Comic Picks By The Glick

High School of the Dead vol. 3

July 18, 2011

I’m still patiently waiting for the series to get past the point where the anime ended, but the real attraction in this volume is the art.  While artist Shouji Sato’s strengths clearly lie in emphasizing fanservice -- be it human-on-zombie violence, or finding new angles to show us the panties of the female cast -- he also shows how stylistic exaggeration can energize pages and pages of talking heads.  As the cast arrives at the mansion where Saya’s family lives, we find out that they have been quite proactive in making sure the people closest to them are safe and that her father is the head of Japan’s ultra-right-wing political group.  Instead of facing off against zombies, writer Daisuke Sato dials up the angst as Saya agonizes about why her parents didn’t come for her, Takashi grapples with his position as group leader, Kouta faces the possibility that his guns might be taken away, and some of the civilians argue for trying to find a cure for these people that have been afflicted with “murder syndrome.”

This could’ve been agonizingly boring, but Shouji Sato treats these conflicts as seriously and with the same energy as his zombie attacks.  Pages are crammed with panels set up like an action scene, the characters emote as if every line was their Oscar moment, and we get fanservice out the wazoo.  Two of the anime’s most infamous moments -- Takashi firing Rei’s sniper rifle between her breasts and Shizuka’s liberal application of “medicine” afterwards -- are not only featured here, but are also featured in full-color at the beginning of the book.  He also gives Saya’s dad a great look as the man is drawn larger-than-life with an all-black officer’s uniform and a perpetual squint that gives you the impression that he has no pupils.  The man’s politics are said to “out-Mishima Yukio Mishima” (Google him if you don’t know the name), but you can’t help but be glad that he’s a force for good here.

Really, the main reason this approach works here is because the subject matter is so trashy and (of course) smutty.  Realism and nuance would’ve killed the fun here, but going at it with such an over-the-top approach is exactly what the material needed.  Does this series have any socially redeemable value?  Not really.  Is it a ton of fun anyway?  Absolutely.

Play this podcast on Podbean App