Can a disc that contains nothing but shameless fanservice be enough for you to part with $5? The answer in many cases will probably be yes.
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.
Because sometimes the recently deceased aren’t the only problem 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! It’s an extra special H.O.T.D. that’s even hotter than usual as the naked and the dead come together like never before in HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD – DRIFTERS OF THE DEAD!
For this viewing, I listened to the 48 kHz 448 kbps 5.1 Dolby Digital English track. There is very little directionality to the sound, but as most of the action takes place “center stage” and thus center speaker, this is not a fault of any sort, though it makes the point of creating a multichannel track somewhat moot.
Originally released in 2011 with the manga, the show is presented in its original aspect ration of 16:9 with anamorphic playback capability. In general the video is fine. The colors are generally rich. It is pretty clear, however, that one is watching video that is being upscaled for playback on a high definition device from a standard definition recording, as some scenes feel as if they lack a certain level of definition, but overall the picture quality is good. No noticeable artifacts were visible during the viewing session. Bitrates tended to hover around 7 to 8 with some dips up and down.
The cover features a picture of Saeko in a revealing bikini giving the person holding the standard DVD keepcase (that is, you) a slightly impish smile, with one foot pointed at you. The keepcase itself is your standard lightweight plastic deal, slightly flimsy but strong enough to survive being shipped to your door. The back cover artwork features images from the episode which make it more than abundantly clear what content to expect, including four bust-only shots of the developed girls.
The disc art uses images of the characters in their usual outfits, with some bits of background scenery, all probably taken from standard show promotional artwork used previously.
Menu: The menus have static images that are nothing but shameless fanservice images of some of the female characters with snippets of music (from the OP and ED themes) playing on a loop. Load times are quick and the menus are serve their purpose well enough.
Extras: The only “extras” are the usual run of trailers and a separate disc credits screen. Textless versions of the OP and ED animation are not present.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For fuller background about the franchise, take a look at Chris Beveridge’s review of the Blu-ray release.
After a brief summary in voiceover of the story so far by Takashi, which is accompanied by a somewhat frenetic visual montage of the cast’s previous adventures, we are presented with the characters winding up on what appears to be a deserted island off the coast of the mainland. They had found a boat at the end of the first season of the show and were trying to make their escape from the hordes of undead now infesting their home town.
But all of that is put aside for the moment, as this OVA is a rest stop on the hectic escape from the apocalypse. The island seems empty except for a beach house which unfortunately has no food, but does have some bottled water on hand. As food, water, and shelter are the top priorities of the day, the boys are sent out to find food while the girls change into bikinis and have some fun in the sun, all of this clearly for the benefit of the presumably male audience who have bought this OVA for ogling purposes. This will come as a surprise to no one, as the packaging makes it unmistakably obvious as to the content of this short 16-minute piece. Bounces and jiggles galore. There is also some humor, as normal and attractive Takashi is outdone by otaku Kota, who manages to get food for the group while Takashi comes up with nothing.
As this is High School of the Dead, however, it can’t all be peace and quiet. After building a fire for warmth and to cook the seafood that Kota has caught, the group notices something off about the fumes coming from the fire. It appears that they used a hallucinogenic plant’s leaves to fuel their fire, and now they are all starting to fall under its effects. The girls start grabbing at Takashi, but Saeko then pulls him away and the two run away from the fire into the palm forest of the island. There, Saeko appears to be under the spell of the fumes as well and Takashi seems to have his dreams come true. At the same time, Saya and Shizuka believe that each is someone else and get really close.
The next morning, however, the girls all wake up on the beach, including Saeko who is lip-locked with Rei, but whom Saeko calls Takashi. What happened to Takashi then? Alice suddenly appears and tells the gang there is a problem with Takashi. He is in the palm forest away from the beach, covered with bikini-clad zombie girls whom he thinks are Rei, Saeko, Saya, and Shizuka. So, I guess they will need to save him…if they feel like it.
This OVA is nothing but unashamed fanservice practically from start to finish. It has no narrative goals nor attempts to do anything to either advance or provide greater depth to the main story. In short, it’s a beach episode. For what it is, it does the job more than sufficiently, as the girls are all attractively designed, if you’re into top-heavy anime females, and they are shown in pretty much nothing but bikinis for most of this installment. Suffice it to say that this episode is not required viewing for those who are curious as to what happens to the characters, as the story is far from over. After the original ending credits, Alice comes on to announce that there is a second season on the way.
For those curious about the dub, it’s a serviceable affair directed by Stephen Foster with a cast of familiar names from the Houston talent pool. This is not very challenging material, but the roles are played in the right spirit of fun and especially over the top perversion during the hallucinogenic sequence.
Sun, fun, and girls wearing barely-there bikinis. That’s all one really needs to say about High School of the Dead: Drifters of the Dead. If you like your fanservice without restraint, then by all means partake. If it isn’t your sort of thing, but you liked the other elements of the main show (that is, the zombie-fighting violence), you could easily skip this bonus episode and go straight to the second season.
Features: English 5.1 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C (A if all you want is fanservice)
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 26th, 2013
Running Time: 16 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG 2
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic
Sony KDL-32S5100 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Sony Bravia DAV-HDX589W 5.1-Channel Theater System connected via digital optical cable.