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High School of the Dead: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

June 24, 2011 by  



Exciting, violent, action-packed and extremely perverted! Everything that one would expect from a zombie anime series – violence, blood and a lot of fan service!  “High School of the Dead” is extremely generous to the otaku who expect a high level of fan service that they were familiar with in the manga series. Well-endowed women who can kick ass and excessive panty shots but aside from all the wiggle and jiggle, there is actually a pretty cool zombie storyline and its a series worth recommending!

Image courtesy of © Daisuke Sato Shouji Sato/Fujimishobo/H.O.T.D. Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: High School of the Dead: The Complete Series

DURATION: 12 Episodes (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1,  Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSD

Release Date: June 28, 2011

Originally Created by Daisuke Sato and Shoji Sato

Director: Tetsuro Araki

Series Composition by Yousuke Kuroda

Screenplay by Tatsuya Takahashi, Yousuke Kuroda

Music by Takafumi Wada

Character Design by Masayoshi Tanaka

Art Direction by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Junichi Suwabe/Leraldo Anzaldua  as Takashi Komuro

Marina Inoue/Jessica Boone as Rei Miyamoto

Ayana Taketatsu/Brittney Karbowski as Arisu Maresato

Eri Kitamura/Maggie Flecknoe as Saya Takagi

Hitomi Harada as Zeke

Junko Takeuchi as Rika Minami

Kishô Taniyama as Kōichi Shidō

Mamoru Miyano/David Matranga as Hisashi Igō

Miyuki Sawashiro/Taylor Hannah as Saeko Busujima

Nobuyuki Hiyama as Kōta Hirano

Yukari Fukui/Monica Rial as Shizuka Marikawa

It began without warning. It continues without mercy. Now a band of high schoolers join forces with guns, swords, baseball bats and anything else they can get their hands on to battle a bloodthirsty, flesh-hungry zombie apocalypse!

Exciting, violent, action-packed and extremely perverted! Everything that one would expect from a zombie anime series – violence, blood and a lot of fan service!

When it comes to zombie stories, since there have been so many, writers have to think outside the box and figure out how they can be different from other storylines, movies and series.

So, for their manga series titled “Gakuen Mokushiroku”, writer Daisuke Sato and Shoji Sato decided to focus on high school kids who are stuck in school during a zombie infestation and fight their way out the school and city in hopes they can find family, other survivors or shelter, but most of all… to live another day!

An ongoing manga series since 2006, the anime TV series adaptation began airing in 2010 and 12 episodes were created by anime studio Madhouse and were directed by Tetsuro Araki (“Galaxy Angel”, “Kurozuka”, “Death Note”) and written by Yousuke Kuroda (“Fire Emblem”, “Honey and Clover”, “Mobile Suit Gundam 00”).

And now the series which has achieved popularity outside of Japan will be released as a complete series by Sentai Filmworks and will be released on June 28, 2011 on Blu-ray and DVD.

The series begins with Takashi Komuro, a high school student who has always been in love with Rei Miyamoto, but because of his indecisiveness, she ended up dating his good friend Hisashi.  And since then, he hasn’t been the same.  He has become a poor student, skips class and is always wallowing in his sorrow.

One day as he was skipping class and watching what is taking place on school grounds, he noticed that the teachers are trying to stop someone from coming in.  The thing (zombie) bites the teacher and when the other teachers go to check on him, the man ends up biting them and next thing you know, the zombie infestation, the pandemic has begun at Fujimi High School.

Worried about Rei, Takashi takes both her and Hisashi out of school and tells them what has happened.

Next thing you know, more and more people become zombies and Rei, Takashi and Hisashi try their best to escape and realize the only way one can defeat them is by destroying its head.  But as the three try to fight their way out of a swarm of zombie students and teachers, Hisashi is bitten and begs for his friend to kill him before he turns into a zombie and Takashi does what his friend has asked.

