June 27, 2012

High School Of The Dead Ep12

Okay.  Here we go.  The final episode of High School of the Dead's first, and to date only, season.  For those reading along at home, this takes us up through Book 4 of the manga.  Six have been released here in the US, the seventh comes out in a month or so, and then that's it.  There ain't no more, and the two Satos (Daisuke and Shouji, not related) involved in the creation of the series have sort of... well... gotten tired of it, I suppose.  In any case, there is (barely) enough source material to generate a full Season 2, so we can always hope.  But that, my true and dear readers, is in the future.  We, on the other hand, are here in the now, and we've gots ourselves the first season to finish up.  If you remember correctly, at the end of Ep11 all was chaos as nuclear missiles were flyin', Bug-Haired Rei actually stopped whining and acted kinda heroic, and the ORGYBUS had been expelled from Lothlorien... and if ever there was a sentence fragment I never expected to write, that was it right there.  Sounds like really bad Lord of the Rings-Partridge Family crossover slashfic.  As opposed to all that really good LotR-Partridge Family crossover slashfic you can find.  Do not go looking, I don't want to know.  Seriously.  Not interested.  Don't.  Just... don't.

I've never been more relieved by the sight of a nuclear missile.  Oh sure, it's a harbinger of the end of the world, but on the other hand, I won't have to deal with the thought of Galadriel and Reuben Kinkade doing... things.  In more pleasant thoughts, there are four missiles in the air, the last reflexive spasm of a Chinese leadership turned into a merrily glowing parking lot.  We later see that they're DF-21s, which have a relatively short range; they don't even cover all of Russia, and they surely can't reach Europe... but they can hit anywhere in Japan you'd like.  Say goodbye to Akihabara!  No more iDOLM@STER games.  Hello Kitty?  Melted by a heat higher than that of the sun.  Sayonara, Hatsune Miku...

...that is, if there weren't ships of both the JMSDF and the US Navy patrolling off the coast of Japan.  The USS Shiloh (CG-67), a Ticonderoga-class cruiser; the Kongo and Kirishima (DDG-173 and -174), both members of the Kongo-class of destroyers based on the US Navy's aegis destroyers, and finally the USS Curtis Wilbur, DDG-54.  All four ships have Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities due to the combination of the Aegis radar system and the RIM-161 SM-3 missile.  As you would expect, the ships go into automatic mode and engage the incoming Dong Feng-21s.  There is much rejoicing as one by one, the nukes are taken down by the defenders... all but one, Curtis Wilbur's target, and she hasn't fired yet.

It appears that the crew started reading the Meriadoc/Laurie Partridge story.  They dabbled in a realm men dare not go.  God help us all if someone finds a Danny Partridge/Eowyn slashfic... mere military might will not be enough to defend us from that monstrosity.  Oh, or the crew has been zombified, one of the two.  As the crew of the International Space Station watches on in horror, the remaining DF-21arcs over and reaches its target.

Lothlorien, the Fellowship, ORGYBUS, Humvee-kun, Zeke... all of them gone in a single blinding flash, followed by a fireball the likes of which have only rarely been seen upon this planet, and a sad tune by the Ink Spots.  Just like that, in a blink of an eye. 

Thanks for reading.

Ah, what the hell... you're here, I'm here, and there's about 20 minutes left to the episode, so we may as well finish it up.  Whaddya say, you in?  C'mon, it's gotta be better than discovering all the ways David Cassidy could be ravished by orcs, right?

No, this is neither David Cassidy or an orc.  We're in a flashback to "a few minutes ago," i.e., sometime before The Fellowship is turned into radioactive dust, and Boing-chan has just remembered the cell number of the fifth-best sniper in the Japanese police force!  She quickly calls and...

...Rika (the sniper) answers!  Well, good.  We haven't seen her since that one episode, and I have to admit, she's probably my favorite character in the series.  Yes, even moreso than Saeko.  I've always been a sucker for the minor characters.  As I've said in the past, I don't care about Luke Skywalker, Jedi God, tell me about Wedge Antillies, normal guy (but talented pilot).  Episodes that revolve around Joe Spearcarrier are the ones that pique my interest.  So here's unjustly underrated Minor Character #1, talking on the phone with overrated Major Character # Whatever, and who does the camera focus on?  Damn right it's on Rika.  Suddenly, there's a burst of static, all the televisions turn off, and then...

...the light changes.  Oh dear.  Back at Lothlorien...

