High School of the Dead (学園黙示録 Gakuen Mokushiroku?, "Academy Apocalypse") is a manga series written by Daisuke Satō and illustrated by Shōji Satō, published in Fujimi Shobo's Monthly Dragon Age since September 2006. The series has been published internationally in a number of languages, and during Comic-con 2010 Yen-Press officially announced that it will release the manga to the United States.
The series follows a group of Japanese high school students caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
Highschool 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". The story follows Takashi Komuro, a Japanese student at Fujimi High School who survived the initial outbreak along with several of his classmates and the school nurse, and occasionally jumps to the perspective of other characters.
The plot is initially concerned with the cast's physical survival and escape from the titular high school and zombies, but as the series proceeds it introduces the additional threats of societal collapse, in the form of dangerous fellow survivors and the possible decay of the characters' own moral codes.
- Takashi Komuro (小室 孝 Komuro Takashi?)
- Voiced by: Jun'ichi Suwabe
- A 17 year old sophomore high school student, Takashi is in the same class as Rei whom he has been friends with since childhood. He loved her ever since she made a childhood promise to marry him when they were older. However it was his hesitance and ignorance about her feelings that caused tension in their friendship which led to her starting to ironically date his best friend, Hisashi. He was one of the first people to notice that something was wrong in the school and quickly took action to escape with his friends. His relationship with Rei was shaken further when he was forced to kill Hisashi after he was bitten and had turned into a zombie. Soon afterwards their relationship was amended. His resolve to protect Rei and everyone else earns him respect despite his own feelings of inadequacy. He is often brash and risks his life to save someone on a whim. Like Saeko, Takashi confesses that he's found an exhilaration in killing "them".
- Rei Miyamoto (宮本 麗 Miyamoto Rei?)
- Voiced by: Marina Inoue
- Classmate and childhood friend of Takashi, they've known each other since kindergarten. When they were little she promised that one day she would marry him. Despite liking Takashi, their relationship was at odds at the beginning of the manga due to his indecisiveness. It was then that she started dating one of his friends, Hisashi, since he wouldn't make a move. As the story progressed they ended up reconciling their relationship. She doesn't find it above herself to reprimand Takashi for acting carelessly. She worries about his well-being yet admits that his selfless nature is one reason why she fell in love with him. Headstrong and reliable, Rei has proven to be a skilled combatant and strong asset to the group.
- Saeko Busujima (毒島 冴子 Busujima Saeko?)
- Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro
- A high school senior and president of the school's kendo club, she is extremely skilled with a bokken and close combat. Calm and collected with a sense of pride in her skills and those that she's with, Saeko is among the most reliable of the group. Everyone can count on her skills to pull them through if need be. Not much is known about her family except for her father who had traveled abroad on a self-defense conference before the advent of the Outbreak. She has shown fondness/crush towards Takashi and believes in his abilities to get them to safety. Saeko admits to Takashi that she is secretly a sadist who enjoys inflicting pain on those weaker than her, which is why she derives so much pleasure from killing "them". She describes herself as being the one person whose true nature hasn't been changed by the apocalypse, but nevertheless feels strong guilt for it as she did contemplate letting "them" kill her for her inhumanity. Takashi however insists she is a valuable member of the group, and inspired her to "live with the guilt", and maybe even find redemption. Saeko has the quirk of inadvertently drooling when she sleeps.
- Saya Takagi (高城 沙耶 Takagi Saya?)
- Voiced by: Eri Kitamura
- First making her escape with fellow classmate Kohta Hirano, she is the daughter of an influential Uyoku dantai politician and her family is deeply involved in Japan's politics. A self-proclaimed genius, Saya's knowledge and deductive capabilities have allowed the group to escape from harm. She was among the first to conclude that "they" were attracted to only sound. Despite coming from a prestigious family she despises her parents whom she thought had given up on her in this crisis. It was before their escape from the mansion that she managed to make up with her parents. Other than Rei, she is the only one who has a history with Takashi Komuro since they were children and is hinted to having deeper feelings for him.
