Oh Highschool of the Dead (HOTD), why do you tease my visuals with so much wonder, only to fail the delivery of content?
HOTD is a visually gorgeous horror anime, and the first of it's kind to truly capture the attention of the large zombie apocalypse demographic. Despite what may come off as a harsh review, allow me to admit that for those people out there who are into (no pun intended) mindless zombie horrors, this anime has crossed it over perfectly.
Story: 5 out of 10.
A 5 may sound harsh for storyline, however I do have my reasons. If I were to systematically break down the storyline for what it is, I would probably have given it a 1 or 2. "A group of high school student keep their calm and fight for survival, when millions of adults are losing their shit and panicking and dieing,". I'm fairly certain that they picked up a cookie cutter, wrote "zombie movie" on the side, and started cutting out pieces for their storyline.
That being said, also understand that the reason this storyline is reciprocated so heavily, is that it works. Also, due to the characters being so likeable (in that classic, flawed, anime style we all love and hate,) the storyline can be ignored for the individual actions of the characters themselves. Because of this, I boosted the story to a 5, because it seems that at least they knew the storyline was weak, so they covered it up, and did a fine job.
Something that should be mentioned is that this series also relies heavily on ecchi humor/pacing. I usually love the genre personally (I'm a male... it happens,) but the touching moments between characters (mainly Komuro with Rei and Saeko) are lessened because of all the ecchi shots we are presented before hand.
Another part that angered me, is that it fell into the trap of "poorly scripted dialogue changes opposing ideas" that alot of animes seem to be tossing out lately. One character will say "There is NO way that we're going there!", and the other character will put her in a headlock, and scream "HEY! WE GOTTA LIVE!" and she will say "... ohh... you're right... we do need to live... I'm sorry,". Perhaps it's a cultural thing that I, as an American, am missing, but even if someone told me the most logical thing in the entire world, screaming it at me, while causing physical damage, would result quickly in an ass-kicking, or me just leaving.
PLEASE NOTE: This is also just the first season of the series, and they toss around the idea of taking the story globally, involving a nuclear war and what not. Whereas this is cheesy to me, it also shows that they do have teeth, and plan on using them.
Animation: 10 out of 10.
I would honestly never take a review seriously if the Animation was voted low. Even for the stylize choices, and a few budget shots (single images shaking on screen whilst noise is played in the background,) the graphics for this series are breathtaking.
Whether it be clever camera shots (albeit, falling into the ecchi direction about halfway through), or the brilliant uses of color and lighting to create a nice horror landscape that most movies cannot do, or the characters likeable reactions themselves, everything about this series is gorgeous.
This series is quickly gaining popularity, and it's no wonder why. It offers great gore, giants tits, and pseudo-sexual scenes on ever episode. I do appreciate all the ecchi, but from a literary standpoint, it just looks as if trying to hide the failures of a bland storyline. That being said, the ecchi scenes are at least well made? I don't know how to say it without sounding like a broken record, but the animation is quite marvelous in the series.
Sound: 8 out of 10.
Sound is important, no one has ever contested that. However, the majority of viewers (myself included for sure,) don't pay much attention to the sound. This however is never the case with Horror above all others.
Having to fill itself with realistic gurgles, scream, cuts, bashes, whimpers, growls, and all other form of noise, a horror has to seriously step up it's game, and HOTD certainly doesn't fail to deliver. The opening song is really catchy, and likeable, but the ending songs are all sort of relative. Mostly due to the fact that they are almost always different songs, but all sung by Maon Kurosaki.
Characters: 8 out of 10
I had this at a 6, until I read KiraRin's review, and changed my mind about such a low rating due to one character: Marikawa. With that being said, I will give a brief summary of the characters as a whole, and then give my personal opinion of each character by themselves.
Overall, the characters really make the story. Each character (besides Marikawa) starts off as weak, petty, teenagers, without many world skills, but throughout the series, having to deal with something we have never before seen (or ever will mind you), forced them all to grow (besides Marikawa). A good anime, and to some extent horror as well, usually thrives off of the characters, especially when using a recycled idea like zombies. HOTD certainly took notice of this, and made some really great characters that you want to root for.
Overall: 7 out of 10.
Overall, the series is lacking in most of the things I look for in a series, but the characters, as well as graphics keep me interested, and I will probably continue watching as more seasons are published. I only hope that the future episodes try to calm down the outrageous back-flipping baseball-batings, or the "no zombie around for a mile... OH WAIT! NOW THERE ARE A BILLION!" that infect most story lines like this.