...it suddenly gets all The Day After and stuff, just with less Jason Robards.  I wonder... I know many of my readers are of the same generation as myself.  Were you forced to watch TDA in school, like I was?  I clearly remember watching the show on a TV rolled into the Chorus Room... damn thing gave me nightmares.  Anyway, enough of my mental frailties and the destruction of Lawrence Kansas, on with the destruction of HSotD!  As the stark light fades, our cast realizes they're all blind Saya has a good idea what just happened.  She asks Bug-Haired Rei to look through her electronic sight, see if the targeting dot is visible.  Confused but what else is new, Rei complies with this lovely bit of firearms safety.

It's not like there isn't an entire friggin' courtyard she could point her high-powered rifle at... no, she points it right at her pal.  It's official: Rei is too stupid to be allowed to live.  Saya stalks off to change her underwear; when she returns, she confirms that the targeting dot wasn't visible.  All around Lothlorien are scenes of electronic equipment having failed: a pacemaker, a row of laptops, refrigerators, even a forklift putting a concrete barrier in place... oh, that can't be good.  It's official: Japan just got EMP'd.  Amongst other things that have stopped functioning?  How about the engine and brakes on ORGYBUS... which was just about to pass through the previously mentioned (incomplete) barrier.  Shido-scumbag proves that he doesn't have the faintest idea on how to drive a vehicle with engine/brake problems by...

...running right into the barrier at full speed!  To be fair, he did succeed in getting the bus stopped... but this brings up one of the few continuity failures of HSotD.  As we know, Shido-fail and the crew of ORGYBUS had been expelled from Paradise Lothlorien at the end of last episode.  Chronologically, this was only a few minutes ago, maybe as much as a half-hour, tops.  ORGYBUS should have been traveling away from The Promised Land Lothlorien, not towards it as is obvious in the episode.  For a show that's as based in real-life as HSotD, and I can't believe I just typed that, it's a egregious mistake.  However, it's also a plot-based one because...

...it lets the zombies in!  Never mind that there weren't any zombies there before the wreck, and in a few seconds there are literally hundreds (not in this shot, mind), Shido-farkwit has just returned HSotD to its roots: running away!  Didn't even have the good grace to get himself killed in the accident, either.  Well, if we're lucky, he'll get et.  Meanwhile, back in Lothlorien...

...SayaDad and HotMom show up just as their daughter explains the effect of an EMP blast.  Daddy compliments her on her cool head under pressure, and Saya's face just lights up like the city won't for a while.  It's actually quite heartbreaking... she so obviously lives for SayaDad's attention and affection, and so obviously never got much of it because he was busy being Samurai Politician.  But just as we're about to get a nice family scene...

...the barbarians zombies are at the gate.  One gets through, but is swiftly dealt with by Hirano in full God-Of-Death mode.

One of the men at the gate was the guy in Ep10 that wasn't the mechanic that wanted to take Hirano's guns away... who promptly apologizes.  Oh, sure, once the fit hits the shan, you want him on that wall.  You NEED him on that wall.  *ahem*  Meanwhile, more and more zombies press themselves against the gate... it's obvious that it could fail, letting the walking dead into Lothlorien.  It's time to gear up, in other words.

We discover that HotMom is a better shot than her husband, having undergone self-defense training while she was a business bigwig in New York City, much to the bemusement of most of The Fellowship.  Hirano begins to call her "mommy."

Then the gate breaks and the zombie horde comes swarming in.  While The Fellowship retreats to the safety of Castle Takagi, the undead head towards the refugee camp... what with all the tents, it's probably like SPAM for Zombies.

I'm not sure why this shot was in the show.  We've never seen this bird before.  We never see it again.  When the episode first aired, I looked at this and said "What the hell?"  Now, after seeing it multiple times, I still say "what the hell?"  It's completely incongruous.

Perhaps you remember Ms Skipette Jones?  Socialist peacenik who believes that all the zombies need is care and a hug and they'll be fine?  Yeah, about that: after she grabs a meat cleaver she stops being much of a peacenik.

Awww... wookitdat!  Dey're givving Skipette huggles!  D'awwwwwwww!  Huggle them back, Skipette!  Bye-bye!

The defense of Lothlorien isn't going well.  There's seemingly no end to the zombies, despite the efforts of The Fellowship.  There is some slim hope, however... a secondary location has yet to be attacked.  SayaDad makes the call: they'll fight their way through the horde to the other place.  When Frodo steps forward to join the charge, SayaDad says "nope, you've got your own road to follow."  He then entrusts the protection of his daughter to Hirano.  Saya begins to complain.

