Madhouse’s anime series adaptation of the very popular manga, Highschool of the Dead (In Japan known as Gakuen Mokushiroku) is now 2/3’s into it’s first 13-episode season run. The reaction to the series has been pretty positive, but there’s definitely been some mixed to negative reactions to how the series’ animators from Madhouse has wholly embraced the ecchi nature of the manga. Some have even called it fanservice overload. I’m guessing they said the same about the manga when they first read it and thought the anime would tone things down.
My reaction to such criticism is “live with it”. There’s a reason why the manga has been so popular despite some long-delays from the manga’s writer and artist. For good or worse the manga and the series will succeed and fail because of it’s very ecchi nature. To expect the anime to actually tone down that particular aspect of the original manga source would be self-censorship and takes away half the fun of the manga. To continue complaining about the series because of its fanservice even this deep into the anime and still continue to watch it just speaks nitpicking and “grumpy old man syndrome”.
Now this eight episode does cut back on the fanservice after the some very heavy doses of it from the last couple episodes. There’s still enough of it that its not all about the zombies, but blatant fanservice sequences was very absent from this last episode. There are some very hilarious and awesome use of “bullet time” effects during the latter half of the episode when the group gets trapped by an oncoming horde of zombies. We also get to see more great kick-ass action from the senior-class member of the group, Saeko Busujima, as she bokken smashes her way through the wall of zombies to try and distract them away from the main group. Takashi helps her out and it’s with his shooting and Saeko-chan’s acrobatic fighting that the bullet-time effects get put to good use.
This particular episode actually combines at least chapter 8 and 9 of the manga and it looks like the anime writers may be looking to start condensing the latter chapters of the manga into one episode. This maybe Madhouse’s way of hedging their bets in case ratings for the series doesn’t get a second season greenlit. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and we get a second season to see the anime through right through the end. The manga is still going and with the anime series’ release it looks to gain more readers.
So, even with the naysayers dumping on the series because of the fanservice (even though they still continue to watch) I do believe the series has done well in adapting the manga. Some of the characterizations may seem a bit off as the series’ writers try to balance action, fanservice and quiet character moments, but with most shonen anime series sometimes characterizations take a backseat to what its audience want: the visual stuff whether they’re action and/or fanservice.