AMV of the Day: Highschool of the Dead Game


I came across this particular AMV (anime music video) while trying to find something else. There really hasn’t been many good AMV’s done with 2010’s hit anime series, Highschool of the Dead, which I find very peculiar. Maybe it’s the extreme ecchi nature paired with zombies which makes some people uncomfortable. I, for one, is not one of those people so I was really surprised when someone made a great AMV from this anime. The latest AMV of the Day is simply titled: “Highschool of the Dead Game”.

The title may be simple, but the video itself ended up looking quite complex in it’s execution. From the mind of AMV creator linnepin007, the video takes the many awesome scenes and sequences from Highschool of the Dead and made it to look like a sizzle reel for an upcoming roleplaying game. The game looks to make each character in the series as a playable one in the game right down to individual stats, character classes and even personal anthems and rally cries.

I know that for some the amount of fan-service in this series ruins it for them and how the series should’ve stuck to just the horror, but this AMV’s creator has realized one thing which has attracted legions of anime fans to this series: it’s fun. This is what this AMV has done to further help sell the series. It highlighted the fun aspect of the anime to ludicrous levels. It helps that the creator used an audio clip from Shaun of the Dead in the very start of the video.

The AMV did well enough that it garnered two awards at this year’s AnimeCon: Editor’s Choice and Audience Choice Awards.

Anime: Highschool of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku)

Song: “Dead”  by My Chemical Romance

Creator: linnepin007

Review: Highschool of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku) Blu-Ray


Highschool of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku in Japan) is the horror-ecchi 12-episode anime series which had a simultaneous premiere and series airing in both Japan and the United States in the summer of 2010 has finally been released as a DVD/Blu-Ray set. I was able enough to watch the series as it aired during it’s initial summer 2010 run. I was able to watch 11 of the 12 eisodes aired and wrote up “first impressions” of each episode right after they aired. With the 12th episode still unwatched I held off doing a proper review of the whole series. Now that the series has been released on home video that has changed.

The anime was adapted from the original manga (still ongoing though on hiatus at the moment) from Sato Daisuke and Sato Shouji who wrote and drew the series for Monthly Dragon Age. This was a manga that gained popularity outside Japan through fan scanlations of the original Japanese issues. So, it was with great anticipation when Sentai Filmworks and Yen Press announced at anime conventions of 2010 that the series will be making its way to the US in its manga and anime format.

Highschool of the Dead has quite a simple story. It’s pretty much a survival horror tale of a small group of Japanese high school students trying to survive the sudden arrival of a zombie apocalypse. The zombies themselves don’t get too much of an explanation as to how they came to be only that one day the outbreak began all over the world. We see this through brief scenes when the core group of characters stop to try and get some news of the crisis at hand. It’s during the first two episodes that we meet the members of this group. There’s the group’s reluctant leader in highschool student Komuro Takashi who also happens to be in love with another group member, Miyamoto Rei, and best friends since kindergarten with another, Takagi Saya. Into this mix comes in the highly confident and supremely calm Busujima Saeko whose mysterious nature soon becomes clear later on in the series as a certain darkness in her nature becomes known which adds a layer of complexity to the character. It is no wonder that the Saeko role has become such a major favorite of the male fans of the series, but also of women fans. One cannot go into any anime convention in 2011 and not see dozens of females cosplaying as Busujima Saeko.

The group is rounded out by the military-obsessed otaku, Hirano Kohta, who seems to worship Saya despite her belittling attitude towards him. Also, rounding out the group is the only adult along with the teenagers, Marikawa Shizuka who was the school nurse at the school the group escapes from when the zombie outbreak reaches it’s height. Along the way the group picks up young Marisato Arisu, the 7-year old whose father gets killed in an attempt to save her young daughter from the zombies. The series even has a cute puppy in the form of Zeke who becomes quite attached to young Arisu and becomes the de facto mascot of the group who senses the arrival of zombies and barks out his warnings to the group.

To say that Highschool of the Dead is not your typical zombie apocalypse tale would be too simplistic. There’s enough of the usual zombie story conventions to make the series familiar to fans of the genre, but enough tweaks were added to the story that at times it does feel fresh to American eyes. For one thing with the series being set in Japan there’s certain Japanese cultural themes which may sound out of left-field to it’s Western audiences. There’s the concept of a land where violent crime is so low that it’s police force don’t come equipped with the necessary force to deal with the zombie outbreak which in turn just helps fan it hotter to the point that things quickly spiral out of their control and chaos becomes the norm in a society steeped in order. There’s also the use of fanservice in the series which may surprise new fans of the anime format who have been introduced to it by way of this series.

