High School of the Dead: a cross-cultural clichés?

Being a die-hard anime fan as I am, I have also been watching movies my whole life. Through all these years, Zombie movies have never ceased to exist. We got Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead and many more in between plus hundreds of remakes (That was a bit exaggerated, of course). So when it comes to making anime along the same line of idea, there’s no better name than ‘High School of the Dead’

Since high school is the primary setting of more than 99% of anime (That was another exaggeration), the name ‘High School of the Dead’ implies yet another typical anime and homage to typical zombie movies. I do not usually write first impression posts and this is not a first impression post. I watched this anime because the hype was so strong and the first episode created quite a commotion in the aniblogsphere. As I am writing this post, I have watched the first two episodes and I must say that the anime surprises me by its shear amount of clichés. But what’s really interesting is that these clichés come from two different worlds; anime and zombie clichés.

Zombie apocalypse is nothing new

The zombie clichés can be found all over the place and they are applicable to most mainstream zombie movies. Here are some prominent examples;


  • go for brains/human flesh.
  • can only be killed with headshots.
  • are slow and clumsy
  • are never alone and always travel in groups.
  • have no sense of personality.
  • only retain basic instinct, namely hunger.
  • cannot communicate.

The characters

  • transform into a strong fighter, regardless of personality or physical ability.
  • at some point, have to kill their loved ones
  • get trapped in the mall, a big mansion or a small town
  • waste ammunition with body shots
  • always hide infections/bite wounds
  • go crazy over small personal problems
  • sacrifice oneself to save others
  • find that the phone is dead

High School of the Dead retains almost all of these stereotypical traits so far. It is really fun to watch just like how it was fun watching all those classic zombie movies. It is a shame how recent zombie movies tried too hard to be different and ended up inferior to the older ones. This anime brings those nostalgic feelings back and I am grateful.

I am surprised she survived this long

A few things stands out that do not belong to typical zombie movie traits and in this case, they are all typical anime traits. I list some of the obvious ones here and I think more will be added as the show goes on;

  • Stone cold kendo girl who kills with a smile; Busujima Saeko
  • A naïve, ignorant character who always survive; Marikawa Shizuka
  • At least one of the characters’ parents is someone big or influential
  • The female-to-male ratio in the group is always 2:1 or higher
  • Fan-service shots can appear anytime regardless of how dire the situation maybe
  • Every girl has big boops

Maybe I should not be so surprised at how compatible anime clichés and zombie clichés are when put together since blood, comedy and fan service always work. That is a universal rule, after all.

18 responses to “High School of the Dead: a cross-cultural clichés?

  1. Big boobed girl needs to die. However, she is the biggest source of fanservice, so I doubt they’ll kill her. At least not yet….

    This show is the best of the season.

  2. Always go for the headshots, c’mon!

  3. Whoa, I gave up after 5 minutes of the first episode, and now I thought ‘Hmm, maybe someone will tell me if it’s UNIQUE in any way’ .. And here we go, you named every single cliche point of the serie. Well done indeed.

    Oh, now that I think about it, another dreadful disadvantage in my 5mins show was that whole bunch of scenes were PC-graphics-animated (or however ppl call it) and it looked hillariously lazy.

    Now just I’ll wait for the day when I run out of the Anime to watch, and MAYBE it will serve me as some kind of masochist experience.

    • Despite all the hype, this show is great only when you need an extra-large dose of blood/gore with fan-service mixed in…and that’s exactly what I need! :P

  4. oh boy, I’m repeating myself here, I forgot where did I say it first, but your chance for survival depends on the size of your boobs. I wouldn’t last 5 minutes >_>

  5. While it is a bunch of cliches, the fan service is something I haven’t seen much in zombie movies before. It’s pretty brilliant really.

    “since blood, comedy and fan service always work. That is a universal rule, after all.”
    Haha yep.

  6. That’s one scart Pikachu! Reminds me of this Totoro picture I found the other day…

  7. I had the manga recommended to me a long time ago, but I decided to wait until more chapters accumulated before I tried it out. But now I’ve officially made a move to try it out, I want to try reading some of it online before One Manga goes down, and if I like it I’ll buy it officially. I’m not sure if the manga is licensed or not yet.

    • From what I heard (which was not much or reliable, by the way), far too few manga are currently licensed in the US. I really doubt closing down Onemanga will change anything except discouraging us from reading manga all together.

  8. I’ve also noticed how when a dude gets attacked by a zombie his clothes stay perfectly in tact only a little blood and that’s all. BUT when a GIRL gets attacked by a zombie it seems like her clothes are made out of tissue paper and rip and tear in the most revealing way possible. Go figure! :P

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