Highschool of the Dead (Episode 2) – Escape from the Dead

Highschool of the Dead Title

Takashi and Rei struggle to come to terms with what’s happening around them. Meanwhile, Saya Takagi tries to work out the best way to escape. She’s got Kohta Hirano with her but they soon get cornered. Could help be on the way?

Highschool of the Dead (Episode 2) – Escape from the Dead

What did you watch?

There’s nothing quite like starting the week with another analysis of Highschool of the Dead. This time, I’m looking at episode two – Escape from the Dead. I’m only two posts into the series, but I also went through a couple of my older posts, tidying up their formatting and fixing a couple of typos. They are my two Saturday Spin-off posts and my short fan-fic/tag post response. You can find the links at the end of this post if you’re interested in seeing them. Anyhow, let’s get back to the episode in hand!

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Rei and Takashi Call for Help

What happened?

The school quickly descended into chaos as the students panicked and tried to escape. That just helped the outbreak spread quicker, which turned the students against one another as they fought to survive. However, there was one person still thinking things through. Saya Takagi, the self-confessed genius had seen enough to know that following the crowd was a sure-fire way to get yourself killed. She held back, allowing the student body to devour itself. There had to be a better way, and she was sure she would find it. Accompanied by Kouta Hirano, a chubby nerd, she headed to the technology room. There, they might find something they could use to defend themselves.

In the nurse’s office, Kazu Ishii was busy fighting off his friend who he had brought there for medical help after getting bitten. When he turned, Ishii was forced to bludgeon him to death with a metal stand. Dr Shizuka Marikawa was still piecing things together and grabbing supplies when more undead students burst in. Ishii shielded Dr Marikawa and was bitten several times before a mysterious girl swept in and killed each of the zombies with a wooden practice katana. She revealed herself to be Saeko Busujima. Saeko reminded Ishii what happened to those who had been bitten. Ishii understood and agreed to let Saeko end his life before he could change.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Saeko about to Complete a mercy killing

In the technology room, Hirano reveals his true nature. He’s a gun otaku and has just found everything he needs to enable them to escape the school. However, the gas-powered nail gun is difficult to aim so he fashions a hilt and a sight out of some wood. The undead burst through the doors and hurry towards Takagi, but they are stopped dead in their tracks by Hirano and his nail gun. He very politely asks Takagi to grab the bag of supplies before they leave.

Back on the rooftop, Takashi and Rei are still dealing with Hisashi’s death. The mood is harsh and the silence deafening. Rei asks Takashi what he’s thinking and all he can say is that he’s wondering how it got so crazy so quickly. She’s surprised by his honesty and then asks for his phone. Her father is a high-ranking police officer and gave her a special number to call in emergencies. However, when she calls he can’t hear her. He can tell it’s Takashi’s phone and assumes Rei must be with him. He warns them that the entire city has gone to hell and that they must escape. Then, it cuts out.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Hirano protecting Saya

Saeko leads Dr Marikawa to the teachers’ room so that she can get her car keys. It might be their best chance to escape. They stroll past the undead, Saeko pushing them away and knocking them over. Shizuka asks her why she’s not killing them like she did before. Saeko tells her that when it’s just one it’s no problem, but they move in packs and when one grabs you, it’s almost impossible to get away. They need to keep moving so that they can’t be surrounded. Shizuka trips on a mat which prompts Saeko to rip her skirt allowing for better movement, much to Shizuka’s dismay.

Takashi and Rei use a fire hose to escape from the rooftop, blasting the zombies down the stairs. It’s enough for them to make a break for it, although they will have to fight their way out of the school. They make it back into the main building and hear screaming. Saeko and Shizuka heard them too. Everyone races towards the teachers’ room where they find Takagi and Hirano surrounded by zombies. Takagi has just taken one zombie down with a drill and isn’t doing too well. After defeating the remaining zombies, they all introduce themselves, however, it’s all too much for Takagi who breaks down in a fit of tears.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Saya angry Outburst

What did you think?

That final scene where Takagi breaks down is haunting. The camera pans from face to face and you can tell what they’re all thinking. They understand what she’s going through and I think each of them wants to do the same, but they know that they can’t. One person is enough. If anyone else loses it they all lose it. At first, I thought it looked like they were disappointed in her, but I quickly realised that they were all just as broken by the things they’d seen and done, and it’s only been a couple of hours since the outbreak began. The characters are all wonderfully developed even at this stage. The subtlety of their expressions and actions tells us so much about them. It really is massively underrated in this area.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Saeko comforts Saya

What was your favourite moment?

There is one moment in this episode that will live on in my head for all of eternity. That is the little smile we see on Saeko’s face when she’s about to lead Shizuka out of the nurse’s office. We’ve already seen how incredible she is with that sword. We’ve seen her mercy kill Kazu Ishii without any hesitation. She’s already showing herself to be a bit of a wildcard in this respect, but that’s one of the fascinating things about this group. They are all a little odd. None of them really fit in with the regular world. They may have done their best to be normal, but there was always something that kept them from truly integrating. You could almost argue that they weren’t suited to that sort of life and that’s why they excel in this situation.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Saeko Attack Grin

Who was the most impactful character?

When I first watched this series, twelve years ago, I would have been surprised to think that Saya Takagi was the pivotal character in this episode or any, but here I am, telling you exactly that. Takagi comes off badly from the beginning. She ridicules Takashi for being upset and moping around. She calls him an idiot and claims to be a genius. These are not the actions of a nice person. However, a lot of it is an act. She like Takashi, but knows she can’t be with him. She is clever and her knowledge helps them out numerous times. That’s not why she was so impactful in this episode, though. When she broke down, it was a reminder to the others that they are human and that this situation is crazy. However, if you want to survive, you have to accept that you will have to do things that feel wrong. You may even have to stick a drill in someone’s face!

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Saya asking Hirano for Help

What have you learned?

I loved the way the first episode focused on Takashi and Rei. I think that was the perfect way to pull us into the series. Give us too many characters to follow and things can become too convoluted. We’re less likely to form an attachment to anyone. So, in the second episode, when we really got to meet the other characters, we were already focused on the story. We could see these new characters and how they came together. Some had connections to Takashi and Rei, which helps, but it’s not essential because that gives us a chance to learn about them with Takashi and Rei. I prefer the approach of focusing on a small part of the story before you zoom out. I also love it when things integrate. At one point, we saw Takagi and Hirano run across the walkway where Hisashi was bitten and Takashi killed the teacher. It pulls everything together.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 2 Saya and Hirano pass Dead Teacher

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What did you think?