Highschool of the Dead has an inordinate amount of fanservice and this means most of the females in the series were drawn to be quite busty and beautiful. It also means that there’s huge amounts of scenes where the animators go out of their way to include panty, stocking and bra shots into a scene even when at times it boggles one’s mind why it was there in the first place. Some anime fans have complained about this and how it has ruined the series for them, but as a fan of the original manga I knew going in what the series will include so the fanservice didn’t bother me. The fact that the original creators of the series having done hentai-manga before this series should’ve given the more knowledgable anime fans a clue as to what they’d be seeing in the series. One such scene of the series’ use of fanservice which has become quite infamous (or famous depending on one’s thoughts about the subject matter) would be dubbed the “Matrix Boobs” by fans.

The series does explore some serious themes about human nature and their moral codes in the face of the zombie apocalypse and the possible extinction of one’s race. Like most good zombie stories the series tackles the concept of the human’s themselves becoming the bigger danger to each other than the encroaching zombie horde knocking on their door. We seen through the series how the teenage group of survivors have adjusted better to the apocalyptic event better than the very adults who are suppose to protect them. In fact, it’s some of those adults who seem to hide their heads in the sand or take advantage of the situation for their own benefit. I found it ironic that the only adults who actually fare well would be the right-wing extremist and his retainers who impose the necessary rules to keep everyone safe, but also try to rescue as much people as possible when the government (both local and national) have failed to do what’s needed and right to restore order.

As I mentioned earlier the manga is still ongoing with 27 chapters (or Acts as they’re called in the manga and in the anime), but with the series only at 12-episodes there’s much about Highschool of the Dead which get left up in the air once the 12th episode airs. The series also leapfrogs certain chapters from the manga to keep the series moving forward instead of being bogged down. The anime also borrows certain scenes later on in the manga and uses them instead to help create backstory for some of the characters in the show. No one knows is this 12-episode will be it for Highschool of the Dead or will a second season be in the future depending on sales of the DVD and Blu-Ray sets. I’m hoping for the latter since the manga definitely gets real serious about the story and tones down some of the fanservice in later chapters. It’d be a shame if Highschool of the Dead ends with just these 12-episodes.

To find more detailed recaps and reviews of the first 11-episodes they could be read here: Episode One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven

The Blu-Ray set for Highschool of the Dead has been released in the US through Sentai Filmworks which acquired the licensing rights for US home video distribution in 2010 (US manga distributer Yen Press releases the manga volumes). Like most anime Blu-Ray releases, Highschool of the Dead is pretty much barebones when it comes to supplemental content. The set comes in a two-disc set with all 12 episodes split between two discs. Disc 1 contains episodes 1 thru 8 while Disc two has episodes 9 thru 12 and the cleaned up versions of the show’s intro and end credit sequence.

There’s not much to the disc in terms of language content. Sentai Filmworks really keeps things basic as it just includes two languages to the series set. There’s the original Japanese language cast which (to my disappointment) has been mixed in just regular Stereo 2.0 while the English Dub option has been given the much more heftier 5.1 surround sound mix. I understand the reasoning for this as the original Japanese distributor of the series wishes to keep the Japanese surround sound mix in the more expensive Japanese region Blu-Ray. It’s just one of the more assbackwards business reasonings between the Japanese distributors and it’s American distributing partner that frustrates anime fans in the US.

Despite these flaws in the Blu-Ray set there’s no denying that the series has made a near-perfect visual remastering. The series looks great in 1080p HD with little to no digital noise in the playback. Madhouse’s visual artwork comes in very clean and clear with even some of the more CGI-element in the animation blending in well with the more traditional handmade animation of the series. While the animation is not the best Madhouse has done in the past for a series that’s a weird mash of horror and ecchi themes the look of the series should please fans of both (though I will admit that the series really leans a lot more towards to fanservice side of things than outright horror).

In the end, Highschool of the Dead is a series that’s tailor-built for people whose experience with anime is very little to non-existent. The two themes of zombie horror and softcore, fanservice of ecchi should be the sort of things in an anime that should reel in those wondering what it is about this show that has so many people raving about it. It’s almost like a gateway drug of anime. It’s not the greatest anime or even the best one of the past year, but it definitely panders (which in this case is a good thing) to the grindhouse and exploitation denominator that’s in everyone whether they like to admit it or not. If there was ever a grindhouse anime series then Highschool of the Dead is it.

PS: The titles of each Act (chapters) is quite grindhouse.

