Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Zombie Loan Review (Japanese)

As the month of June comes to a close, it’s time for the second and final review of Zombie Month! This one is way different then High School of the Dead, and, luckily, doesn’t have fan service every five seconds (My niceness is gone for that series now)! The anime? Zombie Loan.

This Action/Comedy series is based off the manga by Peach-Pit, published by Square Enix. The English version is available from Yen Press. The thirteen episode anime is from Xebec M2 Studio and has yet to be licensed in America. It originally ran in the summer of 2007.

Michiru Kita is a special girl who possesses Shinigami Eyes, a power which allows her to see the span of a person's life, indicated by a ring (invisible to normal people), around the person's neck. When a person is marked to die, a gray ring appears, which darkens over time. Once the ring turns completely black, the person dies. Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, two boys in her class, both have black rings around their necks, and to her surprise, are not yet dead. It is revealed that after a tragic accident that was supposed to kill them both, the two boys made a deal with a secret loan office called the Zombie-Loan. In return for keeping them alive, the two have to hunt zombies for the loan office. When Michiru gets involved with them, she finds that her life has just become more complicated.

The look of the series isn’t a big stand out, but it’s not terrible either. I would say it’s more of your average anime rather then a flop. It has it’s unique moments with the drawing and the colors, but it’s still nothing too spectacular. The animation isn’t lazy either. Zombie Loan just seems like your average, put together anime.

The story is pretty interesting. It certainly takes the idea of zombies with human wills and desires and makes it stand out among different zombie stories. It plays out very nicely with some of the characters in the series, especially Chika Akatsuki. He’s the big character who wants to be truly alive again, so he’s doing whatever he can to get himself out of debt with Zombie Loan. You don’t seen as much aspiration in Shito Tachibana, but it’s because of completely different reasons. The one big problem with the plot is how the anime ended. By episode 11 you have a resolution to the current troubles they get in, but then for two more episodes it looks like the beginning of a new season. However, there are only supposed to be 13 episodes total in the series. According to online sources, only the first 11 episodes aired in Japan; the last two that make the 13 are only available on DVD. My guess is Zombie Loan wasn’t received well in Japan and eventually got the ax by the end of the first season. The last two episodes that never aired made it to DVD as an extra and a preview of what could have been; because the start of the second season looked like the story would really pick up. I’m just sad it never took off.

The characters, as I said before, are mostly zombies with human will. The only ones who are not zombies would have to be Mr. Bekko and Koyomi (although, they both have tricks of their own). Michiru Kita, in the beginning of the series, isn’t a zombie, but she dies, then Chika and Shito decide to save her because of her Shinigami Eyes. The three main characters each go through their own piece of development, and, in fact, they go one at a time through the series. First is Michiru, then Chika, and last is Shito. Is it a bad thing they they focus on one person at a time? Not if it works in the series, and for Zombie Loan it actually does. Sticking with one character for a few episodes while they develop works pretty well for this anime. At points, it does have it’s problems, but you don’t have to worry about trying to follow multiple characters developing at once. On the other hand, the way they did character development also kind of dumbs the series down a little.

So, the animation is average, the story is okay, and the characters aren’t half bad...... There really isn’t much to talk about. Besides a few very memorable pieces here and there, there isn’t anything exciting to make me say “Wow! This is awesome!” Sure the idea of zombies with human will is an interesting idea, but I’m pretty sure something like that has been done before somewhere. It was exciting to watch, but after you finish you don’t really remember or care for the show. The show is just a big hit or miss depending on the viewer. Sadly, for me, it is a bit of a miss. I’m not saying it’s not bad, cause it’s not, I’m just saying I’ve seen it done better. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but compared to High School of the Dead, Zombie Loan is like dirt while High School of the Dead is like a raging fire destroying everything in it’s path, deliberately engaging you as opposed to just existing.

At the end of the day, Zombie Loan takes a different approach with the word “Zombie” to create a fairly unique concept. Otherwise then that, it’s your average anime. I think I understand now why Zombie Loan was cut short. I still recommend this show for it’s concept and it’s characters, but, again, it’s a hit or miss depending on the person.

Well, that’s it for Zombie Month! Hope you enjoyed looking at reviews for two zombie anime. Both High School of the Dead and Zombie Loan are pretty good watches, whether you prefer fan service and survival to different kind of zombies and interesting characters. The next couple of reviews for July and August are:

Le Chevalier D’Eon
Memorable Anime Villains (With assistance from Hasteaguy)
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

If you have any suggestions for future reviews, send my a shout! Leave a comment on this review, leave a post on the Facebook page. I’m still currently looking for anime to review in the future, and, so far, have a fairly good size list. The more anime suggested, the more reviews I’ll have in store for all of you!
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

High School of the Dead Review (Japanese/English)

Well, it's June! And you know what that means! It's ZOMBIE MONTH!!! And what better what to start this two review fun with one of the most current popular anime out there. The one that has more fan service and zombies then you can shack a stick at! HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD!!!

