After the thrashing I gave the first episode of Highschool of the Dead, I wasn’t really expecting much from the series. Madhouse seemed to be focusing far too much effort on the fanservice for my tastes. However, I did hold on to a shred of hope that the absurdity of the first episode was partially a ploy to attract viewers who may not have bothered with it. I don’t like what that sort of strategy implies about anime fans, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have some basis in reality.
Thankfully, if episode two is any indication, my theory seems to be correct. This episode was more entertaining and significantly less insulting to my intelligence than the first. I’ll explain in detail after the jump.
The story for this episode is split between three perspectives. We start off watching Kohta Hirano and Saya Takagi (the requisite tsundere of the show) sneak around the school. Kohta uses his knowledge as a gun otaku to craft a makeshift rifle out of some plywood and a nailgun, and Saya, a self-described genius, figures out the zombies only respond to sound. Meanwhile, Saeko Busujima is roaming calmly through the halls, bashing zombies with her sword and being the only female character who’s both competent and not annoying in the slightest. Sadly, Saeko’s also responsible for saving the life of Shizuka Marikawa—the school nurse—so I guess even she has flaws. Finally, we see Takashi and Rei escape the roof by blasting the crowd of zombies out of the way with a fire hose. All three groups eventually meet each other by following the sound of Saya’s blood-curdling screams. In one of my favorite scenes in the episode, they arrive just in time to see her plunging a power drill into a zombie’s head.
First, I’ll address the elephant in the room: yes, there’s still fanservice. Luckily for me, it isn’t nearly as prolific and in-your-face as it was in the first episode, so I wasn’t getting constantly distracted by pandering. The exception to this is, of course, Shizuka, who only survives so fans can have some huge breasts to stare at. I thought she was a waste of space in the manga, and I can’t imagine my opinion is going to change for her anime appearance. Especially because her breast-and butt-jiggles are constantly accompanied by head-slappingly cheesy “boing” sound-effects.
Other than Shizuka, my only problems with the episode were Saya’s irritating personality and Rei and Takashi’s clichéd and silly reaction to barely touching hands. They act like they just saw each other naked or something. You two are supposed to be childhood friends! Minor physical contact shouldn’t be that big of a deal!
Overall, this was an entertaining episode. I’m having a much easier time enjoying the action now that it’s not constantly punctuated by gratuitous fanservice, the animation quality is still as good as it was in the first episode, and the cast has expanded to include my two personal favorites: Kohta and Saeko. I doubt it will ever be my favorite anime of the season, but things are certainly looking up.
SIMULCAST NOTE: You might remember from my episode one review that I complained about the laughable typos and poor typeface choice of the Anime Network’s subtitles. I only caught one easy-to-miss typo this time: they wrote “could’t” instead of “couldn’t”. There may have been others I didn’t notice, of course, but it’s a big improvement.