April 28, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep06

As you may remember, last episode was quite the action-packed lil' thing.  We met the Japanese Police Force's fifth-best sniper, for example.  We saw four teenage delinquents act all delinquently, and get water-cannoned into the river for their troubles, and good riddance to 'em, too.  I know I was never a jerk such as them back when I was a teenager, some 25 years ago.  Now, I was a well-behaved lad, raised right and all that sort of thing, but c'mon... teenagers arguing with police in armored vans armed with high-pressure water cannon deserves to be taught a lesson by Chuck D.  As opposed to Chuck D... that'd be an entirely different type of lesson.  Though, if you think about it, it'd be exactly the same.  Anyway, Shido-sensei formed his little cult of personality, the larger portion of the Fellowship of the Ring Our Heroes bailed out of the bus, but not before Hirano went all Rambo on Shido... is there a word for last-letter-of-a-word-alliteration?  After they left the bus, the smaller group of Our Heroes appeared out of nowhere just in time to clean up a zombie horde... and the Fellowship was rejoined.  They then decamped to an apartment nearby, apparently owned by Boing-chan's friend, the fifth-best sniper in the Japanese Police force.    Which is where we pick up the action, more or less.

Well, actually, we pick up the action on a nearby bridge which looks very much like the Dan Ryan "Expressway" (aka I-90/94) around 5pm on a Friday afternoon... and how a 14-lane highway can have traffic problems is entirely beyond me.  It may have something to do with the dismounted police officers blocking gaps between cars to form a defensive barrier against encroaching Packers fans zombies.  I mean, in the show.  On the Dan Ryan, the cops wouldn't last a minute.  Getting back to the show, while I applaud the efforts of the shield-wielding police, shouldn't they have adopted a better defensive position, tactically?  Using the cars is clever, but please note that the four-man groups are unable to support each other easily.  The cars are in the way!  If the zombies come en masse, the police are screwed.  And I've just dissected a defensive position to determine its effectiveness against zombie attack.  Thank heavens for the internet.

Oh, but they've got a dog with them, never mind.  Lil' Yappy up there is promptly eaten by a zombie.  No, no, sorry, no, Yappy goes running away.  The undead don't seem to care... or do they?  Hmmm... could that have been foreshadowing?  Bwah-hah-ha-hahahahahahahahahaahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Meanwhile, at the safehouseapartment, the girls prepare to take a bath.  Wait, what?

Cue the sirens and put on your civil defense helmets, HSotD has gone to Fanservice Condition Red!  I say again, Fanservice Condition Red!  Oh god help us, it's a bathtub scene.  This business will get out of control... it will get out of control, and we will be lucky to live through it.

It should go without saying that everything beyond this point should be considered Not Safe For Work.

Quietly outside the window, illuminated only by a nearby streetlight, the Five (Zombie) Satins are doo-wopping their way through a rendition of their greatest song, and one of the finest example of that genre of music.  In the opinion of this writer, only the (Zombie) Penguins' "Earth Angel" surpasses it, and that perhaps only because the production is better on their recording.  If you disagree, I certainly won't attempt to change your mind, primarily because this is a post about High School of the Dead, not Great Doo-Wop Recordings In Music History.  I think I've just found the premise of K-On!!!, series 3.  Though a show about high school students being chased by doo-wop singing zombies would be pretty cool, come to think of it.  Maybe we can call it "Dead Zeppelin" or something like that.  I've gone rather far afield, haven't I?

Hijinks!  The sound of girlish squeals and giggling fills the air, along with the sound of splashing water as the four female members of the Fellowship get all soapy and slippery.  And if there's some... impropriety going on, well, they've just survived the first two days of the end of the world, who's to begrudge them that?  Certainly not myself, heavens no.

"But Wonderduck," you ask in a concerned voice, "what happened to the whole zombie infestation outbreak thing?  Surely the whole show can't become a cheerful romp through showers and hot springs and bath houses and abandoned love hotels and pandering to the male viewer, can it?"  To which I reply, of course it can, you bloody fool!  The entire show is about nothing but pandering.  The show's director himself said "I want to keep making lots of scenes full of jiggling breasts as much as possible. We really think the people who come to watch this are in it for the boobs."  No hot springs or love hotels, though I'm sure if the manga creators could have figured out a way to have gotten the Fellowship near one, they would have.  Meanwhile, outside the bathroom...

...Hirano and Takashi practice their breaking-and-entering skills.  They found a double-door gun cabinet/safe thingy... and behind door #2 was a metric crapton of ammo of all types: shotgun shells, .308 Winchester rounds, even bolts for a crossbow!  After a bit of effort they finally get door #1 to reveal the charms contained within.

Oh dear.  Before Hirano does something we'll all regret seeing, allow me to draw a veil over this scene and replace it with something much more wholesome.

