Anime’s Best and Worst of 2013

Sad to say that this year, I didn’t stay up-to-date on my anime viewing as much as I should have. As big an otaku as I am, I got kind of behind on all the new titles that were released in 2013 and spent most of the time playing catch up on some of last year’s popular shows. However that is not to say that there weren’t some real good animes to come out this year! From the few that I did see, such as Beyond the Boundary, Psychopass and Blade of Tempest, I would have to say that 2013 rolled some of the best show I’ve seen in a long time.

However, with every hit there is bound to be a few misses here and there. For this review, I’m going to talk about my picks for this years best and worst animes to be released this year. Expect a pretty short list of course, so here’s hoping that new year, I’ll get my butt into gear and start overdosing on every new titles out there.

Perhaps my number one pick of Best Anime of 2013 shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone when consider the level of attention it generated from both the public and fans alike.

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan was most definitely this year’s most talked about and most hyped anime of 2013. Beginning as a relatively unknown manga from an equally unknown writer of Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan exploded on the scene with a powerfully gripping plot the likes I had only seen on such dramas series like The Walking Dead. The story of mankind on the brink of extinction due to the presence of colossal, mindless giants whose seemingly soul purpose is to devour humans was terrifying enough, but this series pulled no punches in showing just how dark and bleak the world is with the no-holds-barred showcasing of character death in just about every episode. Just like with The Walking Dead, you quickly learned that you really couldn’t get used to anybody because there’s always a chance that the person you spent the better half of three episodes getting to know could be dead and gone by the time the show ends. The not-knowing was part of the thrill of watching; not-knowing who was going to make it, not-knowing the origin of the Titans themselves and the not-knowing what kind of secrets every character seemed to be hiding.

The characters are all likeable and relatable. You find yourself rooting for someone and by the time that one episode is over, you’re keeping your fingers crossed that they live long enough to see how it all ends.

From the gorgeous art style to the truly exciting action sequence and the blood pumping soundtrack, Attack on Titan was everything that fans was looking for in an anime that could get everyone excited about the genre. With 25 episodes, an OVA and video games planned to be released, this is the one anime I can safely say I watched again and again for the majority of 2013.

Even with some of the best animes that came out in 2013, there were others that didn’t quite make it in my book. Here’s my choice for Worst Anime of 2013.

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Oh Diabolik Lovers…you just missed the mark.

For anyone who knows me well enough, knows my guilty pleasure of unadulterated, pure shameless shojo. If it’s reverse harem in any way, I’m all over it like butter on hot popcorn. So when I came across this shojo anime about vampire pretty-boys, my instant reaction was: anime Twilight. And I was right. Regrettably so, it seems. The story of a young girl shipped out to live in a big spooky mansion that is home to six vampire teens seemed like something I could venture in. However, where I was expecting romance, I was instead treated to a rather uncomfortable 12 episode series that tittered so close to the edge of a public service announcement about abusive relationship. The premise of the show, as I said, is of a young girl who is mysteriously set off to live in a strange mansion with equally strange residents. The other people living in the mansion are vampires who are not at all happy to have a stranger living with them, and in every single episode, they make that point abundantly clear with their constant verbal and physical abuse of their female guest.

Being vampires, the boys forcibly drink from her in ways that you as the viewer are screaming at the screen “NO MEANS NO!” They verbally abuse her with degrading names. One character going as far as giving her the nickname “Bitch-chan”.  It’s later revealed in the episode that the girl was sent there to serve as a sacrifice (big surprise) and the boys have no problem in making sure that the girl knows that they don’t care for her life by any means.

Aside from the truly unlikeable characters, the anime itself isn’t that good. The story suffers from very little to none progression whatsoever. With just 12 episodes, this isn’t much time to really get to know the characters and, sadly, two thirds of the show is used to showcase each character’s abuse. It certainly doesn’t help that each episode is just fifth teen minutes long! How exactly are we supposed to get to know any of these, let alone like them, when fifth teen minutes is all we get? And it’s fifth teen minutes of seeing what horrible people everyone in the show is? By the end, the boys still don’t like the heroine any more than they had in the beginning, and yet she choices to stay in some strange from of Stockholm Syndrome.

