It should have been just another day at school, but things don’t always go as you’d expected. When the dead rise up and attack the living, it’s all right to cut classes!
What did you watch? This is the first episode of the Highschool of the Dead anime series and it is incredible. It’s been at least three years since I last watched it and I can’t believe I’ve put it off until now.
What happened? A zombie outbreak takes over the city, making its way into a private high school. Takashi witnesses the events and runs to save his friends before the ensuing chaos turn the school into a nightmare, which doesn’t take long. With Rei and Hisashi in tow, he heads to the rooftop in an attempt to escape the zombies.
What hooked you? The series bursts onto your screen with some heart-pounding action. In the two minutes prior to the opening music, which I’ll get to in another post, we are shown exactly what to expect.
We know that Takashi is the protagonist, after all, he’s the one reflecting on the day. Then we see him racing across a rooftop with Rei and Hisashi before smashing a zombie in the face with a baseball bat. Action. Check. Gore. Check.
Next, we see Rei fighting a zombie, but it fights back. A quick jiggle and a panty shot. Zombies. Check. Fan-service. Check. Takashi runs to save her, but Hisashi steps in. Now we know that Takashi likes Rei, but he’s not with her. Intrigue. Check. Romance. Possibly!
Finally, we get a glimpse of the city, zombies staggering through the streets and buildings on fire. It is utter chaos. Takashi stares in disbelief and then yells. Swearing. Check. The last thing to note is that Hisashi has a bandage tied around his arm. That’s never a good thing in a zombie story. Doom. Check.
That all happened in two minutes. I don’t care if it’s not your thing, you can’t help but admire the efficiency in the storytelling. What a setup!
What was your favourite scene? Other than the opening two minutes, there is a great scene near the end where Hisashi has realised that he has already been infected and asks Takashi to help him end it. Rei, Hishashi’s girlfriend is distraught and can’t accept it. Takashi stares at his best friend unable to contemplate what he’s saying.
Then Hishashi dies and turns. Rei pleads with Hishashi not to kill him, but he has to. Everything about this scene was incredible. The animation was beautiful, the music haunting and laced with doom. I felt like the music was reminiscent of 28 Days Later, which was a nice touch.
What was your least favourite thing? There was a moment where Takashi, Rei, and Hisashi has made it to the rooftop. Then out of nowhere, they were surrounded by zombies. Hard to imagine how they managed to do that, but it made for an exciting scene nonetheless so I don’t mind too much.
I don’t even mind that it took Hisashi so long to turn compared to the gym teacher. There are lots of possible factors in the length to turn, but I’m sure some will have an issue with that, especially after World War Z tried to claim that everyone bitten would turn in five seconds… whatever!
Who was your favourite character? In this episode, Takashi was my favourite character. Sure, he was conflicted and then there’s the history with Rei that made killing Hisashi that much more tense and meaningful. It also led to the amazing scene after the closing music where a grief-struck Rei attacks Takashi.
Who was your least favourite character? There were two best-friends running from the zombies, reassuring each other that they would be fine together. Then one is grabbed by a zombie, but when she screams for help, her ‘best-friend’ kicks her away so that she can escape. She didn’t last long either if it’s any consolation.
Are you ready for more? I am absolutely pumped after that episode. My heart is racing and I may have got a little choked up in the final scene. There are numerous reasons that this is my favourite series and it’s so much more than gratuitous fan-service. It helps if you like zombies, I’m sure, but there is a compelling story as well. Also, I love the animation style. It’s seven years old and still looks awesome.