WARNING: The following review contains Strong Language, if that is not your cup of tea, I suggest you do not continue. Thought I'd warn you.
Critic's Log - Earthdate: December 24, 2012. Review #27: Highschool of the Dead
On November 30, 2012. I went and saw the new James Bond movie Skyfall with a friend, and after the movie was over, we went to the library and I checked out some anime because my friend usually suggests animes that I haven't watched yet that were available at this library. She had me check out Gun x Sword (which I previously reviewed) and another anime called "Highschool Of The Dead". I remember my brother telling me that the show is full of "tits and ass" and I told my friend that and I asked her if she'd seen it and she told me that she hasn't seen it yet but she insisted that I watch it. Well, I've held back quite a while and since Christmas is tomorrow, I'm in a holly jolly mood and I can't wait to BITCHSLAP this anime for this review! This anime is obviously going on the naughty list. So... Let's shoot the fuck out of Highschool Of The Dead!
Takashi Komuro is just an average high school boy, that is until an infection breaks that turns people into zombie-like creatures. Alongside his friends and a school nurse, they fight their way out and continue their journey to find out what exactly is going on with the world.
There! That is the basic gist of the plot of this bloody mess.
To be technical, this is a Madhouse production and to my surprise. The animation actually looks really good in this show. In fact, it's probably the only good feature in Highschool Of The Dead (or H.O.T.D. for short) Madhouse is known for their really good production quality from back then as well as today and the animation is mostly good while having a few problems. One is that the zombies could've looked a little better but they still look alright to a degree. The big problem I have with the animation department is them throwing in fanservice in the middle of a damn action scene. Not only that but there are many scenes with lots and boobies and plenty of panty shots. Expect to see a few scenes of nudity too. I wouldn't mind the fanservice if it wasn't thrown in from scene to scene from time to time. That's my major bone to pick with H.O.T.D.
The music by Takafumi Wada is not that memorable to me, but there are some worthy mentions in the music department for Highschool Of The Dead. The closing credits feature 12 songs with one song for each episode. It's kind of nice, but there are some songs that really feel a little out of place. When it comes to the opening, I just have a few things to say about it. The opening theme kicks ass, the visuals are pretty cool for the most part, and it's a song that is stuck in my head for a while. The highlight on the music is definitely the opening.
When it comes to Voice Acting, The Japanese Cast is decent but it's not really an all-star cast. Junichi Suwabe plays Komuro just fine for the most part. Marina Inoue (the seiyu of Yoko from Gurren Lagann) is fine as Rei Miyamoto, Eri Kitamura is okay as Saya. Junko Takeuchi (The seiyu of Naruto from...Naruto) sounds nothing like Naruto and yet plays her role just fine. Miyuki Sawashiro plays Saeko pretty well for the most part. Nobuyuki Hiyama is pretty good as Kota Hirano *Record Scratch* Kota...Hirano...? You mean that this character was named after Kouta Hirano, the manga artist and creator of Hellsing.
Ok, there's no coincidence. The Kota Hirano you see in H.O.T.D. was modeled after the real-life Kouta Hirano. You know what? I liked Hirano throughout the series, he was alright.
Now that I've brought up the subbed version of Highschool Of The Dead, it's time that I mention the dub. OH...FUCK! Before I mention the vocal talent, there's something I must mention. Steven Foster is responsible for writing the Adaptive script as well as being the ADR director for the dub of this show. If you know what I'm talking about. It's THAT Steven... Motherfucking...Foster. He's a ADR director that I assume proudly shows that he doesn't give two fucks about the original material regardless of what it really is or how people would react to the dubs he produces. The only dub I think was a good one he did was Cromartie High School. However since he produced this dub, expect a few things.
1. Characters swearing up a fucking storm. I don't know how many times the F-Bomb has been dropped.
2. He has a tendency to portray the characters as mean-spirited while the original Japanese intent of the characters tends to differ.
