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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

H.O.T.D. (High School of the Dead)


Starring (voice): Junichi Suwabe, Marina Inoue, Ayana Taketatsu and Eri Kitamura
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £34.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 August 2011

When a worldwide pandemic erupts and turns most citizens into zombies, a group of high school kids must fight their way out of the school, through the city, hopefully to safety...

High School of the Dead (2010) is a twelve episode fan service/horror anime, directed by Tetsuro Araki. The story was adapted by Yosuke Kuroda from Daisuke Sato’s original manga.

It’s a strange show as if George Romero had thought that the addition on breasts and panties where just what the genre were missing.

The story starts well with Takashi Komuro, Rei Miyamoto and his friend Hisashi find themselves involved in a living nightmare, as students and teachers turn zombie and proceed to attack the living. The show doesn’t answer the central problem of just how come so many of the living turned into zombies in the first place. In another part of the school Saya Takagi and Kohta Hirano are also trying to survive. The survivors finally meet up and head out into the city, a city full of zombies and crazy survivors.

If the description seems a little short for twelve episodes, it’s because, apart from the fan service elements, there is little here that hasn’t already been done, and done better, in previous zombie films. Any fan of the zombie genre could pretty much write the rest of the story past episode five. This is a real shame, as anime has the potential to show anything in the writer’s imagination, without copying someone else work.

Romero’s films, regardless of the variable quality, were always about something much more. Whether it was addressing rampant consumerism or racial hatred, even the films which followed added their own unique touches. It scared the sh*t out of me the first time I saw a running zombie. Here we are back to mindless, lumbering hulks, that anyone with a shotgun or baseball bat should feel safe around. These guys are only ever dangerous if one of our hero’s either gets too near or discovers that they have lost the ability to jog.

The two disc Blu-ray set contains all of the twelve episodes. As the show did not finish adapting the complete manga, the story has no real conclusion, rather, it just stops. Disc one holds the first eight episodes with the remainder turning up on disc two. For extras you get the textless opening and closing sequence as well as a couple of trailers, the overall effect is very underwhelming.

As befits a Blu-ray release the picture is pin sharp, though I felt that the animation, itself, was only about average for a television show. The copious swearing can be heard as either an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio dub, or in the original 2.0 Japanese version, with subs.

The show is admittedly unpretentious; you really do get what you asked for, lots of zombies, blood and boobs.


Charles Packer

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