To be specific, I mean George A Romero style Zombie Apocalypses. More fiction based on the original Voudoo concept of Zombies I think could be very interesting.
The only films of the genre I really like are the ones by George A Romero himself. I've only actually seen the first four of them. The first three are what are considered the Romero trilogy and thus the pillars and Trope Codifiers of the genre. Land of The Dead I can agree does feel like less brilliant a film then the first three. I think my enjoyment of it stems largely from how it bizarrely reminds me of the Super Mario Bros. movie, having at least two of it's lead actors, one in a very similar role, Dennis Hopper as a villain was always fun.
After that the first two Return of the Living Dead films work well as parodies, and I've enjoyed plenty other little short parodies. But that's about it.
I'm someone who's all for retelling the same basic story in different ways. But my experience with this genre has not yet convinced me that this basic story justifies this many variations in so relatively short a period of time.
The Dawn of the Dead remake is the only Zack Snyder film I don't like on at least some level. The Walking Dead has never caught my interest, I'm certain I could never tolerate an ongoing American style LA TV show about just this premise. My brother spends a lot of time watching cheap Made for TV horror films that air on channels like Chiller. I've been strangely fascinated by quite a few, but never any of the Zombie ones. And then Return of the Living Dead 3 felt like the most pointlessly bizarre thing I ever watched, this was supposed to be a parody franchise yet it had less humor then the films it's parodying.
Thing is, I'm someone who's spent the last few years turning almost exclusively to Anime for any new entertainment. And there are a lot of times I've felt like Anime did something better then any modern Western fiction has. Gankutsuou is the best adaptation of The Count of Monte-Cristo by far, (even though even it drops my favorite story-line). The Rose of Versailles is the best fictionalization of the French Revolution. And the Fate/ franchise is the best usage of Arthurian Legend and the concept of a quest for the Holy Grail I've seen done in any modern literature. Yes including Indiana Jones and that BBC show.
So because of all that, I decided the other day I ought to check out the most well known Anime take on this genre before I write it off completely. And last night that's what I did.
Now going into High School of The Dead I was apprehensive for two reasons, my above expressed lack of confidence in the genre. And that it was an Anime known for it's "Fanservice". Anime style gratuitous Fanservice is to me the most frustrating thing about Anime. I've enjoyed a lot of Anime in-spite of it having this problem. But I also know there is far more that avoids this problem then Anime critics give Anime credit for, so I'd generally much rather draw attention to those shows.
However the good sign is that I knew it had the same director as Death Note and Attack on Titan. Both very good and specifically very well directed Anime. Neither of them are Fanservice heavy Anime. All three of these were adapted from Manga, it seems this director's strength is his ability to crank up what makes the Manga memorable to make the Anime even more memorable. So the difference between HOTD and those two in terms of Fanservice is in the Manga.
First warning I want to give anyone interested in watching it is all of the episodes have scenes after the closing credits, pretty important scenes too.
I shall also note that I watched the Dub not the Sub. And also that I haven't seen the OVA yet.
So I watched it. First episode kept my interest but hadn't exactly wowed me. I noticed it wasn't playing up much the usual tropes of High School set Anime. For me that wasn't a good sign, because as I already said, Anime tropes, even at their most cliche, entertain me more then Zombies do. However I know many people out there are the opposite.
But the more I watched it the more I got into it.
For the first third the most annoying offense in the Fan-service department was the Nurse who's breasts make Powergirl's look realistic. That wouldn't even have bothered me so much without the annoying sound effect they were given. Other then that was a lot of pantyshots, but it's pretty justified given the situation.
Like many of my favorite fiction. It has a lot of serious Drama while at the same time fully embracing the absurdity of it's premise. In this case the absurdity is less the Zombies themselves and more how ridiculously Bad@$$ this random group of High School students are. And at times the fanservice overlaps with that.
The fanservice somewhat increases as it goes on. Plenty I found unnecessary. But one thing that makes me more comfortable with it is how I've read the show is surprisingly more popular with women then with men. The female characters are all pretty likeable and well written, so it seems many female viewers were able to look past the fan-service, and perhaps some even liked it.
During the latter half there is a theme of the adult characters continuing to took down on our main cast as kids in-spite of everything they've went though. In a way it reminds me of The Blob.
The story-line involving Saya's parents had, in the Manga, a strong Nationalist vibe to it. The Anime very much censored that, and the English Dub renders it nearly impossible for a Western viewer that doesn't understand Japanese politics to even detect it. Saya's dad mostly just comes off as a typical stern military type.
So I would not exactly say this Anime is the key to how to make Zombies interesting again. If you are a big fan of the Zombie Apocalypse genre I think it'd be pretty hard not to like it. If you manage to have even less interest in it then I do (which would pretty much be not even liking Romero) then it's not going to appeal to you.
For me it's another of many examples of Anime making something seem fresher then the West has in a very long time.