March 11, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep01

There are times when I greatly enjoy blogging.  Where the intellectual stimulation it provides makes the sky blue, the birdies sing, my toes tingle and puts a big cheesy grin upon my face.  And then there are the times when I spend days banging my head against any convenient sturdy surface while trying to figure out how to deal with a topic.  Can you guess which one of these two options I've been experiencing as I've watched and rewatched the first episode of High School Of The Dead?  Don't get me wrong, I really like this show, but writing about an action series can be frustrating in the extreme.  But enough about my problems, let's get on with why you're really here... the zombie apocalypse!

"I stayed up late the night before the world came to an end" says the unnamed narrator.  Of course, he's a high school student... chances are he stays up late every night.  I did when I was a high schooler, even though I didn't have any reason to... I was a good little student.  Still, the drama is higher with the world ending than, say, "I stayed up late the night before one of my socks disappeared." 

Suddenly, zombies!  The walking dead!  Draugr!  Oh, and three allegedly non-zombie kids running across the roof of a school, armed with a baseball bat, a pointed stick, and a bloody bandage.  Wait, what?

A brief skirmish points out that the only way to kill the Shambling Deceased is to hit 'em in the head, and they that appear to be unstoppable otherwise.  Slow, but unstoppable.  Our heroes gain the heights of the Observatory Platform, and after saying that, I would like to point out that schools in Japan get all the cool stuff... an observatory?  Really?  I mean, yeah sure, my high school had a radio station, but I hand-wound the transmitter's antenna for pete's sake.  It had a range of about 100 yards!  We didn't have no frickin' observatory.  We did have ducks though, and that makes up for a lot.  If we DID have an observatory, I think there's a fair chance I wouldn't be sitting here, hammering on my keyboard on a weekend, but I digress.  The uninjured fellow takes one look at the Waddling Cadavers and yells to the heavens "What the hell is going on?!?!"   

High School Of The Dead, that's what's going on... and you're right in the middle of it, buster!

Ah, spring, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love.  Though love of the dead is kinda frowned upon in polite society... or, for that matter, just about any society, really.  Which, as we'll see, doesn't stop the animators of this series from throwing in a ton of fanservice... of the dead.  While you digest that disconcerting thought, remember that you, the readers, voted for me to do this show.

Speaking of young men and their fancy, meet Takashi.  Takashi is not having what one would term a "good day," all things considered.  First off, he didn't get enough sleep the night before.  Then the longtime love of his life, Rei, started to date his best friend Hisashi.  Now he's skipping class to try and think things out and even that's not going well.

Because a pink-haired harpy has appeared out of nowhere and started berating him for being a whiny bitch.  Her name is Takagi, she's a self-proclamed genius and has known Takashi since they were kids.  She's also abrasive as a sheet of sandpaper, all "baka" this and "baka" that.  Her idea of a compliment is that at least Takashi knows he's stupid.  Gee thanks!  When she realizes that he really is down about Rei and Hisashi getting together, she retreats after a final "baka" and disappears into the school with a longing look.  Takashi, there's a tsundere on Line 1 for you.  After another few moments of shoe-gazing angst that makes me wonder where I left my Smiths CDs, Our Hero (god help us) notices a disturbance at the school's main gate. 

One of the gym teachers has just been bitten by a passerby, which is not a sentence you ever really expect to type.  As everybody stands around and gawps, Gym Teacher flails around, twitches, and... dies?  Wow, Gym Teacher's kind of a wuss.  The other teachers close in on the dead guy, wondering just what's going on when... hurray!  He's not dead!

Oh.  Blood flies everywhere and it appears that now the Shuffling Horror is now inside the school grounds. 

Our Hero reacts, snapping into action dull surprise.  He's very good at dull surprise, sitting there and staring into oblivion as the world comes to an end in front of his very eyes.  One can't blame him, I suppose, though it does make for a boring anime.  Eventually he snaps out of it and runs inside to tell Rei and Hisashi that the three of them need to vamoose ASAP.  Rei assumes this is some sort of plot against her and starts to bitch at Our Hero...