From what I’m told, this anime is based off a popular otome game and is supposedly has a much deeper story line with richer, more thought out characters than what was translated into the actual show. If that was true, then why wasn’t that the focus of the show rather than the uncomfortable, messed up, dark train wreck that was Diabolik Lovers the anime? In the end, I couldn’t like this anime at all. Despite the eye-pleasing art work and animation, seeing a romance where no one really liked each other by the time it was over wasn’t exactly what I call enjoyable.

Here’s to you 2013! Thanks again for the all the great animes and here’s hoping that 2014 brings more giant robots, attacking titans, and shameless shojo for me to enjoy!

The Weird World of Otome Games

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Ah…otome games. Any self-respectful otaku fan-girl I’ve known or have ever talked to has at least once in her life indulged in the tantalizing satisfaction of a Japanese dating sim.  The genre of otome games are what I like describe as “a high-school girl’s guilty pleasure”. Though lacking in some departments that otherwise turn-off players off, such of immersion of story and characters and at times lacking a general plot all together, as someone whose been otome games for some time, I can honestly say I can see the appeal.

For anyone who doesn’t know, otome games are essentially made up of visual novels and that are generally targeted towards a female audiences. The main character in these games is almost always the player, taking on the role an almost always faceless heroine. The game usually begins in the form as would an role-playing game. The player inputs a name of their choosing (usually their own) that the male characters will refer to throughout the game-play. The main goal, aside from the plot goal, is to have the desired partner fall in love and have a relationship with the player character.

While the genres of otome games range from all  types of sub-genres such as action/adventure, time periods dramas to crime-solving mysteries, there is usually always single female main character, and several good-looking males of varying in personalities and personas.  The genre has story elements that usually found in shojo manga, and in terms of plot, it at times leans heavily on the genre of reverse harem (males character all competing for a female character’s affection) In recent popularity, there has been a huge popularity of games targeted towards women that are focused more on romantic relationships between men. These are known are boys’ love games and usually the two genres are kept separate.

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Otome games tend to fall into two standards of game-play: visual novels or simulations.

In the visual novels of otome, the player proceeds in the story by selecting dialogue or action choices which affect their relationships in a decision tree format. For example, the male character may make a joke about the player’s hair or clothing. The player then has a choice of whether to act shy, laugh and become embarrassed towards the male character. Either response with have an impact on the relationship, either advancing it or hurting it. How the character response to certain events determines whether or not the player receives a “good ending”.

In a simulation otome, there are other game-play which affects the plot, either by playing mini-games or puzzle games in order to raise their stats. The main character (the player) often will have to meet several parameters, such as looks, style, intelligence, charm or talent that can be raised through various activities while playing. The potential partners usually require a certain parameter or parameters to be at a certain level for them to fall in love with you.

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There is also often a pure dating aspect of game-play in simulations. This involves asking or being asked on dates by the love interest, doing an activity with them, and responding to their questions or comments. The player has a choice of responses, and a correct answer will raise your standing with that character.

Recently, the popularity of otome games for moblie phones and devices are grown. The set-up I found is similar to that as one would find Neo-pet or Farmville. The player is given an Avatar that they can dressed up in various hair styles and clothing by points or “game-play money” that is earned by the number of times of account login.  The story is progressed usually is dependent on how much “energy” has been generated over a certain waiting period. Additional game-play money or energy can be purchased through micro-transactions. Usually, I’d have an issue of micro-transactions in gaming, but I’ve found with moblie otome games, it’s not a pressing requirement. The player simply has to wait a good hour or two for the energy to recharge until they can play again, similarly in games such as Candy Crush.

At certain points of the games, when the player passes certain requirements, special events can occur, often with a “CG” (computer graphic) as a reward. This CG is a set picture featuring the love interest and sometimes the main character in a pose, followed by special some dialogue. Often times the good ending to otome games results in the player and the male character getting married and going on a honeymoon. Since majority of otome are targeted towards a teenage market, there is little to no explicit sexual images in the game. Unlike in eroge games, also known as H-games, which are Japanese dating sim that feature erotic content and strong sexual situations. Another reason being that a large portion of otomes are released onto Playstations and Nintendo platforms.