High School of the Dead is a Horror/Drama anime based on the manga by Daisuke Sato and published by Kadokawa Shoten, and is available in America by Yen Press. Studio Madhouse picked up the anime version, and made it's run in late summer of 2010 with 12 episodes. Anime Network currently holds licensing for the series.

Takashi Komuro is a normal high school boy, until an infection breaks out that turns people into zombie-like creatures. Along with his friends & the school nurse, they fight their way out and continue their journey to find out what exactly has happened to the world. (Anime News Network)

The look and the animation is amazing! There was really nothing lazy, or bad about the animation quality. Color and style are used well for this anime, and the animation doesn’t seem to have any problems. The one thing I have to be nit-picky about, is the zombies sometimes looking like clay animation rather than drawn. Does it look cool? Sure. Does it work for the series? Not really.

The story is pretty basic: Survive. And it does tell us how the characters attempt surviving the hoard of zombies that are around every corner. The one major thing that is never explained, but does leave the viewer to wonder, how did the infection start? Was is a virus, supernatural curse, or the careless actions of a corporation trying to cure cancer? We don’t know, but we also don’t need to. The story is about surviving the slavering monsters around us, and that’s it. Even with all the fan service in the series, that you would think would be a distraction, the story is immensely involving and actually keeps you on the edge of your seat. With all the chaos and death happening around them, and the realistic way the characters react, in highly traumatic ways, the story manages to pull almost every heart string you possess. You can relate to these characters in their struggle, even the most annoying ones manage to be sympathetic, and keep us involved with the story, right up to the very end.

Each of the characters have little bits of development here and there throughout the story. More development comes from Kohta Hirano, Saeko Busujima, and, maybe, Takashi Komuro. Everyone else doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to go through in the series. As for the characters in general, they aren’t bad. Some are more annoying then others, but for the most part it shows what individuals go through in a crisis like this.

The voice acting in the Japanese is good, with the characters sounding like how you would expect them to. The english dub, however, is a bit of a different story. I gave Jessica Boone props for her role in Canaan in a previous review, but as Rei Miyamoto it seems like she dropped the ball a little. Some of the lines spoken by her character seem a little too forced to be believable. Maggie Flecknoe (Red Garden) as Saya Takagi is rather annoying, but, then again, she’s the know it all genius, so it kinda fits. Mark Laskowski (Super Dimension Fortress Macross) as Kohta was certainly a bad choice to make. The only time the voice fits is when he goes all military on the group. Leraldo Anzaldua (Canaan) picks up the main male lead in Takashi, and doesn’t do too bad with it. But the two people from the group for favorites voice acting would be Taylor Hannah (Le Chevalier D’Eon, Red Garden) as Saeko and Monica Rial (Soul Eater, Baccano!) as Nurse Shizuka Marikawa. They are certainly the better fits for their characters. Oh! And here’s a surprise for you. Remember Brittney Karbowski? The woman who voice Black Star in the Soul Eater dub? Well, she’s back..... as a little girl. Little Alice Maresato.

Now, this can’t be a review about High School of the Dead without talking about the one thing people remember this show the most for: the fanservice. So how does it really stand up to the series? Well, I can say it is a pain watching the show with it occurring every minute (I would say five seconds but I feel generous right now). As the first anime I have ever seen with this much boobs and pantie shots, I have the feeling this anime was solely created for (Lonely) men. I guess when the original creator discovered he had no clue how to make it seem less like a porno, he threw in a zombie apocalypse just to make it more badass. If you didn’t have the distracting fan service, this would certainly be an awesome series. However, since we do, it kind of takes away the show’s quality. I will say, if you’re a guy who loves boobs and zombies, or girls with huge boobs KILLING zombies (seriously, every female lead in the group has tits that should be impossible. Especially the nurse, that poor, broke backed impossible creature) then here’s an anime for you.

At the end of the day, High School of the Dead is an exciting story with amazing animation and imaging, but way too much boobs and panties. If you took out the fan service, the story would probably be more effective rather then the way it is now. A few of the characters are likable, but not all are. If you must see this series, since EVERYONE always talks about this, watch the Japanese version; it has better voice acting. All I have to say now is, viewer discretion advised....... BOOBIES!!
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