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High School of the Dead Episode 1 Review – Best In Show

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High School of the Dead Episode 1 Review – Quick Summary

In High School of the Dead Episode 1, “Spring of the Dead,” Saya Takagi found Takashi Komuro moping on the stairs. She acted furious with him for being so “stupid” because Rei Miyamoto had dumped him in favor of his best friend, Hisashi Igou. Saya was particularly angry because Takashi acted like it was the end of the world. Saya didn’t know one important detail: Takashi was right. It was the end of the world. It just wasn’t because of Rei. The shambling man trying to get into the school gate was about to make being dumped seem completely insignificant. Now the question became: Could Takashi survive it?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from High School of the Dead Episode 1

High School of the Dead Episode 1: Saya had no patience for pity parties

Saya had zero patience for self-pity. Capture from the Hulu stream.

When we meet Saya Takagi in this episode, she makes two things perfectly clear. First, she has no patience for Takashi’s self pity. Second, she’s a self-proclaimed genius. Whether she’s really intelligent isn’t immediately clear. But she’s convinced of her own intelligence. And she doesn’t hesitate to make her opinion known.

She found Takashi lamenting the fact Rei had dumped him. She lambasted him, and he half-heartedly got angry in return. But it was clear he really wasn’t feeling it. She showed him a little pity.

“You’re pretty stupid, but at least you know you are,” she said (05:00). “So if I tell you you’re stupid, maybe by some miracle you’ll be less stupid, stupid!”

At least we know she cared!

Best in Show Moment for High School of the Dead Episode 1

High School of the Dead Episode 1: Takashi made the tough decision

Takashi knew what he had to do. His reluctance showed in how he moved. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Setup: First, a Word from Our Sponsor

This being my first review of High School of the Dead, I want to make a couple of observations before I get to my favorite moment. It’s a bit of housekeeping to help my readers know what to expect from this series, both in terms of the series itself and of my opinion of the series.

First, in case you haven’t heard, High School of the Dead is heavy on fanservice. Heavy might not be the right word. Maybe I should say legendary. The series decided that it’s the end of the world, so let’s just go for it. And my opinion of that? I’m totally fine with it. My rule of fanservice is that if the characters are in control (i.e., the fanservice isn’t based on nonconsensual groping, for example), I’m not going to object.

To put this into context: The moment Rei decided to switch to acrobatic combat mode in a short skirt, there was no way to prevent her panties from being on display. Yes, camera angles played a role. No, Rei didn’t consciously decide on each of the said camera angles. But sexuality has been part of entertainment since we smeared charcoal on cave walls. It’s just better animated now.

High School of the Dead Episode 1: In High School of the Dead, if you're a young woman, it's a good idea to wear pants.

Yes, camera angles played a role. No, I’m not going to object. Not at all! And this shot just shows an unusual camera angle. Wouldn’t be sporting of me to include a fanservice shot in the text talking about how it’s okay if you don’t want to see fanservice shots! Capture from the Hulu stream.

The bottom line is this: If fanservice is a concern for you, it’s probably best you skip this series and these reviews. I don’t intend to call the show out on this topic, and I want you to have a pleasant experience here. No hard feelings if you prefer to skip it! But if you’re totally cool with the level of fanservice here, then read on!

Delivery: Takashi Would Not Have Been the Hero

That said, fanservice didn’t play a role in my favorite moment! So didn’t mean to get your hopes up or anything. Instead, my favorite moment has to do with something I’d almost completely missed the first dozen or more times I watched this series (it’s a yearly thing for me). What I missed was that Takashi very nearly wasn’t the show’s main character!

Sure, he was the first student to see the zombie infection incident at the main gate. More importantly, he understood what it meant. He also ran off to warn Rei and Hisashi what was coming. But almost immediately, Hisashi took charge. Hisashi’s the one who said they should arm themselves. He’s the one who set course for the roof. And unfortunately, he’s the one who taught them a very important lesson about infection vectors. Namely, that once you’re bitten, you’re dead.

Takashi became one of the show’s heroes when two things happened. First, when Hisashi said, “I don’t want to be one of them,” Takashi knew what his friend was asking of him. That had to be a horrible moment for Takashi. Being surrounded by zombies at arm’s length was one thing. Seeing his friend on the verge of turning drove the reality home.

