Take a look with me at the genres associated with this anime as labeled by MyAnimeList. Ecchi. Harem. Comedy. And the parent source? A light novel. All of these qualities combine to mean one thing, right? That I’m going to hate it. The slop of the anime medium only created to appeal to loser NEETs that get off to having cute girls stomp on them, hiding their true feelings. I’ve made my preferences more than transparent enough for readers to know that this will not be of any interest to me whatsoever. Well… about that…
I first watched Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? almost seven years ago, in April of 2013. I attempted to watch its second season many years later, far past the point where I cared anymore. In a post I wrote back in April (ironically), I made the bold assumption that not only did I “not care for” Zombie anymore, but that I thought the score should’ve been in the lower echelons of the standard 1-10 scoring system, rather than the positive. Roughly a half an hour removed from (half-)watching the final episode, not only am I calling bullshit on myself, but I find myself more appreciative of the critical sense my past self had. Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? is actually pretty good. Usually.
One thing I got right in the previously-established link is that a decent chunk of this show’s content is filled with cliché harem tropes where the central female characters berate and assault the male lead for doing “lecherous” things (typically non-intentionally). Most of the comedy relies on misunderstandings, slapstick, and the absurdity of the insults thrown at the male lead for seemingly no reason. For the more “woke” crowd, there are some hints of transphobia within the humor, too, notably hammering the notion that a man wearing female clothing is “disgusting” and “perverted.” Through this aspect, the anime is not recommendable and anyone going into it expecting to laugh, I’d set the bar pretty low.
What makes Zombie actually worth watching is in its characters. By some miracle, the main cast of Aikawa, Eu, Seraphim, and Haruna (Yuki comes in late and doesn’t contribute much) ends up building a lasting bond that makes their constant playing fairly endearing. Aikawa has some snark to him (and a libido) that gives him a dynamic with his female counterparts that’s somewhat rare in other harem series. He challenges them, and while he’s beat up on plenty, he never seems to outright submit to them, generally abiding by their whims to gain their trust. Haruna is a tsundere with random personality quirks (a genius and a klutz simultaneously) that varies in importance, and Sera is almost never important, but also seems to have no interest in Aikawa romantically, which would be a first.
Eu almost makes the series what it is, as she is, as one character describes, “the center of everything.” She made Aikawa immortal (a zombie), draws chaos towards her, and is the major plot focus for not just one subplot, but two. A silent, emotionless, armored girl, she receives the most development of any character by far and also serves as the glue to bringing all of these characters together. Similar to how she draws in chaos, she also brings out the best side of these characters, whether during playtime or serious dramatics. If nothing else, she shows that she cares, and through her unease it’s shown that all the others care, as well. Perhaps I’m getting softer with age—I can’t help but feel that that’s enough to get me to like it. These characters are genuine in their love for one another and I enjoy their interactions, even if half of it is dumb and cliché.
On the topic of dumb and cliché, this is an “ecchi” anime, and it deserves that moniker. Haruna is shown naked a large number of times because “her powers won’t work,” Sera never seems to wear anything but tanktops, and Aikawa just so happens to land in multiple provocative situations, including an accidental kiss with the oft-unmentioned Yuki, which means they’re now married. That’s not a joke; the moment a vampire-ninja kisses someone, they must swear themselves to them in marriage… because why not? Oh, did I not mention that most of these characters are random monsters from fantasy tales? Vampire-ninja, necromancers, zombies, “magiclad girls” (magical girls), etc. Back on topic, a lot of these ecchi moments are unnecessary and gross, but that’s been my stance on the ecchi genre since I started anime, so that won’t change until there becomes a justifiable reason to exploit it. Basic trope-ish stuff, veterans understand this plenty.
In my comments for this series made back in 2013, all I decided to state was that episodes 10 and 11 could have been prevented and episode 12 was unnecessary. I was not wrong then, and it remains a major plothole in the series. I won’t go into it for spoiler reasons (I could just mark this paragraph for spoilers… Eh, more reason to watch the series), it’s just that a lot of it could’ve been handled better. Painfully melodramatic with an antagonist that has no complexity whatsoever. Didn’t really help the overall enjoyment. Episodes 1-6 are where this series peak, with it remaining stable for the next couple of episodes and drowning in edge past episode eight. And then episode 12 is… uh… painful. Do you like seeing women be objectified and ogled for male satisfaction? That’s how they decided to end the first season!
If you’ve noticed in the last few anime entries that I essentially skipped talking about the quality of animation, know that was not (completely) out of laziness. Let me compensate here: Zombie, initially, is an ugly-looking show. Very gray and doesn’t do much to heighten the vigor of its comedic nature. As it continues and more bizarre situations are presented, it begins to find solace in pain. There are a lot of grotesque body-horror-type visual gags in this anime, including but not limited to Aikawa being re-assembled back together after he gets caught in an explosion. Lots of bloody faces and bruises, as well, both in terms of fighting and hyperactive gags (Aikawa’s friend bloodies his forehead on a bowling ball knowing Aikawa lives with a bunch of cute girls). It’s kind of impressive how far this series is willing to go with things that are typically seen as horrific as gag humor. I also thought the satirical nature of the magical girl stuff was cute, including full-on transformations of the longest variety.
So today I learned that there can, in fact, be ecchi-harem-comedy light novel adaptations that I can enjoy AND find recommendable. It’s not great by any means, and hampers itself with a lot of dumb, sexist shit that could absolutely be removed if it wasn’t profitable to appeal to male hormones. Despite this, the characters are likable to a fault and end up more likable by the camaraderie they develop as the series continues. Eu and Sera are actually characters I am willing to admit I liked a lot, even if the latter didn’t receive too much substantial attention or development. It had just enough heart to make it past my cynicism. My only advice would be to skip episode 12. Fuck episode 12.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
If you’d like to see more reviews like this, feel free to look at my full list of anime reviews!
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.