H.o.t.D.D. – The Final Act

What did you read? I’ve been saving this one for last, which seems kind of appropriate. It is Act 30, the final part of the Highschool of the Dead manga ever released. It would have been the beginning of volume eight and it sets up so much, it’s annoying to think we’ll never see the outcome.

What Happened? The opening scene follows a police officer sniping zombies at the gates of a school. When another office asks if that’s the best idea, he says that there aren’t that many zombies around and the noise will help survivors find them.

Then we go inside the school where a group of survivors are threatening to attack a man with a bandage on his hand. Shido shows up and attempts to talk down the angry group, but they aren’t willing to listen until the police sniper comes inside and shuts it down. Presumably this is Rei’s father.

Next, we head to a Japanese warship making plans to rescue the survivors from the cities and talking of approaching Chinese submarines. Rika is on board the ship and asks to go to Tokonosu. They agree as she’s the only reason they found any survivors at the airport. On top of that, they let her take as many weapons as she can carry!

Finally, we’re back with Takashi and the others as they try to make their way to the school for the rescue mission. There are zombies in front and zombies behind. It’s raining hard and the group prepare to attack.

What was your favourite thing? Rika cleaning out the armoury was awesome. It’s just a shame we won’t get to see her enact her plan to find Marikawa, something that I think could be a spin-off series. At least, I’d watch it.

What was your least favourite thing? All that build up and no payoff. It would almost have been better to have not read this because now I have an idea of what was to come and it was going to be exciting. I have no doubt of that.

Are you ready for more? After that set up I am so ready for more. I find myself becoming more and more determined to write a zombie series, probably light novels with a view to one day turning into a manga. I’ve got a ton of things on my todo list and this one seems to be slowly climbing over the others. I need more zombies!

H.o.t.D.D. – Rika Minami

What are you doing now? This should be interesting. It’s the final post in my series of character analysis pieces from Highschool of the Dead. This one is probably the most self-indulgent, but it’s my blog and I’ll do whatever I want.

So, following on from the gif extravaganza that was Shizuka Marikawa. Don’t worry, they’re still there if you want to pop back and have a look! Anyhow, today I’m giving Rika Minami the attention she so deserved and at one point I even champion her own spin-off series…

Age Unknown / Height 5’7” / Weight Unknown

Bust 33″ (D) / Waist 22″ / Hips 35″

Empathy: In the anime, Rika’s role is somewhat limited, but even in that, we get a sense of what she’s like. Clearly, she is an accomplished sniper. She also smokes a cigar and makes sexually suggestive comments to her partner. Basically, she’s pretty awesome.

In the manga, there is an entire act devoted to her and her partner trying to clear away the zombies at the terminal. It was epic. Rika is the hot female version of John McClain from Die Hard.

She has a couple of small appearances throughout hinting that she will eventually make her way back to Tokonosu and meet up with her best friend Marikawa and the others. Sadly, it looks like that will never happen, and she just cleared an armoury ready to head into the city too.

Character Arcs: Rika starts on the floating airport, sniping zombies and generally being a badass. As time goes on we soon realise just how much of a badass she is, not least when Takashi and the others make it to her apartment. She has a military grade Humvee and numerous illegal weapons

She’s obviously very intelligent and well drilled as the EMP didn’t even faze her. The part in the manga where her partner died showed that she was compassionate, but also believed in her role within the police force.

Finally, in the final act to be released, she negotiated a release to head back to Tokonosu so that she could look for Marikawa. She also took all the guns, when they were stupid enough to say she could take whatever she could carry.

Goals: Rika obviously holds her friendship with Marikawa above everything but her duty to the force. Once she had completed that obligation, she was ready to face the zombies on her own to find Marikawa.

The true extent of their relationship is unconfirmed, but you’ve got to be pretty close to want to do that, especially with the potential attack from Chinese submarines approaching.

Obstacles: The biggest obstacle Rika faced, was her location. Had she been home when it all happened, I’m sure she would have busted into the high school and wiped out the zombies long before Takashi and the others made their daring escape.

