July 01, 2012

High School Of The Dead OVA

Okay, this is against my better judgement, but if I don't do an episodic recap of this OVA, I'll feel like I've left the series incomplete... and I hate that.  Unfortunately, this OVA is also one of the dumber things I've ever seen, so there's that going against it.  In the end, I know that if I don't do it now, I'll end up doing it down the line, but only after its been dangling over my head like a zombie of Damocles.  So, like tearing surgical tape off a hairy arm, it's best to get it over with quickly.  Now that I've set your expectations low, let me explain something about this OVA.  It's outside of continuity, meaning that whatever happens here doesn't really happen.  If I was forced to jam it into the actual storyline from the series, it wouldn't even fall between episodes... the best (and most likely) solution I can come up with would be between 21:10 and 23:00 of Ep12... in other words, during the final credits sequence.  Considering that it came packaged with Book 7 of the manga and never broadcast, I suppose we're lucky it could even be shoehorned in at all.  It's not worth the trouble, though, trust me on this one.  May as well get it over with...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the cast of HSotD is proud to present their version of On The Beach.  The part of the nuclear submarine will be played by a wooden rowboat, Australia is played by a beach, and the fallout is played by zombies... war.  War never changes.  Oh, and the crew of the submarine will be played by a bunch of high schoolers.  Other than that?  Exactly the same. 

On the run from the undead, harried and cornered no matter where they turn, The Fellowship finds a nuclear submarine rowboat and heads for... um... the sea!  Because the sea is perfectly safe at all times, no matter how small the boat you may be in!  Why, there's never even once been a rainstorm, typhoon, tsunami or flock of seagulls that's done in boats or ships! 

But Frodo and Hirano got tired of rowing.  They've ended up on some island near the city... one that these lifetime residents of the city have never heard of!  Wow, what are the odds?  Good news, no zombies!  Bad news, no nothing else either!  No shelter of any sort. 

After all, we can't take it easy on The Fellowship, can we now?  Where's the fun in that?

Wow, we even get a title card for the OVA.  Sweet, didn't expect that, did you?  And by "you," I mean "me."  Drifters of the Dead, huh?  Every fiber of my being wants to do another riff on undead doo-wop bands, like the one I did in Ep06, but what little shreds of professionalism I have left prevents me from repeating a gag.  No sirree bob.  I would never do something like that.  Right, let's get back to the story... where was I?  Oh, right.  Okay, so while there may not be any shelter, there's no shuffling horrors around.  That's a wash.

Oh, look.  Shelter.  How convenient.  At this point in time, I would like to put paid to any rumor that this is, in fact, Casino Island from Rio Rainbow Gate!.  For one thing, Casino Island has a friggin' city on it, and this place doesn't.  No hotels, no simulated freighter simulating a simulated crash into a simulated pier, no cablecars, no flying resort hotels, no shrimp costumes, no lights, no phone, no motorcars, not a single luxury, nothing like that.

No, Rio, you can't be in HSotD, not yours. You've had your writeup, now let the kids have their fun.  Though, to be truthful, Rio Rainbow Gate of the Dead would be the coolest thing ever.  Is there any way we can make this happen?  I've got five dollars I'll chip in, who's with me?  Gateholders vs zombies... holy crap, that could actually work.  Suddenly, I'm really interested in this idea.  Heck, there'd probably be less fanservice... and RRG! was a fanservice goldmine.  The women were at least normal in their proportions, though.

As it turns out, the beachside building is empty, no food or anything like that... just bottled water and emergency rations.  Oh, and swimsuits.  Lots and lots of swimsuits.  Except for the guys.  Frodo is forced to wear a banana hammock, and Hirano... okay, if you've seen the OVA you know what's coming.  If you haven't, this will be one of those post-nuclear-war "the living envy the dead" situations.  It's going to be bad, but there's pretty much no point in mucking around and making it worse.  I promise there'll be lots of eyebleach after.

Hirano has to wear a girl's school swimsuit.  I so hate the production staff right now.  Remember, you can look at it for a second and move on... I had to screenshot it, stitch it together, shoop it to the right size, then post it and write about the damn thing.  You have it easy, good and gentle reader, and I apologize for exposing you to this, but it will give you some modicum of an idea as to what I must go through to bring you the entertainment that you come to The Pond for.  My heavens, that was an awkward sentence.  Did I mention that I have a minor in English?  Well, I almost did... I was a few credits short.  It wasn't in creative writing, which I'm sure pleases the Duck U English department to no end.

click each for bigger
I will freely admit, however, that some moments are easier to deal with than others.  Slaving in the hot pixel mines, feeling the sweat rolling down my brow, sometimes gets to be too much.  Times like these tend make it all worthwhile.  Couldn't get one of SFX-sensei, because the camera (or she) moves around too much during her "glamour shot."  And besides, you don't really want to see that, do you?  I'm also not doing Alice's glmaour shot, because pedobear. 

