July 12, 2010

HotD Ep2: The Eye of the Shitstorm

Posted in High School of the Dead tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:25 pm by meotwister5

What’s a Zombie Killer without his crew?  As a general rule of the Zombieland, going lone wolf is usually not a good idea, especially if you’re not the type who has all the necessary skills and abilities covered.  Naturally no one can do everything, we all have certain specialties that set us apart from everyone else.  Some have medical skills like moi, some are good with melee fighting,some are good with guns, some are tactical thinkers, etc.  You’d likely want to form a group composed of people who have something useful they can do to benefit the group.  If you don’t have one, well you better learn something and fast because the Zombie apocalypse is inevitable (IT WILL COME ONE DAY I TELLS YOU!!).

Which brings us to the formation of the main cast of characters.  Thus, Episode 2, Escape From the Dead, our main cast of (partially) gorgeous guys and glamorous girls take a breather to plan their escape from the eye of the shitstorm.

It's actually not that different from real high school...

Compared to episode 1 all the gory and glorious chaos has generally subsided since… well most of everyone’s either a dismembered corpse or already one of the walking undead.  Episode 2 has substantially less action of sorts but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Having 24/7 everyday no holds barred action becomes generally tiring after the nth time of headshots and pantyshots, which really gives the viewer a breather and actually ask themselves what the fuck is going on.  While in certain respects this show doesn’t exactly require you to be using half your brain, it doesn’t mean that the series and it’s characters are brainless either.

Which is why I enjoyed the fact that they toned the violence down this episode, because while I enjoy watching violence be inflicted on the undead, I enjoy some time to focus of those that still cling to life.  This episode introduces us to the other characters apart from Rei and Takashi who will be making up the rest of the main cast, because you know two people who’s only abilities are killing Zombies aren’t likely to last long at the end of the human civilization as we know it.

I should also make special mention of the fanservice.  They toned it down a bit here, relatively speaking.  Aside from Shizuka who is and will always be the series’ Miss Fanservice (this blogger cannot be held liable for any and all productivity lost from being linked to TvTropes), there is a lot less obvious fanservice this time around.  By obvious I mean pointless camera angles to show panties, titties and whatever else you might think of.  The fanservice is now generally more integrated with actual scenes in the series, making them less intrusive but not any less awesome.

Saeko is made of tits and win.

As character archetypes go, well as usual HotD isn’t going to break any grounds with it.  Takashi was based over the cool and good-looking guy with natural leadership abilities.  Rei was patterned as the slightly snooty childhood friend who really likes the lead but dates his friend.  This time around we get the rest of the cast.  Kohta, pictured below, the gun and military geek with a passion for automatic weapons (He’s also the fat guy).  Saeko, pictured above, the no nonsense female fighter with a cold exterior and a caring interior.  Saya, pink-haired Tsundered genius who isn’t exactly cut out for fighting.  Lastly is nurse Shizuka, top-heavy (and I mean it literally, just look at those things!) clutz who’s the only adult of the group.

As usual it’s way too early to tell how these characters fare and how they’ll develop as the series goes.  While they may be based on the usual stock characters at the very least they have their own distinct personalities they present into the screen rather than being background characters without any lines.  It will be rather interesting how the anime will handle them.

The fat guy. He's crazy.

I called this the eye of the shitstorm simply because the episode takes a very serious break from all the violence to give a bit of development and, most importantly, a bit of planning.  No one should ever go into hell on earth without a plan.  As the epidemic rages through the city of Tokyo we and the characters are given a minute glimpse of the chaos outside and likely of the chaos to come.  It’s a moment of calm for the characters as the rest of the nation crumbles through the news casting. They can only look in horror as even the police and rescue crews are overwhelmed by the undead.  How would a bunch of high school students and busty school nurse even fare against such odds?

By planning of course.  Okay so it won’t exactly give them a Predator’s survival skill set, but planning will often be the difference between finding the next safe haven and being a Zombie’s next meal.  The series could easily have devolved in a true mindlessly violent fashion of high school chicks viciously eliminating every zombie in sight, but instead decide to show that with the gates of hell now opened, survival isn’t simply killing everyone else, but also keeping yourself alive.  One mistake can leave them all dead.

It’s very easy to just bust through, guns blazing and taking everything as they come, but the world outside is no longer the world they knew 30 minutes ago.  Friends and family are now scattered, presumed dead with only a glimmer of hope of them being alive.  Takashi and Rei intend to find their family.  Given the reality-smashing weight of the situation, one can only expect a mental and emotional break at some point.

It's a Big Damn Heroes moment.

And break it did.  My favorite scene of the episode, aside from Saeko being awesome, is the break in Saya’s cool exterior.  The stress and the weight of the situation has finally dawned on her like a light from heaven, or in this case hell.  Forced to take out her first Zombie, she finally realizes that the whole world has gone to shit, and all her experimenting and rationalizing isn’t going change the fact that in the end, it’s kill or be eaten, and you’d better be the one on the giving end of that equation.  She cries for her mother and literally has a break from reality when she finds her dirtied clothes a problem rather than the urgency of what she had just done.  It was clearly an event akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, almost like a dissociation.

I find this good, because these aren’t supermen or superwomen we have.  These aren’t battle-hardened veterans, these are simply young men and women who have only just stared death and the face and barely escaped from it.  In the end they all have to cope one way or another.  With their reality shattered before their eyes, they have yet to truly accept that fact that daily life is now over.  From here on in, it’s a battle for survival.

Yes, she wears glasses. Yes, you can fap now.

As a break and cooldown from the chaos of episode 1, I like this episode as it now brings together the cast of characters trying to cope with the gravity of the situation.  With the less action around and less Zombies that are in need of slaying, the characters have their breathing room and their space to not only figure out what’s going on, but also figure out what to do next.  As implied, the minibus is just outside, and with undead roaming the streets it’s their only means of escape.  They have to plan well.

Of course they have to.  The school was the just start.  The rest of the city is a whole different ballgame.

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