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High School of the Dead aka Gakuen mokushiroku [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Geneon Universal Entertainment
Video: Section 23 / Sentai Filmworks
Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Average Episode Length: 0:25:16.431 X 12
Disc One Size: 43,736,580,822 bytes
Disc Two Size: 24,953,092,538 bytes
Average Episode Size: 5,398,474,752 bytes
Video Bitrate: 20.76 Mbps
Chapters: 8 per episode
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: June 28th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3885 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3885 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 2085 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2085 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
• Clean Opening (1:33 in 1080P)
•Clean Closing (21:16 in 1080P)
Description: High School of the Dead is set in the present day, beginning as the world is struck by a deadly pandemic that turns humans into zombies, euphemistically referred to by the main characters as "them" since they are no longer considered human. The story follows a group of high school students, the high school's nurse, and a young girl as they fight their way to safety through the deadly streets of Japan during a worldwide catastrophic event known as the "Outbreak". Led by sophomore Takashi Komuro, the focal group of survivors consists of six others and a small dog, and creating a gestalt team with one purpose: to survive.
Time to 'fess up'. Although I have received many Japanese 'anime' titles to review on DVDBeaver - I don't believe I have ever watched any to completion and hence not bothered reviewing - until now. Frankly, I don't understand all the innuendo nudity and posing. I know I am a novice in this area - but almost exclusively they seem to deal with high-school-age females with fetishistic voyeur-like glimpses up their uniform skirts and most of the girls are slim, tall and have 40"+ bouncing chests. I've included 8 samples below - but there are 100's more similar examples. Full nudity (I mean beyond 'nipples' or partially exposed buttocks) is rare and I think this is because of some form of censorship in Japan. I am amused by the mild-cheesecake perversion but after recently re-watching Heavy Metal - I think I see the general audience for this stuff. Obviously these are geared towards males - with mild erotic fantasy, adventure, often machismo rescues, violence and hero worship.
Now - what I liked about High School of the Dead was the zombie motif (another area I consider myself a 'newbie'). It's a good premise. High Schoolers who include a mean over-achiever girl, a Kendo expert female student, a quiet, daring, leader-male, a heavy-set glasses-wearing boy who seems to have found his purpose in gun-toting and the ditzy, blonde, school nurse, together form a unit to battle the plague of zombies that are taking over the city. They are eventually joined by a little girl and most of the action is after they have departed the school grounds. There are pluses and minuses to the presentation that I will try to relate below. The time-line is non-linear jumping with gaps and I believe this is the entire series from 2010.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
High School of the Dead looks fine on Blu-ray. It's digital animation so there is nothing to go wrong - no noise or artefacts - it is spotlessly clean. Outside colors are bright - indoor are purposely more subdued. There is some repetition in animation sequences and others that are 'stop-go'. Generally it is pleasing and will look quite good on an HDTV. This is two Blu-rays a dual-layered with eight 25-minute episodes and a single layered with four. Bitrates are nominal and while I don't see this as 'excellent' an8imation it comes through in HD quite well. I'll voice a complaint here (as I don't know where else to put it) but the opening has a teaser of the forthcoming episode and then runs for almost 3-minutes with a song before the actual episode starts and the closing is even longer so the actual length of the 'guts' of the series seem diminished. When you choose an episode it runs through to the next ones in a 'play all' fashion but you still get these overly long opening and closings. Kinda drags things out.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Examples of Cheesecake T+A - rife in the series (Mouse Over - click to enlarge)
Audio offers solid DTS-HD Master tracks in both Japanese and English. The DUB does not match the subtitle translation (ex. "I am cold" text is verbalized as "I am freezing my ass off".) The sound is clear and sharp with some aggressive bass and decent high end even in the opening songs (of which I am not a fan). These songs are mandatorily translated as are other songs in the body of the series (even 'Row, Row, Row, your boat' ?!).My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Supplements are on the second Blu-ray disc and don't offer much - we can see the 'Clean Opening' running without credits for 1.5 minutes in 1080P and the 'Clean Closing' which is an amalgamation of all the annoying songs used in the closings (to slow pans in and out of a bulletin board with a picture of the characters). There is also 4 promos in 1080P for Night Raid 1931, Angel Beats, Needless, Demon King Daimao running about 1.5 minutes each.
June 11th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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