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I said before that I can see the appeal of playing otome games, though now that I think about it, it’s not easy to describe. Otome games are for the hopeless romantic in all of us. They are an outlet for the whirl-wind, fantasy romance that most girls can only dream about where they are the object of their idol man’s affection. It’s a fun to lose yourself in it all, even through at times otome story aren’t the most believable or realistic.

I intentionally thought going in that I was much too a cynic towards romance as whole to ever take the games seriously. But as I played, I did find myself getting wrapped up in the game-play as well as the romance. I’m…a bit embarrassed to say that there were times that I got so into the moment that when my turn was up, I contemplated to idea of purchasing extra energy just so I can see what happened next in my relationship.  The stories may not be the deepest I’ve read and really, choosing the direction I wanted my romance to go wasn’t as hard as the game makes it out to be. Nonetheless, I can honestly say I did enjoy playing.

So yeah, otome games aren’t anything ground-breaking in anyway. Really, they’re simply outlets for fangirls to express their wanton desires to get with pretty anime men. But you know what? That’s o.k. We all have our guilty pleasures.

Fan-boys have their late night fantasies that involve Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and a can of whip cream while listening to Warrent’s Cherry Pie.

Fan-girls have their fantasy weddings with anime ninjas and prince of their chosen.

Attack on Titan : Best Anime of All Time?

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Have you ever come across a show that not only became an instant favorite, but also leaves such an impression on you that it changes how you see anything else on television today?

That is how I felt after watching the first available episodes of Attack on Titan. A friend suggested I check out this series, promising that I wouldn’t be disappointed. And while I can say with all honesty that he was right, he failed to mention just how much an emotional impact it would have on me.

Before I start, I should say that this won’t be a  complete review of the series or the manga seeing as how episodes are just being made available to the states through Crunchyroll . I’ve only seen up to episode fourteen thus far. As soon as the entire series has been released, expect a full review to follow. Until then, this blog will be my opinion on what I’ve seen so far.

Plot

The protagonist Eren Yeager seeks to rid the world of the man-eating Titans

The protagonist Eren Yeager seeks to rid the world of the man-eating Titans

The story centers on a world where humanity is on the verge of extinction thanks to the threat of giant humanoid creatures called Titans. These 3-15 meter high creatures attack and devour humans on sight, although it doesn’t appear that these giants eat for survival but merely do it instinctively. The Titans have reducing the human populations by the billions, and have forced those that have remained to retreat into a three-layered walled city. The walls stand at fifty meters high and have successfully kept out the Titans for hundreds of years.

Life has been relatively peaceful for the most part. Humanity has resided to its walled -comfort, but the threat of the Titans remains ever present. Recon Corps venture out of the city from time to time in hopes of reducing the Titan’s numbers and hopefully learning what they can to defeat. However, this has proved a fruitless effort. Each time the Recon Corps leave, only a handful return. And in the hundred years of isolation, next to nothing has been learned about the Titans.

One day, a colossal 60 meter-high Titan (the first of its kind ever encountered) appears out of no where and easily destroys the first wall of the city. The flood of Titans enter the city and begin devouring the resident is a bloody massacre.

Eren Yeagear escapes the massacre, but not before he witnesses the gruesome death of his mother, having to watching her be eaten at the hands of smiling Titan. From that day forth, he vows to destroy all Titans and to one day retake the world that he has been denied seeing beyond the walls. He joins a military Corps, along with his adopted sister and best friend but all three soon realize the fighting Titans involves so much more than talent and twice the sacrifice.

Pros

I honestly could spend all day talking about all the things that Attack on Titan gets right. I would like to quote Rebecca Silverman of Anime News Networks who is stated to say that it:

“is both gorgeous and appealing in its visuals”, and “an excellent mix of what 19th century Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe defined as horror versus terror: the one is physical, making you want to look away, and the other is intellectual, making you want to know what’s going to happen next.”

