There is always exceptions to any rules started by someone or by yourself. When it comes to ecchi and fanservice animes, i steer very clear from them as they ultimately lead to a pretty unremarkable and even annoying experience. Highschool of the Dead, however, is the exception here. The basic premise in a nutshell: Kick some zombie ass while boobs jiggle mercilessly. H.O.T.D presents fanservice in a much better light than other similar series: creativity. Yes, fanservice will always be just that but H.O.T.D spices it up by injecting some amounts of creativity in it (yes, i’m talking about the boob matrix scene mainly) without overtly shoving it in your face. It is truly in my opinion, the epitome of a “mindlessly entertaining” series. Zombies are a huge thing in North America and the reception it got was more than enough for Sentai Filmworks to boast as the “best selling anime yet” for them. H.O.T.D is mindlessly entertaining because when you even mention the word “zombies”, people are in a flurry to see what the action is. They don’t care about a plot, and shows like these purposely leave out or don’t fully explore a story. What H.O.T.D ultimately delivers, thanks to Director Tetsurou Araki and Madhouse, is the mindless fun of zombie head smashing with enough fanservice to attract more male audiences.
Now i mentioned that the director for this series is Tetsurou Araki: He’s a staple in Madhouse, having previously directed Death Note. This season he’s directing Guilty Crown. Why do i bring up Guilty Crown in this review? Because, in H.O.T.D, Araki really delivers bringing us entertainment that can appeal to a large audience even when the plot/story was mediocre. Unfortunately, Guilty Crown has neither a cohesive plot to fall back to nor any means of pure enjoyment that H.O.T.D clearly delivers on. It speaks volumes when a show that has a genre in it that i clearly dislike manages to keep me more entertained than a show with a clear and interesting premise and really stellar visuals. Perhaps this is a Production I.G. thing as Eden of the East was also a bit disappointing with storytelling but had amazing visuals as a sort of fallback option.
Anyways, what’s said is done: H.O.T.D clearly delivered on one important aspect of any anime series: entertainment. It could have just had mindless zombie fights and worthless fanservice but with Madhouse’s involvement it had even more going for it: high quality visuals. The characters are fun, if not grating at times and manage to grab our attention in many different ways. All in all, i was surprised at how entertaining H.O.T.D was and how disappointed i am with Guilty Crown when you put the two together it should have been obvious which is better but now the lines between them are blurred.
Animation: 9/10 – It’s Madhouse so you can expect high quality visuals. Lively background art and beautiful blood spatter is just icing on the cake here. The visuals on the OP are just fantastic. If you want mindless zombie fights, you better get mindless zombie fights that actually look stunning. Madhouse delivers here.
Story: 6/10 – It’s boobs and zombies, do you expect a thoughtful and intricate plot? No. Well it had a plot, then it didn’t and the last two episodes try to conjure up something…
Sound: 7/10 – It’s largely unnoticeable, but the OP and the various EDs are a treat. I’ve changed my rating from “Music” to “Sound” as there’s not much to talk about music-wise in most series. The voice acting is superb, and everyone fits there roles perfectly such as Miyuki Sawashiro (Saeko) and Eri Kitamura (Takagi).
Characters: 7/10 – Each character has their own preferences for fighting and with that carries a different sort of personality. There are instances when the cast really starts angsting and some characters (Shizuka..) really have no purpose at all in the series.
Enjoyment: 8/10 – Yeah i can give a pass on the ecchi than H.O.T.D brings and just immerse myself in the zombie smashing action without difficulty. This series is clearly meant to entertain and with great visuals from Madhouse, it does just that.