Episode 01: Spring of the Dead

Episode 02: Escape from the Dead

Episode 03: Democracy Under the Dead

Episode 04: Running in the Dead

Episode 05: Streets of the Dead

Episode 06: In the Dead of the Night

Episode 07: Dead Night and the Dead Ruck

Episode 08: The Dead Way Home

Episode 09: The Sword and Dead

Episode 10: The Dead’s House Rules

Episode 11: Dead Storm Rising

Episode 12: All Deads Attack

AMV of the Day: Instinct


The latest AMV I’ve chosen for the regular “AMV of the Day” comes from one of the anime hit series from 2010. It combines the horror and ecchi (softcore) themes and images from that series with one of Rob Zombie’s most popular songs to date in “Dragula”. The video is plainly and simply titled, “Instinct”.

Highschool of the Dead  (Gakuen Mokushiroku in Japan) was one of the major anime hits of 2010. It was the anime adaptation of the wildly popular manga series of the same name. It was a series which successfully combined the horror aspects that a zombie apocalypse brings to any story and the softcore elements that ecchi brought to the table. Simply put it was a series that was about sex, violence and horror. So, it wasn’t too much of a surprise that someone decided what better song to merge scenes from this series than Rob Zombie’s very own “Dragula”.

The editing work on this video was actually excellent. The creator, StarSapphire26, didn’t just edit and splice together scenes to match the tone and tempo of the song, but added some visual touches which made it stand out from most AMVs. This is one reason why this video stood out for me beyond just being one of the better and rare good AMVs which uses Highschool of the Dead as the foundation.

Anime: Highschool of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku)

Song: “Dragula” by Rob Zombie

Creator: StarSapphire26

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 11 – First Impressions


We are down to the last final episodes of this first season of Madhouse’s anime series adaptation of the zombie and ecchi manga series, Highschool of the Dead. The last episode was the start of the calm before what I hope to be the major storm that will take this series into a second season.

Episode 11 didn’t linger on too much on the fanservice side of the series with the exception of an all-too-brief look inside the school bus of Shido-san and his sex cultists. We get a glimpse at how Shido deals with the students who don’t conform to his twisted (albeit must be quite fun) outlook on the new world order as it stands now. The manga had shown that particular sequence of why that one student was thrown off the bus to be taken by the zombies. In this episode we didn’t see what caused his expulsion, but got a sense that the student didn’t want to join in on the bus orgy going on between the students with Shido-san acting as a sort of Aleister Crowley-like figurehead.

While inside the Takagi compound it looks like the episode skipped some more of the manga and didn’t show how Takagi’s father was finally swayed to allow Kohta to keep the groups weapons. I can understand the Madhouse writers trying to cram as much of the manga into a 13-episode season, but the way they’re going about things they could catch up to the manga by episode 13 which would definitely might be a sign that a second season won’t be in the offing. Here’s to hoping that the writers were just trying to move things along to the crisis which sends the group out of the compound and back into the dangers of the city-proper.

While the fanservice was limited the harem aspect of the story continued to grow as Rei literally threw herself at the mercy of Komuro but to no avail. Does Rei know that Saeko and Saya may be competing with her for Komuro’s attention? If that’s the case then Komuro definitely has shown quite a bit of restraint when it comes to Rei’s increasingly aggressive advances. There’s also the fact that Komuro and Saeko may have already sealed their partnership a few episodes past though we never really saw it but definitely implied.

The arrival of Shido-san into the compound definitely explains why Rei was so adamant to leave the safety of the bus early in the season. The fact that Rei dismissed Shido-san as less than worthy of her attention was a nice touch even though this could become a major problem for the group down the line. Even in the manga the fate of Shido-san and his group of students were not truly explained though not all of them could’ve survived their subsequent exile.

With two episodes left and with the major superpowers throwing nukes at each other, I hope that this calm has finally ended and the storm that’s been brewing since the group arrived at the Takagi compound can finally smash into the city. If there’s to be no second season then these last two episodes need to put the previous 11 in terms of action, horror and fanservice to shame. It’s the only way for the series to go out with a huge bang.

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 10 – First Impressions


We’re now heading towards the end of this first season of Madhouse’s anime adaptation of the zombie manga Highschool of the Dead. It is still up in the air whether this 13-episode initially produced will be the first season or just the first half of what will end up being the only season. If the latter is the case then the series just took a relaxing calm before the storm of what will be episode 11 thru to 13.

Episode 10 brings everyone in the group back together as Takashi Komuro and Busujima Saeko finally makes it back to the relative safety of the Takagi fortress-compound in the previous episode. This episode was actually pretty devoid of much of the fanservice which were prevalent in the last 5 previous episodes. The only nod to it’s ecchi side of the series was in the beginning where one might think Rei and Komuro might just end up going all the way (something that suspiciously might have already happened between Komuro and Saeko in the last episode), but alas it was not meant to be. It was just a medical intervention to help Rei heal up from being sorely bruised from the action of episode 8.

