Highschool of the Dead is a zombie anime for people who like the over the top gore and sexuality of the low budget American slasher. A group of high school students are trapped in their school when the zombie apocalypse strikes. The gym teachers accidentally spread the infection to the locked campus when a strange man approaches the gate.
From there, it’s utter chaos. The sprawling campus is overrun with the walking dead in only a few minutes. By the time the school tells the students and staff to evacuate, it’s too late. They might have had a chance of surviving if they stayed in their classrooms and barricaded the doors. Instead, they run right for the main steps and became zombie bait.
Highschool of the Dead is a bloody cartoon. The 12 episode series is bent on showing you every crimson drop on every character. The zombies are stained sticky with blood from the attacks that transformed them. The survivors, too, wind up as Rorschach tests of blood and trauma.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of the series is the creature design. These are the shambling zombies of Romero concentrated in a relatively small area filled with desperate people. They don’t have the reasoning skills to turn away from a wall after hitting it, but they’ll stalk you down with terrifying precision if you make a noise.
The inclusion of the blood in the design really makes these zombies pop. Their skin turns gray and limp upon transformation. Their eyes go stark white before fading to a sickly gray. And, worst of all, their victims die within seconds if the bite is deep enough even in a leg or arm.
For all of the excellent horror action, Highschool of the Dead has another underlying concept that breaks taboos. Any female character who has developed, adult and teenager alike, is shot with extreme jiggling action. The unnatural bounce of the breasts and bottoms wouldn’t be too disturbing if the camera didn’t constantly shoot up or down the school uniforms.
It’s very perverted, especially for a Shonen series. These are manga/anime titles targeted at boys as young as 10 years old. Shouldn’t the blood and weapon-wielding action be enough to draw in readers and viewers? What is accomplished other than a cheap thrill by drawing action shots like this? One scene in the first episode went on for so long that I thought they were going to show a teenager have an accident caused by fear. It’s a dark mark on a series with a such a strong story.
If you can get past the animated perversion, Highschool of the Dead is an adventurous zombie/action series. Most of the streaming platforms have the whole series. Unfortunately, the creative team behind the manga went on a long hiatus that prevented the anime from continuing. The result is a short but effective horror series to complement a far more sprawling and ambitious work in print.
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