Scared of what is happening, Rei tries to contact her father, a high level police officer to no success. In fact, by looking out on the horizon it looks as if the zombie pandemic has hit the entire city with fires and smoke all around.

Meanwhile, the smartest girl in school named Saya Takagi and an otaku named Kohta Hirano also try to escape and try to use their intelligence in defeating the zombies, meanwhile saving their busty school nurse Shizuka Marikawa  Also, trying to survive is the president of the kendo club, Saeko Busujima and all together, these high school students work together in trying to eliminate any zombie that tries to get close to them, as they try to find ways of escaping the school and finding shelter or a way into the city to check on their families.

But with this pandemic, are their families even safe…or alive?  As the zombie infestation continues to grow, these individuals know that the odds are against them but if they can work together, perhaps they can live another day.

The main characters of “High School of the Dead” are:

  • Takashi Komuro – A sophomore at Fujimi High School that has been in a funk since the girl of his dreams, Rei Miyamoto, who promised to marry him when they were younger, dates his best friend Hisashi.  Since then, he has become a bad student who misses class.  During the zombie pandemic, he notices that the girls in his group start to take an interest in him.
  • Rei Miyamoto – A student at Fujimi High School who graduated with Takashi.  Because he is indecisive about his emotions, she feels that he hurt her and thus she went for his friend Hisashi.  Her father is a police detective who was investigating a perverted teacher named Shido and because of that, Shido kept failing her (despite her being an excellent student), so she would have to repeat a grade.  So, she has an extreme hatred towards Shido for hurting her and her father.
  • Saya Takagi – A daughter of a popular politician and an intelligent student who comes from a prestigious family.  She also is stuck-up and opinionated.  She also grew up with Takashi (who she seems to like) and watches over Alice.
  • Kohta Hirano – A sophomore otaku who loves guns and firearms.  He was constantly bullied in high school, especially from the teacher Shido.  He protects Saya and also has a crush on her and becomes an important member of the group because of his familiarity with firearms.
  • Saeko Busujima – A third year student at Fujimi High School and the president of the kendo club.  She always carries her boken and is always calm.  She also has a dark side to her story of why she always carries a boken and also finds herself taking an interest in Takashi.
  • Shizuka Marikawa – A 26-year-old nurse at Fujimi High School known for being extremely well-endowed.  She is quite ditsy and close friends with Rika Minami, a sniper of Japan’s Special Assault Team.  She is the driver of the group.
  • Alice Maresato – A 7-year-old who’s father was killed by zombies.  Rescued by Takashi, she becomes a member of the group and tries to be cheerful when everyone is looking sad.  She looks at each individual as a brother and sister and accompanies them with a small dog named Zeke (who has the ability to sense zombies).

VIDEO :

“High School of the Dead: The Complete Series” is presented in 16:9 anamorphical widescreen.  The character design and background art are wonderful for this series.  The action sequences are well-animated, colors are vibrant but its important to note that if you want the best version of this series, that is to definitely buy the Blu-ray version as the PQ will definitely be better than its DVD counterpart.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“High School of the Dead: The Complete Series” is presented in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0. For a more immersive soundtrack, I opted to set my receiver for stereo on all channels. Overall, voice acting was well-done for this series. But this is probably one of the few instances where I enjoyed the English dub much more than the original Japanese track.

That is because, with zombie films, especially for an American perspective, you expect to hear a lot of profanity.  And fortunately you get that with the English dub.   It’s one thing to see anger and hearing characters drop the F-bomb when fighting zombies but even the interaction between the guys and the girls during the more perverted scenes, it works.

In one scene, you have Saeko Busujima who was splashed wet and her bra is showing through her white shirt.  She pretends to be upset with Takashi and blames him for doing it on purpose to see her in that manner but of course, it was a joke and she replies with “just f**king with you!”  Typical thing you would hear in the U.S. and there is a lot of that throughout the series.  In the Japanese voice track, it’s a bit more PC and more lenient because it was a TV series.