3. Some rare adaptive script writing that has some awkwardness.
4. Pop culture references that don't make sense in the context of the story.
5. A mixture of over-acting and wooden acting.
What Steven Foster should do is try to re-create the intent of the original material and maintaining the spirit of the original Japanese intent instead of making a bastardized juvenile adaptive script that mocks the material instead of being faithful to it. If other dubs produced by Steven Foster have the same problem, then this dub has the same old Foster bullshit from before. When I mentioned the juvenile feel of the adaptive script, it's a little surprising to admit that it actually fits the show to some degree. Now that I'm done mentioning about Steven Foster, I'll actually get right down to the dub. It's not good at all, it's pretty bad. Leraldo Anzaldua is okay as Komuro but sounds off at times. Jessica Boone is alright I guess. Maggie Flecknoe is way off as Saya. Mark X. Laskowski is not all that great as Hirano. Monica Rial sounds way off as Shizuka (the Nurse). Taylor Hannah is a bit decent as Saeko, nothing more. Brittney Karbowski (Black*Star from Soul Eater, Pride from FMA: Brotherhood) plays a little girl and it's nothing to write home about. Hey! the English voice of Krad (Illich Guardiola) voices Shido in the dub and he's alright for the most part. Still, the dub is pretty bad and it is much easier to watch this one subbed. Thank God that's over and done.
When it comes to characters, they are poorly written. Especially the female cast. Komuro is a little uninteresting to me and comes off as a bit one-dimensional at times. Rei is alright, Saya is a rich bitch (really, she is), Shizuka is...uh... well... she doesn't really do a whole damn lot. Saeko is a little interesting. Hirano is fun to watch at times and a character that I liked for the most part. The characters are still not written that well and that's another big flaw.
The biggest flaw I see is the story. It's sort of a average story about high school except that there's an outbreak of zombies swarming around mixed in with some gun action and bouncing boobies as well as some panty shots. It's a real fucking mess and I feel as if the show is confused itself because the school plays little to no part later on unless you count the students as part of the school setting I guess. I will say that the weirdest thing is when Arisu is thrown in the mix of characters. She's just a 7-year old and having the majority of female characters being labeled as "sexy characters" seems to not mix in too well, at least there's not any innuendos thrown in during her moments. As much as I am trying to hate this show. I can't fully hate it for some reason. The fanservice is a bit fucking annoying, but the action scenes were sure cool. The animation was a solid effort by Madhouse and I do label this anime as "brainless entertainment" because this show doesn't hide from what it really is. This anime doesn't feel rushed or slowed down either, so that's also a good plus. Wanna know an extreme mindfuck? Tetsuro Araki is the director of this show and he was very well known for his direction on Death Note.
This really is a mixed bag kind of anime, but this will be memorable for a while. The ending isn't all that great but what do you expect after sitting through 11 episodes of brainless entertainment. If you have extra time to spare and want to see Zombies getting shot to hell as well as seeing some nice animation, give this anime a try. Just get ready to be bombarded with big bouncing boobies as well as panty shots, Cleavage, and some nudity. In other words, expect a whole lot of fanservice before you sit down and watch it. It is quite entertaining either way.
Highschool Of The Dead is available from Sentai Filmworks. The manga written by Daisuke Sato and illustrated by Shoji Sato is available from Yen Plus. An OVA called "Drifters of The Dead" has not been released stateside for some odd reason, which is kind of a shame to say the least.
With all that said, Highschool Of The Dead is a mixed bag with a mess of a plot, a unmemorable soundtrack, poorly written characters, and a pretty bad dub. It's action scenes and animation is what saved the show from being absolutely awful. The fanservice should be viewed as "Take it or Leave it". It's surprisingly an entertaining show for what it is. This is an anime that may be hard to hate, but it is hard to like if you are trying to take it seriously.
I give Highschool Of The Dead a 5.7 out of 10, it is SO-SO!
Feel free to comment below, and Merry Christmas.