So, um, Rei seems to have a case of the wandering hands.  For the purposes of High School of the Dead, that's a wonderful thing.  I'm sure the director loved this entire episode, perhaps in ways that a man should not love 24 minutes of animation, if you know what I mean and I think you do.  Now you're trying to figure out just exactly how that sort of thing would work, and now you're looking sheepishly somewhere, anywhere, other than at this sentence, and now you're reading this in the voice of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama.  Good news, everyone!

After Hirano calms down and smokes a cigarette, he begins to load magazines for the various weapons they found.  From bottom to top, we've got an Armalite AR-10(T), an Ithaca M37 shotgun, a Springfield Super Match M1A, and the crossbow is a Barnett Wildcat C5.  As the two male members of Our Heroes sit and feed bullets into empty clips (and please, let's not start with the "magazine/clip" war), Takashi wonders, quite rightly, just how Hirano knows about all this stuff.  It's not like Japan is the sort of place that has gun shops on every corner, after all... or any corner, for that matter!  Turns out he spent a month in America, training with Blackwater.  His family is... rather eccentric, as it turns out.  Dad is a jewelery merchant, mom is a fashion designer in Paris, grandma was a violinist and grandpa the captain of a foreign cruise ship... being trained by a mercenary group just means that Hirano is lagging behind the rest of his kin.  As Takashi looks stunned by this revelation, and the four girls continue their bubblebath...

...over on the bridge, a local rabblerouser, whom I shall call Skippy, is claiming that the police have grossly overstepped their bounds with their blocking of the bridges.  "Restraint of trade and free commerce," he is heard to opine, "commingled with the loss of our freedom of mobility, vis a vis the blocking of the bridges across the river, is a vile assault on our personal liberties and one that we shall not take lying down.  Oh, and the zombies were caused by biological weapons created by a joint Japanese-American munitions plant."  In short, our friend Skippy up there is as crazy as a heftybag full of rottweilers.  Of course, the crowd, already on edge and who can blame them since they saw their aunt Edna eaten by the walking dead corpse of their milkman, is beginning to turn ugly.

Then the undead horde begins to swarm the defensive line.  Policemen begin firing, but a lone human screams for help.  She's still alive and unharmed, and so is her child.  Sympathetic and confused, the cops hesitate as they try to figure out how to help.  Even Skippy stops his histrionics momentarily.

In what is probably an allegorical reference to the way children always try to get revenge on their parents for wrongs, perceived or real, inflicted upon themselves as they grow, the callow yoot squirms, sinks her teeth into the neck of her mother, and rips out a big hunk o' flesh.  I will also allow for the possibility that it's not an allegory at all, but just simple bloodymindedness on the part of the production staff.  Mom turns almost instantly into a shambling horror, in front of dozens of armed policemen.  Let's take a quiz as to what happens next:
A)  Boom!  Headshot.
B)  Police break and run.
C)  Strange cylinders crash into a park in Grover's Mill, NJ.
D)  Suddenly, Zamfir, the master of the pan flute!
Of course, the correct answer is A, and a mercy it is, too. Skippy, no stranger to allegory himself, views this instead as police brutality in its basest form and redoubles his efforts to rouse the rabble.  His claims of the local constabulary using unrestrained violence against the citizenry of this fair city are rewarded with angry gestures and chants being directed towards the police by the masses.

Into this maelstrom of malfeasance steps Senior Officer Blast Hardcheese.  He approaches the well-spoken instigator and attempts to reason with him.  Skippy, for his part, appreciates the position Officer Hardcheese is in, but refuses to moderate his stance in any way, shape or form.  He suggests that perhaps it would be wise for Hardcheese and his men to withdraw from their current positions.  He goes on to insinuate that the police in this instance are attempting to obfuscate the reality of the situation as the true criminals (the governments of the US and Japan) go free.

The crowd, less erudite than Skippy, begins chanting "Go away!"  Hardcheese sighs.  Of course all this just had to happen during his watch.  It was his final week of duty before retirement, too... a retirement he had intended to spend with his wife and daughter.  He also had meant to learn how to make  Boursault, Feta, and Manouri cheeses as a hobby... all gone.  Instead, he has to deal with Skippy and his band of imbeciles while ALSO trying to beat back the End of the World.  Really, it's just a lousy situation.  He entreats Skippy to decamp and disperse.  Skippy refuses and says simply, "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

"Yep."  Somewhere, Chuck D smiles.  As the entire incident was televised, Takashi and Hirano are somewhat disconcerted.  Indeed, Takashi suggests that the Fellowship pack up and leave the safehouse ASAP.  Hirano, quite rightly, points out that since it's night outside, the zombies are much more likely to be able to sneak up on Our Heroes...

...LIKE THAT ONE RIGHT THERE AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!  Y'know, come to think of it, we've gone a full five minutes without HSotD Ep06 shoveling out the fanservice...