...who is in no mood to take her crepe right now.  After slapping her face to the back of her head, he calmly explains to Hisashi that people are dead at the front gate, and they need to go right the hell now.  Hisashi, instead of doing what normal boyfriends would do (ie, punch Takashi into next week), agrees.  The three leave the classroom as the teacher splutters ineffectually to himself.  Kids these days, with their texting and their strange hairdos and their slapping each other in class... back in his day, kids knew their place, knew that they were to listen and learn, not misbehave, and if they were lucky they could serve the Emperor gloriously, like his older brother Masuharu.  Still, if he can just make it through the rest of this school year, he can retire happy.  He'd then spend the rest of his days volunteering at Yasukuni Shrine, so he could be closer to his brother and his friends.  Just a few more months...

Meanwhile, Our Heroes have armed themselves.  A pointy stick for Rei, a member of the Sojutsu ("art of the spear") Club, a baseball bat for Takashi, and... nothing for Hisashi?  "I may not look it, but I'm a black belt in karate."  So he's got that going for him, which is nice.  Rei calls her father, a policeman, on a super-secret phone number... and gets a busy message.  As she begins to go into a mental BSOD, the school intercom comes alive with a message for all students to evacuate the school in a calm, cool and collected manner.  The teacher on the intercom is then noisily killed by a zombie.  The evacuation begins.

I'm beginning to get the feeling that the Production Staff might have some... grudge... against women.  I'm not sure why it seems that way... call it a hunch.  As the school continues in its relaxed retreat, Our Heroes make it to the roof unmolested.  Their good fortune is short-lived, however, as up there they encounter Mr Wakisaka, their Modern Japanese teacher and a zombie... but I repeat myself. 

After a moment of self-doubt and two panty shots, Rei imagines that Mr Wakisaka is a member of the Production Staff and stabs him with her pointed stick.  Yay!  Their first encounter with the undead has gone well indeed... this'll be a cakewalk!

Except Mr Wakisaka doesn't stop fighting, despite being pierced through the heart.  Indeed, he might have gotten even stronger!  Rei is knocked to the ground, the spear ripped from her hands and she's in immediate danger of being consumed.  That's her boyfriend's cue to save the day!

To be fair, he's done a remarkable job of distracting Mr Wakisaka from Rei.  Of course, Hisashi now has a zombie chewing on his bicep.  He screams.  Rei screams.  Even Takashi screams.  Only Mr Wakisaka stays more or less silent, though to be fair he's busy trying to swallow a mouthful of arm muscle.  Eventually Takashi realizes that there's only one way to kill a zombie teacher.

An liberal application of Louisville Slugger upside the cranium!  It's deep, and I don't think it's playable!  Aloha means goodbye!  I am amused by the simplicity of this game!  Open the window Aunt Minnie, here it comes!  Chicks dig the long ball.  YAHTZEE!!!  A few deep breaths later, Our Heroes look around.

Oh dear.  It suddenly seems kinda clear that their only hope of rescue will be the military.  As if on cue...

...a flight of helicopters flies by without stopping.  While Rei screams for them to stop and help, Hisashi quite logically points out that they wouldn't be here if they weren't on a mission, and look, they weren't even trying to fix what was going on in the city.  In short, they're screwed on their own.  Their only hope is to reach a defensible position, hope they've got enough supplies, and hold on for as long as it takes.  The Observatory Platform, for instance.

It's fairly common for a long-running series to recycle footage.  It's somewhat less common for a series to start recycling footage inside the first episode.  Unsurprisingly (since we saw it happen before the title sequence), they make it to the high ground of the Observatory and barricade the steps.  They made it!  They're safe!  Huzzah!