Rei learned that Takashi was right.

This is the moment Rei learned something terrible: Takashi was right about Hisashi. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Second. and most importantly, Takashi decided to do what he knew had to be done. He’s a high school kid. Even though he proved he’s bright, making that decision visibly sickened him. It had to be monumentally difficult for him. But he made it anyway.

“Get away from him, Rei,” Takashi said, advancing towards his dying friend and tightening his grip on the baseball bat (18:47).

Powerful emotional moments like that, where characters have to make tough decisions, are one of the things I love about this series. Seeing Takashi step up was a treat. At least, from the perspective drama. It sucked for Hisashi!

What did you think of how rapidly the situation deteriorated? What was your best in show moment? Let me know in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “High School of the Dead Episode 1 Review – Best In Show

  1. The speed with which the situation deteriorated was a bit of a stretch, even for anime. You get bitten, and within seconds you become a zombie and your clothes start to deteriorate. As with epidemics (cough-covid-cough), it’s essentially a predator-prey relationship, and that takes a while to work out. Google your nearest Lotka-Volterra Model.
    Here’s an example.
    …and here’s a model you can download

    1. Thinking about how to dramatically portray an epidemiological event makes me realize how hard it is to get right — and keep the audience interested. For example, let’s say a zombie virus has the same incubation period of the recent pandemic you coughingly referred to. There might be some interest in showing how people got sicker and sicker, were admitted to the hospital, grew increasingly sick, maybe got processed through ICU, and died.

      You can imagine bodies beginning to pile up as hospitals and morgues were overwhelmed.

      But then you’d have the zombies radiate out from those sites, and people would have more time to get away. You’d miss the dramatic impact of the chaos we saw in this episode.

      This is my long-winded way of saying I see what you’re saying but I’ll allow it:

      It didn’t damage my disbelief and it made the story more interesting.

      You bring up a good point about their clothes. My brain asserted that as the bodies zombified, they released modified fluids that had high acidity, which discolored and degraded clothes.

      1. I think in original Haitian zombie lore it was buried for three days (which would also explain the clothes). These instant infections are more like magical girl transforms. It makes you want to have cheery music to go along with it.

  2. I have always felt that HOTD was an outstanding example of the zombie horror genre. It touches on all the tropes with subtlety and skill. My advice, even for those who are fans of fanservice, is to ignore it and concentrate on the story.

    1. That’s great advice. Like I said to Lynn Sheridan, this show grabbed me and pulled me into the world in a way few series have managed.

  3. While the fan service thing is not something I want, what really turned me off about is when they (absolutely deliberately) focused on the panties while the girl was getting eaten by zombies. That was just a bit too much.

    1. I respect that!

      It’s a little funny — my son in law cited that same scene as the reason he can’t watch the series, either!

  4. Nice! I have this series penned in to revisit in the last quarter of the year so this should ease me back into the way of thinking, not that it’s ever far from my mind.

    This first episode is such a whirlwind of activity. I love so many things about it, but the scene up on the roof is incredible. Takashi is undoubtedly the reluctant hero, but he certainly steps up when needed. There’s so much emotion when Rei begs him to stay with her and then that final shot as it pans out to show the school swarming with zombies. Im getting goose bumps just thinking about it.

    1. I almost resurrected my old post format where I listed 3 favorite moments just for this series. There was so much I liked about this episode that I feel like my own format betrayed me!

      That scene with Rei… wow. That was so visceral. I could feel her desperation and despair. Takashi’s, too. He didn’t know what to do! He was making it up as he went.

      I can’t remember a zombie series that ever drew me so far into the world. Train to Busan was close. Maybe the first season of Walking Dead. But this series is right up there.

      1. It’s my number one zombie story in any medium and I’m not even remotely ashamed to say that. And I’ve seen/read/listened to a lot of zombie stories.

        My usual episode format is about 750 words a post. I’m fully expecting to at least double that when I revisit this and probably have a bunch of bonus posts that focus on specific things.

        I’m looking forward to reliving it again through your posts in preparation.

Please let me know what you think!

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