Horror and anime go hand in hand. Ever since Manga Entertainment hit U.K shores in 1994 with such revolutionary classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Street Fighter: The Movie they have also released a whole host of animated horror straight from Japan.
Covering all types and genre’s from Blood: the Last Vampire to the brilliant psycho thriller Perfect Blue to the controversial extreme gore of Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend the company has even moved into live action movies like Tokyo Gore School and Higanjima: Escape from Vampire Island.
It’s most recent release is another school set shockfest, High School of the Dead. This wonderfully named TV series based on the hit manga written by Daisuke Sato and illustrated by Shoji Sato comes to DVD and Blu-Ray with all 12 episodes of zombie filled school uniform madness to relish and enjoy.
The plot is brain munchingly simple as a normal boring school day at Fujimi High School deteriorates into chaos and confusion with a zombie outbreak infecting staff and students alike.
Forced to fight for their survival a rag tag group of kids accompanied by the sexy but dim school doctor end up forced together despite their differences unified by necessity attempting to escape the death trap that is their school and hoping to find their parents and loved ones all the while on the run from the undead.
High School of the Dead can be best described by two words, gore and smut.
For a series about zombies to not be filled with head exploding, sword chopping, gut busting action would be a tragedy indeed and High School of the Dead makes sure to deliver with excellent action throughout. Stylised and artistic at times it is also rather more nasty and scary than you might imagine with creepy moments and plenty of jumps to keep horror heads happy.
And then there is the smut. Packed full of school girls in short skirts and tight tops and buxom beauties screaming their sizable lungs out High School of the Dead is as obsessed with the flattering female form as it is with the living corpses.
With extremely excessive knicker shots and breast sound effects appearing throughout you would be forgiven for thinking you where watching Carry on Zombie Outbreak and many will find the overt sexualisation at best slightly strange and distracting and at worst entirely inappropriate and sexist.
Thankfully High School of the Dead serves up the series with a heavy dose of humour and postmodern aplomb. Referencing Romero along with other movies each episode strikes a great balance between drama, scares and laughs helped along by the great characters which include a hero and his unrequited love, a nerdy boy with a nail gun and a cold as ice school girl kendo master.
Whether you view the mass amount of gratuitous nudity, strong language and graphic violence as symbolic of the desensitisation of youth of today, as a hark back to the exploitation movies of horror’s heyday or simply as a huge laugh High School of the Dead is definitely well worth watching.
A must for all anime fans for everyone else High School of the Dead may not be on a series on the same level as The Walking Dead but it is a fun and a very valid and original additional to the zombie genre with a dark side balanced out by a bizarre amount of boobs and babes.