July 6, 2010

HotD: An Ode to the Zombie Apocalypse

Posted in High School of the Dead tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:10 pm by meotwister5

After getting home from the hospital I took a peek as the Animesuki forums exploded in (exeggerated?) accolades for a show that was really nothing more than a fun excuse at boobage, female undergarments and, of course, copious amounts of Zombie-induced and Zombie-directed violence. I decided that I was not going to restrain the inner fanboy inside and just let loose as the undead hordes consumed every (sexy) schoolgirl in their path.  In ways yes, as I had suggested in that Animesuki thread, just turn off your damn brain and enjoy the show for what it is and what it will be:  violent and sexy fanservice remastered.

In the aftermath of all the consumed human flesh and all the different types of exposed panties, it was time for a bit of reflection on the entire thing.  I’ll also go ahead and point out whatever flaws the series has since I conveniently glossed over them for sheer populist blog hits (bleh!).  What I intend to do now is do an objective assessment of one of the main points of this over the top rondo of violence and gore:  An ode to the Zombie Genre.

Would you like some fries with that?

The Zombie Flick Influence

A poster on Animesuki suggested the similarities of episode 1, and in cases the rest of the original manga, to the movie 28 Weeks Later.  It’s a very interesting point considering that it really does draw a lot of influence from that movie and by extension, the Zombie Movie genre.  Most critics will likely argue that Zombie flicks are too few or too horrid to be graced with having their own genre but for the rest of us regular people who can also enjoy lowbrow entertainment, the Zombie flick is big enough of a social and entertainment phenomena to have its own genre.

Some people are likely to attribute the birth of the Zombie movie to George Romero and his quintessential Night of the Living Dead, however in reality the first zombie came out as early as 1932 meaning your grandparents were likely the first to be terrified of the walking undead.  From then on each movie in the genre would go on to run with the formula, modifying it and evolving it as the years went by, as technology for better effects meant more discerning audiences.  In ways perhaps Night of the Living Dead could be considered the father of the modern zombie flick as it drove into the mindset some of the more popular beliefs regarding a possible Zombie apocalypse:

1.  They hunger for your flesh all day, every day.

2.  They lumber around like your grandma with a hip fracture.

3.  Headshots are the only effective means of dispatch.

4.  Essentially decerebrate, Zombies act purely on instinctual and unconscious drives.  Like eating your flesh.

5.  They spread by infection, whether blood, bites or some other direct means.

High School of the Dead does not really deviate from the norm set by Romero years ago.  In the series they will want to eat you alive, they walk with speed of an invalid, smashing their brains in is the only effective way to combat them and getting bitten means you’re completely fucked.  In that sense HotD is really just formulaic: at least from what I’ve seen of the manga so far it really doesn’t do anything new to the point of being derivative.  You might call it run-of-the-mill and actually that might be a apt description.  As I’ve said in the previous post, it really only sticks to what it knows and does it with as much flash and pizzaz as you would expect from an Zombie movie.

And in that sense, if we were to judge it based on it being compared to it’s counterparts, I say it does a pretty bang up job.

Horatio Cane: Fear is a killer.

The Cardinal Rules of the Zombie Wasteland

I remember Zombieland making up a set of rules on surviving the Zombie apocalypse.  In my years of watching zombie movies and playing Resident Evil games, here’s my own subjective and likely arbitrary rules for surviving when the world has gone to the living undead:

1.  Fat guy = meat shield.

2.  You can never have enough ammo.

3.  Staying in one place is never a good idea.

4.  Sometimes retreat is the best option.

5.  Survivability is directly proportional to the amount of clothes zombies tear off of her when in a desperate bid at escape.