This statement is entirely true in my opinion.  Attack on Titan does a fantastic and mind-blowing job at setting up the concept of just how much danger the character are actually in. The threat of the Titans is made real to viewer not just the scale of their size, but also their appearance. They shamble like zombies with odd expressions of either demented happiness, rage-filled anger, heart-breaking sorrow or some lack one entirely.

The Titans may look human in appearance, but aside from that, they are mindless and soulless.

The Titans may look human in appearance, but aside from that, they are mindless and soulless.

Whenever the Titans appear, you know that you’re in for a slaughter. Whether or not these creatures have any form of consciousness is always on your mind as you watch them march on a city. It is honest-to-God terrifying to watch a giant feed, seemingly blank-faced and oblivious. But it is even more terrifying to see the human battle these creatures while at the same time trying to keep their own fears from overwhelming them. Not an easy task by any means. There are plenty of moments where crack under the fear of death that led into madness.

And it is all completely relate able and very scary.

The show does NOT shy away from the death scenes. A fair warning to anyone seeing the series the first time: there will be blood

The show does NOT shy away from the death scenes. A fair warning to anyone seeing the series the first time: there will be blood

Perhaps what makes moments all the more terrifying is the music. I haven’t come across animes that have a well-fitting score to match the essential mood and theme of the show. I can perhaps only mention a few off the top of my head, and Attack on Titan does it oh so well. The music feels…huge, which is great when dealing with a show about giants. Loud drums, heavy-metal guitars mixed in with orchestra-style vocals, the likes I have only heard in Final Fantasy games. Ranging from epically fast paced for heart-pumping action scenes to dread filling vocals and tolling church bells that make you feel absolute horror at the sight of approaching giant; the music hits every note perfectly.

In short, you’ll feel like a bad ass just listening to it.

Cons

The Best Anime of All Time? A bold, yet not exaggerated truth

The Best Anime of All Time? A bold, yet not exaggerated truth

Now many have gone as far as to say that this anime is by far the best anime to ever have been made. Carlos Santos of Anime News Networks has said that:

Few get as close to perfection as Attack on Titan does.

While I won’t go as far as to say that this is the anime to rule them all (seeing as how I’ve haven’t seen the entire series), I will say that this is certainly the best I have seen in a very long, long time. What makes an anime truly great is how well and far it’s willing to push the boundaries of its story. But I admit that after watching the first episode, the level of dark and unsettling elements the show displayed in just the first couple minutes made me a bit uncomfortable. The death scenes didn’t hold anything back however, and for someone who isn’t used to kind of stuff, it will be pretty shocking the first time. I’m not going to say that this series is for everyone. It is very unforgivably graphic and the constant death and people munching can feel a bit unnecessary. Especially when it feels like it’s happening every five minutes.

Yeah...it's just like that.

Yeah…it’s just like that.

In fact, the death scenes are so frequent that it feels as though that it s the majority of show since so much focus seems to centered on just that. The overwhelming fear that the characters express in just about every scene does its job a little too well. You get so drawn in the moment that you may just need to deflate with something cute, fuzzy and non-threatening if you want to sleep at night (see picture above).

However, the dark elements service a purpose in making the world that the characters live in a reality and thus making the viewer all the more involved. It makes the threat of the Titans real and also the characters feel real. So yes, while you run the risk of potential scarring for life, realize that this is one of those rare moments where it’ll be for the benefit of an epic story further down the line. With only a handful of episodes released so far, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not excited to see where the story is going to go next.

And on a side, if the opening theme doesn’t have you pumped up and feeling like a bad-ass, then watch something else you wuss!

Amnesia Review : Is it Worth Watching, or Better Off Forgotten?

Amnesia is based off the 2011 Japanese visual novel series by Idea Factory.

Amnesia is based off the 2011 Japanese visual novel series by Idea Factory.

I’ve spent a lot time watching a lot of anime to known which sort of genres pique my interests. Frankly, I’ve found that I have a particular interest for when it comes to shojo anime. For those of you who aren’t familiar, shojo anime is usually marketed to a female audience that often focus’ on human and romantic relationships and emotions. In short, the shojo genre is for those who enjoy a good romance. Which is sort of strange for someone like me to be into that sort of thing since I don’t particularly care for romance at all. Give me horror any day!

