"On the night before everything I knew came to an end...I stayed up late."
This was the opening line from our protagonist, Takashi Kumoro, an average Japanese high school student with the usual best friend, crush, and rival. Oh, and most recently, thousands of walking dead heading his way with a hankering for human flesh. In this horrific new world, he isn't alone in his journey to survive. He's aided by the daughter of a police detective, the president of the Kendo Club, a teenage gun enthusiast, a self-proclaimed genius, and a ditzy school nurse with a lead foot. Together they meet their fates, or more accurately, try avoid them at all costs, leaving a trail of zombie corpses in their wake.
Now there are plenty of presumptions I've heard made about this anime, but generally about individual bits and pieces. It's either praised for it action and/or social commentary or heckled for the excessive fanservice and/or stereotypical plot. There are several bits and pieces to these twelve episodes: horror, action, drama, a tad bit of comedy, ridiculous intervals of partial nudity and fanservice, and an extra helping of character developement on top.
Let's start with plot, shall we? Now, at first glance, it's not quite the most intelligent piece of work in the anime world. The idea itself is pretty generic, almost like something a teenager who just got finished watching "Dawn of the Dead" would tell his friends and laugh about. And if you stopped at episode one, it would be just that. Some people refuse to watch it merely based on the title. The primal, self-serving need to survive only appeared to be a back drop to the horror and action slamming you in the face...that is until it becomes more apparent through the series as a whole. Desperate civilians in the streets with nothing but a "kill or be killed" mentality on top of the paranoia that comes with anyone you know becoming one of "them" was probably one of the most accurate representations of a pandemic in our society. It had also revealed, as several minor characters will show, the evil that is amplified in by fear.
Of course there's the obvious question of 'how the hell did these kids know all of these skills?' with the obvious exceptions of one or two. It's a stretch - definitely - and if your going to take that close of a look at it to see it as a legitimate flaw, then maybe this is not for you. Like any other action-based anime, it tends to suspend reality, though not entirely.
As for animation, overall it was pretty smooth. The majority of the show was very detailed, sometimes too much for some. It certainly had its moments of 'awe' but also a good share of moments of 'uh...'. Panty shots were so frequent, I'm not sure it would've been the same show without them. And of course the 'Matrix Boobs' scene was out there and a little excessive as well. That being said I saw these moments as pure comedy with all the dark, depressing moments all around these character. Episode six in itself was a little bit too much for me, but not nearly enough to affect my view of all the other aspects.
The music was appropriate and well timed although I can honestly say I can't remember anything but the opening and ending. I would say the lack of music in the show at parts made it all the more terrifying. All that being said, nothing has set the mood more appropriately for an anime in my opinion that those first few distorted chords in the opening song. It's one of those that will get stuck in your head and - if you're like me - you won't mind.
As for the characters, that was one of my favorite parts. This show took the stereotypes of your average zombie flick and slightly tweaked them, adding in the run of the mill high school anime characteristics. I believe this makes these characters actually more unique. On top of that is character development. Not a whole lot of it, mind you, but still enough to see these are definitely not static characters. Every main character in this series got their moment to shine - if only for a few extra minutes or seconds.
Overall, this show is action packed, dramatic and gives a human touch in an inhuman situation. I recommend this to all shounen fans and anyone who thinks their 2010 Halloween is lacking some horror. Two thumbs up, 4/5 stars, etc.