posted by johnnygondo
What do you get when you take a George A. Romero zombie movie like Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead, combine it with an ecchi/harem anime such as Love Hina, and throw in a few elements from Splatterhouse and Dead Rising? You get High School of the Dead, a 12-episode anime series based on the manga of the same name by Daisuke Sato. As you can expect from the title, the show is revolved around zombies, something that not a whole lot of other anime shows delve into. Depending on whether you're a fan of zombie movies and games, the very fact that it contains zombies can be enough to hook you and get you watching it. However, once you start watching, you'll find that zombies aren't all that the show has to offer. Not only are there zombies, but there's also tons of blood, graphic violence, and fanservice. Top that off with the touching dialogue, an intense heavy f***ing metal soundtrack, characters that range from likable to lovable (with the exception of characters that are supposed to be unlikable slime balls, and this show also pulls those off really well) in terms of both personality and appearance, well told story... and you've basically got a recipe for pure awesomesauce.
High School of the Dead was produced by Madhouse, who you might know as the same company responsible for shows and movies such as the following.
Birdy the Mighty
Cardcaptor Sakura (known as simply Cardcaptors in the U.S.)
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series
Marvel Anime: Iron Man
Marvel Anime: Wolverine
Marvel Anime: X-Men
Marvel Anime: Blade
Trigun: Badlands Rumble
So if you've seen Trigun, Devil May Cry, or Death Note, you might recognize the animation as the work of Madhouse.
Speaking of which, the animation for this show is simply gorgeous. The backgrounds are a marvel to look at, and the characters (including the zombies) are well detailed and visually appealing (especially the female characters with their sexy, luscious breasts). The action sequences of the characters bashing and maiming zombies, such as Komuro smashing zombie heads with a baseball bat, Kohta firing his rifles, and Saeko slashing the dead to bits, are all fast paced and exciting with fluid character movements. One sequence that deserves a mention is in the episode "The Dead Way Home", where Komuro is balancing an AK-47 on Rei's boobs and Saeko is in the middle of a horde of zombies smashing them with a bokken. Each time Komuro fires a shot, the bullet zooms past underneath Saeko's crotch and even between her breasts, and each time the animation slows down, giving you a clear visual that puts the fight scenes from The Matrix to shame. It even cuts away to Rei's breasts balancing the sniper rifle and shows them bouncing and rippling as Komuro fires.
Also, just as a bit of warning, since I know that this could turn people off pretty easily... there's a little bit of nudity. Granted, it's only in one episode (yes, almost every second of this entire goddamn show is filled to the brim with jiggly titties and girl's underwear... and yet, only one episode contains nudity), but it's definitely there and hard to miss. Quite honestly, though, it shouldn't deter you one bit from watching this show and discovering the beauty that most ecchi anime (some with nudity) tend to have, but are still overlooked.
The story in this show isn't anything original, but it still works. It starts out on a normal day in high school, when all of a sudden, a stranger shows up at the front gate. The teachers go out to check this guy out, but are surprised when the stranger bites one of them in the arm. One of the students, Takashi Komuro, notices the attack and alerts the other students and teachers, sending everyone into a panic. The rest of the story unfolds as something you'd expect from a typical entertaining zombie movie, with our band of heroes trying to do the obvious thing: survive the zombie pandemic. As far as characters go, we have the main protagonists, such as the previously mentioned Takashi Komuro (the average joe, and the school kid equivalent to Frank West from Dead Rising), his girlfriend Rei Miyamoto (the school girl, and the main love interest of Komuro), Saeko Busujima (the president of the school's kendo club, and an expert swordsman... or woman, whatever), Kohta Hirano (based on the author of the Hellsing manga, an overweight and rather badass nerd who is an expert in firearms), Saya Takagi (the bitchy, snobby, and quite frankly unlikable genius, as well as one of two characters you'll want to see die a horrible death at the hands of the zombies), and Shizuka Marikawa (the busty, voluptuous, and sexy school nurse, and the group's medic, as well as a source of comic relief). As for the main antagonist... there's not really one. The closest we have to a bad guy is Koichi Shido (a perverted and sadistic teacher, and the other one of two characters you'll want to see die a horrible death at the hands of the zombies).
The soundtrack is quite simply phenomenal. This show doesn't use J-pop for its soundtrack. Instead, we get raw, hard, powerful, heavy f***ing metal. If you thought that the heavy metal soundtrack in the english dub of Dragon Ball Z was awesome, you ain't seen nothing yet. I haven't seen a whole lot of anime that use heavy metal, and High School of the Dead is proof that more anime shows need to. The music is fast paced, exhilarating, instantly gets your blood pumping, and cranks your adrenaline up to eleven. Did I mention that the main theme song of this show is worthy of a spot on your iPod (or whatever device you download MP3s to and use to play music)?
The english dub for High School of the Dead was produced and handled by Sentai Filmworks, who have also dubbed other shows such as Night Raid 1931, Xam'd: Lost Memories, and Angel Beats. While the quality of their dubs isn't as good as Funimation or Bandai, Sentai Filmworks is capable of producing impressive english dubs (I'm judging this from having seen their dubs of High School of the Dead, Angel Beats, and Night Raid 1931), such as this one. The voice actors all turn in performances that range from passable at worst to amazing at best. Here's the voice cast of some of the main characters (see if you can recognize the voice actors from other roles).
Takashi Komuro - Leraldo Anzaldua
Rei Miyamoto - Jessica Boone
Saeko Busujima - Taylor Hannah
Saya Takagi - Maggie Flecknoe
Kohta Hirano - Mark X. Laskowski
Shizuka Marikawa - Monica Rial
Well, that's all I have to say about this awesome masterpiece of a japanese cartoon, other than that if I were to compare this to anything, I'd compare this to Splatterhouse (the recent 2010 video game, not the side-scrollers from the 80's and 90's). Both have tons of blood, tons of violence, some nudity, and a complimentary heavy metal soundtrack, and they also both involve the undead. The only differences are the story, and the facts that Splatterhouse focuses more on demons than zombies and doesn't have any fanservice at all.
If you're looking for an action anime with lots of blood, an anime with plenty of fanservice, an anime involving the undead, or just a plain good action anime, then look no further than High School of the Dead. It's available on DVD and Blu-Ray, as well as streaming on Netflix, and I highly recommend that you give this sucker a try. I guaran-f***ing-tee you that this show is worth both your time and money.