Manga of the Day: Highschool of the Dead

Manga (Japanese comic books) has become a major form of entertainment for me. This wasn’t too surprising being that I have been a huge fan and reader of comic books both American and European. While my own collection of comic books have waned in the last decade my appetite for manga has increased in its place. I find them to be actually cheaper to buy and collect than American comics nowadays.

One of the current manga titles (unfortunately not licensed to be translated and sold in the US…yet) is the very popular zombie apocalypse title from Monthly Dragon Age (a monthly manga magazine similar to the Western comic magazine Heavy Metal). This zombie apocalypse manga is known quite appropriately as Highschool of the Dead. The series (was on hiatus for a little over a year, but has started up once more) was started in September 2006 by mangaka Daisuke Sato and Shouji Sato (the former doing writing duties while the latter the illustrations).

The manga takes the usual zombie conventions begun by George A. Romero and expanded by many others since and wraps it with a heavy dose of ecchi. For the uninitiated the Japanese term ecchi is commonly used for manga and anime which contains very sexualized (though not to mean full nudity and explicit sex) imagery and characterization. Let’s just say that the artists of manga and anime with ecchi themes will liberally use panty shots, huge bouncy breasts and scantily clad women in almost every other scene.

Highschool of the Dead can almost be the manga version of the cheesy Troma zombie films which combined horror with scantily-clad women running and bouncing every which way. While the manga is quite violent and gory the black and white illustrations keep it from becoming gratuitious. I can’t say the same for the boobs and panty shots. The fact that the manga is published through a manga magazine aimed at teenage boys and young adult males wasn’t an accident. The author and illustrator really know who their readers are and more than glad to give them what they want.

Some of the sample full-color pin-up illustrations should really emphasize my point.

News was made just recently that the manga was going to be adapted into an anime series. The anime was to make it’s premiere episode available to Japanese tv around early February of 2010. Here’s to hoping that the anime doesn’t abandon what made the manga series so popular. I am also hoping and confident that one of the licensing companies who brings over manga and anime to the US shores will do the same for Highschool of the Dead. Until that happens the only way to experience this series is to buy the original manga magazine issues each chapter of the series has shown up in and read it in Japanese. Or one can read unofficial scanlated versions (the last resort since it is not actually kosher to do so). If one was to settle on the latter then only one site really do the series justice with its translation and that is the site [XLG].

So, I highly recommend this manga. For those who will be interested enough to check it out I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I mean what’s not to like: zombies, guns, boobs and even more boobs.

Reference: Highschool of the Dead on Wikipedia