Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is a new comedy horror series with story by Haro Aso (Alice in Borderland) and art by Kotaro Takata (Hallelujah Overdrive!, I Am Sherlock). There is no shortage of zombie apocalypse material in the world today, and as a result, a lot of these narratives can feel much the same. But I'm happy to report that Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead stands out from the rest and it is one of the best zombie manga to release within quite some time.
Throughout the years, many zombie films have surprised me with their fresh perspectives, such as Train to Busan, Zombieland, Overlord, Warm Bodies, and 28 Days Later. And in manga, I Am Hero, School-Live!, and Highschool of the Dead are a few that have made a lasting impression. After reading its first volume, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is one that I’ll most likely be adding to the list.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is another series that, like those mentioned above, distinguishes itself from the rest with its fresh take on the zombie apocalypse. Not necessarily in terms of the zombies themselves, which look and act like your typical zombie so far, but in the way that the main character responds to and reacts to his new reality. Where most stories show its main character trying to survive at all costs and living in fear of the zombies, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead flips the script and gives you a MC that isn’t concerned as much about surviving but living life to its fullest instead.
The story follows Akira, a 24-year-old office worker who’s become a zombie in his own right thanks to his job. With little rest and no time off, he dreads heading into the office each day. He wants to quit, but he just can’t find it in himself to resign. But one day, he finally finds a way out thanks to the zombies that now roam the streets. When he wakes up in this new world, Akira is full of joy, because he’s free to do what he wants and he finally gets a day off work.
In many ways, Akira reminds me of characters like Luffy from One Piece, because they both lack the apprehension and fear that commonly hold people back. They jump in headfirst no matter what stands in their way. They almost have this blind confidence about them that makes them fun to follow. People are drawn to them because they are mesmerized by their charisma and their ability to look adversity directly in the face, and in turn, we are mesmerized by them as well.
Opposite of Akira is Shizuka Mikazuki, who has differing views on how to live life in a zombie apocalypse. She avoids risks, while Akira thinks life is too short to avoid taking them. While he’s building his list of “100 things to do before becoming a zombie”, she’s building her list of “100 things to do to avoid becoming a zombie". These two have very polarizing personalities and views on life and this only adds more interest to the story. In the first volume, they had brief interactions together, but I’m interested in seeing how these two connect in the future.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead has a great set of characters, but it also has an interesting premise. While the world is going to hell, the main character of the story is getting his act together and trying to make up for lost time. This perspective is really interesting to me and it's an angle that’s rarely, if ever, explored. The series also features the perfect balance between comedy and horror; It never leans too far into one genre over the other. While I love a good gorefest, there has to be more to the story, and Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead has that and so much more.
Another thing that’s interesting about this series is its character designs, which look like they are out of a shonen, but it’s also very much a seinen in terms of its art style as well. It has a unique look that is unlike anything I’ve seen before and this is something I look for in a new manga series. The panels also contain quite a bit of detail. I really enjoyed the art in the series, and apart from its characters, felt this was one of the areas at which it excelled most.
As it currently stands, the story is lacking a serious note that gives it some weight, but this is something that I feel is coming in the volumes to come. Not everything can be fun and games in a zombie apocalypse, and perhaps it will just take some time before Akira realizes what this all truly means for his future let alone the fate of humanity. I love the hilarity and absurdity of some of the scenes in this series, and while they can be unrealistic at times, they are all in good fun and make for an enjoyable read.
The entertainment factor Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead has alone makes it worth checking out. It’s one that doesn’t follow the horde in terms of its premise and identity and this gives it a lot of potential. So far, it’s off to a good start and I can’t wait to see how its characters and story develop in the chapters to come.
Thank you to Netgalley, Viz, Haro Aso, and Kotaro Takata for a copy of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Volume 1 in exchange for an honest review!