This omnibus collects the volumes 5-7 (chapters 18-29). of the manga Highschool of the Dead, with completely colored art. I'll talk a bit about the contents but will be focusing just as much on the format in this review. For detailed thoughts on each volume please see my individual reviews.
As I mentioned in my review of the first omnibus, Highschool of the Dead is contains a lot of things I don't normally care for in my reading habits. Gore, zombies, and absurd levels of ecchi fanservice are not usually my cup of tea, but It all comes together surprisingly well in this case and HotD is extremely good for what it is. The series picks up steam in these later volumes that are just as good, if not better, than the first four.
Volumes 5 and 6 take things in a different direction and find Takashi's group at a shopping center where a junior police officer and several civilians have holed up waiting for reinforcements. But new potential allies and a source of supplies brings just as many complications as advantages, and more tough choices await as reality intrudes on everyone's plans. There's a fair bit of character development in this set of chapters. Individual motivations and fears come to the surface, personality conflicts grow a bit, and jealousy starts to show it's teeth. The conflicts and difficult discussions arise naturally and have great impact on the characters. There's surprising twists, the whole story is framed and told exquisitely, and it all builds to an incredible, heart-wrenching moment.
Volume 7 continues the search to reunite with Takashi's and Rei's parents. The heavy focus is on the search and fighting hoards of "Them," but there is a fair amount of character development as well dealing with the fallout of last issue's events.
The biggest issue here is that things end in the middle of a story arc. It normally wouldn't be a big deal but this is the point where the series went on hiatus a couple of years ago. Since then only a single chapter has been released (in Japan), so there's a big question mark on how long it will be before we see the completion and translation of the next installment.
As always there is also copious amounts of suspense, action and fan service, and everything is illustrated wonderfully. As with the first omnibus the coloring is incredible and really adds to the already impressive underlying art.
Also like the first omnibus the production values for this edition are off the charts. The paper size is that of an "American graphic novel" rather than the smaller standard for manga and the paper and printing quality is top notch.
Since there is one less volume in this collection, in addition to an interview with the the author and and other promotional materials sprinkled throughout, a 120+ page artbook is included at the end. It predominately features illustrations (with notes) from HotD and the artist's other major work, Triage X. If you've read any HotD you know what to expect from these pin ups both in quality and subject matter. A sturdy hardcover with artwork and a dustjacket with art on both sides holds this 600+ page collection together. A very nice addition given the lack of availability of more chapters.
Highschool of the Dead is the very definition of "not for everyone," but it is a very well done guilty pleasure sort of read and these omnibuses are an incredible presentation of it. Fantastic job by Yen Press.