So, in a zombie pandemic, you expect to hear frustration and profanity and the English adaptation is fantastic and this is coming from a reviewer who favors Japanese soundtracks all the time.

Subtitles for the series are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

High School of the Dead: The Complete Series” comes with the opening and all the ending themes featured in the series.

 

Here in the U.S., we go crazy over zombie films, video games and in Japan, it’s the same but one thing is very different, in Japan, with zombies, you must have fan service!

While in America, people go crazy about gore and the creepiness of zombies and many of us have spent many hours in our lives playing “Resident Evil”, “House of the Dead” and “Dead Rising” for the sheer ability to kick some zombie arse but in Japan, where a lot of these games came from, you need to have a balance of a hottie with a weapon and all-out action.

“High School of the Dead” is everything that anime fans expect from Japan, zombies galore, bloody violence, kick ass action and boobs that wiggle and jiggle and somehow defy gravity.

Before I watched my review copy of “High School of the Dead”, one of our staff writers asked me to check out the series on Hulu and he would tell me how awesome it was but it had a lot of fan service.  In fact, too much fan service.

Can there be too much fan service?  I guess that is all subjective to the viewer and whether or not they relish in the zombie action or they are getting turned on with every perverted scene.

In the first half of the series, it’s all about survival and everyone trying to escape the zombies and survive but by the second half of the series, I get a feeling the director and writer were more focused on trying to give otakus a collective hard-on.

For example, one scene has Takashi giving his high school nurse a ride in a motorcycle and she gets a bit turned on while grabbing on to him, you know where.

In one scene, the kickass kendo student Saeko Busujima goes into a brief moment of not knowing what to do when surrounded by zombies, so how can Takashi jog her memory and make her fight, by going behind her and squeezing her left boob as hard as he can and seeing if that will get her back into action.

In another scene, Takashi has ran out of bullets and with the zombies coming near him, what best than to grab Rei’s weapon (note: she has been knocked down and is on the ground) and knowing how massive the recoil of the weapon is, he sets the weapon right on Rei’s breasts and with each shot, we see how much her breasts shake and jiggle with the recoil.  And we watch as the bullet goes slow motion right between Saeko’s thighs and another right between the flopping of her breasts.

You get the picture right?  This is probably the most aggressive fan service anime TV series that I have seen.  And no, this is not hentai, this was aired on Japanese TV.  And its one of the few series where I’ve seen so much boob groping and squeezing that I was in awe.

So, there is quite a bit of nudity and violence and tons of fan service and as farfetched as I am making this anime series seem, its those elements that people come to expect on a zombie series coming from Japan.

The characters are exciting, you really get into each character’s nuances and abilities and for the most part, you want to see each and every student kick ass and survive the ordeal!  After watching this series, it made me want to read the manga and if there was a video game based on this series, I would love to play it!

The character designs and overall look of the series is pretty awesome but I highly recommend people who are interested in picture quality and audio quality to go for the Blu-ray release.  DVD is good but of course, if you want to watch this series in HD, buy it on Blu!

Also, I have to say that “High School of the Dead” is made even better through its English dub.  While the Japanese soundtrack was good, the English dub track makes things real with profanity.  If anything, the English screenplay fits the anime series much more and I enjoyed it!  And this is coming from a guy who tends to favor the Japanese voice acting 99% of the time!

But alas, for now its a 12-episode anime series and one can hope that there are more because there is a pretty cool story underneath all the violence and fan service!  If you want to see something even wilder ala live action, Section23 Films client Switchblade Pictures has similar themed live-action zombie films from Japan (not as exciting as “High School of the Dead”) such as “Attack Girls’ Swim Team Versus The Undead: Unrated Limited Edition“, “Zombie Self Defense Force” or “Zombie Hunter Rika” but of course, special effects are much cheesier but you do get the bloody violence, fan service and nudity.

So, for those who can’t get enough of zombie-related storylines and those who want a lot (and I mean A LOT) of fan service, “High School of the Dead: The Complete Series” is awesome and definitely recommended!






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