Thread: Licensed Highschool of the Dead
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Old 2007-01-03, 02:10   Link #5
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Just finished the scanslations of the first five chapters that've been released so far. By the way, I want to call this Gakuen Mokushiroku, since the "Highschool" / "high school" interchangeability confuses me.

To those who are a bit curious about the science. Zombies have super strength, walk slowly but not too slowly, are visibly corpses, and attack humans as food by grabbing onto and biting them. It's communicated as a virus, where the victim dies fully and then revives almost immediately as undead. Of course, you need to smash their heads in. In terms of plot, the epidemic broke out all over the world around the same time (another indication that's there's a conspiracy behind all of it), but it's not clear that mankind is lost. The focus of the story in chapter 1 is on three sophomores who are all repeating a year, and their "love triangle". In spite of the title, it appears that it will be heavily set outside their school....

Comparisons of to other film and manga are definitely valid. Like Resident Evil, there's a) a deeper plot / conspiracy that's hinted at / foreshadowed, and b) hardcore cops, albeit from what I've seen not major protagonist material. As in Dawn of the Dead, there's that almost "slice of life"-type interpretation of the genre (and a nailgun). Takashi, the male lead, is Battle Royale's Shuya in that he has a semi-romantic interest (the other lead, female) he wants to protect, but he's way darker; more notably, the art / panel choreography is very similar to BR (there's even text boxes to introduce names of characters). Oh yeah, and major ecchi.

Still, I enjoy it and look forward to it. Why is that? Well, because while the plot is heavily action / supsense, and rife with interpersonal drama as you'd expect, beneath all that it's also a manga, with "traditional" manga characterization. And all those survival horror cliches aren't done exactly like you would expect, either; that is, in a different context, they can refresh you.

For instance,

One of the six or seven apparent main characters from the school, Takagi, is a fairly hot yet nerdy person who comes off a bit socially immature (she's not rude, she just doesn't mind herself, lol) but seems to be reliable and a good person. Her best friend is a definite otaku named Hirano who calls her -san and has a personality that seem, to me, to perhaps resemble the miniature fanatic from Midori no Hibi (but less exuberant; he's able to assert himself, but Takagi usually leads the way).

She has a habit of speaking intellectually, and I've actually been very impressed by her deductions (of course, they're usually inductions) and analysis of the politics / psychology / sociology of the post-apocalyptic zombie world; you can tell that the writer has considered this quite a bit. Of course, she (as a character) is the one who's capable of these analyses, she's not just a receptacle for the author; she notices details and analyzes the situation well immediately. But she lost her cool once early on, so she's definitely human. Given her personality, I didn't think I'd like her at first, but I've come to enjoy her presence (same with Hirano).

The presence of her personality, and the small interaction which occurs on this page in ch. 5, is a perfect example of how Gakuen Mokushiroku doesn't, in its role as a survival horror story, stray too far from old enjoyable manga cliches:

Spoiler for Screenshot:

(Note: aside from these types of interactions, the story does remain almost entirely just as somber as BR.)

And there's also aspects of the story which differ from traditional zombie flicks. In these types of stories, usually the people who keep perspective, who don't lose hope, who retain their humanity and their willingness to help and trust others, who are aware of their weaknesses and allow their friends to cover them as they do their friends, are the ones who survive, isn't that correct?

The main character, Komuro Takashi, was already a very somber character before the story started. He was staring out into space on the school roof when he first bore witness to the zombie epidemic. He probably just has a dark personality to start with. At that time, he was pondering bitterly his relationship troubles (a broken promise...). But Takashi's not a heartless person, and acts very heroically at times. Still, later on, there's an incident where he obtains a thrill when he shouldn't, and we see his own retrospective self-narrative marks the gothic significance of his action. Meanwhile, the female main character, Miyamoto Rei, is just troubled. I'm not sure what to make of her. She's clearly upset in many ways, from what happened, and how she feels about Takashi could be (IMO) very mixed-up with her feelings toward Hisashi, how Takashi relates to him, and her need for someone to make her feel safe/sane. But she's not paralyzed with all this, and on many occasions proves very capable of zombie smashing. Still, I would have an aneurysm if I really tried to decipher her exact emotional state.

Unlike the romantic pair in BR, there's no guarantee that the inherent romantic possibility will be fulfilled, and they don't seem like the types who will "save each other" in the traditional sense. Their demons are already very present. But I don't have the sense that I have any idea what will happen to their characters or they themselves in terms of the overall plot.

What I'm trying to say is, while in traditional survival storylines you can immediately intuit what will happen to the characters based on their personalities, it's really not clear-cut at this point. Oh yeah, and as far as the Resident Evil comparisons are concerned: the RE storyline is a masterpiece in zombie fiction, in my opinion (see . I read it all, you can too...!), so the more like RE it is, the better, lol. Not that it's very much like RE yet, except for those two details I mentioned earlier. If it does become RE-like, with scenarios RE4, then it just means that the storyline will have broken past the usual limited plot scope of zombie storylines (and unless it's exactly like RE, which I'd seriously bet it won't be, it'd be a refreshing break).

What I don't like about this story is:

"Directing": Everything tends to emphasize action. The need for text boxes to introduce characters (note: only used on the first three main characters of the first chapter) is irregular, and shouldn't ever be favored "artistically" when it would be convenient to just direct the scene in ways that introduces you to the characters naturally. It just seems like they took it from BR without thinking. Also, the habit of cutting to a scene involving new characters in the middle of doing something, without providing any perspective like a backdrop, could be more clearly done.

Then, it's just that it's focused a bit too much on the "drama" of the whole scenario. I hope that was just the first couple chapters as this whole thing was sinking in, however; people definitely seem to have less of a tendency to have random outbursts or reminisces which are repetitive and don't advance the plot. Admittedly it isn't nearly as bad as something like Red Garden (awaiting vegetable projectiles from people who like that series). That, and so far it's been heavily the same types of little events you see in typical zombie movies, with the heavily implied Battle Royale-like spin that they're losing their innocence every time they do something to survive.

But, since it's just the start of the series, and these types of encounters / characterizations are so obviously something writers will fix upon at that period in time, and the decline of these things in recent chapters, I'm seriously hoping this evolve into some kind of gothic plot-oriented reinterpretation of survival horror. Plus, once the initial storyline steadies a bit, the "director" will get away with cutting corners in how he presents the story. As it is, it's still really good.

On the ecchi. There's the equivalent BR's Sugimura, but female and a bit cold; the extremely large-breasted school nurse who wears a ripped Prada dress which shows ample leg; the meganekko I showed you earlier; and the female protagonist who is getting about a million panty shots:


I've been waiting a long time for a zombie manga. It didn't have to be a survival storyline, just a manga where the only zombies aren't just vampiric slaves. And by "zombie" I mean just an undead creature which was formerly human and feeds on humans. The idea of "zombie" is one which I'm disappointed the Japanese culture hasn't yet seemed to reinterpret in refreshing ways like so many other things. So, I definitely await chapter six. Edit: I hear Stubbs the Zombie, or whatever it was called, helped expand the idea of zombie, but it's still a ways away from what it could be.
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