After setting out its stall well and truly from its fast-paced opening instalment, things quieten down a little for episode two of Highschool of the Dead - Well, for ten minutes or so anyhow.
After concentrating largely on the short-lived love triangle between Rei, Takashi and Hisashi, the opening half of this episode spends a fair amount of time introducing us a little more to other characters. For starters, it pairs up self-confessed (and decidedly bossy) genius Takagi with lardy otaku Hirano, while elsewhere school nurse Marikawa spends most of the episode as a walking breast gag as she finds herself defended by kendo club champion Saeko Busujima. Throughout the episode we flit between these oddball pairings (as well as Takashi and Rei) as they try to compose their plans for escape and beyond, finding that they're all rather effective in their own unique ways.
It's once these three duets begin their dance with death that the real fun of this episode begins, with a sequence of brief but high intensity bursts of action that are exhilarating to watch while still managing to carry with them the tension of the wider situation as a whole - A tension which is suitably ramped up in spine-chilling fashion come the end of the episode, as it becomes crystal clear that simply escaping the school grounds isn't going to be enough to survive.
If the first episode grabbed my attention, dumped me on the edge of my seat and wouldn't let go, then this second instalment certainly managed to do likewise - Yes, it started a little slowly, and Marikawa's appearance threatened to drag the whole thing into farce for a minute or two, but as soon as Takagi and Hirano started rifling through the school workshop for weapons while Rei and Takashi put a fire hose to good use we knew what we were going to get, and we got it in spades. Indeed, the action came so thick and fast for the second half of the episode that there was barely time for any underwear shots, leaving us with pure, unadulterated and captivating zombie slashing action that made perfect use of its characters to complement and even accentuate that action. There's nothing smart or original about Highschool of the Dead, that much is clear - But when watching this intensely visceral experience is so breath-taking, who cares?