Consider the first rule.  The fat guy, if useless, will always slow the group down.  You can’t keep the group alive when the fat guy is having Angina Pectoris with every sprint.  The sad fact is this:  He’s likely to get you ALL killed.  If he actually decided to be prepared he would have found some way to be useful and make slowing everyone down worth it.  For this series, on the risk being a spoiler, I will say that this is one aspect where HotD defies the norm.  The fat guy IS useful, and I dare say without his skills they wouldn’t be able to survive.  I won’t say anything more for spoiler’s sake.

The next 3 rules are self explanatory.  Zombies will always find a way to break into your fortress and make all of you one of their own.  Likewise you will run out of food and most importantly ammo eventually if you don’t venture out.  This is why it is highly suggested to keep your asses on the move because you never know when your short-lived security will be shattered.  Especially when discretion becomes the better part of valor, keep yourselves on the move, your ammo close to you, and conserve them when you have to.

The picture above this section proves the final point.  That poor girl got her left subclavian artery opened up while she was still wearing all of her clothes.  Running again proves your dedication to survival, and chances are you will have most of your clothes ripped apart as Zombies grab at you in your moment of desperate flight.  I don’t understand why Zombie movies suggest that wearing less clothes makes you a better survivor.  Hell, video games even support this:  Jill Valentine was wearing a freaking tank top the entirety of Resident Evil 3.  One can only conclude that should you encounter a group that includes a man holding a SPAS-12 with his muscular pecs exposed for the world to see standing beside a girl wielding an M4A1 wearing nothing but a frilly bra and panties, then they must be some hardcore survivors.  You will want to stick with them.

Can love bloom in a battlefield?

Let’s be Objective About This!

So all this time I’ve been raving like a Rabid zombie lunatic about the show, but it is time to have some objective views and talk about the problems of the first episode and a few manga ones:

1.  It’s all the same in the end.

There is really nothing in this series that makes it “different”.  When I started the manga I was actually half expecting the series to have something that could potentially redefine or at least set it apart from all the other flicks out there but apparently it doesn’t and it won’t.  Unless you count panty shots as revolutionary, there’s nothing here that will change your view of the genre.  If you never really liked the zombie flick concept then there’s really nothing here that will change your mind.  If you’re a fan looking for something different, then you might be better of looking elsewhere.

2.  It’s really THAT over the top and unrealistic.

Besides the ridiculous arterial blood spray, the closest thing the genre has to a mind-controlling organism are parasites that can control animal behavior such as Toxoplasma gondii (this by the way is also a human pathogen).  Everything else in this series is really over the top and exaggerated almost for comic effect.  While some of the deaths are really sad, such as Hisashi’s death and the girl who kicked off her friend, everything else were close to hilarious.  Watching that girl in her gym uniform get devoured was actually almost funny.  As it stands the series really doesn’t take itself really seriously considering the supposed gravity of the situation.  If you’re looking for a serious show about life in the end of human civilization from the eyes of fragile and emotional teens then this series simply isn’t it.

Conclusion

Since I still got a patient report to write and I’ve run out of stuff to say I’ll simply quote the previous post:

It’s pure violent and perverse entertainment and most important of all, it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. The manga and the anime presents itself with full knowledge and awareness of what it wants to give the reader/viewer and doesn’t attempt to give us anything more than that.  It sticks to its guns and runs with it all the way, running through the entire pattern of the Zombie Apocalypse with a raging hard-on for Zombie murder and hot schoolgirls.  This is simply full blown, adrenaline pumped entertainment.  Everything else is an afterthought.

The series has really a lot of faults, more than I would have actually bothered to put here, but in the end many of them are only downsides if you’re looking for them or if you aren’t satisfied with the series simply doing what it wants to.  In the end, if you think you can appreciate High School of the Dead for what it wants to do and stick to, then this is clearly going to be a blast.

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1 Comment »

  1. Myssa said,

    A no-brainer, I take it? 🙂

    *coughs* Okay that was corny, but trying to watch High School of the Dead with serious expectations (in term of narrative and such) is just asking for disappointment. It’s a zombie apocalypse given an anime slant, for crying out loud.


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