A thought that recently came to me while thinking about Highschool of the Dead; does an anime need a good plot to be great.
The obvious answer is a resounding YES. Anime greats like Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Monster, all have a great plot that keeps us guessing and what sets anime apart from western animation.
But then I got thinking, and I realised that there are others without any actual plot, but the result is amazing. Most are slice of life or comedy series, like Azumanga Daioh, Yotsuba&!, or Seitokai No Ichizon, but there are more serious anime without any overall plot, so to speak, such as Bartender.
Then you get Dragonball Z, which consists of "Here's something evil. You can't kill it yet, so train and shout until you can." On paper, the plot is pathetic, yet we love it simply for being what it is. The same can be said of many Super Robot series. Case Closed, almost a thousand chapters in and we STILL don't know that much about the Men In Black. Overall, can we say that the plot has progressed?
But we love them.
Now if we take that point of view, from shounen, to detective, and slice of life and comedy, then roll those views together and look at Highschool of the Dead.
"Here are zombies. Here are some kids. Watch them survive and kick ass."
Instead of looking for a plot, like from a novel, what if we just view the show as a Slice of Life, or even just a linear sequence of events?
Life, in general, doesn't have a plot.
The real world doesn't work like it does in a story.
That is where Highschool of the Dead takes its glory.
There is no plot.
Because life has no plot.
We don't know what's going on, but it is, so we deal with it.
As I write this, I'm reminded of the more recent remake of War of the Worlds, where we had one man trying to look after his kids as the world is ending. We don't know why Aliens are suddenly invading, and Tom Cruise doesn't really do much to save the human race in the long run, but he looks after his daughter.
Here, we have a teenage boy, holding up as he looks after his mates and just survives. They don't have a plan to save the world, just a series of short-term plans to meet up again when they split up, or destinations to head towards where there may be more survivors.
There is no plot. There is just people, being people.
How is that a bad thing?