by Camela Thompson
We've all had that friend who shares one of our interests and is totally on the same page. Then they give you a recommendation for a show that they know(!!!) you will love. At first, you want to believe the show is slow starter. Many of my favorites had a shaky pilot episode. Then you're convinced the season will get better after the mid-point. Finally comes the acceptance that your friend has crappy taste, unless you're especially hard core and are willing to hold out hope for additional seasons.
High School of the Dead was recommended to Z.D. Gladstone by a friend who thought it would be perfect for our Geek Girl Con panel: Brainy Anime Babes Who Know More Science Than You Do. It sounded right up my alley (zombies and petty high school drama both entertain me) and a great way to spend a Saturday. We lined up our snacks, made a pre-show schedule (if you don't plan for lunch, it will consist of chips and chocolate), and fired up the XBox One.
A rare picture of Z.D. and I.
No dogs were fed chocolate
(despite Annie's requests).
Within the first five minutes, there were several panty shots and boob jiggles. I immediately voiced my reservations. It wasn't my acquaintance who recommended the anime series. Z.D. Gladstone is a fiercely loyal friend (it's one of my favorite things about her) and assured me that the show would deliver. I was just sensitive to cultural differences. After all, the show's demographic consists of horny teenage boys.
Admittedly, there are a lot of things I don't get about the anime subculture in America. I'm not a fangirl, but I do enjoy the occasional anime series. I expect to be wrong about a lot of things. But look up episode one of the english dubbed version of High School of the Dead on Youtube, watch through to the end of the opening theme song, and tell me that's a "normal" amount of flesh flashing.
I learned a lot of things about anime on Saturday. At episode two, Z.D. maintained her confidence, but mentioned it was strange that the self-proclaimed female brainiac of the group had pink hair--which is typically reserved for sweethearts. *Spoiler.* This girl is not a sweetheart, and often has pointy little fangs because of how catty she is (I'm learning!). By episode three, the cast consisted of a chubby boy with the psychological profile of a school shooter, a brooding hot boy with abusive tendencies, a school doctor nicknamed "Doctor Boobs" (seriously), a badass chick with a kendo, a whiny badass chick with a spear, and the self-proclaimed genius with pink hair. All of them have huge, jiggly boobs (Dr. Boobs even has her own boob theme sounds) and a fondness for hot lingerie. This is when I learned about Harem setups--which take place when the cast is predominantly female (learns stuff!).
I'll point out that zero science had taken place unless you count bouncing shoes off of zombies to determine their only remaining sense is auditory, which the self-professed genius often forgets while screaming at the miscreants around her. On the plus side, there is a ton of ass kicking with minimal to moderate blunders committed by the weaker sex, necessitating masculine rescues despite all indicators pointing to competent badassery on the part of the woman up until said blunder.
Even Annie seemed doubtful.
The highlight of the season is episode six: "In the Dead of the Night." This is when I was reminded communal bathing is very standard in Japan, which wasn't what made me yell at the television. I yelled at the television because during the communal bath, the girls all took turns squeezing their ample breasts to...make sure they were real? Of course two of them got drunk and Dr. Boobs physically assaulted both of the teenage boys, who proceeded to get nose bleeds (which I learned is the signal for boners <--LEARNING). For some reason Saeko decided to cook for everyone wearing an apron and a thong. All of the women wore next to nothing and had sweaty boobs while the boys remained fully clothed. This is about the time I learned that kissing is considered pornographic, but panty shots and nipple are totally cool (WTF? Oh, right. Learning.).
Awesome. Still no science, but I did enjoy the NRA card holding chubby boy fondling his weapons throughout the bathhouse orgy.
The zombies are the classic slow walking, herd mentality mouth breathers. There were a couple of entertaining references, including a cringe worthy Romero joke. People smashed in many heads. I thought about taking up some self defense classes and stock piling water. I checked out the Twitter hashtag #TheInternetNamesAnimals (How did I not know about this sooner???) and picked up some awesome Scottish slang.
There was zero science until the last episode when pink-haired genius spent two minutes (generously calculated) explaining a high altitude nuclear explosion which produced a monster EMP.
If you can flip off the feminist switch, the series is entertaining, but it's structured like just about every zombie movie mashed up with elements from B slasher flicks (boobs and screaming). Considering I only mentally wandered off to the Internet twice and I got to spend time with a good friend, it was a day well spent. However, if I had watched it alone, I wouldn't have made it through the first episode.
Verdict: High School of the Dead has no place on our panel.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.