While within the Takagi compound we get to know more about the life of Saya and her relationship with her parents. To say that she has lived quite the privileged life would be an understatement. But while in other media the privileged children of rich and powerful parents end up being useless beyond being spoiled and entitled, Saya seems to have grown past being just a spoiled brat and into a child who has tried to live up to the perfection that are her parents. I mean her father is the lord of the manor in more ways than one as the Takagi-clan looks to have been the same clan in centuries past which ruled over the city during the Feudal-era of Japan. Takagi Souichiro and his wife Yuriko are quite formidable parents and we see where Saya gets both her beauty and coldly, logical brain.

This episode to me also shows us just how far Hirano Kohta has come from the geeky and shy introduction from the first couple episodes. We’ve seen him become quite the badass to help bookend Saeko in terms of pure zombie killing power. He’s been the most useful of the group not just in how expertly he handles the guns the group comes across, but in teaching others how to operate them. This new zombie apocalypse world has made Kohta useful in his eyes. So, when the demand by the “adults” at the Takagi compound for him to hand over the weapons he and his group brought with them his reaction was both understandable and quite saddening.

To survive the last couple days as a highschool student while adults around them died and became “Them” it’s jarring to Kohta and the rest of the group to suddenly be treated as children once more. While his tear-filled reaction to not wanting to go back to being a helpless otaku seemed overly dramatic it’s easy to sympathize with him. Thus, it was great to see not just for the group to have his back and support his decision to hold on to the weapons, but to see Saya do the same. The fact that she uses Kohta’s help in securing her safety a way to show her contempt for her parents for not trying to find a way to save her shows the rift between daughter and parents.

While this respite from the doom and gloom action of the previous 3-4 episodes was quite good, this partcular calm before the storm looks to be ending quite quickly as the sneak preview for the next episode show the return of Shido-san and his bus of cult followers. Plus, just when I thought Madhouse was going to cut the bus orgy scene from the manga it looks like they just kept it for the end of episode 10. Now all is right with the world.

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 9 – First Impressions


yandere: A Japanese anime/manga character archetype, a character that is loving, sweet & gentle that can suddenly switch to brutal psychotic or deranged behavior

Why the quick brief lesson in Japanese anime/manga terms?

This brief lesson is due to the nature of episode 9 for Madhouse’s anime tv series adaptation of the horror manga title, Highschool of the Dead. This latest episode finally unleashed the dark secret one of the coolest characters in the series has been keeping to herself. For those who have been reading the manga on a regular basis already know of this secret, but for those whose experience of this title is only the anime this episode will open up Busujima Saeko.

The bokken wielding senior-class in the group has been one of the most level-headed in the group surviving since episode 1. Saeko never seems to panic and has shown to be expertly skilled in dispatching the unending stream of zombies with her wooden sword. Outside of the gun otaku himself, Kohta Hirano, she seems to be the one character in the group who has adapted well to the sudden and apocalyptic change in the world around them.

This episode puts her and Takashi Komuro (who is starting to gather quite the harem of hotties) on the run to find a way to the safety of Takagi Saya’s parents’ fortress compound. During their time running from the zombies to find a safe passage Saeko and Komuro get into all sorts of troubles with Saeko getting wet in more ways than one during their run. It’s during this time away from the rest of the group that we learn of Saeko’s penchant for just a bit of sadism.

A past encounter in her early highschool years convinced Saeko that she enjoys inflicting pain on those weaker than herself. This revelation becomes a huge 180 degrees from her earlier behavior. Out of the outside facade of being the cool-headed, elder student who never panics lies the heart of a sadistic yandere who has enjoyed killing “Them” with impunity. The changes in the world has allowed Saeko to indulge in her sadistic tendencies and maybe she’s in the right as it has helped her and her group survive the apocalypse, so far. Even Komuro has accepted this side of Saeko and sees it as a necessary evil in the days ahead.

The episode also hints at what could become a major love triangle (or is it quadrangle) as the relationship between Saeko and Komuro may have turned a particular intimate turn (before the scene faded to black). This episode has deftly laid the groundwork in what could become this series’ version of School Days and Higurashi no Naku Kuru ni. This new development in the series should quiet some of the nitpickers and naysayers (who still continue to watch despite their constant bitching about the series’ heavy fanservice) who wish for more character development and storytelling minus the constant oppai and pantsu shots.

One thing for sure, the anime has begun to take some liberties with details from the manga. This episode has changed the order of certain events and even changed the circumstances of how certain things occur. With four more episodes left in the season the question now is whether the series first season will end caught up to the manga (currently on chapter 26 or 27) or will it end on a cliffhanger that combines chapters 14-16 of the manga. Here’s to hoping that it’s the latter that way we get a follow-up season.

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 8 – First Impressions


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.