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.

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 7 – First Impressions


We’ve now reached the midway point of MadHouse’s anime adaptation of the popular horror and ecchi manga series, Highschool of the Dead. Has the series lived up to the original manga source it’s based on?

Having seen every episode since I will have to give that question with a resounding yes as my answer.

Episode 7 starts off continuing with the very ecchi nature of the series as we see the women in the group in some way of undress and provocatively posed while doing so. Again, I will repeat that anyone still watching this series up to this point and still complaining about the heavy fan-service are just nitpicking. If these complainers don’t like the heavy fan-service then they should’ve dropped off the series around episode 2 and, most likely, after the previous episode. By this time of the series I think anyone still watching it either enjoys the heavy fan-service or has adapted and accepted it in some way. I’m definitely of the former.

This episode is notable for it’s introduction of the very last two characters which will join our interpid group of survivors. One is the little puppy Zeke and the other a little girl named Alice. The scene with Alice and her father looking desperately for a place of refuge from the mass of undead waling the streets is one of the most heartbreaking moments in this series. Say what one will about the series’ heavy reliance on it’s ecchi half, but when it wants to start plucking on the audience’s  heartstrings it does it well. While Alice’s survival once the zombies start converging on her is not a mystery (I don’t think killing a second child in the series will happen two episodes in a row) it does show our group in hero-mode.

Takashi and Hirano are stand-outs in this episode. The former for showing some humanity and putting his life in danger to try and save Alice. The latter for contuining to be my favorite character in the series as he swings from his awkward “nosebleed” self whenever he sees the ladies in skimpy attire to the ice-cold sharpshooter when it’s time to kill zombies. I have a feeling that Hirano will be a character from this series who will be cosplayed heavily in the coming slate of 2011 anime conventions.

The rest of the episode goes by-the-numbers as the group loads up the Hummer parked in the garage with all the supplies, weapons and ammo it could carry and they head on out into the zombie-filled world looking to get across the bridges to find their families. Missing from this episode (the last couple in fact) is the villain of the series, so far. We haven’t seen the sleazy Shido-san and his bus full of followers. Does this mean that the infamous “bus orgy” scene from the manga has been skipped over or will it appear in the next couple episodes. For fans of the manga the answer better be yes or that may be the first disappointment they will have with this series.

Yes, if that’s the only disappointment fans will have with this series then it just shows how good it is that the storyline itself hasn’t been the focus of any complaint. Now, onto the second half of the season.

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 6 – First Impressions


Madhouse’s anime adaptation of the the horror and ecchi manga, Highschool of the Dead, has almost reached it’s halfway point with episode 6 and this time we get an unusual balance of both those traits. The episode almost does a schizo break in and out of it’s running time. For a 3-4 minutes we get scenes of pure ecchi (softcore fanservice) that definitely panders to the puerile minds of its target audience (teenage boys and young men) which is not a bad thing, mind you. But then it’s followed up with 3-4 minutes sequences of chaotic horror.

What’s interesting was that the scenes with the student (and one ditzy nurse) survivors were all ecchi, especially the opening scene with the females in the group deciding to bathe together. Yeah, much female bathing together shenanigans ensue. This scene was lifted directly from the manga source and expands on it to the benefit of its target audience and longtime readers.

The scenes where we see the zombie apocalypse unfolding and how the horror has put both civilians and authorities on the path of breaking doesn’t involve out intrepid survivors at all. It’s almost as if this episode was the group’s reprieve before the next storm hits them which should be arriving very soon (I’d say the start of the next episode). There’s a particular scene on one of the bridges where a police barricade has been set-up that really points out the horror of the series. It involves a young mother and her young daughter (one who has been bitten). To say that this scene is not just horrific and tragic would be an understatement. I’ve always said that in stories of an apocalyptic nature one of the first thing to go was sentimentality and this sequence in episode 6 hammers on this point.

Overall, the episode was very good as usual. For fans of the manga it should be a delight to watch. For those whose experience with Highschool of the Dead has been this anime adaptation this episode may seem a tad odd in that it tries to balance both the sex and horror aspect of the series. It might be difficult for these newcomers to buy into the episode that one minute has an almost softcore, all-girl porn scene going then followed-up with apocalyptic horror then back again to softcore. Again, I will say that the series will continue to weave these two traits together and if one is still sticking with the series waiting to see if things change then they will be sorely disappointed.