Wednesday, June 1, 2011

High School of the Dead Review (Japanese/English)

Well, it's June! And you know what that means! It's ZOMBIE MONTH!!! And what better what to start this two review fun with one of the most current popular anime out there. The one that has more fan service and zombies then you can shack a stick at! HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD!!!

High School of the Dead is a Horror/Drama anime based on the manga by Daisuke Sato and published by Kadokawa Shoten, and is available in America by Yen Press. Studio Madhouse picked up the anime version, and made it's run in late summer of 2010 with 12 episodes. Anime Network currently holds licensing for the series.

Takashi Komuro is a normal high school boy, until an infection breaks out that turns people into zombie-like creatures. Along with his friends & the school nurse, they fight their way out and continue their journey to find out what exactly has happened to the world. (Anime News Network)

The look and the animation is amazing! There was really nothing lazy, or bad about the animation quality. Color and style are used well for this anime, and the animation doesn’t seem to have any problems. The one thing I have to be nit-picky about, is the zombies sometimes looking like clay animation rather than drawn. Does it look cool? Sure. Does it work for the series? Not really.

The story is pretty basic: Survive. And it does tell us how the characters attempt surviving the hoard of zombies that are around every corner. The one major thing that is never explained, but does leave the viewer to wonder, how did the infection start? Was is a virus, supernatural curse, or the careless actions of a corporation trying to cure cancer? We don’t know, but we also don’t need to. The story is about surviving the slavering monsters around us, and that’s it. Even with all the fan service in the series, that you would think would be a distraction, the story is immensely involving and actually keeps you on the edge of your seat. With all the chaos and death happening around them, and the realistic way the characters react, in highly traumatic ways, the story manages to pull almost every heart string you possess. You can relate to these characters in their struggle, even the most annoying ones manage to be sympathetic, and keep us involved with the story, right up to the very end.

Each of the characters have little bits of development here and there throughout the story. More development comes from Kohta Hirano, Saeko Busujima, and, maybe, Takashi Komuro. Everyone else doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to go through in the series. As for the characters in general, they aren’t bad. Some are more annoying then others, but for the most part it shows what individuals go through in a crisis like this.

The voice acting in the Japanese is good, with the characters sounding like how you would expect them to. The english dub, however, is a bit of a different story. I gave Jessica Boone props for her role in Canaan in a previous review, but as Rei Miyamoto it seems like she dropped the ball a little. Some of the lines spoken by her character seem a little too forced to be believable. Maggie Flecknoe (Red Garden) as Saya Takagi is rather annoying, but, then again, she’s the know it all genius, so it kinda fits. Mark Laskowski (Super Dimension Fortress Macross) as Kohta was certainly a bad choice to make. The only time the voice fits is when he goes all military on the group. Leraldo Anzaldua (Canaan) picks up the main male lead in Takashi, and doesn’t do too bad with it. But the two people from the group for favorites voice acting would be Taylor Hannah (Le Chevalier D’Eon, Red Garden) as Saeko and Monica Rial (Soul Eater, Baccano!) as Nurse Shizuka Marikawa. They are certainly the better fits for their characters. Oh! And here’s a surprise for you. Remember Brittney Karbowski? The woman who voice Black Star in the Soul Eater dub? Well, she’s back..... as a little girl. Little Alice Maresato.

Now, this can’t be a review about High School of the Dead without talking about the one thing people remember this show the most for: the fanservice. So how does it really stand up to the series? Well, I can say it is a pain watching the show with it occurring every minute (I would say five seconds but I feel generous right now). As the first anime I have ever seen with this much boobs and pantie shots, I have the feeling this anime was solely created for (Lonely) men. I guess when the original creator discovered he had no clue how to make it seem less like a porno, he threw in a zombie apocalypse just to make it more badass. If you didn’t have the distracting fan service, this would certainly be an awesome series. However, since we do, it kind of takes away the show’s quality. I will say, if you’re a guy who loves boobs and zombies, or girls with huge boobs KILLING zombies (seriously, every female lead in the group has tits that should be impossible. Especially the nurse, that poor, broke backed impossible creature) then here’s an anime for you.

At the end of the day, High School of the Dead is an exciting story with amazing animation and imaging, but way too much boobs and panties. If you took out the fan service, the story would probably be more effective rather then the way it is now. A few of the characters are likable, but not all are. If you must see this series, since EVERYONE always talks about this, watch the Japanese version; it has better voice acting. All I have to say now is, viewer discretion advised....... BOOBIES!!

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