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The Redeadening of the Undeaded: Super Dead

This was originally just going to be a reply to Greybob‘s comment on the previous entry, but it kind of spiralled out of control into an outrageously long ramble on everything tangentially related to what he said. And then I thought, well, why waste it in the comments box? Who even looks at those things, anyway? (don’t answer that)

Well, personally I think zombies are more versatile and have been handled a lot better then vampires have recently. I’m not quite zombied out yet. I’ve been meaning to check out Walking Dead, both the show and the comics.
Have you heard of High School of the Dead? It’s an anime about a group of high school students who get trapped during the zombie apocalypse. I’ve been meanng to check it out, but I’ve heard it’s very very fan-service-y.

I definitely think zombies are the most universal of all the typical monsters and I’d say there’s probably tons and tons of stories you could use them in that haven’t been utilised, both from simply the environment you put them in but also just how you view them. Though, yeah, after playing Left 4 Dead several times a day, every day, for months on end, I think I am quite officially zombie’d out for the time being. It does speak volumes about how much I love the game and how much I like zombies, though. My brother has given up on zombie media as part of his wedding vow (no, seriously), but even he admitted that The Walking Dead TV adaptation sounds great and he had tremendous fun with a short playthrough of Left 4 Dead; he had tremendous fun intentionally startling Witches.

Though, why are they so appealing? I suppose you could say that it’s the combination of simplicity and depth to zombies that makes them universally appealing. They’re mass mobs that stumble around and eat brains, but from the nuances you give them you can analyse them in so many ways. Fido, for instance, has the zombies used for menial labour and are treated like trash, but one little boy becomes best friends with his family’s personal zombie, and it almost prompts the question – are zombies still people? Do zombies have rights? Yes, they perform mundane tasks such as mowing the lawn and delivering newspapers, and they may be undead sons of bitches, but if Fido himself is to serve as a prime example, they still have some degree of humanity left in them, if because of traits from when they were alive – it’s just a matter of getting to know them enough for them to display it. Though in that case, would society really be willing to love their zombies enough just so they could act like really, really shallow people with zero conversational skills? Would giving zombies (mostly harmless zombies!) rights just mess up the whole architecture of civilisation? Who knows.

In a way, I guess because zombies are so simple, you can do pretty much anything you want with them. I have zero familiarity with it, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies must be some kind of achievement, I guess. Meanwhile, some other monsters have so much mythos that if you start just picking and choosing what you want, they’re no longer the iconic monsters and just become… things. Vampires, for instance. The Space Vampires, despite the amusingly kitschy title, is less about bloodsucking astronauts and is more about some metaphysical gobbledygook about sharing life-force between people, or something. It has less in common with movie vampires and more to do with psychology and the concept of energy vampirism, which given the author is clearly the dude’s forte; though as I’ve described it before, it comes across as an outrageously quaint story that’s about very level-headed people being very level-headed, even when faced with three invisible space monsters threatening the integrity of the universe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the movie Lifeforce is much better in the freaky supernatural department than the source material.

Also, sorry, but I think it’s very hard to write about vampires without them becoming pretentious. I read a book quite a while back called The Golden – it had some beautifully-written descriptive prose detailing wonderful Victorian architecture, but Christ almighty, its had some pretentious-as-shit dialogue. I gave up on it two chapters in because everyone was an obnoxious fuck. I’d like to see a serious and unbiased vampire fan give their well-written views on it if just to hear their thoughts on it, but for me it was just obnoxious people being incredibly obnoxious and getting emotional and angry far too easily. It was kind of a vampire detective story – a concept that could be intriguing! – but everyone anyone ever talked to was an obnoxious twat to each other, and I constantly wished I could just give them all a slap on the bake. I don’t normally resort to Irish euphemisms in my “critique,” but sometimes you just have to say it straight.

