Sunday, September 8, 2013

HOTD - High School of the Dead [Anime Review]

 This review has been a few weeks in coming.

Booby-Time instead of Bullet-time.
First a short tale from real life. This happened just after I ordered HOTD on BD. I was sent a link to the image on the left, the improbable one, mocking the gratuitous nature and the ludicrousness of the whole scene.

And I would agree, if one sees just that silly scene one would have a very bad impression of HOTD. Thankfully I was already set down the path to watch... as no anime I've bought will go unwatched (Even the dreadfully bad like Elfen Lied.)
Baseball is usually not a contact sport.

I'm bloody glad I watched this. This might be one of the best Zombie Apocalypse series I've ever seen. And I'm sorry all you Walking Dead fans, I've never seen it... don't know why, just haven't.

So lets ready ourselves for my now traditional introduction into the series. 

The opening of the story is brutal, fast, and a perfect example of in media res. Boom! Baseball bats meet Zombie heads.

Three students are running from the Zombie hordes, up to the school roof. The leader is Takashi Komuro and with him are his childhood friend (and ex-potential girlfriend) Rei Miyamoto and Hisashi Igo who is currently dating Rei. Rei gets in trouble with a Zombie and Hisashi saves her but gets bitten. He remains self-aware, begging Takashi to end him in a way that will prevent him from coming back. This act will have ramifications.
One bad-ass Zombie killing posse...

Takashi and Rei are not the only survivors in the school. There are several groups. Some band together, others do not fare so well.

I'm not going to go much further, I don't want to spoil anything beyond the first few minutes.

Instead lets cover some of the other issues in the series. There is more in this series than your average Zombie movie goes into. It deals with social structures and their changes in times of pandemic crisis, it deals with political upheaval and issues that might occur during such a crisis. 
Oh crap. There goes society.

There are issues dealing with the rise of demagogues and cults of personality. There are numerous instances that question ethics and morality, and how far a person can or should go. There are even questions asked about what it means to be human. Survival and cruelty, or risk and compassion? Psychopath or hero? There are many layers to this series. 
That's right, wave to the [redacted].

There are even issues of international interference and intervention. Some of these play off of old Japanese fears (perhaps even in homage to old Kaiju movies), and yet they feel very accurate and appropriate. 

I'm not even going to play into typical otaku faux-rage at the enormous amounts of 'fan-service' HOTD contains. And I'll explain why.

Nearly naked apron. This is pure fan-service.
The story is about a group of teenagers in high school. Teenagers are little more than loud, foolish, hormone factories. Takashi and Rei were childhood friends who at one time vowed to get married, but the relationship fell apart. Rei is dating Takashi's friend. There is sexual tension. Vast amounts.

It's kinda hypnotic.

And yet all the sexuality is not simply for titillation. There is actually plot relevant usage in HOTD. Some for good, and some for bad. There are examples of the vileness of sexual exploitation, and examples of the bond and closeness that such things can bring.

It is not merely a parade of animated flesh, although there are some scenes of pure fan-service. I'll not be brazen enough to declare that falsehood. However I think the fan-service in HOTD was put to greater use than most series do.

So, by now you have probably come to the inescapable conclusion that I rather liked HOTD. I did. I'm just kind of wondering when season 2 is going to come out. The manga returned this year, so hopefully the rumors from 2011 of a second series will come true too... there is a lot more that can be explored. There is not much more to say other than to give my rating.

4.0 Stars
An example of how to commemorate your Zombiepocalypse.
Oh, and as an addendum, I just like to say that HOTD makes for an awesome group cosplay theme. It's been done, but there are a good variety of roles, and the costume have got to be on the less involved side for design. Here are just a few examples of stuff I've run across.

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