POW!  Right in the kisser!  HotMom points out that she and SayaDad have a duty to their followers, and that by entrusting her safety to The Fellowship, they're actually being selfish... they know their daughter will be protected.  And yep, they'll feel guilty about it as long as they live.

After a final "I love you," The Fellowship hauls butt, leaving Lothlorien in their dust.  And one begins to wonder, just what exactly are SayaDad and HotMom up to?  They and their warriors stand their ground against the impinging horde.  Meanwhile, Our Heroes end up in the garage...

...where they find Humvee-kun!  Did anybody mention that he's military-spec, and therefore proofed against such things as EMP bursts?  No?  Well, he is, which means he's ready to go!  Almost.  Seems that the Takagi family mechanic has been "repairing" it, and he needs a few more minutes before it'll be ready.

Ain't no thang.  The Fellowship goes into combat with the power and the fury of a SEAL team... or a trained seal, one of the two.  A trained seal OF DEATH.  Back at Lothlorien...

...criminy.  SayaDad and HotMom are a one-couple wrecking crew, seemingly unstoppable in the face of undead adversity.  It seems clear, though, that eventually there will be more zombies than they have bullets and swords.  Back at pit lane...

...YES!  YES!  GO ZOMBIES!  That roaring sound isn't from the raging fires, it's the cheers of thousands of viewers praying that she gets et.  Unfortunately, she's a main character... which means that Frodo comes to save her.  Awwwwww, crepe.  Just as the undead horde seems to be making a little bit of headway against The Fellowship, Humvee-kun is ready to go!  As they pull away...

...Mechanic-san gets his own little moment of awesome.  That he's doing it so "the woman of (his) dreams," Saya, can get away, adds just a smidge of poignancy to the proceedings, particularly since A) he's undoubtedly gonna die; and B) if the zombies don't get him, Pedobear surely will.  On their way out of Lothlorien...

...Oooh, dramatic moment.  Yes, Humvee-kun is airborne.  Unfortunately, there's only one way out for them: through the barricade opened by ORGYBUS.  Which, of course, is still mostly blocking the hole.  But the greatest driver since St Fangio the Quick is behind the wheel, and she's able to make Humvee-kun do things that shouldn't be possible.

Yeah, kinda like that.  SFX-sensei keeps it up on two wheels long enough to sneak by the bus with only a modicum of bodywork damage, tires turned to cottage cheese, and a suspension that's more of a suggestion than an actual fact.  Somewhere, Mechanic-san is saying "gimme a break, I just fixed that thing!"  Or "braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainnnnnnnnnssssss," one of the two. 

As they drive off into the night, SayaDad and HotMom, knowing their daughter is safe, prepare to... well.  I can't imagine either one allowing the other to become zombiechow, is what I'm saying.  We'll draw a veil over this somewhat sad scene, and pick up The Fellowship...

...as they strike a hero pose on top of a dead Humvee-kun.  There's a gazillion zombies between them and their families... no problem.  Let's take a curtain call!

It falls to Frodo to have the last word as he jacks a shell into the chamber of his shotgun: "This is such a pain in the ass!"  Roll credits... and while the credits are rolling, the production staff decided to throw a little easter egg into the mix.  To whit:

A young policewoman named Asami who becomes quite important in the next story-arc of HSotD.  I found this to be a very clever little cameo, because it's a definite shout-out to long-time fans of the manga.  People like myself, who first experienced HSotD with the anime, didn't get it.  I do now, though.  We can only hope we get to see her tale told sooner, rather than later.  (Late Note: after having read the relevant chapters, I've come to the conclusion that this ISN'T Asami, but her supervisor, out to find reinforcements.  Still important to the story as this leaves Asami in charge, but it's not actually her.  That's a pity, but it becomes even MORE of a shout-out now.  Let's get back to the regularly scheduled writeup...) Finally, we get one last shot of The Fellowship wearily approaching some big building...

...a shopping mall.  I guess none of them have ever seen Dawn of the Dead.  Wave goodbye to Our Heroes, because they're going into what is traditionally the single worst possible place to go during a zombie outbreak.  On that cheerful note, HSotD gives us one last image.

Fade to black.

