Akira Tendô (Shuichiro Umeda, Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie) worked at an exploitative company that demanded back-breaking hours of work with only harsh criticism as a reward. Having been reduced to a husk of the happy individual he once was, Akira was stumbling through life when a zombie apocalypse hit Japan. Now, free from the burden of work, he’s putting together a bucket list of things he wants to do before getting turned into a zombie in Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (Zom 100: Zombie ni Naru made ni Shitai 100 no Koto) Season 1.
In the crowded genre of zombie media, it can take a lot to stand out. The cornerstone of how Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Season 1 manages this is through the positive outlook of much of its cast. Rather than accept the gloom and doom of most people’s reactions, Akira and his growing list of friends decide that they are going to live their best lives, even if it might get them eaten by the undead.
This upbeat take on the end of the world as we know it is reinforced through the series’ gorgeously colorful visual design. Not only are the characters’ outfits always popping with color, but much of the blood splatter that is generally everywhere is replaced with bright splashes of multicolored paint. This ever-present brightness helps keep the series from getting weighed down by the typically grim subject matter.
Further helping the series remain light is the frequent comic elements liberally spread throughout the series. From the dance video-style intro sequence to Akira’s best friend Kenichirô Ryûzaki (Makoto Furukawa, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury) frequently finding a reason to bear it all, and even a pursuit through an aquarium featuring a zombie shark, the series is never afraid to set aside the terror of the apocalypse to have some fun.
While Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead doesn’t shy away from the fun, that doesn’t mean it’s not willing to explore the harsher side of humanity. While more than one episode displays this through terrible people taking advantage of the ongoing crisis and being terrible to others, it dives deeper than that through its exploration of the trauma Akira and fellow survivor Shizuka Mikazuki (Tomori Kusunoki, Chainsaw Man) carry with them from their days before the zombies arrived. The story does a great job thoroughly exploring the scars that its protagonists bear, how they got them, and what has to be done to become free of them. This willingness to lean into its characters’ struggles gives their eventual triumphs a great deal of weight. The best episode of the season is devoted exclusively to when Akira is confronted by one of his former abusers. How he overcomes his recurring nightmare is handled perfectly.
Even though comedy and drama abound in Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Season 1, the series manages to squeeze in a fair amount of action for viewers to indulge in too. From vehicular mayhem to facing off with the horde with their bare hands, Akira and company find plenty of ways to deal with the immediate roadblocks placed before them. But none of them grabs the viewer’s attention as much as the German-born otaku of Akira’s group of survivors, Beatrix Amerhauser (Minami Takahashi, Lost Judgement). Donning a full set of samurai armor and wielding everything from katanas to a naginata, Beatrix shines when she is forced to cut her way through obstacles while serving as the fan girl many viewers will be able to relate to.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Season 1 draws all of its elements together to create a unique take on a genre that I would’ve thought thoroughly tapped out before watching it. It does such a great job crafting an entertaining story that is equal parts fun, thrilling, and emotional that I cannot wait to learn what surprises the series holds for fans in the future.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Season 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Season 1
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Season 1 draws all of its elements together to create a unique take on a genre that I would’ve thought thoroughly tapped out before watching it.