Among every different literary medium out there that is used as source material for live-action adaptations, adapting manga or anime is one of the toughest things to do. More often than not, the differences in expression, visual output, and tone ruins the adaptation, and sometimes the content itself turns out to not be suitable for a live-action iteration. When it comes to Netflix’s live-action anime adaptations, their track record is absolutely horrible, given how badly they treated two of the most influential anime of all time, Death Note and Cowboy Bebop.
Understandably, there were concerns about Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Zom 100: Bucket List of The Dead, but the curious admixture of post-apocalyptic horror and humor, along with beautiful spectacle, was something that deserved to be showcased by actors on screen. And series fans will surely be happy to learn that despite some key differences, Zom 100 stands out as a unique take on the source material that respects the core essence of the primary narrative.
Who is Tendo Akira? Why Did He Need A Bucket List?
Zom 100 opens on the balcony of one of the numerous apartments in Tokyo, as viewers come across the young protagonist, Tendo Akira, running from a horde of vicious flesh-eating zombies. However, for Tendo, more concerning than his fear for his life and the existence of the zombies is the fact that he is running late for work. We are taken exactly a year back in time, which reveals the reason for his misplaced priorities.
Tendo joined an advertising company’s commercial production division a year ago. In the flashback sequence, we see an enthusiastic Tendo setting out for his first day at his first full-time job, something that he has acquired by toiling severely. Full of dreams and vigor, Tendo warmly greets his colleagues, shows his dedication at the workplace, and acknowledges his gratitude for the opportunity he has been given to prove himself. His day seems to get even better when he gets infatuated with his senior colleague, Saori Ohtori, making him even consider the possibility that this might be the best workplace he could have ever gotten. However, his illusion gets shattered as he gets a rude awakening on the very first day, pulling two all-nighters consecutively and returning home almost as a living corpse.
Since then, the situation for Tendo has only worsened drastically, as exploitative boss Gonzou Kosugi wrings the ever-living life out of him with his insane workload. In a crude way, his workplace turns out to be his home, as he doesn’t even have a chance to leave most of the time. Financial concerns don’t let him quit the job; free will becomes a distant dream as Tendo continues to get pulled into the toxic quicksand of his workplace. Only his crush, Ohtori, the best employee in the company, treats him with some kindness. Tendo shares his admiration for her work ethic and the fact that she seems to be doing what she loves, but without revealing much, Ohtori states that isn’t the case for her either.
After spending a year in such a hellish existence, Tendo’s tormented mental state almost makes him contemplate taking his own life instead of spending another day at his workplace. And the very next day, he is running from a zombie outbreak that has taken hold of the entire country. As Tendo witnesses the severity of the situation, the realization dawns upon him that he might not have to return to his workplace ever again, and a strong feeling of liberation exhilarates him immensely. Finally, he is free to live his life the way he likes it without having a single concern about anything. An overjoyed Tendo reaching an epiphany with hordes of zombies trying to get to him is surely a frame to remember.
Suddenly, Tendo is reminded of Ohtori and decides to go check up on her. As he climbs down his apartment building, he meets his neighbors, Mr. Kousaka and his pregnant wife, and offers to run errands for them as well. At Ohtori’s apartment, Tendo sees her hiding from the zombified director of their company, whom Tendo knocks out with the rugby skills he picked up back in college As Ohtori bashes in the zombie director’s brains out, Tendo is disheartened to learn that she was in a relationship with the director, and his misery is doubled when Ohtori, who had been bitten already, turns into a zombie herself. A tearful Tendo still shares his feelings for her and runs away from the apartment. As he climbs back up to his apartment, the Kousaka household is seen to be empty, indicating that both of them perished due to the outbreak.
The series of tragic events remind Tendo of Ohtori’s words about not being able to do what one’s heart desires, and faced with the inevitability of falling prey to one of the undead; he creates a bucket list—a hundred things he wants to do before becoming zombie food.
How Did Kendo Reunite With Kencho?
And thus, Kendo starts his journey of living his life to the fullest: cleaning his room, riding a bike, dyeing his hair, setting fireworks off from the Tokyo Tower, shopping for whatever he wants, and making a self-portrait. Kendo continues to write down a number of wishes and strike them off as he fulfills every single one of them successfully. Tendo goes to a convenience store, where he is mistakenly attacked by a mysterious survivor, who turns out to be a doomsday prepper, who easily takes care of multiple attacking zombies. Impressed by her skills, Tendo asks her to stick around given the circumstances, but she refuses to do so as she considers Kendo’s carefree, clueless attitude to be detrimental to survival and leaves.