On top of that, she is dedicated to her role within the police force. She hints at leaving the airport to find her friend, but only once they’re done there.

Traits: Rika is hard, but she also shows a fun side, teasing her partner when he offers to help her with her sore chest from lying in the sniper position too long. She also followed her orders until there were no more coming, never abandoning her position or the people that depended on her. I really do wish she’d got more time.

Motivations: Rika’s training seems to lead her actions, and she appears to be at the top of her game. The quality of her apartment, weapons, and vehicle show that she is a top performer. Hirano even comments on how most unmarried police officers live in the dorms, so she’s doing something above and beyond.

Her desire to catch up with Marikawa and make sure she’s all right is another big driver for her. She makes her moves to do something about that just as the story was abandoned.

Flaws: Honestly, Rika is pretty much the perfect person to have on your side in a zombie apocalypse. She’s a hotter and more accomplished version of Hirano…

Vulnerabilities: Based solely on the act where her partner was killed, I think that maybe Rika expects everyone to be as on top of their game as she is. I don’t think it was her fault that he died, but if they had been a little more careful, he could have lived.

Attitude: Rika is confident and calm, however, she has no problem teasing her colleagues and friends. The two people in her life, both hold her in high esteem and would no doubt follow her on whatever crazy scheme she came up with.

Past Influences: Annoyingly we know absolutely nothing about Rika’s past except that she lived with Marikawa and that they are close friends. Personally, I would love to find out more. If the series had kept going, she could easily have commanded a spin-off series of her own as she tried to track down Marikawa. I would read that, it would have been awesome.

H.o.t.D.D. – Shizuka Marikawa

What are you doing now? All right! This is probably the one you’ve all been waiting for. So, sit back and join me as I delve into another of the characters from Highschool of the Dead.

Yesterday, we looked at the gun loving otaku Kohta Hirano. Today subject for our admiration is the artist favourite Shizuka Marikawa. She’s a bit of an enigma in that there isn’t too much information about her, but she has the most gifs! Make of that what you will.

Age 27 / Height 5’9” / Weight 128 LBS

Bust 43″ (J) / Waist 24″ / Hips 37″

Empathy: Marikawa is the school nurse and it’s apparent that she knows what she’s doing, even though she may come across as a bit of a ditz.

That said, she is likeable and funny, especially when she’s going over the symptoms of the recently infected as a student bludgeons the zombie to death behind the screen.

She also loves her designer clothes and even loses her temper when Saeko rips her skirt so that she can move more freely.

Character Arcs: I think Marikawa has the least growth out of all of the characters. She is the only adult in the group and takes on the role of the mother figure. Her knowledge and life skills are invaluable, but she’s definitely not a fighter.

It would have been interesting to see how her role would have changed once Rei’s mother joined the group, or if they ever caught up with Rika.

Goals: Marikawa seems to be in it for the ride. She’s joined up with the group of students and seems determined to stay with them. She seems to enjoy the company of the girls and even has a soft spot for Takashi.

Outside of surviving, her main goal is to find her friend, Rika, although it’ll probably be best to wait for Rika to find them. It’s a shame that it ended before Rika really got involved.

Obstacles: Being a ditz hasn’t hampered Marikawa at all. Mostly due to the group that she has around her, but she more than pulls her weight, driving the cars and offering medical and life advice.

She also took them to Rika’s house where they were able to relax, even if only for a short while, plus they got the Humvee and the guns.

Traits: Marikawa doesn’t take herself too seriously. She likes to enjoy herself and probably feels rejuvenated by being with the students. She can be a little clumsy and often knocks things with her enormous boobs. The funniest moment was when she knocked Hirano over as she ran to console Takagi.

Motivations: Her motivations seem to be focused around keeping everyone alive and searching for Rika, but she’s such an airhead she seems to forget what she’s doing a lot of the time. She tends to focus on the here and now and doesn’t worry to much about the future.

Flaws: Marikawa’s main flaw is probably how relaxed she is. Maybe it’s a by-product of her being such a ditz, but she seems to take everything in her stride, which sometimes leaves her exposed…

Vulnerabilities: She’s a sucker for designer clothes, preferring not to damage her designer skirt even if it would slow her down.

