When I first heard of High School of The Dead, I thought that all it would be is gore, violence, zombies, and schoolgirls, everything a guy could want in an anime. Not surprisingly, the anime delivered in all of these areas when the first episode aired last week. What I was not expecting though, were events that were closely reminiscent of discussions about the human condition in my high school literature classes. I’ve seen a lot of anime, and a vast majority of them portray the general population as well-meaning folk who would go out of their way to help a stranger. In HOTD, the characters act the way I imagine people would in real life, for themselves. To explain what I mean, here are some examples from the first episode:
The first sign of trouble happens at the school gates. A group of teachers try to chase away an infected person trying to get in, but when one of them gets bitten, things start to go bad. In any other anime, the teachers would have tried to be heroic and save each other, but not here. The first instinct anyone has when they’re in danger is to run, and that’s exactly what the teacher here is doing.
Friends and Family First
The incident at the school gates was witnessed by one of the main characters, Takashi. Once he realizes something is wrong, he runs to the classroom and grabs the girl he has a crush on (Rei) and her boyfriend (Hisashi, who’s also Takashi’s best friend) and tells them to escape with him. The thought of warning the rest of the school doesn’t appear to cross Takashi’s mind for even a moment. Most people would protect those close to them first, and Takashi had a good idea of what would happen next if the other students knew what was going on.
Get Out of My Way
Once the school figures out what’s happening, the obvious happens: there’s a huge stampede of students trying to get out of the school. Naturally, you don’t want to be the last one out of a place where you could get killed, so the more people you can get in front of, the better. During the mad dash for the exit, students are attacking each other trying to get ahead, and trampling over the ones that lose their footing.
Me, Me, Me!
Being in a life or death situation can bring out the worst in people, and this was portrayed in a scene involving best friends Misuzu and Toshimi. As they are making their way out of the school hand-in-hand, Toshimi gets caught by a zombie. She desperately clings on to Misuzu’s hand and begs her to save her. Misuzu then kicks her down the stairs to slow down the zombies. Anyone who’s watched anime for as long as I have would have gotten used to characters sacrificing themselves to save a friend, so this one really took me by surprise. Don’t worry though, a short while later, Misuzu got eaten too.
My Life is Over
A lot of people would not be able to cope, mentally, if the world they knew suddenly ended. One famous example of this were all the old headlines of people on Wall Street jumping out of their windows during the Stock Market Crash of 1929. HOTD probably got the idea for the next scene from similar headlines. After the Misuzu and Toshimi scene, a school bully is shown wandering the halls distraught that he can no longer go to school every day and beat up the other kids. He then climbs out a window and jumps to his death.
Kill Him Before It’s Too Late
Takashi, Rei, and Hisashi manage to barricade themselves on the roof of the school, but not before Hisashi gets bitten by a zombie. As many of you know, unless you’re immune, if you get bitten by a zombie you’ll eventually become one. I know that it’d be logical to get rid of Hisashi before it’s too late, but really, how many protagonists can you name that would intentionally kill their best friend?
Don’t Leave Me
After Takashi smashes in Hisashi’s head, Rei basically tells Takashi to gtfo, but when he gets up to go, she begs him to stay. If the world ends, you’d be better off having someone to watch your back, and that’s exactly what Rei realized when she saw Takashi leaving. I have no clue what Takashi was thinking about though, he must’ve had a lot of things running through his mind. After all, he just traded in his best friend for the girl of his dreams.
So while a zombie apocalypse probably won’t ever happen, at least HOTD manages to make the story seem more realistic by making the characters more human (and more interesting). It certainly makes the anime more enjoyable to watch.