“Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead” is the kind of show that the zombie genre needs right now.
I’ve never been a big fan of the zombie genre. I think it’s very overdone, and I find most zombie shows, movies, and games to be tedious and boring. The closest thing to zombie movies I like are Shawn of the Dead and the Evil Dead trilogy (and to be honest Deadites aren’t zombies so that one doesn’t count). Resident Evil 4 and Dead Rising are okay games too I guess. But beyond those examples, I really couldn’t give two shits about zombies. The concept has been, in more ways than one, done to death.
That’s why when a friend recommended I check out Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, I was hesitant. I was sure this was going to be another generic zombie show about a bunch of generic characters trying to survive a generic zombie apocalypse and having generic conflicts with each other over generic things in the process.
Well, I was dead wrong.
Zom 100 is anything but generic, and a complete subversion of the zombie horror survival genre. Everything from the story to the characters to the art is relatively unique and provides an enjoyable experience for the viewer, even if you’re not into zombies. The opening theme, “Song of the Dead”, is one of the catchiest anime opening songs I’ve heard in a while, and I’ll often find myself humming or singing it out of nowhere. Aside from being a straight-up banger, the composition of the song flawlessly captures the essence and spirit of the show, something not a whole lot of shows tend to do. You’re not watching some gloomy generic zombie apocalypse show, you’re watching something that’s way more upbeat than you’d expect given the genre.
The series begins with the main character, 24 year old Akira Tendo, trapped in a soul-sucking office job with an abusive and controlling boss. Akira routinely works for days straight, to the point of complete and utter exhaustion. Then one day, the zombie apocalypse happens, and that’s where the fun begins. I mean that quite literally, because once Akira realizes that he no longer has to go back to his job he feels like a massive burden has been lifted and begins living it up. Faced with the reality that he’s eventually going to become a zombie himself, Akira makes a bucket list titled “100 Things I Want to do Before I Become a Zombie” and decides he’s going to take this opportunity to live his life to the fullest and do all the things he ever wanted to do but couldn’t. Along the way he meets up with some other survivors, like his old friend Kencho, a survival-obsessed girl named Shizuka, and a German tourist with big tits named Bea. The series revolves around the group attempting to have fun and live their lives to the fullest even when surrounded by horror and death.
Akira and Kencho are absurdly care-free and happy-go-lucky, and in most other shows you’d find their attitude wearing thin after a few episodes. But because of their characters’ backgrounds and the environment they’ve suddenly been placed in, it works to completely subvert the boring and bland zombie genre that we’ve become accustomed to and makes them likeable characters. Their carefree “live-it-up” attitude makes perfect sense given what their lives were like before the zombie breakout. Akira and Kencho are completely aware of the harsh reality of their situation, they’re not afraid to do what needs to be done when survival is on the line, but they also know there’s no point in being mopey and depressed. On the opposite end, you have Shizuka, a cardio-obsessed girl who also completely understands the predicament she’s in, but in contrast to Akira and Kencho views any attempt at fun as outright carelessness. At first she’s an overly-pragmatic bitch seemingly trying to bring down the boys, but the more time she spends around Akira the more she begins to lighten up just a little. Once her walls come down, we see why she’s the way she is (an overbearing and over-demanding father). Bea is a well-endowed Japanophile visiting from Germany who basically walked right into the zombie apocalypse upon landing in the country. After stealing some old samurai armor, she sets out on a quest to secure fresh fish so she can experience authentic Japanese sushi from a specific itamae (sushi chef). The group helps her achieve her goal, and she decides to go along with them (much to Kencho’s pleasure). You’d think they’d have made a white Japanophile the annoying character, but I honestly can’t find anything bad to say about Bea. She’s not overwhelming and intolerable, and she’s not some one-dimensional blonde bimbo like you’d expect her character to be. I was expecting her to be on par with Zenitsu from Demon Slayer, but so far she’s been a decent character and I look forward to seeing her develop further as the series progresses.
The animation in Zom 100 is decent enough, but what really caps it off is the artist’s choice to use multi-colored paint instead of blood. While at first glance one might write this off as some kind of attempt to get by censorship or to otherwise tone the series down, it’s actually a brilliant artistic choice that highlights how Akira perceives the world around him. While Akira is stuck in his dead end soul sucking job, the environment is dull and almost colorless. But the moment Akira realizes that a zombie apocalypse means no more dead end job, the environment becomes a vibrant and colorful landscape. We’re essentially seeing the world through Akira’s eyes. Those multi-colored blood splatters represent the weight being removed from Akira’s very soul, and his hope and optimism returning as he sets out to do all the things he ever wanted to do but couldn’t because he was trapped in the daily grind of life. I can’t applaud this enough, this is a level of complexity that both western animation and anime tend to lack in the modern age. The artist is a genius.
Sadly, it appears after nine episodes the show has gone on an indefinite hiatus.
I’m not too sure of the exact details as to why. The closest thing to an official explanation I’ve found is simply “production issues”, which can mean anything. I’ve also heard rumors that the animation team actually walked out on the project because, ironically enough, they were being treated poorly on the job. I can’t verify these claims though, so use your own judgement on this one. I’ve also heard something about them using up all their available time slots, but, again, I can’t verify this claim.
I hope this anime comes back soon, right now we’ve been left on a massive cliffhanger and introduced to some new characters that provide a formidable contrast to Akira and his friends. In the meantime you can check it out on Crunchyroll or using, ahem, OTHER methods.
I give this series 8/10. Give us the last three episodes already, Bug Films! You’re killing me!