After such a prolonged absence, I told myself it probably would be best to let this place die a noble, forgotten death as a written testament to the vivacious times of the 2008 anime season. What’s that saying again? Let sleeping blogs lie? Something like that.
How ironic that a new show about zombies would motivate me to bring this blog back to life!
And here I’d been, not expecting much from the new anime season. Yay for lowered expectations! And for more after the jump.
I love High School of the Dead for a single reason: it tries harder. Oh, it’s got average character design, and the fanservice is ladled over everything like a thick, panties-scented sauce, but every aspect of the show has been labored over to make it shine and sparkle. It could have been another Strike Witches panties-fest with no story or respect for perennial articles of clothing. Or another brainless Koihime Musou hack-and-slash twat parade. And yet it avoided those pitfalls. In fact, so far, it looks like the best show of this summer season.
Animation: top-drawer, mate. It’s still the first episode, so who knows, maybe the rest of the series will be delegated to a third-world studio in Zimbabwe that consists of one dude with a shoebox of Crayola crayons. For the moment characters are crisp and colorful, animations are fluid, backgrounds are detailed, and gore is pleeeeeeeeeentiful. CG is used seamlessly during action sequences to make them look more realistic. All in all, HOTD has a distinct cinematographic feel; perhaps it’s an attempt to channel Romero, but at any rate, it sets it apart from the rest.
Character design: as I said above, it’s average at best. The leads are the standard brown-haired, high-school teen fare. The supporting cast borrows from such classics as:
- Chubby Nerd
- Pink-Haired Bimbo
- Purple-Haired Sword Chick
- Amazingly Busty Nurse (she uses her own breasts as pillows when napping at her desk – no kidding)
- Plus a loli somewhere
It wouldn’t bother me much if I weren’t watching Ookami-san at the same time, which puts HOTD to shame in this department, but since HOTD‘s characters are oozing personality I’ll give it a passing grade here.
Voice acting: prepare to excrete in your trousers. The teenage male lead sounds like a young adult instead of a loli with a sore throat. Shocking!
Music: rock fanfare all the way. Both the OP and ED are toe-tappingly good rock n’ roll tracks that bring back memories of Kurozuka. The OP plays over a slick CG montage of the characters, while the ED rocks out while showing us a missing persons board with pictures of the characters. Nice touches.
Story and characters: there’s more meat in this first episode than in some entire series I’ve seen. In 23 minutes or so we’re introduced to a love triangle, then watch their interactions as they take stock of the situation and try to fend for themselves; meanwhile, the high school (and the rest of the world, probably) breaks down and goes mad around them. Throughout this ordeal the characters behave like real human beings who are shocked, disgusted, scared, and vindictive, instead of sticking to “ganbare stoicism” and playing to the anime stereotypes we’ve seen a zillion times before that we all know by heart.
And the zombies are… well, just zombies. Simple, mindless, and effective. I hate to draw the comparison, but could HOTD turn out to be Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 with corpses and panties? And would that be a plus? Time will tell.
Having praised HOTD so much, I must come clean and admit, O reader, that it is far from flawless. For one, the amount of fanservice is dangerously close to my limit, although it doesn’t seem to be the point of the show (yet). It’s just jarring to see a good action scene interrupted by the above-pictured shot of some rotund, rubbery buttocks. And it happens more than once. It’s not enough to turn me off for now, especially since I just watched the first season of Strike Witches in preparation for the new one, but I’m keeping an eye on my Panties-O-Meter in case the needle enters the danger zone. There’s so much potential for gut-busting wholesome kitsch fun, I’d hate to see it smothered in white cotton.
Check it out. Like, now.