Project Haruhi

Review: Highschool of the Dead 5


The fifth episode of Highschool of the Dead is a perfect example of how to kill your momentum. Even though I may not have liked all of the previous episodes, I think they did a good job of slowly building the tension and scope of the zombie epidemic. By contrast, this week's episode meanders toward the resolutions of problems that were brought up last week. It doesn't help that the writing is a mixed bag of good, mediocre and terrible characterizations. These problems combine to create what is arguably the worst episode of the series so far.

I'll explain why after the jump.

Note to artists: that's not how perspective works.

First of all, the pacing is bad. Not Dragonball Z or Naruto levels of bad, but definitely a step down. For example, the primary conflict that's resolved in this episode is whether or not Saeko, Saya, Kohta and Shizuka break off from the group the perverted teacher, Koichi Shido, is forming. It's clear within the first couple minutes that they will leave him, but they still feel the need to spend ten minutes discussing it and listening to the teacher give long, absurdly dramatic speeches. Takashi and Rei's side-plot, thankfully, is much more brief; but I can't help but feel like some of this stuff could have been resolved in episode four.

Speaking of Shido, I really hate him. Not because he's evil, though. I hate him because his dialogue is laughably over-the-top and anvilicious. Jon mentioned in the most recent Bakacast Briefs that the behavior of the rapist in episode four felt less like a normal human breaking down under extreme tragedy and more like a prop meant to show how bad the situation was in the most cliche way possible. That sentiment perfectly describes Shido, too. This is a character who regularly engages in mustache-twirling villainy, complete with dramatic arm-flailing and evil laughter. His facial expressions alone should easily cancel out whatever charisma he might have (which is very little). Yet we're supposed to believe he can brainwash half the students on the bus? Sorry, but I'm not buying it. He's not a character. He's just a plot device.

In contrast to Shido, the two snipers introduced at the begging of this epsisode---Rika Minami and some guy who doesn't get a name yet---have a believable rapport. So the creative team behind this show can make realistic characters.; they just seem to get lazy from time to time. It's unfortunate that they get lazy with such prominent characters as Shido, Saya and Shizuka.

Seriously. Who would EVER trust a dude with that expression?

Worse than Shido, though, is the fight scene at the end where the kids clear out the bridge. Now, let me be clear: in and of itself, the fight scene is really good. It's one of the best scenes in the show so far. That said, it feels completely out of place. One of the things I like about Highschool of the Dead is that it attempts to portray a zombie apocalypse in a somewhat realistic fashion. Normal, unprepared citizens are freaking out and getting slaughtered, but the military (who are well-trained and have plenty of resources) is doing just fine. Even our main characters haven't done anything extraordinary. They've manages to survive by using their relatively mundane talents to the fullest...and getting a little lucky, of course. And then without warning, at the end of the this episode, everyone becomes a ninja. Takashi can suddenly pull off complex motorcycle moves, and Rei is almost as good at close-combat as Saeko. It makes no sense.

"I know bike-fu."

Honestly, I'm not sure what kind of show HotD is trying to be at this point. Is it a fairly realistic horror show? Is it an over-the-top action show? Is it a harem show that happens to have zombies? I really wish it would choose a path and stick with it, since this indecision hurts the overall narrative.

So even though episode five had the refreshingly competent and jovial snipers and a visually impressive fight scene, it ended up being a disappointment. It did, however, make me realize that HotD is at its best when it focuses on action and building tension, not when it focuses on character interaction. Hopefully, when the show starts adapting the later chapters where action is more prevalent, it will actually be fun for me to watch.

About Dustin

Dustin (aka Stilts) enjoys playing and yelling at video games, especially RPGs. He also likes super robot shows... the more outrageous the plot, the better!
  • I'm not surprised at all at the statements in this post. I found the fight scenes and “the evil teacher”, sorry I'm terrible with names of characters that simple characterizations, absolutely laughable. I mean how much flailing can that damn teacher do before he smacks a person, or zombie, in the face? Just like his mannerisms, they're extremely exagerrated. Just like the fight scene, in a world where breaking a leg pretty much means death melee guy rides his bike up a truck and onto a bridge! WTF?! I feel somewhat ashamed for letting the awesome fight scene and the delicious boobies at the beginning of this episode distract me. Highschool of the Dead is starting to feel like a bad, or campy show that has enough flair to make you forget that it's not very good. But it has only been 5 episodes, so maybe I'm overreacting.

  • Highschool of the Dead is starting to feel like a bad, or campy show that has enough flair to make you forget that it's not very good.

    Quoted for TRUTH!

    HotD had promise at the start, but that has since evaporated. Aside from the inclusion of zombies, this series is just like any other mediocre fanservice/action title. The end result, naturally, is rather predicable: the fanboys eagerly foam at the mouth, worshiping every panty shot and impaled ghoul, while the rest of us groan at the stupidity of it all.

    Now, before said fanboys start flaming me, let me say that liking HotD does not makes you objectively wrong. To quote The Spoony One:

    My crusade is against blind worship. I love a lot of weird stuff, but I can still admit that it’s flawed. I don’t care that you love Doctor Who, but don’t try to claim that it’s never sucked. It has. It does. But real fans can still love something in spite of– no, because of its flaws.

  • J

    i have 3 words… “Best… Fight-scene… Ever…” but as for the rest of the show… not so much…

    the characters are a bit flat and dont really have much personality to them.
    they are basically seen in just about every anime.
    the clutz (the female teacher)
    the annoying bitch (that one girl who seems to have a love intrest in the nerd)
    the light yagami ripoff (you know who i’m talking about)

    i mean, it gets old after a while.

    however i will continue to watch the show…

  • “Best… Fight-scene… Ever…” That’s actually 4 words but whatever I’ll just assume that you never passed math class or something. By the way I doubt that Saya will fall for Hirano at the end of the series I was thinking that she’d fall for Takashi by the end but that’s just me in my humble opinion.

  • Anon

    You can blame the manga writer. Its pretty much how the school teacher was seen as.

  • Kame

    In defense:

    First: The Shido character is similar to two-face from the batman series, on the one hand he can appear incredibly eloquent and charismatic to one group, while being a being of pure-evil to another. However the audience is privy to both sides and typically only remembers what his predominate role is, in this case… one evil brainwashing psychopath.

    Second: Ninja skills and realism… last I checked, this was an anime… an anime about a zombie apocalypse… where all the females are ridiculously hot… given these facts I would accept just about anything for example if the main character suddenly turned into a gundam and began eating the zombies to sustain power…. If you want realism, go watch the PGA tour. No surprises there, at least until Tiger gets his swing back.

    Final comment: Your piece seriously needs some work in the grammar/spelling sections if you are ever going to be a legit editor.

  • Would you care to point out any of these alleged spelling and grammar errors in this post? In exchange, I will catalog the ones you made.

    1. Two-Face, Batman and Gundam are proper nouns, and should be capitalized.
    2. Your use of commas in the first paragraph is incorrect. Since you seem to have strung together several independent clauses into two run-on sentences, semicolons would be more appropriate.
    3. Your second paragraph has no logical structure. It appears to be a series of sentence fragments and dependent clauses linked together with ellipses, making it only marginally coherent.

    Final comment: You are an idiot who has no idea what you’re talking about. Good day.

    • LateToTheParty

      I think Kame’s points about the anime are perfectly valid. But responding to a juvenile comment about your writing with an equally juvenile comment tells me all I need to know about your professionalism.

  • Consider yourself told, Kame.