Saturday To Waste: HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD

Today is Sunday.  Last night was Saturday.  I’m pretty sure it’s been like that for a long, long time, but last night (remember: Saturday) was unlike any night I’ve had since… probably high school?  That’s no exaggeration.  This Saturday night was different because I actually had free time; it’s still a concept I’m trying to grasp.

Throughout my college career, I had always worked at a job that required me to work on Saturday nights.  After Grad school, I got a job that required me to work weekend nights.  And when I finally got Saturdays off, I had to be at work Sunday at the butt crack of dawn, so staying up late wasn’t really a viable option.  And let’s not forget about the kids.  I love my girls, but any (good) parent, in regards to child rearing, can tell you that:

a.) You shouldn’t watch certain stuff in front of them.

b.) “Me” time no longer exists.

c.) They always discover how to climb out of the garbage can eventually.

Maybe if I invest in a lock I can get in a full episode of Psych?

How did I get this free time?  Well, my wife took the kids up to her extremely pregnant sister’s house for a week in order to help out while her husband left on a business trip.  So, here I was in this apartment all by myself with all the time in the world!  However, this blessing soon became a curse.  Around 6:30 last night, I had nothing to do.  There were no kids to yell at, no wife to grope every time I walk by her, and zero messes to clean up.  I didn’t feel like playing video games anymore, either.  Whenever that happens, that time is usually reserved for MST3K or a stupid movie.  Since I lost the former, I decided to search for the latter on Netflix.

I sifted through a bunch of crap on Netflix until I came across the Anime section.  Wow, I thought.  I haven’t watched any Anime since I was in high school.  Then I saw it: HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD.  That sounded stupid, and there were only 12 episodes, each running about 25 minutes.  It was decided: It was time to get back into Anime, marathon-style!  Because when was I going to have another Saturday to waste?

______________________________________

HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD

I’d like to start out by saying I’m not a very good judge of movies/shows; in fact, I intentionally watch and get enjoyment from awful flicks; I always have.  Don’t expect a very insightful or thought-provoking review, especially since I haven’t watched an Anime in like 10 years.  I also want to say that I went into HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD with absolutely no knowledge of its content, so, to anyone who has actually seen the series, you can imagine my surprise.  One last thing: I want to throw up the ol’ Spoilers Alert just so I don’t piss anybody off, though I doubt that could happen.  There’s absolutely nothing to spoil!  There are no betrayals, no plot twists, no revelations, no nothing!  Or a mass quantity of nothing, to be apt.  You know what else it had a mass quantity of?  Sex and zombies!  Now, call me old-fashioned, but I’m pretty sure God didn’t intend to mix the two.

“Wrong!”  -God

Why so many gratuitous up-skirt shots and booby jiggling?  It’d typically not be something I’d complain about, but it’s thrown in there amongst all the zombies and puking and death and gore.  It’s just unsettling.  Who the hell was this movie targeted towards?  Also, aren’t all these girls, excluding the blonde school nurse, supposed to be in high school?  It’s never clear if they’re seniors or if they’re 18, but I’m just going to assume they were all of age so I don’t dwell on it any more.

It’s called “Pulling the ol’ Quagmire.”

I hope you have a second to talk about the plot because that’s all we’re going to need.  The protagonists are at school, zombies happen, society degenerates to “survival of the fittest,” characters look for way out, they find way out, more zombies, and it ends.  You ever see a movie with zombies in it?  Then you know what to expect.  H.O.T.D. doesn’t really deviate from the formula except to add more T-‘n-A.  They even go so far as to not explain why there are zombies.  They’re there, and they spread their disease.  What else do you need to know in a zombie apocalypse?  Of course, I’d like to know more, but whatever.  It’s not like I’m going to remember this show after about a week.  It doesn’t help that all the characters are generic-looking anime characters and stereotypes.  I just watched the entire series last night, and I can’t for the life of me remember any of their names.  Except the dog.  It was Zero.

He was extremely integral to the epic plot.

Besides Zero, there’s the main dude who, by the end of the series, could easily get as much intercourse as he wanted (Tenchi Muyo much?), the spear-wielding redhead who dumped the main dude for some other dude who died on the first episode, the pink-haired smart, bitchy, stuck-up chick, the fat nerd that becomes empowered by guns, the (relatively) silent samurai chick, and the big-busomed, blonde school nurse who really doesn’t do much more than have big boobs, which are huge.  Also, there’s a little girl that pees on the main guy’s back.  But she’s not the nurse, so let’s move on.

Helloooooooooooooo, Nurse!

