Zombie apocalypse and dystopic worldview have been explored in the manga and anime scene in a multitude of different ways—set in the far future or made as a period piece, as survival drama, or in the hack and slash action genre. But rarely has the set-up been implemented with such ingenuity as it has been in Zom 100: Bucket List Of The Dead, created by Haro Aso and Kotaro Takata. The plot revolves around a pretty basic premise: what would you want to be if all your societal burdens became non-existent? Of course, the opportunity is provided by the aforementioned scenario of the zombie apocalypse, which brings a contrasting yet unique tone to the narrative.
Netflix’s live-action movie adaptation of Zom 100 is about to premiere tomorrow, and to give viewers an idea of what to expect from the feature, we would like to discuss a few initial volumes of the manga. We do not know up to which point of the fourteen volumes of the manga series the makers of the movie, Yusuke Ishida and Tatsuro Mishima, have decided to adapt, so we will provide a brief overview of the series along with character details.
Who Is Tendou Akira? What Was His Life Before the Zombie Apocalypse?
As the first issue of the manga series begins, readers are already introduced to the zombie apocalypse taking place, although it’s revealed to be happening in a series or movie playing on TV in the dingy apartment of our protagonist, 24-year-old Akira Tendou. Akira laments that even the people being chased by zombies seem to be in better condition than he is.
Akira has been working as an advertising representative for a black company, a name accorded to exploitative agencies that pressurize their employees to overwork to such an extent that they lose sense of their reality. Akira remembers that his life three years ago, when he joined the company, was full of youthful vigor and first passion to prove himself. On his first day, he met his senior colleague, Saori Ohtori, and developed feelings for her. However, he discovered pretty soon what a hellhole the place is when on his very first day on the job, he had to pull two consecutive all-nighters without returning home. Adding to the toxic work culture, the job starts taking a toll on Akira’s mental health. Despite wanting to quit, the concerns of financial instability force Akira to continue with the job for three years.
One fine morning, Akira notices unpaid bills and goes to his landlord to clear them, but he sees that his landlord has turned into a zombified being who is devouring another tenant. As he rushes outside, he discovers his town and the entire country of Japan have succumbed to the zombie apocalypse, and he still can’t think of anything else but that he needs to be on time for his job. However, given the current situation, soon, the possibility of him never having to go to work dawns upon him, and an all-engulfing feeling of freedom overjoys Akira. The burden that has been built on him for three years has suddenly been lifted; he finds his spirit rejuvenated and feels carefree—so much so that he decides to take an indefinite vacation for himself.
Concerned about Saori, Akira goes to her apartment to check up on her. He thinks that with the world ending, what could possibly go wrong if he finally confesses his feelings for the person he likes? Turns out, plenty, actually, as Saori has turned into a zombie, but Akira tearfully shares his feelings with her anyway.
Bucket List And An Old Friend: Who Is Kenichirou?
Akira decides to spend the next day chugging beer all day long, but due to a shortage, he has to visit the nearest convenience store, where he meets a female survivor of his age who seems adept at protecting herself even in such an apocalyptic situation. Akira asks for her contact info but gets berated by her for his misplaced priorities, and she flees, stealing his bicycle. On the deserted roads, Akira finds a better alternative, as he comes across a Harley Davidson, which he rides on his way home. However, as Akira witnesses his close neighbors, Mr. And Mrs. Kousaka, falling victim to the zombies as well, the realization of his mortality finally creeps into him. He realizes that at this rate, being eaten by the undead is just a matter of time, and he creates a bucket list of things he has wanted to do since forever. Free from every tribulation, now is his chance to tick off the list of 100 things he wants to do in life before time runs out. It is at this moment that Akira remembers to check the text conversations that were left unseen by him due to work pressure and remembers his best friend, Kenichirou Ryuuzaki, aka Kencho.
During his college rugby-playing years, Akira befriended the cheerful, energetic hunk, Kencho, and their long-standing friendship has continued ever since. Although in their last interaction, things went a bit sour. Akira was feeling jealous of the luxurious, easy-going life Kencho had as a real estate salesman, and Kencho’s advice to him to leave his black company job rubbed him the wrong way. Riding his Harley, Akira goes to Shinjuku, where Kencho is currently trapped inside a love hotel.
After reuniting with his best friend, Akira apologizes to him for his past conduct, and the duo rushes to the only exit route through a rooftop while escaping hordes of zombies. Having his spirits high, Akira successfully makes a seemingly impossible jump to the other side on another rooftop, away from the zombie horde. However, Kencho is unable to make the jump as he is emotionally burdened and confesses to Akira about his past life being a superficial charade built on lies and deceit, which never provided him a shred of true happiness. Considering these moments to be his final ones, Kencho adds that, as opposed to what he was forced to do as a profession, he always wanted to be a comedian. Akira manages to make him regain his lost confidence by asking him to make the jump in the funniest way, and inspired by Akira’s words, Kencho does a naked jump to successfully join his side, both literally and metaphorically. Akira’s bucket list also becomes Kencho’s, as he appreciates his newfound positive outlook, which he considers might be the way to save humanity in the end.
Without spoiling further, we can say Akira and Kencho’s journey will be fraught with some tragic realizations, wonderful discoveries, gore-filled scenarios, and, most importantly, a sense of wonder. The live-action adaptation will hopefully respect the source material enough and maintain the antithetical essence of tragi-comedy that makes this manga unique in the zombie-horror genre.