Attitude: Marikawa doesn’t seem too self-obsessed, which wouldn’t be hard to imagine for someone so attractive. Again this could be down to her carefree attitude towards life. She does have a lot of respect for the students and knows that she would have been in trouble had they not found her.

Past Influences: We don’t know a great deal about Marikawa’s past. I think they alluded that she used to work in research before taking the post as the school nurse. There seems to be more to the relationship with Rika but I think that won’t get explored now.

H.o.t.D.D. – Kohta Hirano

What are you doing now? It’s another look into what makes the characters in Highschool of the Dead tick. Yesterday, I got yelled at by Saya Takagi. Well, today I’m going to spend my time breaking down Kohta Hirano. He’s the gun-loving sharpshooter with a serious crush on Takagi.

Age 16 / Height 5’2” / Weight 196 LBS

Empathy: Hirano starts out as just some geeky otaku who happens to be in the right place at the right time, although he wouldn’t have known it at the time. In the absence of Takashi, Takagi grabs Hirano and uses him as her shield while the other students attempt to escape from the school.

Even though Takagi constantly berates him, he continues to follow her every move. However, once they are locked up in a room and assessing the tools that Takagi has gathered, Hirano shows a new light. He quickly customizes a nail gun to become a ranged weapon. He may be a geek, but he’s also deadly and things are about to get interesting.

Character Arcs: Hirano possibly showed the most growth of all of the characters. I say possibly because it’s possible that he was always that way, but only surpressing his true side. He tells Takashi later in the story that he trained with a former Black Ops agent in the States. It’s obvious he has a real love of guns and knows how to use one.

His biggest growth comes at the Takagi house when a group of adults attempt to take the guns from him. It’s then that he realised that without the guns he would go back to being another geeky otaku.

He has a darker side, like Saeko, and that gets pushed to its limits when he is forced to kill Asami, rather than see her become a zombie.

Goals: Hirano’s parents and extended family are all abroad on business so he has little chance of finding them at present. He focuses on keeping Takagi safe since she told him too and as he’s got a soft spot for her anyhow, it’s no big deal.

There are a couple of times that he butts heads with Takashi, but I don’t think he has any real desire to break away from the group. After everything they’ve been through together, they’re more of a family than a group of students.

Obstacles: Without his guns, Hirano would struggle, sure, he could fashion a weapon out of a nailgun or something similar, but it wouldn’t be as good. It also affects his confidence, which could potentially see him spiral back to shutting himself in and hoping it all passes him by.

Traits: Hirano isn’t physically gifted, but is an ace shot and know a lot about weapons. He’s calm under pressure and good at giving instructions. His love of guns have given him a unique insight, but also prepared him for dealing with the aftermath of such events.

Usually, Hirano lacks confidence in himself, but with a weapon in his hands, he turns into someone else entirely. The group don’t appear to judge him as you would expect, with the exception of Takagi, who we already know doesn’t know how to talk to people.

Motivations: Like Takashi, Hirano is driven to do what he thinks is right. He is quick to assess the situation and act appropriately, guessing what his friends are going to do before they even do it. He knew that Takashi would try to save the girl when he took that first shot with the sniper rifle.

Flaws: Hirano’s weakness is his physical strength and stamina. He’s an amazing fighter with a gun, but without one he would struggle. His fitness could use some improving, and the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before that happens. There’s only so many days you can run from zombies without losing weight or improving stamina.

Vulnerabilities: Girls are Hirano’s Achilles’ heel. After all, he’s sixteen years old and surrounded by beautiful women. He will do whatever they ask of him and it can make him blind to certain situations, for example at the mall.

Attitude: Hirano is determined and focused, for the most part. He has realised that he changed when the dead started getting up and attacking the living. Like the others, I think he would struggle if the world returned to normal.

At times he gets frustrated with Takashi, especially when it comes to the attention he gets from Takagi, but they are becoming close friends who can discuss the serious issue when they need to.

