After and intense and bloody opening episode, can High School of the Dead keep up the intensity and add more to the story?
What They Say
As the entire school quickly spirals into chaos, more players jump into the fight, handmade weapons at the ready. New enemy traits are discovered, and the survivors realize the situation they're really in.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first episode of the series gave me exactly what I was looking for in a zombie anime series with a whole lot of blood, a good sense of dread and a lot of chaos. With the cast of characters being shaken down from the living, as most seem to be dying and converted to zombiehood, we didn't really get a whole lot of personal stories. We'll get those for sure among the survivors as they move along and slowly succumb, but from the start you wanted to see aggression, violence and survival from those who have the will to do so. And High School of the Dead provided exactly that.
Adding fuel to that fire is a brief call that Rei gets off to her father at a special number in which he simply informs them that the whole city was in a panic state and that they need to get out of there as quickly as possible. That doesn't exactly reassure Rei in the slightest as she starts to get more panicked over everything that's going on. In the midst of all this chaos and panic, there's a bit of humor to be had as well, though it's a sight gag rather than the characters acting silly. The school nurse, the rather attractive Shizuka, is literally bouncing around the nurses office trying to figure out what best to do and they add all sorts of little bouncy noises to her chest and butt as she moves about. Her only reason for survival in the end, at least in this episode, is the arrival of Saeko with her sword as she dashes in and dispatches a lot of them before having to kill a student who has been infected but not fully converted. It's an interesting mix of serious and brutal with light and flouncy.
Survival is the main instinct to have here and we see it being dealt with in a couple of different ways. Hirano and Takagi make an amusing pair as she has to stick with him so she's at least not alone, and probably so she can sacrifice him as well. Hirano does stand up for himself at some key times as he's apparently a military geek and manages to make a really nice gun out of a nail gun so he can do some good damage. Rei and Takashi manage to get off the roof of the school as well by using their wits that's followed up by an amusing internal monologue from him where we see that he is just playing it cool even though he's afraid. A few little bits of information are teased out of the episode as well, such as what the dead are focusing on and how they can potentially avoid a lot of them, but it's a small piece overall in the grand sceheme where a lot of blood is flowing. Hirano in particular really gets to shine in a very amusing and gory way that's... well, wholly appropriate for a situation like this.
The second episode does a pretty good job of keeping things flowing while adding just a little bit more information about what's going on. Not surprisingly, we aren't going to get a ton of information just yet as it's the early phase with a whole lot of running around just trying to survive and group up with others who haven't been infected. The early cast of characters is pretty good with some obvious stereotypes in the mix, but I will say I find Shizuka to be an amusing addition because she is so blatantly a stereotype. The violence seems a touch less this time around but there's more fighting back and some exploration of how they operate as well. And thankfully, my experience with The Anime Network Player this time around was a lot better compared to the first week which had me wanting to just chuck it all and wait for the DVD/BD release.
The next episode in the series is for subscribers only, whereas the first two were for registered users.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.