First Impressions: High School of the Dead

So the Summer 2010 anime season has well and truly begun. As usual, everyone’s assumed that it’ll be crap and that anime is doomed. But it can’t be that bad, right? Err… Anyway, there are usually a few hidden truffles to snuff out every season, and I’ll be hoping to cover some of those over the coming weeks. At the moment, Occult Academy and Shiki are looking interesting enough.

One anime has arguably had magnified interest before the season started thanks to a fairly unique premise for an anime, which is strange both because “unique” and “anime” don’t often belong in the same sentence these days, and because the trope almost feels like it has been overused in other media. Zombies!

High School of the Dead

It beggars belief that there hasn’t been a proper Dawn of the Dead-esque zombie apocalypse anime before (at least, not that I know of). The medium has the potential to lend itself very well to emphasising the scale of such a disaster, as well as the human stories that arise from it.

So here we have High School of the Dead. It’s based on a popular manga which, as of Comic-Con 2010, has been licensed by Yen Press in the US. Luckily, US Yen Press releases tend to trickle on to the UK market as well.

An admission – I am terribly excited about this show. It has an original premise, giving it lots of potential, it promises balls-to-the-wall action thanks to the undead perusing the streets and as we see from very early on (episode one), it isn’t afraid to get into some of the moral strains that can appear during zombie apocalypses.

It’s being animated by Madhouse, which as we recently found with Redline, appears to still have the money to push the animation of its works into a different league compared to your typical late-night anime. The stellar opening sequence takes the time to transliterate its staff members into English. If that isn’t a sign of a show confident in itself, I don’t know what is. All in all, everything’s looking good.

The show doesn’t waste much time in setting up its advertised plot. While Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 left us waiting for the whole episode for the inevitable to happen, HOTD drops us right in with the gore turned up to eleven. Excellent!

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Android Ana Maico 2010

I’ll admit that one of the main reasons I heard about Android Announcer Maico 2010 is the fact that we are now in the year it is set in. Given that it was produced in 1998, it’s certainly not as much of a leap to guess the future as Nineteen Eighty-four was. And yet, we still haven’t managed to invent android disc jockeys. What a tragedy.

The premise of the show seems interesting at a glance – the Japan Broadcasting System (Fuji TV if you regard the blatant logos everywhere) wants to get the listening figures up, so brings in an android radio announcer to present a show, and brings together a rag-tag group of the “best” staff to work on the radio show. The anime is based on a much racier manga involving crime-fighting and sexdroids as well as radio presenting, but the anime removes the blue parts, and is probably better for it. The premise of the manga seems jarring to me, though I can’t say I’ve ever read any of it.

The "no-good" staff of Maico 2010

Thinking past the premise, it’s hard to visualise what the anime can actually do with such a restricted set-up. And sure enough, the majority of the short 15 minute episodes are set entirely in the broadcast studio of “Jump Out Maico 2010”. This anime is supposed to be funny, so Maico and the team get themselves involved in shenanigans involving the guests, the sponsors and each other, but it gets somewhat repetitive after a while. Read more