Reviews of yesteryear: Highschool of the Dead

Welcome back to horror anime month. This week we’re going to look at a zombie apocalypse anime, Highschool of the Dead. An anime from Madhouse based on the manga by Sato Daisuke. It’s also one that I’ve been avoiding because every clip and image I’ve seen makes it look ridiculously exploitative and overly fan-servicey. So, of course, I’ve gotten a request to review it. I can only hope that it’s better than it looks because if it’s exactly what it looks like this is going to be painful. Let’s dig into Highschool of the Dead and find out. Okay, now that I’ve watched it I can say that it’s not as bad as it looks. It’s much worse.

Let’s start with the story. Normal life gets interrupted by an outbreak of the undead. A small group of survivors runs around seeking refuge/their families. You know, the same story that gets used in virtually every zombie apocalypse story ever. Highschool of the Dead offers nothing unique or new, just the same tired cliches that most of us have gotten bored with already. If you’ve seen or read any zombie apocalypse narrative then you can predict absolutely everything that happens, unless you fail at basic pattern recognition. As a consequence of the cliches, or possibly the characters but I’ll get to them in a moment, the whole thing is really boring, when it’s not infuriatingly misogynistic, because we’ve seen this done to death and done with far superior execution. There’s not a single original thought or scene in the whole anime. Actually, I don’t think there was thought put into this, cliche-driven or otherwise. Those stretches that aren’t mindless action are mostly used for highly problematic fan-service instead of anything story or character developing since Highschool of the Dead is against that sort of thing. Why have depth when you can have mindless T&A?

Now, I said I’d get to the characters. This is another aspect that fails utterly. Like the story, there’s nothing original here. The characters are all one-dimensional stereotypes with roughly the same depth as a puddle that’s been evaporating under a hot sun for several hours. The best thing about them is that they occasionally move to two dimensional stereotypes for a scene or two but it’s barely an improvement. There’s no likable or sympathetic character to be found. The most interesting character is the dog and the dog does virtually nothing. This isn’t Cowboy Bebop or Sailor Moon, there will be no animals that are also intriguing characters here, or any intriguing characters for that matter. The dog is only the most interesting because the rest of the characters are so one-dimensionally detestable while the dog is just a dog.

The art and action scenes could’ve been good. There’s just one humongous problem, the entire anime is over-run with tasteless, exploitative and highly misogynistic fan-service. The action sequences are frequently broken up by random shots of bouncing breasts and panties. Class, there’s as much here as there is depth. Which is to say none whatsoever. I can just see the process behind this, Artist: “I’ve gotten the scene done! I think it’s nice and intense with plenty of violence. The mindless action crowd’ll love it.” Sleazy douchebag: “There’s too much action. Throw in five or six panty shots and pan to bouncing breasts here, here, here, here and here.” Artist: “But that’ll make the whole thing disjointed and it’ll look terrible.” Sleazy douchebag: “I said do it.” Yeah, the action scenes are disjointed with the flow being constantly interrupted for fan-service. The only major female character without breasts that had to have gone through several surgeries to get that large is the small child. The zombies look pretty bland. They look like just about every horde of zombies in media that’s not even trying. I know, they did nothing new and it’s shocking.

The voice acting and music are the best part of the anime. It’s not that they’re good, but they aren’t bad either. They’re just kind of mediocre. There’s nothing that really stands out about them.

The yuri factor is a 5/10. There are some very detailed les-yay scenes involving some of the minor characters. They’re used for… you guessed it, mindless and exploitative fan-service. Like everything else, they contribute nothing to the plot and do nothing for the characters. Because having scenes that are important in some way would just be stupid.

Highschool of the Dead is atrocious. The story and characters are completely cliche. The art is full of absurd and exploitative fan-service, which also interrupts the flow of the action sequences. It gets, do I even have to say it at this point, a 1/10. I will give it some credit. It is scary, not because of the plot or generic zombies, but because it has a fanbase. I don’t know if people just love cliches or if there are that many people who are just entranced by the fan-service, but either way this meritless pile of excrement having fans is pretty scary and makes me question whether the human race really needs to keep existing. All in all, there’s not a facepalm hard enough. To this day, Highschool of the Dead is one of the worst abominations I’ve ever reviewed. 

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