Oh.  They've barricaded themselves in with a friend who's about to become a member of the brain-eating patrol.  Yes, that might be a problem.  Fortunately for everybody concerned, calm cool logic prevails and they toss Hisashi over the railing before he turns completely.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  I bet you believed me for a second there, didn't you?  No, Rei prevents Takashi from taking the required action, action that Hisashi himself requests.  Way to go, loving girlfriend!  The man of your heart now is an undead monster that just wants to chew your face off!  He's not unreasonable, though, no one'll eat your eyes.

Eventually, Takashi kills his best friend with his +5 Baseball Bat of Bludgeoning as the sun breaks through the clouds in a moment of heavy-handed symbolism that even Paul Verhoeven would be embarrassed by.  Rei, understanding the emotional torment that he must be going through, quietly supports her friend with a kind word and sympathy.

Or she becomes a vicious she-beast that accuses him of enjoying getting to bash Hisashi's head in... after all, Rei loved him, not Takashi.  Yes, Takashi, I can see why you've loved her for all your life.

With a sigh of resignation, he turns away from the corpse of his friend and the girl he grew up with and begins to disassemble the barricade. "Since it seems I'm bothering you, I'm going to go out and bust some heads.  Good luck."

Suddenly Rei slips out of beast-mode and turns all frightened waif on him.  At this point, there's nothing I would have liked better than to have seen her thrown over the railing, or eaten by a not-quite-dead-yet Hisashi.  No such luck, I'm afraid.  Takashi turns from the barricade and...

"On that day the world came crashing down, I killed my best friend, and held the girl I loved in my arms for the first time."  Fade to black, roll credits.

A great initial episode for a show, full of action and just enough angst to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Not the easiest combination to blog about, but fun to watch.  Next episode, we meet the rest of our cast and maybe figure out just why Rei's ahoges make her look like there's a praying mantis on her head!


Because I know you little pervs want it, I'll be doing one of these for each episode, maybe keep track of which character gets the most.  Right now, it's Rei with the early lead.

See you next time for Episode 02 of High School Of The Dead!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:33 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 2001 words, total size 15 kb.

1 I do hope that Tatagi is a regular character. Boobs like that shouldn't become zombified.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 12, 2012 12:23 AM (+rSRq)

2 Takagi, sorry.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 12, 2012 12:23 AM (+rSRq)

3 You're going to have a REAL problem picking just ONE fanservice pic when you get to Episode 6....

Especially if you're a Gun Otaku. :-)

Posted by: Mauser at March 12, 2012 04:01 AM (cZPoz)


Wow, would I so very never have watched this on my own. (Zombies hit one of my bigger Creep-Out buttons.) Your write-up entertained, however. Well done!

(Now if only would display the full length of longer posts in Firefox. *grumble* I have to load these in IE to read the whole thing.)

Posted by: GreyDuck at March 12, 2012 07:21 AM (eHm8o)

5 I'll tinker with that page length bug today. I think there may be a simple fix just by delaying a Javascript call.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at March 12, 2012 08:06 AM (PiXy!)

6 Hah! I just scrolled all the way down to the comment form... in Firefox. Go, Pixy?!?

Posted by: GreyDuck at March 12, 2012 07:21 PM (eHm8o)

7 Add comment has always worked to read the full post in firefox. The base entry still doesn't. No idea why.

Posted by: HC at March 13, 2012 01:30 AM (t2WoJ)

8 I've had the partial load happen to me twice, the first time I read this and just now.  You CAN get it to read in firefox, just hit reload and you'll get the whole page.

Posted by: Mauser at March 13, 2012 04:56 AM (cZPoz)

9 Reload hasn't always worked for me, it usually gets me a little more of the page, but not the whole thing.  I've also noticed that clicking "more" is less likely to get me the whole post than navigating to the perma-link for the post.  And I don't notice much difference between IE9, Firefox, and Chrome, they'll all give me truncated posts.

Posted by: David at March 13, 2012 09:57 AM (+yn5x)

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