As if zombie apocalypse isn't bad enough, the end of Highschool of the Dead's penultimate episode decided to throw a spot of nuclear apocalypse into the mix for good measure. But surely this series isn't going to end with humanity in its entirety wiped out in a thermonuclear fireball?
Of course it isn't - luckily for most of Japan's inhabitants three of the four missiles destined for its shores are intercepted safely, leaving only one to worry about - just as fortunately, this happens to be a high altitude warhead designed more to disrupt everything in its range via EMP - something which is certainly does with aplomb, blowing out mobile phones, computers and cars aplenty. Of all people, it's Shidou's bus of fun that proves to be one of the most important dominoes in the stack that cascades for this series finale, with its engine cutting out thanks to said EMP blast and causing it to crash into and wreck the barricade so carefully positioned by the Takagis.
The good news is that the ensuing zombie stampede upon their mansion home, that overcomes even the house's iron front gate, makes for a balls to the wall action-fest to close things out, with plenty of guns, swords and ridiculous stunts to remind you what this series is all about at its best. This turn of events also seals the deal when it comes to our group of students and ditzy teacher making their own way in the world once again, courtesy of a Humvee that just happens to be resistant to EMP attacks (Marikawa's friend really does think of everything) which allows them to leave Takagi's parents to their own devices as they return to their search for Rei and Komuro's family. This open-ended finale also leaves us well and truly of the mind that this is more of an au revoir than a goodbye for Highschool of the Dead, with a final scene that might as well have included a sign which read "please commission a second season... please?!".
But, until that time, Highschool of the Dead is done and dusted for now, so what to make of it? When this series got down to what it did best, it could easily count itself as the most visceral and breathtaking show of the year so far - it did a fantastic job of ramping up the tension when required, its action was ridiculous yet absolutely jaw-dropping and more than capable of leaving you with a big grin on your face, and it's fan service mostly worked somehow even when it was clearly over the top. If only there had been even more of those elements to keep things moving at a hectic pace - to be frank, pretty much every attempt at character development throughout the series fell flat on its face while its humour sometimes jarred with its poor timing, before we even mention that pointless recap episode.
Overall though, Highschool of the Dead was more of a victor in its outlook and modus operandi than it was a failure, and for every episode or scene that left me rolling their eyes there was another that left me drooling for one reason or another. My God this show was stupid on a regular basis (surely the bullet time breasts will never be forgotten) but would I watch another series of it? Yes, in a heartbeat. If cinema-goers need their trashy popcorn movies to enjoy every summer, what's wrong with us anime fans having our own popcorn shows to watch from time to time?