I guess you can say that shojo anime is my guilty pleasure. So when I was browsing through my queue on Crunchyroll, I came across something called Amnesia. I had about this anime previously, and judging from the title card, it looked…promising.

Well, for awhile, it was.

Plot

Amnesia's main character is a girl that is given no name, and simply goes by Heroine.

Amnesia’s main character is a girl that is given no name, and simply goes by Heroine.

If I were to describe the premise of Amnesia, I would probably say it’s a cross between Groundhog’s Day and Final Destination.

Wow…that was perhaps the weirdest comparison I have ever made. Please, just bare with me here.

The story surrounds a young girl who wakes up one day to discover that she, you guessed it, has amnesia. She has no memory of who she is, where she is or anything else about her life and the people in it. The cause seems to be due to the fact that a spirit going by the name of Orion has attached itself to her soul by mistake and cannot free himself. For the first part of the story, it focus’ on this girl’s journey to navigate through her memory-less life while trying to figure out who she was. Along the way, she picks up bits and pieces from flashbacks but is unable to make a connection on who she once was.

And then, she dies.

Yeah. She dies.

Only to wake up again as if from a dream on the exact same date as before. In fact, as the story progresses, Heroine (seriously, that’s her name) finds herself in strange loop every time she wakes up and ultimately meets her death again and again. The date, August 1st, seems to hold some kind of significance for her as it always the same date every time she wakes. To make matters all the more confusing, every time she wakes up, she finds the world slightly different from the last one. Meaning whenever she wakes up, she is in a relationship with at least one of her friends.

Each time Heroine wakes, she is in a relationship with a different man. From top left down: Shin, Toma, Ikki, Kent, Ukyo, Orion (her guide only)

Each time Heroine wakes, she is in a relationship with a different man. From top left down: Shin, Toma, Ikki, Kent, Ukyo, Orion (her guide only)

Every world has a slight difference from the last one Heroine visits, and each one seems to harder and harder to navigate through. There are times that Heroine will find herself mixed up in problems that she has no memory getting involving in the first place.

There is one constant factor in each world she visits though. A strange character name Ukyo that continuously appears and seems to know Heroine as well as the fact that she has lost her memory, why she must repeat the same day, the significance of the date August 1st, and why Heroine dies in every world she visits.

Pros

The visuals are absolutely just gorgeous to look at. The colors are soft yet bright and pretty that makes you feel that you’re looking at a painting, and the character designs are uniquely drawn to match their personalities. The characters themselves are very appealing. Each has their own charm and independent style that it’s near impossible to end up rooting for one whenever Heroine visits a different world.

  In shojo anime where the main factor centers around reverse-harem (anime where the female character is the object of affection for a group of male characters), this is the basic formula. And as someone who loves this sort of thing, this is gooey fan-girl candy.  Sure, the romance can be over-the-top and sometimes unrealistic, but that’s the whole point of romance after all.

Cons

This series is short.

Sadly, with only thirteen episodes, we are only given one episode for each different world and different hook up. Which is unfortunate because the time spent with each couple leaves you wanting to see how the relationship grows and evolves. But no; as soon as we’re getting comfortable with one relationship the world changes and we carry onto the next. This feels rushed and doesn’t gives enough time to really connect with our main character as well as her love interests. In fact, they become more like side characters that don’t really have a place.

Which in a shojo anime, that’s considered a big no-no.

Also, the mystery surrounding Heroine’s memory loss is built up to be rather well in the first few episodes. You’re curious as to know what it’ll led up to, but unfortunately fails to deliver when it matters the most: the ending.

The ending is not particularly bad. It’s just not good. As I said, the mystery of Heroine’s memory loss has you interest at the get-go, but with only so many episodes and not enough time to build on it, the ending suffers from the fatalist of moves. At the last possible moment, we are introduced to a character whom is supposed to have the answers to everything and who has all the power and can give you the life of your choosing.

