How Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Revives a Dying Genre
When The Walking Dead ended its run on AMC in 2022, it felt as if there were no major active efforts left in the zombie film scene, save for a few of the show’s spinoffs that weren’t doing very well. With 11 seasons worth of content there, it felt hard to breathe new life into a genre so conceptually predictable. The world population falls to the infection, there are a few small groups of survivors left traversing the planet, et cetera, et cetera. Personally, I find the genre the most interesting when there are factors to keep me entertained besides the clear threat of zombies. I’ve had a good time with films like Zombieland and the likes of the Cornetto trilogy, as they zero in on a group of strangers who absolutely do NOT belong together in this situation having a great time. As these two films (among others) have aged, artists who’ve grown up with them have had a chance to contribute to the genre with the inspiration received from said films. Enter Haro Aso with his 2018 story, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead.
The story focuses on Akira Tendo, a film production worker who, upon discovering he’s woken up to a zombie apocalypse, quits his job for an indefinite vacation to do everything he’s always wanted to do but never had the time for. Accompanied by his childhood friend Kencho, the mysterious Shizuka, and the eccentric foreigner Beatrix, the four face the road ahead with an open mind and a collective bucket list to complete before they succumb to the infection.
The story asks the question, would you rather despair until your known inevitable demise, or make the most of the time you have until that fateful day? The four main cast members all have a layered background explored in the episodes, comparing and contrasting their mundane lives prior to the start of the virus. Kensho had a similar miserable work experience to Akira, Beatrix always dreamed of visiting Japan, and Shizuka’s troubled past leads her present journey to pump some life back into her flawed perspective. They all learn, and more importantly, live, in the face of the danger this fearsome new world presents.
The story takes a strangely positive outlook on the prospect of a zombie pandemic, making it stand out in the crowd of other attempts to take on the genre. The blood spilled by those infected upon the survivors has the aesthetic of a paint can, multiple colors gushing out across the streets of multiple cities and countrysides of Japan. It’s almost reminiscent of the Danganronpa series’ infamous pink blood, though tonally both serve their series equally well. Danganronpa‘s pink blood adds to its eerie tone of mystery and deceit, making each body discovery all the more shocking. Zom 100 utilizes the multicolored blood splatters to its fullest potential, creating the most colorful, dynamic landscapes for any piece of zombie fiction I’ve ever seen—besides maybe Plants vs. Zombies. The intro is a force to be reckoned with as well, boasting flash mob-esque visuals alongside said colorful splatters.
The first season of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is now streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.