There’s really not much character development.  It’s there, but it’s cliched and predictable, unless you’re the nurse, then there was zero development.  I suppose all her development went to her chest (Hey-Ohhhhh!).  However, the main dude did show some intriguing growth (insert your own penis joke, you pervs).

There was this one scene where he and the samurai chick locked themselves in a religious building for the night (Shinto Temple?), and they spoke about her past.  Basically, she talked about how she loved beating people to death (the screen actually flashes “I’m wet!” after she elucidates the situation) and how, because of this love of controlling someone’s life, she doesn’t deserve love from another.  In the morning, they’re confronted by zombies, and she loses her will to fight.  The hero tries something rather unorthodox to convince her that life is worth living: he squeezes the ever-loving shit out of one of her boobs.

That move expelled me from Debate!  Maybe I should’ve argued something, too?

He squeezed hard, too.  Even I started crying uncle.  I don’t know why he thought that was what she needed at that particular moment, but he convinces her to fight by almost popping one of her boobs and saying shit chicks like to hear (love and respect and I share your darkness and joy of killing and whatever).  She later asks if he meant everything he said, to which he replies, “Hellz [sic] yeah!”  After that, he does an internal monologue where he essentially says he’s only placating her darkness so she will become a ruthless killer, which in turn helps secure his chances of survival.  That’s pretty bad ass.  Also, I’m pretty sure they banged in that temple.  What debauchery!

Won’t somebody please think of the children!

Let’s talk about some of the minor characters.  I suppose I should just come out and say this (brace yourselves): this series was made in Japan.  It’s unfortunate common knowledge that a woman with big boobs in an anime rated TV-MA is going to get felt up without her consent. This occurrence is up there with death and taxes: it’s an inevitable part of life.

Big Ben Franklin

Ben put the Japanese-groping bit in there, but conservative America took it out.

One creepy, hand-wandering minor character was a teacher.  There was a subplot that involved this teacher becoming sort of like a cult leader.  They only touched on it a little, but they implied that he was only doing it for the sex and the power.  There’s a scene where he’s comforting a couple of girls and feeling them up and sniffing their hair.

This is a shot of him right after creepily stroking some under-aged girl’s face. 

Near the end of the series, the teacher and his students\disciples make it to a safe haven where the protagonists are staying, and the redhead goes nuts because he was the teacher that made her repeat a grade (for some dubious, political reason or some shit).  She doesn’t kill him, so the head of the safe haven exiles the teacher and his students because “they have been touched by evil.”  This was lost on me because I didn’t see them do anything terrible.  There were times where he let people die because they were weak (sprained ankle) or they spoke out of turn, but plenty of people were doing that.  What made him so evil?  Was it because he was feeling up vulnerable girls?  Wait a sec… that’s a good enough reason for me!  Anyway, maybe it was fleshed out more in the manga (by the way, this was a manga first), but it really didn’t make much sense.

Another minor character I want to talk about is the braces-wearing black guy.  It’s so surreal that this character exists in this PC world.  The inclusion of this character and how he’s depicted are so flagrantly prejudice that it had to be done by accident.  There’s no way the creators and animators would have consciously wanted to be this offensive.  Let me break it down: this unnamed, braces-wearing black guy holds the redhead at knife-point, demanding money and their motorcycle.  The entire time, he has a knife to her throat, and he’s molesting her.  He’s dialogue is top-notch, too; straight out of a Tarantino movie, it is.  A little “motha fuck” sprinkled here and there, topped off with “fucking fine piece of ass” and “stanky-ass zombie bitches.”  Writing gold.

Still the best black character in the whole show, by default.

I hate to cry foul, but why is their only one braces-wearing black guy in the entire series, and why does he have to do the most deplorable stuff?  He does say he’s crazy because he had to kill his whole family when they turned to zombies, but we all see what’s really going on here.  The creators of H.O.T.D. are using this character to push their agenda.  That agenda: People who wear braces are not to be trusted.

Your Anti-Bracite agenda has been clear for some time now, Japan!

Let’s get back to the boobies because do I need a reason?  They are large, and they are everywhere.  Every female protagonist has at least a D cup, and they let them flop and dangle all over the place.  It’s not at all uncommon to see women drawn this way in any medium regardless if it comes from the East or West, but H.O.T.D. takes it to another level.  It weirded me out at first, but I eventually found myself laughing at all the dumb crap they were doing with their breasts.  They’d make them bounce at inappropriate moments (sometimes without any physical reason), use them as transitions or segues, make them the center of a shot during somebody’s dialogue (or anytime, really), and even do some freaking weird crap with them, such as using one chick’s boobs to balance and stabilize an assault rifle.

I knew women were good for something!