To get back to the original comment… I have heard of High School of the Dead. At first the idea sounded reasonably promising, but from what I’ve read and seen of it I’m not exactly enticed.  If it were done realistically (well, about as realistically as the dead rising from the grave and eating human flesh can be done) I might have been interested, but it just looks like rampant fanservice wrapped around a mildly apocalyptic environment. It’s hard to take the premise seriously when all the males look like viewer surrogates or wish fulfilment, and all the females have triple-digit cup sizes and are constantly flirting with them while in their skivvies. I’m sure that joke would work better if I actually knew how cup sizes worked. The numerical part is actually the chest size, not the bust size, isn’t it? (it’s kind of sad that I know the basics of measuring bra sizes, yet I can barely tell what size feet I have. The unfortunate priorities of a young male, eh?)

Of course, sometimes for a concept to take off, all it needs is a really dynamic source of origin. I haven’t read Dracula (I read an abridged version in school years ago which described everything as “suddenly”. even the teacher agreed it was a terrible version), though I hear it’s pretty good, and I won’t deny that Nosferatu is my personal definitive vampire film; it really highlights the many connotations surrounding the term “vampire,” and not just the usual Cliff’s Notes. I think what I’m poorly trying to say is that one good story with an intriguing concept can inspire a lot of others to expand upon it, but quite often they lose the unique charm of the original.

This is mostly a poor attempt to segue into how I watched Jurassic Park a couple of nights ago, and holy crap, it was incredible. I would not deem my vocabulary or structure of words suitable enough to express the sheer awe I felt at watching this movie again. I haven’t sat down and watched it in years, but my god, am I glad I saw it again. It’s a spectacle. It makes me love dinosaurs all over again! Watching it with my mother who shrieked at every frightening moment reminded me just how darned scary the film can be. Throughout most of the movie I was thinking, “gosh, could they make this any more wonderfully whimsical and appealing to a child?” Honest to god, hats off to John Williams. I had forgotten just how beautiful the soundtrack was – yes, the dinosaurs are terrifying, but you can’t deny that the sheer magic of seeing the creatures alive on screen is just breathtaking. I can’t think of a better word to describe it than “magic.” It captures the awe of it just so well.

Watching it with my mother did bring me down to earth and remind me just how terrifying the movie could be to one less desensitized than I am (thanks a lot, video games!). After flicks like Land of the Lost and Night at the Museum where the tyrannosaurus rex is reduced from king of the Cretaceous to basically a big joke, it makes you appreciate how savage yet strangely noble (some say deus ex machina-inducingly noble!) the Jurassic Park t-rex was. It’s a hulking and frightening monster, but it is still a mere creature of the wild doing what it does best – it doesn’t track one particular woman across the globe just to give it grief like a certain shark once did, it’s just a dangerous animal doing its natural thing. I think a lot of other dinosaur flicks emphasise the “oh shit giant dino wants to eat me!” element and less the part of humans invading on a land they were never part of. Yes, it’s all genetic experiments and security precautions gone terribly wrong, and the characters explain in detail how there’s a lot of stuff that just doesn’t bode well with the thunderous lizards (you used the wrong plants, morons!), but it really captures the essence that these dinosaurs have been brought to modern day, but are still in their natural environment.

Yeah, I’m running pretty low on decent doodles – there’s stuff I started that needs finished, but I’m clearly too lazy to do that anytime soon, so here’s something from over a year ago. I think it was part of a crude animation project, but I honestly can’t tell.

13 Comments

  1. greybob wrote:

    Thanks for responding in such a tremendous way.

    I’ve been trying to get back into anime a bit lately, and I’ve got a big long list of series I’d like to check out. HOTD was on there because, hey, zombies! Unless I’m mistaken, the whole zombie apocalypse thing hasn’t really been done in anime that much. In contrast to vampires, which are just as over-used in Japanese entertainment as they are in Western culture.

    I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that despite the premise, though, HOTD is not very good. Too bad! On the bright side, that means I can maybe put something else higher on my priorities, like Baccano or Gurren Lagann.