It's hard not to hate Frodo and Hirano right now, lucky bastards.  Them, a deserted island, and four hawt chix0rz.  There are worse fates. Unfortunately, one of those worse fates is about to befall them.

Don't you hate it when you're on a deserted island, escaping from hordes of zombies, and the girls with you are wearing nothing but the most revealing bikinis, then they gang up on you, claiming to be "weak girls", so you have to go hunting for food while they laze around the beach?  I hate it when that happens.  Is anybody surprised that Bug Haired Rei is the instigator of the whining?  No?  Then you've read my writeups, good.  I expect what Alice is going through would make good G-force training for F1 drivers; what Zeke is going through probably deserves a call to the ASPCA.

Yes, ma'am. 

Spineless bastards.  It's all a feminist conspiracy to weaken the minds of men.  Let's go have a drink up on the roof.  There's a doo-wop band there... no, no!

So while the guys are off hunting for... whatever... we're treated to a beach montage.  In slow motion.  With long pans, taking in a lot of detail.  Lots of sweat drops slowly running down acres of bare flesh.  Are you getting the point of this OVA yet?  At long last, the Great White Hunters return to the safety of the shack.  The tribe will eat well tonight, for they have caught a feast.

Well, Hirano did.  Frodo didn't find anything, but he did make a firepit, that loser.  Zeke helped by putting leaves of some sort on the kindling.  Yay.  Fish fry for dinner.  Lots of... different... aquatic denizens in that bag Hirano's holding... hey, has anybody seen where Squid Girl's gone to?  Oh well, she'll turn up eventually, I'm sure. 

As smoke from the grilling fish rises into the air around The Fellowship (minus Alice and Zeke, who went to get water), everybody starts to feel a little... goofy.  Er.  Goofier.  It's hard to focus, because even they realize just how horrible this OVA is.  They're getting sleepy... sleepy... until Boing-chan realizes that the smoke is from burning hydrangea.  Apparently when burned, hydrangea can cause hallucinations and a feeling of euphoria.  Who knew?  I didn't, but then, I don't move with that sort of crowd.  The OWS crowd would have smelled better if they'd been hydrangea-huffing, I'd give them that...
Nah, I'm only funnin' with ya.  I need to say something here... as the hallucinations begin to kick in, this OVA becomes an unwatchable and un-writeup-able mess.  I give up.

Dammit.  It's against my better judgement, but on your head be it.  Just be prepared to nuke it from orbit.  If you're smart, you'll listen to me on this... then again, if you were smart, you wouldn't be reading right now, would you?  If I were smart... well, that's an virtual impossibility.

No, impossibility.  Dammit, what does it say about a writeup when a late '90s pop song starts appearing and steals focus?  "That it's a bog-standard Wonderduck production," you say?  I... don't think I can debate that, so let's move along.  Where was I?  Oh, right, hallucinations, okay, right.

Not so much a hallucination as a removal of all inhibitions, leading to Rei and SFX-sensei making a dive for Frodo.  The look on his face mirrors my own, the face of a man who sees his impending doom, a man staring into the abyss.  And that's just Boing-chan's cleavage, just wait until he adds in Rei's!  Then Saya gets into the act, and all seems lost.

Hirano's on a bad trip, man.  He's in The Nam, screaming about land mines.  Fortunately for everybody's sanity, Saeko is unaffected by the magic smoke and pulls Frodo to safety.  Then it gets REALLY weird, as SFX-sensei sees Rika sitting next to her on the beach, and Saya sees her mother and I don't want to go into the implications of that right now, so let's skip ahead to...

...not so unaffected.  Meanwhile, back on the beach, Boing-sensei and Rika are making out, while Saya and her mother take a hot-springs bath together and I think it's best if we cut away from the rest of the night otherwise this blog will become something a lot less family-friendly.  When the sun rises...

click to embiggenate... the picture, that is.
You're right, who do I think I'm kidding?  The moment I agreed to do writeups for HSotD my claim to being "family-friendly" was forfeit.  Yes, this is Rei and Saeko, not a hallucination, because they both think they're actually with Frodo.  Yes, Hirano is also having a hallucination apart from Vietnam, but I refuse to touch that one with a ten-foot broom, and you should thank me for it.

It takes Saya's screams of terror and fright to snap The Fellowship out of their hallucinations and bring us back to the real world.  For the most part, this is a good thing, but I don't think I'd be opposed to maybe a little bit more of the Rei+Saeko stuff... did I say that out loud?  Now, if only those screams could snap me to the end of this thing, but no such luck...

Shame is a powerful thing.  Believe me, I know this from experience.  The Fellowship sits there, denying that anything actually happened, it was all hallucinatory, so it doesn't count.  But where's Frodo?  Or, for that matter, Alice and Zeke?  Eventually the latter two come running up, having taken all night to find water bottles and I am perfectly okay with that, yelling that Frodo is in trouble.  What?  Zombies in paradise?  Everybody gears up and goes running into the jungle, and that's all right by me.

