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High School of the Dead Episode 2 Review – Best In Show

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High School of the Dead Episode 2 Review – Quick Summary

In High School of the Dead Episode 2, “Escape from the Dead,” Saya Takagi managed to keep her wits about her, but it only helped so much. The ravenous dead still blocked her way out! Fortunately for her, Kouta Hirano decided Saya looked like she knew what she was doing, so he tagged along with her. Unfortunately for her, he still saw a world where the teachers, police, of JSDF would come and save them. How could she get across to him that they were way past that? Meanwhile, the dead converged on the infirmary where one lone student, Kazu Ishi, armed only with an IV stand, was all that stood between a zombie death and the doctor, Shizuka Marikawa. With her arms full of supplies she felt she needed, did she stand any chance of escaping with her life — much less Kazu’s life?

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

Favorite Quote from High School of the Dead Episode 2

Given the options available to him, it’s no wonder he glad accepted Saeko’s offer. Capture from the Hulu stream.

There’s this one character who I think deserves mention, even if we only see him in one scene. It’s the poor student named Kazu Ishi, and he had the bad luck to be with Shizuka when the outbreak happened. She had absolutely no sense of urgency as Kazu pummeled one of the students who had come back as a zombie. Her attitude didn’t change when a half dozen of the zombies crashed through the window. All Kazu could do was stand between the doctor and the monsters. He managed to hold his position for about a second before they overwhelmed in.

That’s when Saeko Busujima arrived with her wooden kendo sword to put the zombies down. She’d just saved the doctor, but it was too late for Kazu. He’d been bitten. He saw collapsed on the floor, gasping for air. Calmly, almost gently, Saeko introduced herself and said, “I commend your courage.”

That moment felt like a breath of civilization amid the chaos all around them. He responded to it as such; he appreciated what she was trying to do. Kazu also appreciated that she didn’t sugar coat the situation. She confirmed that he understood what happened after someone was bitten. She asked if he wanted his friends or family to see him like that. Then she said, “f the answer is no, I will end your life for you although I’ve never killed anyone before.”

With a relieved smile, he said (08:22), “Please do that.”

No matter how many times I’ve watched this series, the interplay of her brutal courtesy and his calm acceptance evoked a profound sense of sadness.

Best in Show Moment for High School of the Dead Episode 2

Everyone has their limits. Pushing a character to that limit and beyond is a great way to keep me entertained! Capture from the Hulu stream.

Setup: Saya Held it Together

There are two things that stand about about this series. The first is the characters. I like these people! For example, I like Saya’s brittle arrogance and Saeko’s elegant power. I even like Takashi Komuro’s honest yet fumbling attempts at leadership. Most of the other character appeal to me, too.

The second thing I like is how the series portrays the fall of civilization and, even more importantly, how these character resist it. At the beginning of this episode, we heard students fighting each other trying to get out of the building. There was no sign of civilized cooperation. They had practically reverted to animals. Against that, we see Saeko politely offer to kill Kazu. She didn’t deny the reality of the zombie apocalypse. But she met it on her terms.

In this episode, my favorite moment has to do with Saya and how she dealt with the situation. Early in the episode, we see her trying to get clear of the building. She knows she can’t just go out the front door. She knows that listening to any of Kouta’s suggestions, like trying to go to the teachers for help, are more than wastes of time — they’re death sentences. She’s smart, she’s on top of the situation, and she kept her cool.

Even early on, Saya had figured out who they couldn’t go to for help. I have to wonder how much of her arrogance was a self-defense mechanism. Capture from the Hulu stream.

After taking Kouta to the industrial arts room in the hopes her guess about him being a weapons geek played out, we saw her demeanor crack, just a little. Kouta took a little too long to construct his nail gun assault rifle, and the zombies got uncomfortably close to her. But once he put them down (he literally nailed them!), she got her emotions back under control and got her arrogant facade back into place. But we’d seen beneath it!

Delivery: Saya Learned a New Skill

Saya, Deprived of her Kouta’s Protection

Saya’s supremely arrogant. She often refers to herself as a genius. Based on the evidence, I have to agree with her. While everyone else tried to come to terms with the reality around them, Saya experimented by throwing wet towels at zombies to understand how they worked — so she could avoid them. She had easily made the intellectual leap that seemed beyond others.