- Kohta Hirano (平野 コータ Hirano Kōta?)
- Voiced by: Nobuyuki Hiyama
- A 16-year old sophomore student who was often bullied in school, Kohta is a gun otaku (enthusiast) and knows the ins and outs of the firearms and any military-related equipment that the group comes across. At the beginning of the story he helped Saya Takagi escape danger, though only did so by following her orders. His skills as a marksman have proven to be a valuable asset to keeping everyone alive. On a one-month trip to America he was trained by the US military contractor Blackwater USA which furthered his obsession over weapons. In addition to being the gun expert and marksman, Hirano also helps train Takashi and the others in the use of firearms. Also, now that "normality" no longer exists, Hirano feels that he is free to vent the repressed rage he had against those who bullied him, and as a result has become more self-confident. He claims to have come from a very prestigious family, with his father working in jewelry business, his mother a fashion designer, his grandfather a captain of a ship and his grandmother a violinist.
- Shizuka Marikawa (鞠川 静香 Marikawa Shizuka?)
- Voiced by: Yukari Fukui
- The school nurse at Fujimi High School, she is rather ditsy as compared to the rest of girls in the group. Her large bust size is often used as a comical element in the story. A 26 year old bachelorette, she lives with Rika Minami, a sniper of Japan's Special Assault Team. Her home was used as a safe haven for the group once they escaped the high school. As a nurse she is responsible for the health and care of everyone in the group and is efficient at doing so.
- Alice Maresato (希里ありす Maresato Arisu?)
- Voiced by: Ayana Taketatsu
- The 7 year old child saved by Takashi from several undead after her father was killed by members of a household who didn't allow them in. She is very close to Kohta and refuses to be separated from the group even at the cost of her own safety.
Highschool of the Dead began serialization in Monthly Dragon Age in July 2006, but went on hiatus from the end of 2008 until March 2010, with another short break between May and July 2010.
The manga has been licensed for international release in a number of languages and regions. It is published in Spain by Glénat España, in Germany by Carlsen, in Brazil by Panini Comics, in Canada and France for French-language publication by Pika Édition, in English in Canada and the US by Yen Press and in Taiwan by Kadokawa Media (Taiwan). The first volume was released in May 2008 in Spain, in March 2010 in Germany, and in April 2010 in Brazil. Shortly following the inception of the series, however, the manga became popular enough in English via scanlation to draw the attention of the creators, who included the following English message in the magazine printing of the fifth chapter:
Hey! people who read the English version (that made by illegal!).
You guys have to buy legality COOL COMIC when that comic become book!
You can get legality comic book at Amazon.—Daisuke Satō and Shōji Satō, Monthly Dragon Age, November 2006
An animated adaptation of Highschool of the Dead is being created by Madhouse, and began airing on July 5th, 2010. The series is licensed in English by Sentai Filmworks and is simulcasted in subtitled form on Anime Network. Sentai will later release the series in dubbed form. The opening theme is "HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD" by Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets. The ending theme will be unique for each episode (for a total of 12), but all are sung by Kurosaki Maon. The first ending theme is titled "Kimi to Taiyou ga Shinda Hi", the second ending theme "Color Me Dark" and the third ending "Return to Destiny".
Script error Chris Beveridge from Mania.com comments on the first episode, "There's a lot to like here if you're looking for something beyond the usual high school dramas and comedies of the last few years." Carlo Santos of Anime News Network states that, "Other recent zombie works in Western entertainment have tried to play it ironic, or postmodernist, or just plain silly, but this one goes for straight-up horror—and pulls it off admirably." However, Zac Bertschy, also of Anime News Network, states that, "It just could've easily been written by a script generator or a horror fan with 19 minutes to kill."
- Fujimi Shobo's Highschool of the Dead website (Japanese)
- Anime official website (Japanese)
- Highschool of the Dead (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopediaru:Highschool of the Dead