Pick an ending. Any ending. Wait a minute...this sounds familiar...

Pick an ending. Any ending.
Wait a minute…this sounds familiar…

The ending is just lazy, cheesy and downright confusing. It falls back on some of the oldest shoe-honed cliche of bad story-telling which is sad for a premise that had so much promise.

SPOILER ALERT HERE!!

Heroine is given the chance by the newest introduced ‘God’ character to return to her original world with her original memories by choosing a playing card. Each card represents her a love interest she had previously. Of course we never see what she chooses and instead we are given a slide show of all the different worlds and how she lives it with her chosen love interest.

The ending of Amnesia feels vaguely familiar...and not really in a good way.

The ending of Amnesia is sloppy at best. The slide show is nice however for those who like head-canons.

Overall, Amnesia is…okay. It’s not great by any means. If more time was given to develop the different worlds and different potentials, it could’ve been very interesting to see what could have been. In shojo, I’ve learned that it’s important to devote a lot of time to the romance between characters. It has to be all about the hugs and kiss and as much lovey-dovey that you can squeeze in. This anime doesn’t have enough and it really hurts the story.

If you want to get a really quick shojo fix (and I do mean quick), then you might like this. Pick a love interest and when the show is over, head-canon the possibilities to your heart’s content.

Overall rating: 5/10

TFS Dragon Ball Z Abridged Parody Review : 5 Years of Fandub Comedy

Dragon Ball Z Abridged Parody is a fan-based parody created by the Team Four Star

Dragon Ball Z Abridged Parody is a fan-based parody created by the Team Four Star

Awhile back, a friend of mine introduced me to the fan-based parody series Dragon Ball Z Abridged and told me that it was perhaps the funniest thing I will ever see. Naturally such a bold claim caught my attention and thus my curiosity with piqued. After watching all thirty-five episodes, I can honestly say that my friend’s proclamation may have been spot on.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show, Dragon Ball Z Abridged Parody is a  series created by Team Four Star, a non-profit group of anime fans who parody shows such as Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Hellsing but who are more well known for abridge episodes of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z. The series had gained enormous popularity since it premiered on June 5, 2008. So much so that when TeamFourStar’s Youtube channel was suspended on August 11 or 2009, it resulted in Youtube being flooded with hate mail from fans. Ultimately the channel was returned to TeamFourStar in 2010, though some videos have been removed since then.

I will admit that I wasn’t entirely sold on the series at first. Although I am a fan of DBZ and have been going back as far as childhood, I am one of those fans who get a tad over-protective over series that I grew up with and don’t really care for the source material to be messed with in anyway. That said, after watching this series, I think I prefer this version better!

Unlike the series I grew up with which was, if I have to be honest with myself, watered-down and annoyingly edited for a kid-friendly audience, DBZ: Abridged is more mature as well as its comedy. The jokes are witty and the comedic banter between characters is hilariously quick. I really have to applaud TeamStarFour here. I laughed myself silly for hours with just how well the dialogue between character was written and how snappy the comebacks were! It also helped that every actor played their part accordingly and true to form to the character they happened to be playing, giving them more of an established personality than they had in the original show. For example, the Saiyan prince Vegeta is just as stand-offish and brash but this time, but this time around he has perfect comedic timing to throw out quick one-liners and bad-ass insults. Something that I wish was in the original series.

I highly recommend this series to anyone, especially those who are fans of the original. I admit that I was wrong to assume this series wouldn’t make me laugh or would be poke fun at the show and its fans. In fact, I think I can safely say that it’s only made the show even better.

Oh! And while I have to chance, I would also like to recommend viewing TeamFourStar’s other abridge parodies as well as their video game playthrough series TFSTwoSaiyans.

 

High School of the Dead anime title card

High-school of the Dead Review – An Undead Gem

High School of the Dead anime title card

High School of the Dead anime title card

 

‘I stayed up late on the night before the day everything came to an end.’