When they reach Frodo... oh hell, I can't do this anymore.  I made it through 14 episodes of Rio Rainbow Gate! without breaking, but this OVA... ugh.  Here's what they see...

...and he's calling the zombies by the names of the girls in The Fellowship.  As one might expect, this pretty much pisses everybody off as this OVA rolls credits, fade to black.

In the OVA's coda, Alice explains that there's a tunnel from the city to the island that The Fellowship hadn't seen, so they can't stay there... it's not safe either.  Oh god, don't we know that already.  Anyway, that's it, that's the end.  Put a fork in it, it's done.  A lot of the goodwill that HSotD had built up with me over the preceding 12 episodes got burned away by this monstrosity of an OVA.  I'm sure the production staff enjoyed themselves, but to say that this was a disappointment is a major understatement.

When it was released, I spent the entire day at work assuming that it would pick up where the series left off, with The Fellowship entering the Shopping Mall.  I had no idea what to expect from that, as the officially released manga hadn't made it that far... actually, I'm not even sure it'd be released here yet.  In any case, I had no idea, but I had high hopes.  I got home from the Duck U Bookstore, made dinner, and sat down in front of my computer to watch.  What I got was... this.  I hadn't watched it since.  I almost certainly will never watch it again, and I count myself a better person for that.  I would certainly watch RRG! again before this.

Next Episode: More Zombies, whenever it comes out.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:51 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 2269 words, total size 19 kb.

1 The link to the Rei picture is broken; there's an "[im" in front of the address.

Hydrangea leaves are an element in another zombie anime/manga, Sankarea (out this spring season), so this might be a shout out to that series.

Posted by: muon at July 02, 2012 10:16 AM (JXm2R)

2 Just to add to the general air of adolescent pervishness:  the swimsuit screenshot of Rei has an advertising poster in the background, in the lower right-hand corner.  The ad is for some canned beverage, likely a brand of beer; the model has opened the can, and foam from the can is spraying over her face.  The foam looks remarkably like a certain biological fluid that I won't name here...

As for the swimsuit screenshot of Hirano--I'm lucky I had a wastepaper basket next to my desk.  **barffff**

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at July 02, 2012 02:34 PM (KiYAY)

3 Okay, the Rei picture is fixed... again... and it works on my end... again.  If it doesn't work for you, the reader, now, I have no idea what the problem is.

Peter, I had to stitch that shot together... how do you think I felt?  And believe me, there was MUCH worse in the OVA.

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 02, 2012 07:13 PM (7W8ch)

4 The link is working okay.

If you need another antidote to the Kouta swimsuit image, here's a NSFW image from the artist (measurements in cm).

Posted by: muon at July 03, 2012 09:54 PM (JXm2R)

5 Actually, there's a small problem with the picture of Rei and Saeko kissing. It's currently a still image, and it should be a video...

Posted by: Siergen at July 03, 2012 10:31 PM (PuIGa)

6 It was a still image in the video, I'm afraid...

Posted by: Wonderduck at July 04, 2012 12:04 AM (3AWAq)

7 The symptoms of hydrangea poisoning include things like vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and not being able to breathe or have a heartbeat. It's similar to cyanide in shutting down ATP transfer. It's poisonous to pets as well as humans. All parts of the plant are toxic.

The only way it causes hallucinations is if you're suffering from anoxia. If they were having anoxia all night, they'd probably be dead (and they certainly would have vomited all over each other).

Don't trust animes for medical info.

Posted by: Maureen O'Brien at July 04, 2012 04:30 PM (fGqjI)

8 There is (or was) a similar trope in some '80s anime RomComs involving wacky hijinks from eating wild mushrooms. Of course the wrong kind of mushrooms will generally kill you dead.

I wonder how many Otaku have poisoned themselves with hydrangeas because of this. 

Posted by: Brickmuppet at July 04, 2012 07:33 PM (e9h6K)

9 You often see Amanita in such comedic situations. It's used that way in one scene in Ninja Nonsense, for example.

Amanita is, in fact, a bit poisonous but apparently not very, and it does have a reputation for causing hallucinations.

Another reason for using it is that it is very distinctive looking, with a red cap carrying white spots, so it's become a visual trope.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 04, 2012 08:03 PM (+rSRq)

10 To be fair, they inhaled the smoke from the burning leaves instea of ingesting them, and wikipedia says that it is smoked as an intoxicant.

Posted by: muon at July 05, 2012 06:52 AM (JXm2R)

11 Some people won't stop looking for drugs until they've gotten glue and garden flowers banned, and then they'll probably start sniffing FTL fluid so that we can get starships banned too.

Posted by: Maureen O'Brien at July 05, 2012 06:56 PM (fGqjI)

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