After returning home, Tendo is reminded of his best buddy, Kenichirou Ryuuzaki, aka Kencho, with whom he has shared a bond of friendship since his rugby-playing years in college. In later years, the significant difference in their respective careers created a rift between them, and during their last meeting, Tendo lashed out at him, resulting in the duo’s eventual falling out. Tendo decides the next deed on his wishlist is to formally apologize to his best friend. As he calls Kencho, Tendo gets to know that he is trapped inside a love hotel in Kabukicho and rides to the location. Using a sound-based lure, Tendo distracts the zombies and is reunited with Kencho. Taking shelter in a secure location, Tendo apologizes for his past actions, and the two friends reconcile. During their conversation, Tendo is suddenly reminded of his childhood dream—something he wanted to pursue all his life—to be a superhero and protect everyone.
Why Did Tendo Decide To Go To The Marine Aquarium?
In his mind, Tendo has already hatched a plan to operate as a superhero in the midst of the ongoing zombie apocalypse, as he wishes to go to the Ibaraki Marine Aquarium to get the shark suit, which will be impenetrable even amidst hordes of zombies. To restock their supplies, the duo decides to go to the convenience store at City Square, where they manage to rescue the aforementioned mysterious survivor girl, two flight attendants, and a pilot. To relieve the tension, the group starts drinking, which ticks off another wish on Tendo’s checklist: having drinks with flight attendants. While Kencho gets busy frolicking with the attendants, Tendo and the survivor girl notice the pilot, who was previously infected, is turning into a zombie. The pilot bites the flight attendants as well, and somehow Tendo, Kencho, and the survivor girl escape with their lives. Securing a camper vehicle, the trio flees from the scene.
After getting to know Tendo a bit more, the survivor girl finally decides to widen her circle of trust and lets them know her name: Shizuka. Despite her initial reservations, Shizuka agrees to go with them to the marine aquarium and go on her own path after that. Gradually, Shizuka comes around as the trio engages in various forms of merriment on the way: SUP yoga, paragliding, camping, hot springs, and all forms of adventurous activities. The day before they arrive at the aquarium, Shizuka expresses her gratitude for them having saved her, and unbeknownst to them, she has grown fond of her new friends. Before starting their journey the next day, Tendo writes a wish on his bucket list, which isn’t revealed at the moment.
Did Akira Find His Dream Job At The End?
Their camper suffers a tire puncture in front of the aquarium, and as it is revealed Tendo’s past demons have returned to haunt him again. It is revealed that his former boss Kosugi, along with most of his colleagues, has set up a shelter at the aquarium and is running a near-autocratic system there, enjoying luxuries himself while exploiting others profusely. Among the people stationed there, Mr. and Mrs. Kousaka are also present, much to Tendo’s relief. It is also shown that Kosugi has even managed to use zombies to protect the shelter from raiders. Using the people’s insecurities about their own capabilities, Kosugi keeps them trapped in this miserable existence. Now that fate has brought Tendo to him again; he exercises his psychological hold on him to keep him in his former enslaved condition: obeying every command without qualms, essentially a zombified existence. Despite wanting to move away from the shelter with his friends, Tendo is entrapped thanks to his own mental shackle.
Mr. Kousaka arranges an exit route for the trio, Kencho repairs their camper, and Kencho urges Tendo to leave with him and Shizuka, but Kosugi’s mental hold is too strong to ignore for him, and he refuses. Shizuka comes across Tendo’s bucket list and goes back to the shelter to remind him about the promise he made to himself—of chasing his dreams and never being shackled in such a demeaning existence ever again. This inspires Tendo to promptly get free from Kosugi’s influence and formally announce his resignation.
However, the group is up for another surprise as the captured zombies have broken free and after devouring them a great white shark has turned into a zombie. The still-alive zombies inside the shark’s guts have pierced through its skin and created a multi-legged zombie shark, which starts chasing the survivors around the shelter. Despite their differences, Tendo chooses to save Kosugi like a true hero and dons the shark suit, now totally embracing his superhero alter ego. After a prolonged chase, Shizuka’s timely advice results in Tendo using a dual battery cell to supercharge the zombie shark’s sensitive electroreceptors, and in a superheroic fashion, he knocks it out with a single punch.
At the end of Zom 100, Kosugi’s inept leadership gets exposed and therefore the survivors take their share of supplies and leave the shelter. Tendo, Kencho, and Shizuka decide to travel together, honoring the wish Tendo had written down previously and embarking on a cross-country journey with his friends. With the list still a long way from completion, Tendo offers for his friends to add to the numbers as well. Shizuka, who aspired to be a doctor, wishes to save people’s lives; Kencho wants to be a comedian; and Tendo writes down his wish to turn his superhero stint into his new job. After finding their individual paths and purposes, the trio resumes their journey, now with no set destination ahead.