Writer: Daisuke Sato
Artist: Shouji Sato
Translation: Christine Dashiell
What They Say:
As fear becomes the norm and people begin to process what has happened, questions of authority and outcries against violence toward “them” – the zombie-like victims of the “Murder Syndrome” – cause dissent among those not affected. However, trapped in the airport with thousands of flesh-hungry undead, Rika and her partner have no choice but to use every weapon in their arsenal if they want to make it to safety. But with neighbor turning on neighbor and nation turning against nation, is anywhere really safe anymore?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Highschool of the Dead has progressed, it’s been fun seeing the way the anime changed things and just how much more blatant the manga is at times. Having gotten in the fourth and fith volumes at the same time, it was really interesting reading them together as it’s pretty much an overdose of violence and fanservice. As much fun as it has been to read though, I’ve definitely been looking forward to this shift where it moves away from what I’m already familiar with. Ending where it did in the anime made sense and that takes us through the fourth volume here. But it also expands on things in a somewhat surprising way that I really didn’t expect. With characters pushed to the edges, it’s easy to imagine the situation will push them to extremes that are just part of their personalities. But getting to see more of that truth can really shift things.
Such is the case when it comes to Shidou, the less than honorable teacher who has managed to start a cult of his own on the bus with some of the students that he’s gotten under his wing. He’s definitely been a disturbing character that has adapted into the new world order in the way that you’d expect some would, but here we get to see more of his background that we didn’t get in the anime. Seeing his parentage come into play more, the way he was treated as a child and how his father manipulated him definitely made him a more sympathetic character. And based on my past experience with him from this and the anime, it really surprised me to feel this way about him. Not that it changes the nature of his arc and where it goes, but seeing it unfold isn’t quite so good a feeling.
The fourth volumes deals with this little bit of drama well, but most of it revolves around the final days at Saya’s parents compound as they decide their next course of action. While her father is intent on moving to a more secure location for long term survival, the kids are getting itchy to move on. Well, not all of them, but events push them together once again as they want to finish searching out for their families now that Saya has found hers. But Saya herself is finding that she’s bridling under her fathers plan. Not because of him but because she wants to chart her own course somewhat and wants to stick with those who have put their lives on the line for her. There’s some fun little bits here and there again about how the kids aren’t getting the respect they deserve for surviving, but seeing how Saya’s parents interact with everyone is really refreshing and fun.
When the gang gets on the road again though, it’s with some changes. Prior to moving out, Saeko and Takashi end up spending some quality time alone together and we get to know her much better, and get a better understanding of how well these two can be drawn together. Saeko’s been dealing with her issue of really getting into living this life they have been thrust into and she’s conveyed that problem well to him, especially as there’s things in her past that has her questioning whether she can handle it or not. But there’s also that part of her that wants to be treated as a woman and the attraction she has to Takashi is undeniable. Seeing the two spending time with each other, alone, is really well done as it pushes a lot of buttons.
While there’s a lot of potential for interesting stories once the group gets moving against, it unfortunately puts them in a single location again for the entire fifth volume. With the group having made their want into a mall, they’ve found themselves with some other survivors that are part of a very frayed group that’s falling apart quickly. Unlike the take action high school kids, everyone here is acting alone for the most part. There’s no real authority figure as the cop that’s there is the kind that barely passed academy. They’re holding onto slim hopes and when it’s a mish mash of people who aren’t able to survive on their own. The whole situation makes Takashi and the others nervous to be there, but they naturally get caught up in helping them some and it makes for some tense moments, accusations and a collapse that’s only inevitable when you get down to it.
While this arc doesn’t exactly excite me as much as I had hoped, especially as we’re thrust into it without a lot of lead up, there are a lot of good things about these two volumes. One of them involves some good time spent at the airport where we get to see how the more skilled people are handling themselves, which makes it clear that nobody is going to do well in this situation. Luck factors into events to be sure. With the core cast of characters, we get some good stuff here as they deal with the situation as best as they can, ensuring that they are in control of their own destiny at this point. Over the two volumes here, a good bit of ground is covered, both in how far they progress in terms of actual distance and in showcasing the characters. But since it is an ensemble piece, some characters get more attention than others. And the larger story itself of what’s happening to the world can get glossed over. But there’s just a lot of good stuff here that outweighs it. Yen Press continues to put out a great looking book, from the colors pages to the quality of the paper overall with excellent covers. Highschool of the Dead is a fantastically fun read through and through.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 25th, 2011 / January 24th, 2012