And so High School of the Dead comes to an end.  I've said it before, but this was my favorite series of 2010, and is loads better than it had any right being.  I know I've been snarky during these writeups, and all I can say to that is "duh, of course I have."  It's not a great show by any stretch of the imagination, but just as Rio Rainbow Gate! was my favorite show of 2011, a show doesn't have to be good to be a favorite.  This one just happens to be both good and bad, often at the same time.  Heck, you can see that in the write-ups, I hope.  I bid farewell to HSotD, hoping that we'll see it again soon... and I don't mean the OVA, either.

*FANSERVICE SHOT OF THE WEEK:  Will Saeko win?  Will Rei manage a tie?

Next episode:  Gimli and Shirley have a fling.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:52 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 Aw, man, you know you haven't lived until you've read the fifty -three chapter Sam/Frodo/Danny Partridge epic threesome fanfic....

As for the shopping mall, perhaps they have an S-Mart in there.

Posted by: Mauser at June 28, 2012 02:58 AM (cZPoz)

2 So I shouldn't hold my breath for more manga after they meet up with the lady with the spear?  That's a shame.  I'd at least love to see a showdown with Shido and a conclusion to that storyline.

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at June 28, 2012 01:43 PM (T5fuR)

In any case, there is (barely) enough source material to generate a full Season 2, so we can always hope.
Actually, I started heard a rumor that season 2 diverges from the manga, and instead the fellowship commandeers a boat and makes their way to an island that is surprisingly zombie-free.  Apparently the island owes their good-luck to a particular female dealer at the local casino...

Posted by: Siergen at June 28, 2012 09:13 PM (PuIGa)

4 (I meant to send this earlier, but my computer kept crashing. It's been updated with information about a possible second season.)

On the TVTropes WMG page, there's a rumor of a rift between Daisuke Satou who wants more horror and psychology, and Shouji Satou and the publishers who want more action and fanservice. This might be true. The last two arcs have less fanservice with the main chars while Shouji S. is drawing more zombie panty shots in the background.

For those who want more Shouji S. art, he's been doing his own series, Triage X (a team of medical vigilantes), with volume 1 scheduled to be published in English in October. He's done a full color version of the first four chapters, which has been translated into a hardcover compilation. This August in Japan, he's published an artbook, Lightning Pop, with new HSotD (half the book) and Triage X artwork.

UPDATE: Or maybe not. Daisuke Sato released a light novel called "Highschool Of The Dead: Owari No Hi" in Japan. Scans of the Dead has this report from Shouji Sato's Q&A at the AnimagiC 2012 anime convention in Bonn Germany July 28-29. "As we expected, Shouji was asked about when the manga would return from hiatus. He answered that he is busy right now working on Triage X and doing research for future Highschool of the Dead chapters. This research involves studying weapons, vehicles, and other things so he can draw with the high level of technical detail for which he is known. He asks that fans be patient and give him time to bring us the same high quality we have come to expect.

This answer seems to put the long delay on him rather than Daisuke Sato. To me, it sounds like maybe Fujimi Shobo wanted Triage X to be monthly to boost its popularity, they chose to put HOTD on hiatus because it would be too much work for Shouji, and now he is doing the preliminary work for chapters Daisuke already has planned out so it will be less work when HOTD returns and Triage X doesn't then have to go on hiatus itself. That's just speculation, though it does sound more plausible than other theories I've had in the past. In any case, things are looking very hopeful now that we know work is being done on the series."

That's definitely not Asami (hairstyle and color is wrong), but it is her supervisor. Here's a color picture of Asami from a series Shouji S. did comparing Triage X and HSotD heroines. There's a pre-apocalypse omake in vol. 5 showing Asami's sempai dressing her down.

Compared with other zombie works, there may be fanservice, but the chars in HSotD aren't idiots. The bath scene may have been gratuitous, but they'd checked to make sure they were safe, unlike the fish fry in The Walking Dead. I'm really glad that Alice doesn't constantly wander off. In contrast to World War Z, HSotD shows that military airpower and firepower are devastating to zombies, and professional soldiers don't panic.

That's an unusual problem the series has with continuing, at least with the Fellowship: too much competence. The JSDF are competent in fighting zombies, and, as the manga shows, running an evacuation camp. Rika (if she ever meets up with the group) and would be the best choice to become leader. It took an ill-timed EMP to remove the Takagi estate as a safe haven. The only way I can think for the "High School" group to remain on their own is if they're left behind during the evacuation.

Something I've been wondering: How would a greek style phalanx using improvised spears and shields work against zombies?

Posted by: muon at October 01, 2012 01:39 AM (JXm2R)

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