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Review: Highschool of the Dead (Vol. 07)

Highschool of the Dead (Vol. 07)

Author: Daisuke Sato
Manga-ka: Shouji Sato
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: July 2012

Synopsis: “Once again, Takashi and his friends are without shelter and on the run. The group gradually makes their way to the local police station, where the hungry officers within give a whole new meaning to the phrase “police brutality.” After tidying up, the team reloads and begins their search of the station: Rei for news of her father, and Saya for information. There may be one last chance for them to get out of town, but with Rei and Takashi’s parents still unaccounted for and a throng of undead standing between them and freedom, will the friends be able to make it in time?!”

In the zombie apocalypse the first thing to go will be bras.

It’s volume seven of Highschool of the Dead and not much has changed since volume one: the dead are still walking and the bosoms are still bouncing. This is a series that you can, in fact, judge by its cover. Volume seven features a cute girl (Rei) with torpedo-shaped breasts and a realistically drawn gun being menaced by a horde of decaying zombies. It seems kind of pointless to shrink wrap these books as everything inside them is right there on the cover.

These books do in a sense have a plot, if only to move the characters around. It’s a well known scientific fact that boobs at rest do not jiggle as much as boobs in motion, so having story lines that force the characters from place to place serves the manga’s larger aim, which is showcasing cartoonishly large breasts. In volume seven the pretense to get those Z-cups bouncing is that the cast is trying to reach the local police station. Getting there is especially important for Rei (the cover girl for this volume) as her parents are police officers and she hopes to re-unite with them there. When the gang arrives they find no living occupants, but they do discover a message that gives them hope and a new goal.

That’s actually only a tiny bit of the plot in this volume. There’s a bit more going on, some of it actually interesting. Kouta, one of the two guys in the group, finally has his long-awaited breakdown. Kouta is an interesting character and one of the redeeming factors of the series for me, so I was interested to see how the manga handled his break with reality. While the creators have done a good job laying down the groundwork for it, the resolution here feels rushed. What Kouta went through in volume six is a big deal, and how quickly he gets over it here cheapens that.

Another interesting plot development is that near the end of the book the group meets up with Rei’s mom. The kids’ overall goal is to re-unite with their families, so seeing one of them finding a loved one alive and well tugs on the heart strings. Plus, Rei’s mom seems like a cool customer. Before settling down and becoming a cop, she was a gang leader. Her weapon of choice is a traditional Japanese spear. Plus, in the few pages she appears, she is not objectified at all! No up-close panels devoted solely to her breasts, no panty shots. It’s amazing. Of course, I’m sure it won’t be long before there’s a close-up of her ass or whatever in volume eight, but for now it’s nice.

Then again, she might not even last long enough to provide fan service. As a newly introduced secondary character, I fear for her. Highschool of the Dead is pretty liberal when it comes to killing minor characters. The main cast on the other hand is practically untouchable. It’s interesting comparing it to another zombie comic, ‘The Walking Dead.’ In that series most characters have the life expectancy of a fruit fly and literally no one is safe. I think The Walking Dead might be a little too zealous in proving that “ANYONE CAN DIE!”, but High School of the Dead could learn from its example. If one of the main cast bit the dust it would make the dangers facing them a lot more credible. It would certainly be better than what the series does now, introducing new characters and killing them off a book later.

The art is…well, once again, look at the cover. What you see is what you get. It’s a weird contrast between glossy character designs and gruesome zombies. Both of them are pretty ugly in different ways, but at least the zombies are supposed to be repulsive. The living characters, with their angular features, textureless hair and standard designs are just ugly in a plain way. The artist is skilled in some areas. The action scenes are good, but they’d be better if half the panels weren’t devoted to T&A. Even the female zombies have huge tracts of land! The rest of their body might be rotting and falling apart, but the breasts are still perky and pointy and drawn with the same attention to detail as the living cast member’s mammary glands. Why? Why are even the zombies portrayed as sexual objects? I mean, I can at least understand why they would sexualize a bunch of high schoolers (okay, actually no, that still sounds creepy…) but why also sexualize creatures that are nothing more than re-animated corpses? Who exactly are the creators trying to appeal to here?

That sums up the weird cognitive dissonance in Highschool of the Dead. It wants to be a wacky high school sex comedy but it also wants to be a violent zombie series. The two just do not mesh well. It’s frustrating because the zombie aspect is well done at times, and I am a sucker from zombie stories. Nothing proves that more than the fact that I keep reading Highschool of the Dead.

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Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes

Shannon Fay

About the Author:

Shannon Fay has been an anime and manga fan ever since junior high when a friend showed her a raw VHS tape of ‘Sailor Moon Stars.’ After watching it, she knew she didn’t want to live in a world that didn’t include magical transvestites and alien boy bands. Along with her reviews on Kuriousity, Shannon Fay has also written manga reviews for Manga Life and Anime Fringe. She is also a freelance manga adapter and is currently working with the manga licensor Seven Seas.

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