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Highschool Of The Dead: Drifters Of The Dead Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

Highschool of the Dead - Drifters Of The Dead Blu-ray
Highschool of the Dead – Drifters Of The Dead Blu-ray
The best sixteen minutes of my life.

What They Say:
When an unplanned stop on a deserted island gives Takashi, Saeko and the rest of the ragged band of survivors a chance to expose themselves to something other than zombie bites for a change, they’re more than ready to take a break and let their hair down. Discovering the remnants of an old beach store, the entire group strips to swimsuits and sets out to make the uninhabited island inhabitable, but they’re unaware that this seeming paradise is actually just the dead calm before the storm.

Sometimes the recently deceased aren’t the only problems that can lie buried in the sand, and as the swimwear comes off and the inhibitions come down, a kink in the island’s food chain sets a truly shocking series of events into motion! You won’t believe what comes out next, but suffice it to say that the deserted island may not be so deserted after all!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is a definite piece of work, though it’s one that has more to do with levels than anything else. Both the English and Japanese tracks are encoded using DTS-HD MA while the English is a 5.1 mix and the Japanese is the original 2.0 mix. The Japanese mix is very solid with a great forward soundstage mix that use good impact with the action scenes while the music has a rich feel that works really well. Dialogue is well placed and it has a warmth to it overall that lets the acting come through well. The English mix is not something you want to flip over to in the middle of the opening sequence for example, as it’s an order of magnitude louder. There is more sent to the rear channels but what it comes across as in a lot of places is just a louder mix more than anything else. It certainly gives it more impact but when you normalize things it’s fairly similar, though with more activity sent to the rear channels. Our preference definitely went towards to the Japanese mix but both tracks showcase the material well and are free of problems.

Video:
Originally bundled with the manga in 2011, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is just sixteen minutes long and fits with ease on this release. When it comes to the property in general, I had really liked the look of the show as what we get here is just impressive looking on a big screen with lush, detailed colors, great animation and fanservice the way it was meant to be seen. The disc tends to spend most of its time in the thirties with the bitrate and handles all the very busy scenes very well with no real noticeable issues during regular playback. Colors are rich and solid with some real warmth to them and the skin tones in particular come across really well. The action scenes are quite fluid when they get rolling and the transfer here captures that very well.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with its cover artwork given over to Saeko for a pretty fanservice heavy piece. We basically get her on her back here, looking down on her, as she lays on her blanket on the beach in a minimal two piece while she lifts one leg up towards us. The logo is in pink under her and it’s not really necessary since the cover catches the eye so well with its blatant nature. THe colors are a bit soft in a way but it has a good look in general, though I would have preferred something else that featured more of the characters. The back cover gives us a simple piece with a deep purple background while over it we have a series of images and an amusing tagline. That they manage as deep a summary on the cover here is impressive and it’s rounded out with the production credits and a straightforward technical grid that lists everything clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design basically uses the cover artwork here, wraparound as it is, where the left side has the indistinct purple piece with the navigation over it – which is naturally quite minimal – while the right side has Saeko in all her glory, brighter and more vibrant here than the cover. Again, it’s pretty blatant and on a 70” screen, it’s pretty sizable as well. The layout is easy to navigate and with nothing here besides language selection, credits and trailers for other series, navigation is a breeze and problem free.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The launch of Highschool of the Dead back in 2010, based off of the manga of the same name, definitely proved to be a bit of lightning in a bottle. While it didn’t go completely wide as it’s not exactly TV friendly or something you’ll see going highly mainstream, it did have its adherents and gained a large following for its blatant sexuality mixed in with all the violence, which is a long time staple of the undead genre. The show continually sells well ever since and there’s always continual interest in whether we’ll see another season of the series, which is problematic since the manga has had its stops and starts while the creators get involved in other projects. While it’s not certain there will be more, it’s always felt like a given that someday we will see some more. What fans have had to hold onto though is this OVA, which was bundled with the seventh volume of the manga back in 2011. These types of OVAs are very, very rarely licensed so Sentai Filmworks picking this up was a real surprise even for streaming, never mind this eventual home video release. On its own at that in a separate Blu-ray and DVD release. Honestly, to release a 16 minute disc, even at the awesome price of $9.99 for Blu-ray, is shocking and a real risk that I hope pays off if it means we might potentially see more of this kinds of OVAs.

I’ll preface this part by saying I absolutely love Highschool of the Dead because of its blatant nature and that it had no qualms about restraint, instead going right into a grisly and tense situation where people become excited very easily. With a strong season behind it, this OVA has the group arriving at the shore and figuring that since the undead can’t swim, they’ll find someplace safe out at sea. That gets tiring after awhile they and they land on a nearby small island where all they find is a small beach shack and not much in terms of supplies. But it is a chance to just relax, unwind and be silly for a while after dealing with such atrocity day after day. Roles kind of go back to the norm here as the girls play all sweet and incapable to get the boys to find food and hunt while they dig out some of the impossibly tight swimsuits that are there and splash in the water for a few hours.

Suffice to say, the episode features a whole lot of silliness across the board as the girls play and as the boys attempt to get coconuts or do some fishing. The sexuality is certainly there with the breasts boinging all over the place and it easily put a stupid grin on my face because you can imagine the animators just laughing as they did all of this. When it delves into the second half where things turn into all sorts of hallucinations, it just ramps it all up to level twelve and it’s like a huge fan fiction story. Which, admittedly, is perfect for this kind of show. Everything is dialed up and whether it’s in continuity or not, you have to laugh at the way it plays out and reveals itself. It’s just plain, simple, beautifully animated beach fun with a dash of the undead thrown in for good measure.

In Summary:
I love this series in general and I love the manga, so getting a huge fanservice piece like this is a big bit of awesome guilty pleasure that I feel absolutely no guilt about. There’s little to be said about it in general because it’s just pure, sexy fun and it does it perfectly. Sentai Filmworks could have done this up in a really money hungry way by adding it onto the TV series proper and making it available only there, but they’ve put it out on its own, as low priced as they probably can while still making a little bit of coin and making the fans happy. Getting this in bilingual form, high quality is just perfect and has me very happy to add this to my shelf. Very recommended for the fans of the show to just savor and enjoy.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 26th, 2013
MSRP: $9.98
Running Time: 16 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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