Past Influences: Hirano’s parents live colourful lives with jobs that require them to travel a lot. I think Hirano has benefited from this with his trip to the States where he trained with former military veterans and learnt about guns. Without that training, it would be hard to say if he would have even survived the first day.

H.o.t.D.D. – Saya Takagi

What are you doing now? I imagine you’re probably full of turkey, alcohol, and goodwill, so why not sit back and join me for another dive into the characters of Highschool of the Dead.

Yesterday, I spent the day with Saeko Busujima. For today, Saya Takagi is going to be the subject of my scrutiny. Saya is often misunderstood and rubs people the wrong way but without her the group wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

Age 16 / Height 5’1” / Weight 115 LBS

Bust 36″ (F) / Waist 23″ / Hips 34″

Empathy: Takagi is introduced as the unlikable character. Our first interaction with her is her telling Takashi off for hiding on the stairwell. From this interaction, it becomes clear that they have known each other for quite some time.

That generally continues when she grabs Hirano and uses him to help her escape the school, ordering him around and belittling his ideas. To be fair, she was right with each rebuttal. Takagi may come across as harsh and abrasive, but she is very clever and quick to analyse the situation.

Character Arcs: You would think that Takagi would soften as the story goes on, but she doesn’t and I’m glad of that. What we do see is more and more examples of how she is understanding the new world and breaking down the problems. She is incredibly astute and doesn’t crack under pressure.

If anything, I think the rest of the group become more used to her harsh attitude. They appreciate what she brings to the group and doesn’t look down on her despite her being one of the younger members.

Goals: Takagi is an interesting one when it comes to goals. She’s very practical and doesn’t have the same emotional drive to find her family. It’s funny that she then gets mad at her parents for doing the same thing when they do finally meet up.

Her main goal is to survive, using whatever and whoever she has to to do so. She has feelings for Takashi too, having grown up together but I think he sees her more as a little sister and she knows it.

Obstacles: Takagi isn’t a fighter in the same way that Saeko, Rei, and Takashi are. She’s not even that good with a weapon like Hirano, but that doesn’t stop her from stepping up when she needs to. I’m referring to the drill incident in the school and the dark moment when all appeared lost and she got out of the Humvee to join the hopeless fight.

With regards to Takashi, while it still bothers her, I think she is developing a soft spot for Hirano as evidenced in the mall when Hirano appears to be smitten with Asami and she gets jealous, although she does show enhance maturity too.

Traits: Takagi is incredibly clever. It’s an interesting twist to have one of the younger members be the brains of the group. She does struggle with the social aspect, not in a sense of not being able to talk to people, but more that she doesn’t know how to talk to people. I think she gets this from her parents.

She is very blunt and harsh, even if what she is saying makes sense. I think that makes it hard for characters and sometimes readers to relate to her, but I think she’s fascinating.

Motivations: Takagi is very analytical. She assesses every situation to the fullest, even stopping to run some tests on the zombies as she was trying to escape the school. This came in incredibly handy more than once.

Flaws: It’s definitely Takagi’s social skills. There was a point once the group had made it to Takagi’s house where she was having a discussion with Saeko. It came off as almost confrontational when that was clearly not what she was trying to do, and if you’re going to accidentally pick a fight with anyone it wouldn’t be Saeko.

Vulnerabilities: She’s not as physically strong as the others, so while she is the brains of the group, she is reliant on others for protection. It’s something she is more than aware of hence why she attached herself to Hirano at the beginning.

Attitude: Takagi has a very high opinion of herself, and whilst it may be true, it can rub people the wrong way. She could definitely work on being a little more humble, but that said it has worked for her so far.

Past Influences: Takagi’s parents have played a pivotal role in her life, whether they tried to or not is a different story. Her mother is a successful stockbroker and her father is the head of a right-wing political organisation.

This has meant that they often weren’t there for her. She has had to make it on her own, which has obviously helped her out a the start of the zombie outbreak.

She grew up in the same neighbourhood as Takashi and Rei, although I think she’s much closer with Takashi. Despite being younger than him and long time friends, she get frustrated when he loses focus and wallows.