s basically a remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD with varying degrees of seriousness or parody. You know… you have the break-out, characters holing up in some unusual staple of modern life like a mall or a school and then man turns against man, because that’s what this is really all about. It's old hat for me.

This show flips the switch a bit by giving us a protagonist who’s probably writing song lyrics in his notebook in the back of class. It also throws in an abundance of highly-rendered panty shots that make you wonder why this school makes the girls wear short skirts if it’s presumably so concerned with modesty and propriety. Aside from that, it seems like your standard exercise with the undead.

What isn’t standard at all, of course, is the quality of imagination. Wow… this is a weekly show? The animation’s fuller than a lot of features I’ve seen recently. Whomever’s behind this dropped some serious cash and man-power to execute a vision of sanguine secondary school shenanigans… but I’m still more interested in watching PANTY & STOCKING. At least that’s more self-effacing with the “fan service.”

Watch this episode below and decide for yourself.  

  

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here  &   here .  Follow him on Twitter:  @tompinchuk

FoxxFireArt moderator on April 12, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
Vampires I'm more than sick of. Zombies I still like, for some reason. I think it might be because I'm tired of everyone making their own versions of "Twilight" on TV. The whole over-the-top emo-teen romance story.

I've found that the fan service in the manga version isn't so in your face as the anime(pun intended). I haven't watched much of the anime, but now that it's up on HULU. I'm sure to run through this. At twelve episodes, it shouldn't take long. Highschool of the Dead is another Madhouse production. These people can do stellar work when they want to.That's why I'm surprised with how half-assed those MARVEL animes look. It makes me wonder if they either didn't select the right director, or MARVEL didn't give them the budget they needed to live up to potential.

The heavy fan service comes from the creators background work. They used to make ero-doujinshi mangas. They were basically porn mangas. This is their big mainstream hit. The writer and artist for the series are brothers.

Funny you should start this now. I am just finishing up formatting all the main characters character pages on Anime Vice. I just need to polish up Alice and Zeke's profiles. The other main cast are done.
ZombiePieon April 12, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
Tom Pickup watch this series drunk! We can do it together!

From what I watched (and again I was extremely intoxicated) I couldn't stand this show. None of the characters were "good" in my mind. Also the action was preceded with so much ham fisted and cheesy dialogue and poorly executed drama that I just got bored after a while. 
Daniel_Newton moderator on April 12, 2011 at 4:02 p.m.
Yep, sounds fair considering your general dislike of fan service and apparently zombies.
It's kind of hard to come up with something original for a zombie story anyway really, there are always hordes of zombies, they're always after that delicious pink treat in your skull, you need to get weapons, supplies, get to safety, yadda yadda.

I remember being particularly impressed with some of the panning and zooming shots, it uses CG in quite a few scenes, but it blends in pretty well.
endaroundon April 12, 2011 at 4:43 p.m.
To make up for the animation quality it does things like long reaps.  Episode 4 is a recap of the first 3 episodes.  About the only reason to do this now though is you can watch as the dub is released on the animenetwork.  Assuming you can get the animenetwork.
WarlordPayneon April 12, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.
I think I remember you saying that you're a bit of a completionist, and this show resolves next to nothing in its 12 episodes.  It's also pretty terrible in the same way that most zombie shows are terrible.
The only thing I liked about this series was the(occasionally) hilariously stupid fan service.
AgentJon April 12, 2011 at 6:18 p.m.
this is certainly one show that you're either going to love or hate (need to read my W&Ls for my answer) but if you get past the first 4 episodes, it starts to separate itself (though not in a huge way) from its predecessors. Of course, with that comes more ridiculous fanservice, but there's no denying that HOTD has a serious level of style. 
Lurkeroon April 12, 2011 at 6:28 p.m.
Again, watched the first episode. Noticed the fanservice and the lack of a character I could care about and didn't bother to continue. Maybe I'll watch the next couple eps if the watch and learn recommends.
sotyfan16on April 12, 2011 at 6:55 p.m.
You cannot judge this series from the first episode. The animation is great and the fanservice is fun. The characters get better even though the story mostly follows the typical zombie line. As I said in my Breaking News article for this show being dubbed, I'd been waiting for a proper zombie anime.

I love blood and fanservice so this show takes the cake. Tom, I know you aren't a fan of it but you have to get past your thoughts on fanservice so you can enjoy more series. That's my opinion on you so take it as you will.

Anyway, I'll end this with saying that HOTD is my anime wet dream.
zaldaron April 12, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.
This was another guilty pleasure for me.  The fan service I eventually learned to laugh at because it was just so over the top.  In one scene in particular (the bullet scene for those who have seen it before) it goes beyond 9000 in crazyness.  But this same scene is then used reasonably well for some pretty decent character development.  Yes the animation is gorgeous yes it has all the expected parts of a zombie movie but I actually got into a debate with one of my friends about the moral nature of one of the characters at one point.  Any show that can make me do that has some redeeeming qualities to my mind.

It does have an open ending, in that some things are never explained.  If you approach it as a slice of life, (though admittedly in a not normal time of life) show though it works better.
AURON570on April 12, 2011 at 10:51 p.m.
I'm just going to give up and let people disregard HOTD as "boobs and zombies". HOTD does some crazy stuff with the motives of the different characters and the consequences of the zombie outbreak. And I don't know if it was just me, but I felt the series was well paced and the flow of action had nice breaks for plot and character development, while also creating a sense of urgency among the survivors.
Renachanon April 13, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
The thing with the the fan service for me is how it's used. It became more of a fan disservice because it conditioned me to cringe because I knew violence was coming. Both fan service and violence are very fetishized but in a way made to make you uncomfortable each time it happened. And I liked that, it keeps the show fresh for me with each episode. I never settle into the setting which keeps me on edge.

Dig Deeper into Highschool of the Dead

A fanservice and violence-heavy anime adaptation of the manga of the same name, where several high-school students band together to try to survive an apparent zombie apocalypse.

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