Before I begin this review, I would just like to take this opportunity to admit that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to zombie flicks. I don’t mean to be. Don’t get me wrong; I occasionally enjoy a cheesy film with bad acting and a brainless plot now and then (no pun intended). Preferably the kind of zombie films of the 80’s where the term ‘braiiinss’ became a household phrase. But as the years went by and my tastes matured, I found that I wanted something a bit more from the genre. I desired not only a much more serious take on the monster, but also a hard, realistic view on the world that is born out of a zombie apocalypse.

Thankfully, films such as World War Z and television shows like The Walking Dead are doing just that. Zombies have become the new ‘it’ monster of this age, gathering up fans faster than I’ve seen in ages. So when I came across the anime Highschool of the Dead, as much as I am a otaku (anime-fan), I will admit I was hesitant at first. How would the zombie genre translate into anime?

Quite well actually!

Written by Daisuke Sato, the story follows a group of high-school students, their school nurse and an orphaned girl as they fight through the streets of Japan during a world wide catastrophe known as the “Outbreak”. The formula is the same with this as with any zombie story. The group must battle not only the undead, but also face additional threats of societal threats and the possible loss of their own moralities.

Cast

The cast consists of Takashi Komuro, the group’s  appointed leader, Rei Miyamoto, Takashi’s ex-girlfriend and occasional cry-baby, Saya Takagi, the group’s brain and cry-baby number two, Saeko Busujima, all-round bad ass kendo student (LOVE HER!), Kohta Hirano, the geeky recluse and gun nut and Shizuka Marikawa, the ditzy nurse. Along the way, the group come across a young girl, Alice Maresato, and her dog Zero.

Let’s started off with what’s good about the series. The story telling is excellently gripping. It’s not rushed and allows some times to pass for the tension to build and for the viewers to get know characters and their plight. The slow pace is actually one of the best features of the show. Too often in zombie films that it’s all about the action, and often at times, the plot suffers just for the sake of raising the body count. Here, time is taken to allow the viewer to get accustomed to the world’s new order of rules as well as the new dangers. The world itself becomes a character, a villain that is constantly throwing new twists at our heroes.

Another plus for the slow pacing is that we are given several moments with each character and given insight on who they were before the apocalypse began and who they’ve become now because of it. Thankfully these pauses aren’t boring. We get the chance to admire the character’s strengths, relate to their weaknesses and generally grow closer to them.

I want to take a moment now to acknowledge the music used in this series. The soundtrack is truly something to fall in love with. From the moment the world begins to go south, the music is reminiscent, if not identical, to the film 28 Days Later. Whether or not this was a homage to the film, I don’t know, but it certainly helps set the mood. And speaking of setting the mood, there’s nothing more haunted and unsettling than a scene of empty bloody streets and stores, trashed with the remnants of a former life with a woman singing opera in the background.

This series is all about atmosphere. The atmosphere of a world that is slowly coming to an end. Why not enjoy it?

The characters are very relatable, though at times they have their moments where they are downright annoying. Moments such as where Takashi’s ex girlfriend tends to berate the poor guy and adds insult to injury by comparing him to his best friend (Really? We’re going there?) But it’s moments like these that are forgivable since this is a teen drama in a way.

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If I did have to have one compliant about this series, it would be one of the features that most fans of the series would consider the best. I’ll just say it: this series is raunchy! I mean, ridiculously raunchy . If I were to make a list of the number of boob shots and panty shots and turn it into a drinking game, I’d need a new liver by Act 3. Don’t get me wrong; I ain’t no prude. I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to anime. The shameless breast jiggles and ‘convenient’ crotch shots can be a bit overwhelming for someone whose not used to it, and it could possibly cheapen how tire the seriousness of the situation the characters are in. Even so, one can simply chalk these moments as pure fan service.

And it is.

Word of warning to new comers with small children: Beware of Act 6!

All in all, Highschool of the Dead is the must have for any zombie fan. The anime follows the traditional formula on how a group of people try to survive the zombie apocalypse while adding something more to it. The drama draws you in and the action and violence keeps you hooked for the next episode. With twelve episodes with a possible another season rumored to be in works, this is a series you need your dead-head collection.

Oh, and don’t forget, it has boobs.