High School of the Dead – Episode 12 – Finding Art and Politics Between the Zombies

EMP Pulse for the win!

It’s time for yet another entry of finding odd things to enjoy in an anime. This time the target is the final episode of High School of the Dead (HOTD). This time I’m limiting myself to mentioning only two small scenes. Any more and I run the risk of going into full rant mode about the problems and observations I had about the show. (I really, really want to complain about how implausible the HOTD zombies would be at causing the level of chaos seen in this show.)

Several years ago I watched a documentary on the classic Looney Tunes cartoons and one of the most memorable parts was a short discussion about how the animators would often distort how people and animals were drawn to heighten the sense of motion. To illuminate the point they showed a clip at full speed and then showed the same clip going at a much slower speed. I was awed by the technical mastery shown in this art form.

I’ve often wondered how a non-human eye would perceive these scenes. Would their eyes be fooled as well or would they be able to see through the illusion?

I’ve also tried to look for examples of this technique in whatever animated show I watch since first watching this documentary and it fairly frequently, especially in high-quality animated shows. The last really good example that I can remember was in episode 15 of Bakemonogatari. It was a short scene when Shinobu did a series of quick somersaults before sinking her fangs into the shoulder of the cat-spirit possessed Tsubasa Hanekawa. The movement literally felt like it popped out of the screen. I wanted to do a frame-by-frame shot to show how awesome this was done. However, one of my desires when running this blog is to keep it SFW and when I started capturing the individual frames I realized that Shinbou decided Shinobu was fine using a band-aid as a pair of pantsu. So, I had to scratch that post and look for another example.

I didn’t need to wait too long; Madhouse (which figures actually) gave me a really good example in episode 12 of High School of the Dead. The scene was towards the end when the mechanic twirled a wrench as he got ready to fight the zombies. My eye caught this, even as my mind was wondering why leaving behind the mechanic was a good idea. So, the first clip is of the scene in question going at normal speed (or as close as I can get it) and the second is the same frames slowed down.

Cool, isn’t it. I especially liked how when he grasped the wrench at the end they actually make the wrench disappear for a couple of frames and let our eyes fill-in the implied movement.

The other scene tickled the political side of me. I know it’s generally a bad idea to bring up politics online but the last time I did here, I remember being surprised by the civility of commenters so I’ll hope for the same civility. The scene in question is at the beginning when they show the combined effort of Japanese and American forces trying to shoot down the four nukes that were launched in the last episode. I don’t think this scene was originally conceived as a sly dig at Obama (unless it comes from source material done since his election) but I couldn’t help but see it as one.

There hasn’t been a lot of coverage of Obama’s foreign policy but one of the few concrete things he’s done in this arena is stepping back from Bush’s planned nuclear missile defense shield. Why he thinks this is a good idea, I don’t know. The need of a system like this is so plainly apparent that many countries, not just the United States, want to be included. One of these countries is – surprise, surprise – Japan. They worry enough about it they are actually funding a significant portion of the development and I don’t blame them, they live so much closer to North Korea and have had missiles shot over their country.

Like I said, I don’t think it necessarily was a critique of Obama but, nonetheless, that scene only needs a slight alteration, North Korea being the source of the nukes, to be completely relevant to a real life scenario and showcasing the need for a nuclear missile defense shield.

Sadly for Japan in HOTD, one of the ships were zombie infested and didn't stop the nuke in question.

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2 thoughts on “High School of the Dead – Episode 12 – Finding Art and Politics Between the Zombies”

  1. The thing I like about LOGH is that the setting is completely fictional but a lot of the political decisions make perfect sense given the problems of the character’s universe.

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  2. North Korea being the source of the nukes, to be completely relevant to a real life scenario and showcasing the need for a nuclear missile defense shield.

    Reading the manga, I think it did come from North Korea or China.