Yet, as we saw in the industrial arts classroom, Saya had no idea how to fight. She knew it, too. That’s why she stuck so close to Kouta, and that’s why she lamented not having Takashi around. That came to a head when Kouta ran out of nails after the zombies had the two of them cornered. When he pointed out the zombie was right behind her, she turned to face it. The scream she let out was so loud it summoned both Saeko and the doctor and Takashi and Rei Miyamoto. But no matter how fast they ran, they wouldn’t get there in time. Worse, Saya didn’t even know there were on the way.

Rei and Takashi heard Saya’s scream half a school away. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Saya staggered backwards and tripped on the backpack they’d filled in the industrial arts classroom. She landed against a shattered trophy case. The trophies she hurled at the zombies face didn’t even slow it down. Cornered, knowing Kouta couldn’t do anything to help her, she kept her wits about her long enough to find the battery-powered drill. Screaming (17:02), “Get away!”, she pulled the trigger and shoved the drill with both hands into the zombie’s face.

Saya Held On

The zombie didn’t stop. Screaming for help (in the dub, she asked for anyone to help; in the sub, she called for her mother), she held the drill as the bit ripped into the zombie’s face. I don’t think she noticed when the other four arrived and took out the other zombies. She’d devoted all her attention to the one trying to get to her. It continued grabbing for her. Blood spattering everywhere, she held onto the drill and shoved.

Finally, she knelt on the floor, the drill she’d dropped between her and the vanquished zombie. She caught sight of herself in the polished metal lining the trophy case. Her breath came in gasps. Blood covered her white school uniform blouse. She tried. She really tried to hold her self together. In an attempt to hide how emotionally wrecked she felt, she berated the others for once being so polite to each other. She quickly became so incoherent that even she noticed it. She had no idea what to do or what to feel. Then Saeko lightly put her hand on Saya’s shoulder and said (19:00), “It’s okay. That’s enough.”

Saeko more or less gave Saya permission to come undone so she could recover and fight later. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Seeing herself now standing in the polished metal, she tried one last time to hold onto her calm. Then she collapsed into Saeko, her forehead pushed against the taller woman’s chest, and wailed.

I don’t often see that kind of raw emotion in zombie flicks. Tons of fear and horror, sure. But a slowly degrading level of emotional control that ends in ugly crying? A release that the others simultaneously felt embarrassed to witness but knew they were inches away from themselves? That’s good drama. That hit me in the feels way in excess of what I expected from a zombie show. It’s one of the reasons I love watching this show over and over.

What did you think of how well Rei and Takashi worked together? What was your Best in Show moment? Let me know in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “High School of the Dead Episode 2 Review – Best In Show

  1. With my minimalist Japanese, it sounded like Saya was calling for her mother (okaasan). My understanding is that the subs are done in Japan, from the original scripts, while the dubs are done in the US, and somewhat … localized.

    I’ve always wondered about all the zombie blood that keeps getting spattered around. I’d think that getting blood on your skin would be almost as dangerous as getting bitten. I guess it’s like the rest of the incongruities — like the blind and unfeeling zombies always being able to find an arm or a neck, or grabbing Rei’s spear — the creators don’t let consistency stand in the way of an outstanding story.

    1. Zombie flicks in general, with all the splatter, make me wonder about how the virus or whatever it is spreads. Each show has its own answer. The Walking Dead’s answer made sense in context of its world. I think HOTD makes sense, too.

      But not because of anything the show explicitly lays out. I just explained to myself that HOTD’s zombie contagion takes after rabies, which is spread primarily through bites. It’s not that it can’t spread otherwise; but it’s most often spread through bites.

      As far as the zombie catching Rei’s spear: Zombies have stereoscopic hearing, As its the only sense remaining to them, they rely on it heavily. I’ve seen enough martial arts movies where the blind protagonist fights with just hearing, so this wasn’t too different.

      Finding the neck or arm? Instinct, based on an acoustic map of the human body in front of them. Or blind biting until they hit something! The motorcyclist in episode 3 just started trying to bite Takashi because it didn’t know it still had a helmet on.

      Mental gymnastics? Maybe! But it works for me.

  2. That kid he got some balls. She just told him she’d never killed anyone but he was prepared to let her try with a wooden sword…

    For me, there’s a moment when Saeko is about to fight the zombies as they escape from the infirmary. My best moment was that little grin that appeared on her face before charging into battle. That was the moment I knew that no one would ever compete with Saeko.

    1. Saeko’s little grin was fantastic, especially in light of what comes later. There were so many little moments like this in this episode!

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