Ah.  Yes, thank you.  Not only is SFX-sensei hideously overproportioned, but now she's drunk, too.  Hirano's nose explodes like a sausage casing stuffed with weasels, and Takashi... well, he fights for us.  Turns out Rei's is blitzed as well... and she's a morose drunk.  (deadpan) Wow.  There's a surprise.  I'm shocked.  Really.  I am. (/deadpan)  As Hirano stands watch on the balcony, Takashi gets Boing-chan, who has passed out, downstairs and onto a couch.  Saya  has already packed it in.  Rei is off snuffling and whining to herself.  That leaves only one member of the Fellowship unaccounted for.

Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggh!  Turns out she can cook, too.  So, to recap... Saeko is the best women's kendo student in the nation, she's normally mild-mannered, she can cook, and she has a ponytail.  Yet the writers of the show seem to have preordained Rei to end up with Takashi.  Which leads me to only one conclusion: they hate their main character.  Speaking of lil' miss whiny...

She spends the next minute or so complaining about how Takashi isn't Hisashi.  You remember Hisashi, right?  First episode?  Dead?  Yeah, that Hisashi.  She goes on and on about how great he was, and how lame Takashi is.  Finally, FINALLY, Our Hero has had enough and tells her to shut the fsck up.  The audience rises as one and give Takashi a standing ovation.  Then she kisses him.  I don't exactly claim to understand women, but what the hell?  From outside, a yappy dog begins to bark excitedly.  A... dog?  Barking?  How unusual!  Takashi disengages from the Preying Mantis and goes back upstairs to see just what's going on.

He finds that Hirano has gone back into Terminator X mode, and for good reason...

"This is bad."  Gee, ya think?  Fade to black, roll credits.

Episode 06 of HSotD proves to be something of a turning point in the series for me.  The episodes that come after are all substantially darker in tone, as we'll discover.  To be sure, they stay uniformly good-to-excellent in quality, but much of the fun goes away.  Not all of it, but a lot.  It actually tries to be serious... which is a godsend for me and the episodic writeups!  It's so much easier to make fun of something trying to be serious.

*FANSERVICE SHOT OF THE WEEK:  Way back in the comments section for Ep01, Mauser suggested that I'd have a problem selecting "just one fanservice pic" for this episode.  To be honest, this one was even easier to decide upon than last episode's!

Next episode: more zombies!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:59 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 2321 words, total size 18 kb.

1 You must have had a blast writing this. I had the giggles reading it, enough that my katz looked up from naping. 

Posted by: vonKrag at April 28, 2012 09:30 AM (XIY2m)

2 Normally I'd be insulted by your comparison of Packer fans to to a horde of slow-moving, mindless zombies.  However, it is the off-season, and most of us are functioning in state of quasi-hibernation right now...

Posted by: Siergen at April 28, 2012 01:26 PM (3/gGt)

3 *applause* I highly respect your choice of FSOTW.  In fact, when I first saw the other picture of Saiko's "Naked Apron fetish" outfit, I wondered why you didn't choose the wonderful profile, and now I know.  Nicely done!

It seems to be an anime meme that girls in the bath play with each-other's boobs (The grab from behind being especially popular.)  Alas, finding out if this is a reflection of reality requires a research budget beyond my means (especially the legal defense portion).

(Meanwhile Mysterious Girlfriend X has distracted me from Deadman Wonderland reviews, but I need to study up on Game Theory to explain why the second episode of DW is made of fail.)

Posted by: Mauser at April 28, 2012 02:11 PM (cZPoz)

4 The fanservice shots are very...um...fascinating (cold shower time), but that shot of Hirano looking at the rifles has me busting a gut laughing.  Extra bonus points for the quote from The Hunt for Red October, too.

"Finally, FINALLY, Our Hero has had enough and tells her to shut the fsck up...Then she kisses him.  I don't exactly claim to understand women, but what the hell?"

There's a school of thought that says that when a woman complains about or nags at the man she's in a relationship with, she's actually testing him.  If he stands up for himself, she gains respect for him, if he takes it meekly, she loses respect for him and may ultimately develop contempt for him.  I'm not sure what to think about this theory; it strikes me as a little misogynistic (a variant of the old "women are irrational" stereotype), but IMHO it also bodes quite ill for relations between the sexes if it's anything like realistic.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at April 28, 2012 05:07 PM (KiYAY)

5 I came very close to dropping the series at this point...or rather in the unfathomably gratuitous bath scene which even Wonderducks screencaps don't fully convey. However this episode and the next one ended up impressing me. There's a brief but surprisingly serious talk between Takashi and Saeko

There are other bits I liked, there is something almost akin to character development here and Hirano is shown to have something resembling a brain and not just be an idiot savant.

Oh god...I..I was...unsnarky...I apologize for my transgression.

Posted by: brickmuppet at April 28, 2012 07:34 PM (EJaOX)

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