Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - High School of the Dead - Episode 9 "The Sword and Dead"

So, Saya's mom is a fuchsia haired babe? Who would ever have guessed. I would have, that's who. Does anyone in anime have a normal, natural hair-color? Why not, Japan, why not?

Anyway, when we last saw Takashi and Saeko, they were trying to find a safe route through zombie-infested neighborhoods. They spot Saya's house, a hilltop mansion. They find an amphibious ATV in a motorcycle shop, drive through a horde of zombies, and make it to sand bar in the middle of the river. Of course, Saya gets soaked in the process, leading to see-through shirts, gratuitous underwear, slinky cocktail dresses, etc. But enough of that. Let's have some character development!

While on the sandbar, Takashi probes Saeko about past boyfriends (see what I did there). She says that she may have been in love...then gives a sitrep on the local zombie population. That's our Saeko...always on mission. After killing a bunch of zombies, Sako freezes when confronted by a pair of undead rugrats. Takashi has to shoot them, then pull her away. They take refuge in a temple. Takashi helps her out by presenting her with a real sword, her now dry school uniform and a chemical toilet. He's so thoughtful. Saeko explains that she froze up not because of the kids. It was because she almost killed someone our years before when he attacked her on the street. She confesses that, as she was beating on his with her bokken, she enjoyed it ("I fought until there was nothing but blood and bones. it was bliss, absolute total pleasure." yikes!). She thinks that this makes her unworthy of love.

Takashi reassures Saeko that anyone with boobs like hers has to be a good person. Logic! It is implied the two of them hook up as the screen fades to black. The next morning, they emerge from the temple. Zombies are everywhere. Saeko is unable to face them. Takashi decides to convince her to fight by roughly squeezing one of her boobs while giving her a pep talk. I like the pep talk, but the whole thing with her breast is kind of weird. I don't think would actually help a young woman get over a traumatic experience.

However, since it's Takashi his version of tough love works and Saeko is ready to use her new katana to chop some zombie heads off. After wiping out the undead - and possibly orgasming...or, at least, looking very, very happy - Saeko and Takshi make it to Saya's place, arm in arm. Saya sees this and is not happy. And, since Saya is the single greatest character in the series, her pain is my pain. The episode ends with everyone reunited, and Takashi narrating, saying he accepts Saeko's darkness and wants her that way so he can survive. The end.

This episode is very character oriented. Although it starts out with a bunch of an service shots and includes some pretty good violence, it really is about Saeko and Takashi. Saeko's back story is interesting and Takashi's self-serving desire to see Saeko embrace her violent nature lends some grey to his character. This is one reason why the series is more than just violence and boobs. The creative team has taken the time to make characters that have depth, that are interesting, and have complex motives. Saeko's background helps explain why she is so proficient with her sword; it is not just about being a good fighter. She derives satisfaction from it.

I will say, the whole boob squeezing thing is probably the single oddest moment in the series. It is similarly to the thug who groped Rei in Episode Four. I'm not sure if that is the parallel the series creators want us to make, but it does lend some darkness, both to Takashi and to the rampant sexuality.

Note: For some reason, I got it in my head that Alice was called Sally. I've gone through my posts and corrected that. I assume the name Alice is a reference to Resident Evil.

Best Line: Saeko after being due to Takashi's driving soaked a second time: "Jesus Christ, do you actually enjoy getting me wet or something?" Hey, we all do.

Best Kill: Saeko in a slinky cocktail dress, lecturing a zombie on his hygiene before hitting hard enough to send him hurling through the air.

Fan Service: We get a lot of shots of Saeko in various stages of undress in this episode, but I'm going to go with this one:

Bonus: Pretty sweet animated music video for Rob Zombie's 'American Witch.'


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