    I actually have a pretty difficult time finding anime I like these days. When I was younger I’d watch whatever came on saturday mornings, or on Cartoon Network. Now I actually have to go out of my way to seek out series that interest me! Got any recomendations?

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 12:33 am | Permalink
  2. MightyKombat wrote:

    I remember reading Dracula. Got a bit boring-ish near the end but I did know about Quincy getting stabbed by gypsies before he killed Drac.

    As for HSOTD (Using that because then I’d be confusing it for the Sega lightgun game hooray for workarounds no-one will ever use) I’d rather it didn’t go teh Ikki Tousen route and go fo rZOMG TITTIES which makes eveyr seirous scene look completely fucking daft.

    With teh recent rise of Zombies in videogames, boy, Hell must REALLY be getting crowded. As for vampires, the only vampire in anime worth givinga shit about has a name that starts with D and ends in “io Brando”

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  3. I just watched the first two episodes of Highschool of the Dead. For every scene with a zombie in it there must have been three scenes with viewable panties. Might by up your alley Ragey idk

    When someone says HOTD to me I think I’ll continue to think of the original SEGA game though.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  4. MightyKombat wrote:

    Considering he loves Ultimate Teacher. Although from what I see, HSOTD lacks those amazing passion panties of the gods. They might have a problem.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  5. greybob wrote:

    Well, I started watching Reborn! instead. No zombies, but it does heavily feature a 5-year-old mafia hitman, and the main character frequently runs around in his underwear with his hair on fire. Which is just as good as zombies, if not better.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  6. Ragey wrote:

    I don’t comment within 24 hours and there’s already two pieces of slander claiming I’m a panty lover. Thanks, guys, stuff like this makes the comment section so worthwhile. :p

    Oh man, I’m not the guy to ask for decent anime recommendations; I’m kinda thankful I arrived late enough before you had to rely on any of my suggestions. I generally prefer the short anime, namely OVAs, as quite often a full twenty six episode series just gets tiresome before it reaches the conclusion. I found Black Lagoon to be pretty engaging (I still haven’t got around to watching the second series), and if you can swallow the gore and nudity and abundance of amputations, I thought Elfen Lied made for an intriguing story.

    Though, personally, I just find OVAs more fun to watch – I definitely recommend Cyber City Oedo 808 for its awesome cyberpunk atmosphere and its brilliant dub, and Ultimate Teacher is just ridiculous. There’s some old ones like Judge and Appleseed I remember being good, but I honestly haven’t seen them in years.
    I remember watching the first episode of Mnemosyne about a year ago – it wasn’t too bad, but it was kind of forgettable, and given some of the themes in it I’m not sure if I’d like to see more (the main character is a woman who can revive an hour after dying, which is demonstrated by a rather grisly torture sequence). But it did have zombies for all of ten seconds, if I recall correctly, so that’s worth something, right?

    I’m really not up to scratch on anime, and I’m pretty sure I’ve made all these recommendations on the site before, so sorry for not actually being of much use.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  7. greybob wrote:

    Well, on the bright side, Highschool of the Dead is only 12 episodes long, so I might get around to watching it eventually. I dunno.

    I don’t mind longer anime too much. Some of my favorite series are longer ones. Monster was 70+ episodes, the first FMA had 50-something, and FMA: Brotherhood had 64. I even like some insanely long-running series like One Piece, but with something like that I find it much more worthwhile to read the manga than try to watch every episode.

    I feel like such a dork talking about this stuff.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink
  8. MightyKombat wrote:

    Well if you’re into OVAs, Ragey, then the OVA of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is definitely worth a look too. Sure you might understand a bit more if you read the manga, and the production order of the episodes was borderline schizophrenic, but at 12 episodes long and with a memorable antagonist, its good stuff.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  9. Wes wrote:

    Highschool of the Dead is FREAKIN’ AWESOME for all of the reasons above. There’s even one scene where breasts ripple in ultra-slow motion and magically maneuver themselves around bullets. There’s another scene where the hot tough girl completely lets loose on a group of zombies and enjoys it so much that she shouts about how it’s making her wet. Yup — go watch it now.

