Highschool of the Dead (Introduction) – A Killer Opening!

Highschool of the Dead Title

Is Highschool of the Dead the greatest anime ever? Possibly not, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. Join me as I devour everything Highschool of the Dead has to offer!

Highschool of the Dead (Introduction) – A Killer Opening!

What are you doing?

I’ve reviewed Highschool of the Dead on each of my previous sites, but never on this one. That is until now! Well, almost. Over the next however long it takes, I’m going to revisit every episode of the anime, every volume of the manga, and take a look at the characters involved. It may seem crazy to some, but Highschool of the Dead is my favourite anime and second place isn’t even close. You should probably know that I am a massive zombie fan as well as an anime fan, so when I say that this is the best zombie story then you should know that I am not mincing my words.

Anyhow, for this first post, I’m going to take a really focused approach to things. I want to talk about the first two minutes of episode one – Spring of the Dead. The first two minutes tell you everything you need to know about this series and whether you are going to like it or not. Honestly, it’s quite spectacular. They knew who the fans were and they played it straight. Sometimes, you find a show plays it safe with the opening in the hopes of drawing in more viewers. Some will continue, but there’s a chance that others will realise it’s not for them. Highschool of the Dead kills it’s opening.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 1 Zombie After Rei

What happened?

The anime opens to a dark sky with a full moon. Sakura blossoms blow in the wind as eerie music begins to play. Then we hear a voice. It’s Takashi Komuro and he simply says “I stayed up late on the night before the day everything came to an end.” Then we see the school. There are flashes of electricity as the lights struggle to stay on. Then, we are hit by a few glimpses of zombies in school uniforms. Teeth chomping, eyes glazed, grey skin. Next, we see Takashi running with a baseball bat in hand. He’s panicked. The camera pans out to reveal he’s accompanied by two others as they run across the rooftop.

Zombies stagger towards them. Takashi slugs one with the baseball bat and tells the others to hurry. He hits another zombie as they head towards an elevated area of the rooftop, home of the observatory. Takashi asks Hisashi if he’s all right as he helps him up the stairs. Rei follows behind them but stops to attack a zombie that’s following. She stabs it with a makeshift spear. Her boobs bounce as she attacks. Takashi tells her off. She looks up at them and then realises the zombie has pulled the spear out of her hands. Before she can react it slams her against the wall. Her short skirt reveals her white panties. The zombie awkwardly hurries towards her.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 1 Rei knocked down Upskirt Panties

Takashi is about to run to save her when Hisashi takes the baseball bat from him and runs down the stairs. He swings and smashes the zombie’s head against the wall. He tells Rei that you need to smash their heads to kill them. Another zombie staggers up the stairs. He kicks her, knocking her down the stairs where she cracks her head against the ground. Takashi hurries them up the stairs and then watches as they walk around the corner together.

He turns back to the rooftop, covered in zombies feasting on the living. What the fuck! Zombies everywhere biting people and ripping out flesh with their teeth. The camera starts on Takashi and then zooms out, revealing the horde of zombies staggering towards him as he yells “What the fuck is going on?” We see a zombie staring into space and then the OP begins.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 1 Takashi What's Going On

What does this tell us?

I’m glad you asked. The opening scene is exactly two minutes long and it tells us a lot. The opening shot shows us the style that we can expect from the series. It’s dark and melancholy. It’s kind of beautiful, but then we have Takashi basically tell us the world is over. We see a bunch of zombies and then Takashi. He’s the hero. He told us the world was over and now we can see him running. But that’s not enough, how did the world end? Whack. Zombie takes a baseball bat to the face. Zombies. This all sounds fairly obvious, and it is, but it’s what comes next that sets things up.

We see that Takashi is not alone. He’s accompanied by Rei and Hisashi. However, it’s quite clear that Hisashi is injured. That’s a bad sign in a zombie story. Very few injuries in zombie stories don’t lead to that character becoming a zombie. Sorry, Hisashi, it’s the rules. Takashi then helps Hisashi up the stairs. They are clearly close. Best friends maybe? That’s going to make his eventual death that much harder, but that’s not all.

When Rei is attacked by the zombie, Takashi is about to run to help when Hisashi runs down ahead of him. Oh no! They both want to save Rei. And they’re friends. This could get awkward. Then, Rei walks up the stairs with Hisashi, they go past Takashi without looking back. Takashi watches them with what looks like disappointment. Oh no! Takashi is the third wheel, but it seems more complicated than that.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 1 Hisashi with Baseball Bat

That’s a lot to cram into two minutes. We have a protagonist, a love interest, and a rival/best friend, and that’s before you even consider the zombies. There were blood splatters, ripping of flesh, and awkwardly jerking bodies. Everything you’d expect from a zombie story. However, it wasn’t done there. In the two minutes, they slipped in two fan service moments and some anime-only camera angles.

So, if you want bloody zombies taking over a high school with angsty teenagers and awkward relationships and short skirts then you, my friend, have come to the right place. This is the series for you. Welcome aboard. We know what you want and will spend the next twelve episodes giving it to you. If that’s not for you, you know within two minutes of the show. Two minutes was all it took to sort the fans from the casual viewers.

I’ve watched this series so many times, I’m not even sure what the count is, and I’ve seen this opening many more times. Every time, I can’t help but be amazed that they hinted at so many elements of the story. Then, after the OP, things jump back a little bit. Basically, we work up to this moment which is halfway through the first episode. So, the episode opened with a flash forward, showing us something awesome and then it shows how they got there. It doesn’t always work, but here it’s the perfect way to open things.

Highschool of the Dead Episode 1 Rei with spear

What’s next?

Hopefully, I’ve piqued your interest with this as I’ll be back next week, looking at the whole of the first episode and then working through them all in order. Then, I’m moving on to the manga and finally, I’ll be looking at the characters in a little more depth. Basically, the Otaku Author is being taken over by a zombie horde for the foreseeable future and it’s going to be wonderful. There will be gushing and not just copious amounts of blood.

I’m hoping that this will be the most detailed analysis of the series that I’ve put together. It’s been a long time coming and I’ve put it off a couple of times because I didn’t have the time to truly dedicate to it so I’m delighted to finally do it justice. As I said earlier, this isn’t just the best anime or manga zombie story, for me it’s the best zombie story.

Well, it probably took longer to read this post than to watch the first two minutes of episode one, so thanks for sticking with it. Get ready for more. There are zombies everywhere!

Highschool of the Dead Episode 1 Takashi Surrounded by Zombies

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4 Comments

    • When I’m writing I find the opening to be such a roadblock and I blame HotD for it. It succeeds in every aspect.

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