Summer 2010 Anime Recommendations

Thursday, 29 July 2010, 8:00 | Author : Ludovico
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So the new anime season is out.  As before, I watched the new anime releases, thought long and hard about the various shows, and carefully selected my three top picks of the season.  Three shows that I could recommend to nearly any anime fan.  Yet once I had made my picks, there was something wrong – I had skipped over perhaps the most important new show this season.

Highschool of the Dead.

This anime is the most likely of all the new shows to catch on and become a hit.  It finally introduces everyone’s favorite groaning, shambling, brain-hungry undead predators to one of the most obvious and horrifying locations possible – a normal anime high school.  Anime student zombies.  Just mull on that for a moment.  Feels good, doesn’t it?

And yet, I cannot recommend Highschool of the Dead.

For all its gory goodness and fanbase appeal, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the show.  Now, don’t get me wrong, zombies are great fun in almost any media, and they’re presented here in classic fashion – slow, relentless, ever-growing in both numbers and threat.  They’re the classic zombies in every sense and the sense of dread they exude is as tangible here as in any other media.

The problem is presented best in a scene midway through the episode, where two girls run down the halls together, declaring their endless friendship.  One girl is, predictably, set upon by zombies, and her friend turns on her instantly, kicking her down the stairs to the carnage below.  Now the camera zooms in on the dying girl, being eaten by a zombie swarm – but it doesn’t focus in on her face.  Instead we get a good long shot of her panties as her legs twitch.

And that’s when you realize that this isn’t a show about zombies, per say.  This is a show about excess and exploitation.  The blood splatters, the jiggling breasts, the murder and mayhem, the mid-battle low-angle panty shots.  This show is meant to assault the senses.  Some people will love that.  To me, it’s all a bit too transparent.  Fanservice in anime is acceptable, and even expected at this point.  But their attempt to get me excited by showing the underwear of a girl who’s currently having her flesh ripped and consumed by zombies is just nauseating.

That said, Highschool of the Dead is the clear top candidate for a potential hit this season, and it’s probably a good indication of the future direction of anime.  (Studios have long been looking for ways to legitimize their over-the-top fanservice shows.)  But it doesn’t make my recommendation list.  If you’re looking for a zombie fix, I’d suggest reading the excellent book ‘World War Z’ instead.

And now, please enjoy my actual recommendations.  I promise there’s some good new shows that aren’t all pandering and exploitation.

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