This is easily my favorite scene in the entire series.  Not only because it’s so booby-centric, but because H.O.T.D. just decided to take what it’s been giving to us and give it to us in the most ridiculous, over-the-top way they could.  And they succeeded.  To set the scene, the gang – composed of 2 guys, 4 women, a little girl and a dog – just wrecked their Hummer, and now their backs are against a wall (or fence-thing) while a large group of zombies shuffle towards them.  One of the ladies was on top of the Hummer, and inertia decided to take her and her tits for a ride.  She lands on and hurts her back, so the main guy jumps out to assist her.  He soon runs out of bullets but remembers the lady with the hurt back is strapped with an assault rifle.  He stabilizes the gun against her boobs, and then the camera starts following the bullets in slow motion as if it were shooting a sexy remake of Freak on a Leash.

Crotch

I remember blushing when Bayonetta did this.

It’s perverse and crazy, but I was cracking up the entire time.  Well met, H.O.T.D.  Especially with the shot where it goes between the Samurai chick’s boobs.  She does a Matrix-style back bend, somehow causing each boob to flop back and forth in opposite directions.  You can imagine my relief when the bullet missed her and found its way to a zombie’s skull; I was on the edge of my seat!

If Keanu Reeves did this, I think I’d poop myself in delight.

Another noteworthy, booby-centric scene is the one where all the women are naked and playing with each others’ breasts.  This happens.  Really.  Because it’s common knowledge that this is exactly what women do when they get together.  Everybody knows that.Girls' night

I’m not showing it.  Sorry if I’m your only source for boobs on the internet.

I really don’t have much to say about it.  It’s pointless and not very funny.  I actually liked the parts afterwards when the main dude gets his one-on-one time with each of the ladies. Sexual frustration and awkwardness is always funny, but only if you’re watching.

Mel_BrooksDidn’t Mel Brooks say the same thing about sewers?

The last scene I want to talk about is the scene where the gang save the little girl.  This is actually a very powerful scene that really showcases the series’s Darwinian and “society breaks down” themes.  A man and his daughter are walking down the street where the heroes are set up in a friend’s house.  It’s night, and the heroes had agreed not to shoot their guns or turn on their lights for the remainder of the night in an attempt to prevent attracting anything, living or dead. The main dude and the fat nerd watch as the man vainly tries to persuade people to let he and his daughter – or at least just his daughter – into their home.  Desperately, he threatens to bust down the door.  The homeowners agree to let him in, and they open the door.  Thanking them, he walks in, only to be stabbed in the heart by a makeshift bayonet, a knife crudely wrapped at the end of a mop.  He stumbles back, eyes transfixed on the man – his murderer – and an old couple shaking behind him.  Babbling for his forgiveness, he slowly closes the door on the dying father and his little girl.  The father collapses, and the little girl rushes to his side.  All the noise attracts a horde of zombies.  They shuffle into the yard, surround the girl, the camera pulls back, and it fades to black.

Well, partially black.

Next thing you hear is a bullet being loaded into the chamber, followed by a gunshot and the smushy sound made when a bullet passes through a zombie’s head.  The fat nerd starts unloading on any zombie near the little girl.  The main dude asks, “I thought we weren’t going to shoot?  We don’t want to attract anything.”  The nerd simply shouts, “But it’s a little girl!”  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a father, but this was a fist-pumping moment for me.  The show had done a pretty good job building up and convincing me that they weren’t going to shoot.  For what it’s worth, this is the best scene in the series.

Overall, H.O.T.D. isn’t a very good series.  I feel it’s a bad representation of the Anime genre, considering it was the genre’s “Welcome Back” ambassador for me.  The animation was pretty good, and the music was to my liking because I love random J-Pop (I’m only referring to the opening and closing themes), but the show really didn’t add anything I hadn’t already seen when it comes to zombie apocalypses and the breaking down of society.  Of course, it did have lots of boobs and crotch shots.  I don’t know if people actually want to see this kind of stuff in their animation, especially mixed in with constant images of death, but it got a ton of laughs from me.

Ultimately, I have to say I liked H.O.T.D.  Despite all its flaws, it was a mostly fun ride that kept me interested because I wanted to see what they’d do next.  The plot didn’t hook me, but the anticipation of the next exploitative shot did.  I did eventually grow to like the characters, which took a long time.  The samurai chick especially was my favorite.  Every scene she was in was bad ass, like the time she grabbed the main dude’s hand as he rode by on a motorcycle.  She does a ridiculous spin move that mows down a bunch of zombies.  And that’s just it: when the show broke away from its own self-imposed realism and gave us something over-the-top, it was always worth it.  Had it done more of that, then it would have been a much better experience, even though you’d still have to come to terms with the fact that you’re a pervert for watching it.

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