    As far as zombie media goes, the zombies are rarely the focal point when it comes to their stories — the stories almost always focus on the (living) people and how they manage to survive (or not) in a post-apocalyptic world. In this way, zombies are more like a force of nature than monsters with identity or personality — but they’re much, much cooler than earthquakes or hurricanes or floods resulting from global warming. None of those eat brains, after all!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  10. Ragey wrote:

    @Greybob: I suppose if it’s not that long then I might give HSOTD a bash sometime, but I can’t say I’m in a rush. I’ve watched worse stuff in my time. I’m sure longer anime, if you put the time into it, is very rewarding to watch to the end – I quite enjoyed watching all 52 episodes of Bomberman Jetters, though I won’t deny that they could’ve cut out about half the episodes and you wouldn’t have missed much.

    Then again, I think it takes me a fair bit of dedication and interest to do that. Normally if something’s long I’d sooner read the manga anyway (I want to get reading Fist of the North Star sometime; the anime just looks like it’s got a lot of filler)

    I meant to ask, what did you decide to watch in the end? I haven’t been keeping up with Game Progress Topic much lately so I’ve little idea what anyone’s up to these days.

    @MightyKombat: I’d be interested in at least checking out Jojo, though again, the manga looks like the better option, personally. I wasn’t even aware there was an animated adaptation!

    @Wes: My first thought after reading your opening paragraph was, “what kind of person thinks giant pair of breasts = target practise?” I’m not sure what that says about me.

    And I think that’s a point I definitely meant to make in this entry; the fact that zombies are treated as a natural threat of the outside world is something I thought The Walking Dead did very well. A lot of zombie fiction just focuses on the characters being constantly on the move or just holding out somewhere on their limited resources, but that seems to lie in the belief that sooner or later the military will just appear out of nowhere and solve everything (which was something I thought was a bit cheap in the ending of The Mist, but that’s another story!). In The Walking Dead they explicitly search for places where not only is it safe, but it’s got the right environment and facilities for them to to grow their own food, limiting the need to venture out amongst the zombies. I suppose you could say a world of zombies brings civilisation back to the primal ages where folks had to hunt for food, but predators were hunting them as well.

    Also, your comment about natural disasters has given me inspiration: tornado full of zombies.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  11. greybob wrote:

    @Ragey: I haven’t really started watching anything yet. I’m probably going to start on Trigun when I’m in the mood.

    For now I’ve been watching smaller, more obscure, more experimental stuff on Youtube. Like Tatami Galaxy, about a layabout college student who gets trapped in a Groundhog’s Day-esque loop where he repeats his college years over at the beginning of each episode, choosing a different school club each cycle, and how that decision affects his life in weird ways. It’s quirky, it’s got some unique and interesting animation, some good music, and it’s actually pretty funny at times. I feel pretty “eh” about the characters, though. The main character is kind of boring and the more interesting characters rarely appear.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog to share my thoughts to animation I’ve watched (not just anime, either, but stuff from all over the world, from the mainstream to the obscure) since it’s something I’m rather passionate about, but haven’t really covered on my site. It might get me updating more frequently, too!

    Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 1:23 am | Permalink
  12. greybob wrote:

    Sorry for the double-post, but I saw the finale of Walking Dead! I haven’t actually seen any of the episodes before that so I might not have actually gotten as much out of it. But it was still pretty cool, and I plan to go back and check out the rest of the series.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink
  13. MightyKombat wrote:

    @Ragey: your comment about checking out the manga is a smart one. You’ll get a better idea of the story that way once you watch the OVA.

    Monday, December 13, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink