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High School of the Dead: Complete Collection Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Discs: 2
  • Studio: Section23 Films/Sentai Filmworks
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 21, 2011
  • List Price: $69.98

[amazon-product]B004SGWYVA[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
High School Of The Dead Complete Collection (2 Disc) -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4.5/5]

High School of the Dead is an anime based on the manga series written by Daisuke Sato and illustrated by Shoji Sato. Right from the very first episode, “Spring of the Dead,” there is no doubt from where this series draws its influences. It’s straight-up zombie horror from the school of George A. Romero. Without giving too much away, the final shot of the very last episode ends with the protagonists in front of a shopping mall, presumably heading in there to make their last stand, an allusion to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978).

There is nothing new offered up in High School of the Dead. It follows all the standard devices for a zombie story that have been well established. There is a sudden outbreak, the slow-moving zombies spread their affliction by biting the living and they can only be killed by being smashed or shot in the head, or, of course, decapitated entirely. What makes any zombie story worth watching are the interactions between the characters and the action. Does High School of the Dead pull it off? Absolutely.

Not your typical high school melodrama, High School of the Dead follows a group of high school students, their school nurse, and a young orphan girl as they struggle to survive the zombie pandemic that has suddenly struck the entire planet. With the focus on Takashi, who has just had to kill his best friend after he was bitten by a zombie, and the three sexy schoolgirls who all seem to have a crush on him, the story shows how they evolve from sheltered teens merely fighting off attacks to becoming the attackers, coping with the moral choices they must now make in a world where even the living are starting to go mad and attack them.

There is a lot here for not only anime fans, but horror fans as well, to sink their teeth into. It’s a sexy, aggressive, action intensive, classic zombie story that’s real fun from beginning to end.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

High School of the Dead looks good, but it could certainly have looked a lot better for an animated release that is of such recent vintage. The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement is free from aliasing and macroblocking, but there is color banding present throughout. Given that the bitrate hardly gets out of the low-twenties and even dips as low as ~8Mbps, I’d say this is to be expected. There is a hint of softness to the overall appearance, even if the image is acceptably clean, with vibrant colors and well defined line art.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

If you are a purist, then you must stay with the original Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix. In comparison, the English dub is laden with f-bombs and other “four letter words” that just do not appear in the literal Japanese translation. It’s not that I’m a prude, but the translation for the English dub seems crass, completely changing the complexion and slight innuendos and humor of the original Japanese script. But, anyway, the quality of the lossless 5.1 is solid, if a bit overly aggressive and slightly harsh in the high frequencies. The Japanese 2.0 mix, also lossless, is obviously more confined, given the lack of surround channels and LFE, but it has a reasonably wide stereo spread and surprising depth in its low frequencies as well. Either mix will give you clean, clear dialogue as well.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Looking for something a little extra here? Well, forget about it; trailers and clean opening and closing animation is all you get. Even though this is titled the “Complete Collection,” the OVA Drifters of the Dead, originally released on Blu-ray alongside the seventh volume of the manga didn’t make its way onto this release.

  • Clean Opening Animation
  • Clean Closing Animation
  • Also Available on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks:
    • Night Raid 1931
    • Angel Beats
    • Needless
    • Demon King Daimao
  • Disc Credits

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

High School of the Dead may not add anything new to the zombie genre, but so what? When was the last time anyone really revolutionized zombies? Even The Walking Dead, as good as it is, follows much of the same zombie guidelines already plotted by George A. Romero. The bottom line is, this is good fun with addictive action, strong animation, and characters you really connect with. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004SGWYVA[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
High School Of The Dead Complete Collection (2 Disc) -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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