    They probably sliced out a bunch of scenes between the American launch and the EMP attack, trying to put together the simultaneous SAT squad scene and the mansion owned by the head of the Ultra-Nationalist party. In the manga, they had North Korea or China respond to the nuclear attacks by America. There were some hints that America had already taken out the military bases of North Korea, but they were deliberating on whether to take out the civilian sectors as well. Which does seem unrealistic. If America was worried that somebody crazy in NK or China would launch nukes, they should de-capitate the leadership. Asian militaries are extremely hierarchical. The people at the bottom don’t have a lot of personal initiative. It’s one reason why the US military is still the supreme power on land, air, and sea. The economic power house helps, but the US Congress is constantly trying to get rid of military funding in order to fund social welfare systems or their own bank accounts for that matter (Congress critters make significantly more from mutual funds than the “average” normal non-political person. Due to insider trading, probably. If you could write the laws that benefit company A and shred company B, wouldn’t you know when to sell and buy too?). So the key to the US military power is its training system and the way people exercise leadership. A US carrier, for example, is a very complex miniature city. China and Russia both tried to copy it, but complexity is not easily copied. Building or buying a carrier is relatively simple compared to training a crew for it. Russia had huge maintenance issues building a carrier. Their maintenance sucks, due to the corruption issue. China just lacked expertise and experience on the matter. They aren’t known for their huge drydocks or shipyards. They never had the maritime experience of a Britain or even a Portugal.

    My issue is, North Korea has not the technical proficiency to develop an EMP attack capability coupled with an EMP launch capability. Neither does China.

    An EMP weapon is orders of magnitude greater than a properly launched and detonated nuclear warhead. THe maintenance on nuclear warheads alone, take the Trident series in our nuclear ballistic submarine force as an example, requires a significant amount of capital to maintain or replace. Once you get rid of them, rebuilding them will cost something like 100X the money it would have taken to maintain them. Russia was semi okay with getting rid of their nukes because they didn’t even want to PAY Maintenance on them. Because they weren’t maintaining them properly to begin with. In the advent of a nuclear war, some estimates say that at the end of the Cold War, as much as 50% of Russia’s total nuclear missile storage would have failed to detonate.

    Of course, these are technical details and HOTD isn’t required by me to get them right. It’s enough that they be consistent with popular concept and a surface appreciation of the tension in modern politics.
    The surface tension is real, it just isn’t the entire story.

    For clarification, in the manga after the US launched their nukes at China and North Korea (those targets were specific), there was a counter-launch against Japan and US bases (Because South Korea and Japan are the enemies of North Korea and China). The 4 Aegis destroyers were the shield, but one got through. The trajectory didn’t lead to Japan, so they thought it was to the United States. Except it blew up in mid air, causing what is “popularly” known as an EMP shockwave in the stratosphere or magnetosphere.

    Atmosphere wise, the author did a nice bit with the American prayers. Although the weird blocky artistic style for the Americans is not very pretty ; ) I think that’s sorta like a cultural motiff. I’ve seen Americans drawn that way before, the caucasians. I guess it is their way of differing the “anime” Japanese characters from the “caucasian non-anime Americans” ; )

    I can guarantee you, Steel, that if an American company or Hollywood had done it, they would have had the nuclear launchers be Republicans and muttering “blood for oil” tidbits. You know it’s true hehe. So the Japanese perspective is actually more flattering, by far, to us than our home grown stuff.

    Recently, North Korean attack subs sank and killed some sailors of I think it was South Korea. So definitely the popular perception of tensions in the region is rising and up to date. I get the sense that whoever was in charge of the plot for the anime was either more ignorant than the manga author or deliberately attributed the attacks to America given local political considerations in Japan. Maybe he was catering to the Nationalist “We Don’t Need America” or the Leftist “Peace” movement. Shrugs. Or maybe he just didn’t want to inflame the crazies in North Korea/China. Sort of like how American broadcasting companies don’t care “offend” Islam or Muhammed. Head cutters will be on their way, like Theo Van Gogh.

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