Thursday, December 2, 2010


Photo Credit: Madhouse

                                                                Not So HOTD


                                                                              Jay Agan

     I've come to dislike the zombie genre. Zombies are "easy", making the movies are"easy", & look it. These flicks get a lot of hype & raves but I don't see much in this genre seemingly starving for a gimmick. The only ones I have in my collection are the original '68 Night of the Living Dead & Return of the Living Dead (A funny, yet very disturbing film. And I'm not referring to Linnea Quigley!)

     It was with some trepidation I took a look at High School of the Dead (Gakuen Mokushiroku or Apocalypse Academy. Produced by Madhouse. Directed by Tetsuro Araki.) Was'nt as bad as I thought though not as good as I'd have liked. As this show is an anime, suspension of disbelief is doubly required, which helped a lot.

     Starts off well enough. First three eps cover the unexplained breakout of the plague & its seemingly instantaneous escalation. The protagonists (angsty guy, his spear/staff wielding occasional girlfriend, dark haired kendo chick (my favorite), military nerd, self proclaimed girl genius, &.....Nurse Bubblehead (not my favorite). ), meet up & bust out of the school.

     Fourth ep is the "budget" chapter. Lotsa rehash & repeat of earlier scenes. Kind of reminiscent of those movie serials from the 40s.

     5th - 7th. It gets dumb. The good guys hole up in Nurse Bubbleheads' apartment (With a full military Humvee parked outside!) & "fortuitous" things happen. Seems the vacant ones' room mate is a special ops type (Who is elsewhere, clearing airport runways as a sniper.) with an easily broken into gunsafe full of goodies. The girls start acting drugged/drunk & compare breast sizes in the bath. Two try coming on to the angsty guy. Kendo chick parades around the kitchen in apron & thong. The excuse being they had to wash their clothes. All that blood.

     As if there weren't enough "fanservice" already. I haven't seen this many bums 'n boobs scince I attended a Three Stooges film fest in the early 90s. It goes back to a "reasonable" (For the series.) level after. This is partially redeemed with the rescue of a little girl & a dog.

     In ep 8, things getting precarious, the band leaves the apartment & fall in with a large group occupying a huge estate, by becoming trapped by a crowd of the undead against a titanium wire fence strung accross a street. Tense moments as the group takes out the the closing horde one by one while seemingly unable to figure out they can easily bend down & step through the fence. In another of those cartoon non-coincidences, their rescuers are led by the group genius' mom.

     Ep 9 & 10. It's not clear how Mr. & Ms. Genius aquired their wealth but it seems "counter cultural" activities & violence may have been involved. Here, the kids rest up & assert their rights to the weapons they "borrowed" earlier when some of the henchmen try to appropriate them (Mr. Genius backs the kids' play.).

     Some of the citizenry squatting on the estate, are in "denial" & want to get back to "democracy" as in right now. Their fantasies are shattered in eps 11& 12: The U.S. president launches nukes, Russia replies in kind. As the worlds militaries are too far gone, few nukes leave their silos thus WWlll is sparse. One does an EMP burst over Japan & communications go dead.

     The zombie horde breaks through the estate gate & the final battle is on. The protagonists make their escape. After the closing credits, our group is last seen crossing a bridge on foot in the hopes of finding family members. T.S. Elliots' quote from The Hollow Men appears: "This is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but a wimper." So does the series.

     I've left quite a bit out of this summary. A vile, manipulative, teacher (Who must have gotten a lot more "face time" in the manga series.). Angsto gets separated from the group twice, with a "girl of his choice". The series also depicts civil unrest/social collapse, breakdown of authority, confrontations with demented survivors, etc. One very brief but disturbing scene in ep 1 has a friend turning on another. Both "get theirs".

     I am less than happy with this series, but it does come accross as "different" from the Romero school. Perhaps it's because the show is an anime that I get that "feel". I doubt I'll buy it but I'd keep it if it was given to me (No. That's not a hint.) If it weren't for all that excessive (& exagerated!) T & A.....

                                                       Article copyright © Jay Agan

Go to Main Page.

DISCLAIMER: All images used on this blog are strictly copyrights of their owners. I do not claim credit/ownership for any images used here in my blog unless stated otherwise. If I have offended anyone by posting any images on my blog, please contact me via email and I will remove specified image(s) ASAP.

1 comment:

  1. Bust out of the school, eh?

    Yeah, we seem to have similar opinions about this show. I guess there's not much for me to talk about in the next HSR I'm doing :(