School violence: Highschool of the Dead 1, Mitsudomoe 1

I don’t know if I’m going to follow Highschool of the Dead or not. Not because I didn’t like the first episode, because I did. But I have little taste for horror, especially bloody horror, and I’ve never been able to figure out why zombies are so damn popular. But the first episode made a good case to keep watching for now.

The fun begins.

One unsuspecting teacher is bitten, who bites another, and so it goes while everyone is trying to figure out what is going on. The first attack is witnessed by Takashi, who is ditching his class. He seems to instantly figure out what’s going on, and goes to warn his would-be girlfriend, Rei, and her boyfriend Hisashi. Not anyone else, just them. Never mind, soon the entire school is in a panic, and there’s blood and screaming and panty shots galore. I swear, the fanservice in such a show is bewildering; I guess they want to have something for everyone.

No, it's an anime series, but I take your point.

In spite of the fact that the school’s sudden panic was a tad unbelievable, what comes afterward is gripping, as we follow the three to the observatory to wall themselves in. We also get little scenes of others who will become regular characters later, and little vignettes like the girl who turns on her best friend the moment she’s in danger. The whole city’s in chaos, and we suspect that the government is up to something, judging from the helicoptors. That’s Hisashi’s guess, anyway. He himself seems to know a little too much about everything, like bashing the zombies’ heads to kill them. Well, he doesn’t last long.

Indeed, in a well-done scene, Hisashi, who’s been mildly bitten, begins to turn. He begs Takashi to kill him now, but Rei, unable to believe that her boyfriend could do this (“He’s special!”) is against the idea, and even after he fully turns and is going to bite her she can’t bring herself to abandon him. When Takashi does the sensible thing and bludgeons Hisashi, she turns on him with hate. Takashi, who is in love with her, is equally hateful. Excellent moment, and an honest way of showing what can happen when you see someone you love turn into a zombie, like we all have.

It’s directed well, full of quick cuts and swaying cameras to convey the chaos. The artwork is excellent, though I’m not crazy about the character designs. All in all, a strong episode and a good start to a series, if I decide to keep watching.

So then I thought I’d give Mitsudomoe a try. Nothing like some cute grade school hijinks after all the blood and gore, right?

Wrong.

Mistudomoe follows a rookie teacher named Satoshi and three members of his class, the dreaded Marui triplets, who wreak havoc wherever they go. We get a perverted one, a sadistic one, and a spooky one, kind of like a mean-spirited Hanamaru Kindergarten without Koume. We watch as they destroy a game (a variant of Musical Chairs), try repeatedly to hit Satoshi in the crotch (to send him to the nurses office and set up a romance), and nearly kill a hamster with kindness.

It’s hard to figure out what to be appalled by the most: the girls’ behavior or the fact that Satoshi has absolutely no control over them. None. They even chase him into the teachers lounge. The other teachers either don’t care or are relieved that it’s not them the girls are after. I know he’s new at this but if he can’t bring any sort of discipline to the class what good is he?

Little in it is funny. The hamster scenes (they call it “Nipple.” Ha ha.) work the best because we see gloomy Hitoha ease up a little when she gets to be in charge of it. The fact that Aiko, the new school nurse, overhears the kids shouting “I want to touch nipple, too!” leads to the expected and unfunny payoff. If this is going to be the way every episode works, I’m going to stop watching quickly.

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