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.