Highschool of the Dead (Episode 4) – Running in the Dead

Separated from their friends in an abandoned city, Takashi and Rei will have to fight to stay alive, but it’s not just the dead that they need to worry about.

What did you watch? That was episode four of the Highschool of the Dead anime series. I’m not going to lie, I am having a whale of a time rewatching this series. There’s just something about zombie stories that really fascinate me, especially after the immediate outbreak when the cities appear abandoned. Gives me chills.

What happened? Takashi and Rei were separated from the group at the end of the last episode. They found a motorbike and are making their way to the agreed meeting point, taking in the sights of the city. The pacing in this episode slower and more contemplative as they witness the aftermath of the zombie outbreak.

The streets are devoid of life, but the shuffling, stumbling horde is always just behind them. There are plenty of moments where Takashi and Rei reflect on the events that lead them him. The rest of the group appear to be stuck in traffic as others attempt to flee the city and Shido is taking full advantage of the situation to assert his hold over the students.

What hooked you? I think the change of pace in this episode was cool. It really played off the deserted city and solemn nature of the situation. I’m not the biggest fan of flashbacks, especially when this is only the fourth episode, but fit with what the characters would be going through.

As I said earlier, I love the deserted city scenes, which are also another staple of zombie stories. Just look at the abandoned London in 28 Days Later or Atlanta at the beginning of The Walking Dead. Seeing these iconic and previously highly-populated areas like this are haunting.

It was also great that everytime Takashi and Rei stopped somewhere, they only had moments before the zombie horde caught up with them. It gave a real sense of danger and need to keep running. That’s one of the most terrifying aspects of zombies, they just don’t give up. They are always a step or two behind you.

Being separated from the main group gave Takashi and Rei a chance to get some things off their chests. The tension between the two seems to be easing, although Takashi still seems to be affected by what he did to Hisashi.

What was your favourite thing? The scene at the gas station was excellent. There was a bit of conflict between Takashi and Rei about money, leading Takashi to bring us Hisashi again. Wanting to get away from the situation again, he walks into the shop and smashes up the register with his baseball bat.

Outside, we get the sense that someone is watching them, someone that is alive. Rei reflects on how she’s handling the lose of Hisashi and how she’s been giving Takashi a hard time. I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case, it’s all been quite traumatic for everyone.

Then survivor grabs Rei and tells Takashi to fill up the bike so he can take it. It’s apparent that this guy has lost his mind after killing the zombie versions of his family. He gets a bit handsy with Rei, which leads Takashi to charge in a point a gun at his chest from point blank. Bang!

Rei is ready to dish out some more punishment until Takashi points out that the zombies are closing in. They get on the bike and leave him bleeding on the pavement as the zombies shuffle towards him. I loved how dark this whole scene was and the ramification on their characters.

What was your least favourite thing? It has to be the flashbacks. I understand why it made sense to have the characters reflect on the last twenty-four hours especially as they had time to think. I just think it would have been more effective to have them really see the devastation caused by the outbreak and have them react to that.

Who was your favourite character? This episode focused almost entirely on Takashi and Rei so it’s hard to really pick a favourite from them. They both had some good parts, but I think it was the two of them together that really claim this episode. I particularly liked the bit where they’re riding the motorbike across the bridge and the fighter jet shoots past them.

Who was your least favourite character? Shido really upped his creepy factor in his brief moment on the screen, but this one is going to the crazy thug who tried to mug Takashi and Rei. It’s believable that he would have lost his mind doing what he said he did, but he seemed a little too put together. Damn it, he just wasn’t crazy enough!

Are you ready for more? I have never been more ready for more. I loved this series the first time I watched it and I’m loving it as much, if not more than last time. Now that I have a much greater understanding of story creation, I am seeing a lot more of the subtleties and nuances that really make this series shine.

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