‘Zom 100: Bucket List Of The Dead’ Manga And Film Differences, Explained

It is quite commonplace for makers to put their own spin on the live-action iteration of an adapted storyline, which opens up the scope for interpretation and allows the adaptation to have its own identity outside the source material. Although the creative liberties taken in adaptations have an equal chance of elevating or ruining the essence of the primary content, manga, in this context, no one likes to see a page-to-screen adaptation for the entirety.

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Keeping that in mind, it’s important to remember how narrative changes have massively affected several live-action adaptations of manga. With Netflix in question, any possibility of a live-action adaptation of manga is concerning, given how abominable the Death Note live-action adaptation was. However, otakus will be relieved to learn that with their latest release, Zom 100: Bucket List of The Dead, adapted from the manga of the same name, Netflix has rectified their past mistake by replacing Western directors who don’t have much idea about the medium with Japanese creators. As a result, despite some significant changes, the core of the narrative remains intact. In this article, we will gloss over some of the differences between the movie and the manga and try to assess what those meant for the end result.

Spoilers Ahead

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Tendo’s Office Life

One of the most important sections of Zom 100 was Tendo Akira‘s past life at the black company, where he was inhumanely exploited and pressurized to the point he almost lost his mental sanity. After the zombie outbreak began, the first thought that came to Tendo’s mind was that he was finally free from the hellish existence his workplace had subjected him to. Whereas in the manga, Tendo suffered in his office for three long years, in Zom 100 movie version, a year at the company was enough to make Tendo suicidal. On his first day at the office, Tendo fell for Saori Ohtori, his senior colleague, but couldn’t muster enough courage to confess his feelings. In the manga, after the outbreak happens, Tendo goes to Ohtori’s apartment only to find her and the company chairman infected and already turned into zombies. In the movie, however, when Tendo goes to Ohtori’s apartment to check up on her, she is still a regular human being. Also, unlike in the manga, where Tendo had previously known about Ohtori’s relationship with the chairman, in the movie, Tendo only comes to know about it after going to her apartment.

This alteration in Zom 100 movie makes Tendo feel more helpless than ever, as Ohtori turned into a zombie right in front of his eyes. He is unable to save the person he liked.

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Tendo’s Reunion With Kencho

One of the most significant and, to be frank, pretty nonsensical changes was altering the way Tendo and Kencho’s reunion played out in the manga. In the manga, the difference in their respective lifestyles led to two friends estrangement. Later, as Tendo goes to save Kencho from a zombie-filled hotel, he apologizes to him for his past actions. In order to escape, the duo reach the top of the building, where Tendo daringly jumps across another building. Kencho, who has pent-up frustration and guilt clogging up his mind, is unable to make the jump until he confesses what a superficial life he was leading previously and states that he always aspired to be a comedian. It is only after this honest acknowledgment that Kencho is able to make the leap—figuratively which is a leap of faith—to join in Tendo’s journey to do what his heart desires.

In Zom 100 movie, Kencho’s confession is inexplicably omitted, which keeps viewers from rooting for the character. The confession strengthened the bond between the two friends and made Tendo wonder about his own dreams when Kencho shared his aspirations with him. Instead, the movie doesn’t play along with the emotional beats and hastily reunites the friends after Tendo’s apology.

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Yukari’s Death

Another inexplicable omission from Zom 100 movie was Yukari’s character, whose arc left a pretty significant impact on Tendo’s life and overall narrative. In the manga, stuck inside a mall, Tendo and Kencho come across three flight attendants, Maki, Reika, and Yukari, and in order to relieve their tension, the group decides to get to know each other. In a roundabout way, Tendo’s wish on his bucket list of attending a gokon (group dating) with flight attendants gets fulfilled. Among the attendants, Yukari, the kindest of them all, befriends Tendo, and they have a heart-to-heart about both of their miserable predicaments at work.

Yukari shares her aspiration of becoming a flight attendant, one of whom she considered to be a role model in her younger days, which led her to become one. Unfortunately, their friendship was short-lived, as Yukari breathed her last when the zombified pilot attacked her, but Tendo was moved by her last words. Kencho and Yukari’s dreams motivated him to remember what he wanted to become all along: a superhero who saves everyone. It is bewildering to even think about how the makers considered removing one of the most impactful parts of the adaptation altogether. The way Shizuka’s character was kind of diluted down and total omission of Yukari’s story almost comes off as kind of misogynistic if we may say so.


More Or Less The Entire Third Act

In the manga, Shizuka, the mysterious survivor, had a much tougher, uncompromising demeanor than her movie counterpart. In Zom 100 movie, she basically substituted Yukari’s character in the gokon scenario and later joined Kencho and Tendo in their journey to the marine aquarium. En route, she forms a bond with the duo and starts considering them friends, whereas, in manga, it wasn’t until much later that Shizuka starts trusting the duo. In fact, many of the later scenarios, which show the trio going on adventures across post-apocalyptic Japan, were added to the movie, along with Kosugi’s arc, which was amalgamated with the marine aquarium arc. However, this change was actually beneficial, as saving his abusive boss from zombie sharks reflects the essence of heroism in Tendo.

Overall, the deliberately made changes in general helped the pacing of the movie, and even though the makers missed some vital notes, the final half of Zom 100 movie more than makes up for it. Perhaps some of the series highlights which we as manga readers found to be missing will be showcased if a sequel is eventually made, which, judging by the audience reaction to the movie, is inevitable. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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