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Title:Highschool of the Dead
Genres: Action, Drama, Ecchi, Horror, Romance, Shounen
Author: Satou, Daisuke
Artist: Satou, Shouji
Publication: Dragon Age
Start Date: Sep 2006
End Date: Ongoing
Number of chapters at review: 29
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 29
On a sunny Monday morning (or maybe Tuesday, lol, it was never mentioned) the world we and our heroes in this manga knew it, ceased to exist. Suddenly, everywhere you look around you… are zombies. Zombies here, zombies there, it’s like in a bad Hollywood movie, but it’s really happening. In this situation, our main hero Komuro, Takashi gathers a couple of his fellow high school friends and decides no matter what to survive this hell together and get alive out of it. On their way through hell they meet new friends as well as new enemies.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Being a monthly manga, it gives the artist more time to focus on the art then a weekly series does. And Daisuke makes full use of that aspect. The series started “low” in the art aspect, but already back then I wanted to rate it as an 8, but steadily the art became better and better where I decided to give it the top mark. Daisuke has a lot of talents, but (arguably) the most amazing one are his absolutely amazing drawings of military warfare, be that a shotgun, the president’s airplane or an atomic submarine.
I have to admit, that before reading HotD I had a rather long marathon on shounen series, so the switch from shounen to this almost seinen, took me a little by surprise, but I quickly got used to it. On top of that, this series runs monthly what makes the plot even more specific. What I can point out, is the absence of “arcs” in this manga so far. It’s more like a long-running story that focuses on certain “aspects” from time to time, but always stays focused on the main goal. Which, for the record, doesn’t exist. Read the series, if you want an explanation of what I just said. It’s impossible to explain without spoilers.
Like I already said, I was on a shounen streak before HotD and maybe it’s because of this fact, or maybe it’s because aaa just didn’t use the full potential that his setting allowed, but IMHO the characters are pretty much “mediocre”. I’m not saying they’re at the dead end of my “Worst 50 manga cast of all-time list”, but they definitely aren’t the crème de la crème either. At the beginning of the series, there’s a problem of an overcrowded cast, but that problem dissolves automatically somewhere after chapter 3. However, the other side of the coin is that once the problem of an overcrowded cast is no more, a problem of not developed enough characters appears. Shouji also makes some attempts at fixing this aspect, but he’s not doing very good at it. The characters just so barely manage to keep your attention span attracted enough to read through the 40 pages. Definitely not worth of investing them and their symbolism any further than that.
HotD doesn’t has a strongly expressed theme, like many shounen titles do. Instead it steadily develops one over the course of the story. And this theme is “Crisis”. A crisis in all its aspects, starting from individual crisis in a person’s personality and ending with a literally global “worldwide” crisis. Having said that, a crisis theme cannot exist “as is”. This theme requires a respective “reaction”. HotD not only shows the various crises, but also how the characters face and overcome them.
I wouldn’t put HotD on Bakuman’s level of originality, but it definitely is interesting at several points in the story. The whole zombie theme is obviously way too much already overused by non-manga industries, but it’s the small details of the plot that appear original. Then again, I don’t think I know any other zombie franchises aside from Resident Evil, so I wouldn’t really consider myself the biggest zombie otaku out there in the world, lol.
All in all, HotD was a refreshing thing to read after all those simplified cliché shounen plots. The art is really HotD’s main highlight, what makes every chapter so enjoyable to read. And as much as I not complemented its plot, it still has its glory moments from time to time. I mean, a bunch of big breasted high school girls, alongside a gun otaku and a sometimes badass main character running around with shotguns and rifles shooting the already disappeared live out of a never-ending stream of zombies… who wouldn’t like that? To sum it up…
Ecchi + Guns + Awesome art + Mindf*cked plot = Epic Win.