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Film ● Review: Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

English Title: Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

Japanese Title: ゾン100~ゾンビになるまでにしたい100のこと~ [lit. Zom 100: 100 things I want to do until I become a zombie]

Director(s): Ishida Yusuke

Screenwriter(s): Mishima Tatsuro

Studio: Robot Communications Inc., Plus One Entertainment

Released: 2023

Runtime: 2h 9m

Starring: Akaso Eiji, Yanagi Shuntaro, Shiraishi Mai, Kitamura Kazuki

My Verdict: Decent adaptation. Good pacing and production. Enjoyable but lacks the absurdity of the anime. (Even the anime can be more absurd.)

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

● Based on the manga of the same name written by Aso Haro, who also wrote Alice in Borderlands (今際の国のアリス), the plot follows Tendo Akira (Akaso Eiji) who one year ago got his first job at an advertising firm which turned out to be a “black” (ブラック), that is, an exploitative company. He is abused by his superior Kosugi (Kitamura Kazuki) and forced to pull consecutive all-nighters. One day, Tendo wakes up to a zombie apocalypse and he realizes he doesn’t have to go to work. He then compiles a list of things he wants to do.

Tendo Akira (Akaso Eiji)
Tendo Akira (Akaso Eiji)

● Please note that I have not read the manga so the review is of the film with some comparisons to the anime. At the time of writing this review, 12 anime episodes have been released. The manga is ongoing. Also, I am not a fan of the zombie genre.

● The idea that office workers are zombies and managers are worse than zombies is hardly new. These themes are surprisingly not utilized more often, perhaps because it is so obvious. In any case, the idea is blatantly central to the premise and main character of this work.

● The anime is deliberately episodic with each episode focused on a particular problem (and theme). A feature-length film obviously cannot be like that, and this film is basically a compressed and re-arranged version of the first 7 episodes—that is, up to and including “Truck Stop of the Dead”—with some elements taken from episode 8 “Sushi and Hot Springs of the Death”.

● The structure and pacing are probably as good as they can be without more omissions and alterations from the manga and anime. The benefit is that the film flows well but some details with its consequent dramatic impact are lost. Below are a few examples.

  • In the anime, Tendo’s horrible time at work, particularly the abuse he gets from Kosugi, is really hammered into the audience. The film spends less time on this and what is shown is simply not as dramatic. As such, Tendo’s tortured state and his subsequent catharsis are also less dramatic.

  • Tendo’s seemingly carefree attitude—such as going for beer runs and being totally unconcerned about how much noise he makes going down the street with zombies—is blatant in the anime and is part of the absurdity. He is, in this respect, a little annoying. Although this isn’t entirely missing in the film, it is toned down too much.

  • In the anime, Tendo and his friend from university Kencho (Yanagi Shuntaro) spend a lot of time chilling in their apartment building before leaving. This is almost non-existent in the film. Although this is necessary for pacing, their re-bonding is not as strong.

  • Shizuka (Shiraishi Mai) is the “cool takes-no-nonsense chick” whom Tendo meets at a convenience store. For pacing reasons and to maintain focus on Tendo as the main viewpoint character, her background is not shown. This is fine but in the anime, Tendo’s cavalier attitude (and its potentially dangerous implications) is the reason for her to initially not join forces with him and Kencho. In the film, both her calculated mindset and Tendo’s lack of one are not as apparent, so that conflict comes across as too weak as well.

Kencho (Yanagi Shuntaro)
Kencho (Yanagi Shuntaro)
Shizuka (Shiraishi Mai)
Shizuka (Shiraishi Mai)

● The performances are generally good enough although they can be written fuller.

  • Akaso looks the part of Tendo, ordinary and unassuming, and he plays the good-natured and optimistic Tendo well. He is probably the perfect cast for the character.

  • Yanagi plays Kencho well enough although the character is presented differently. In the anime, Kencho is supposed to be attractive, energetic, outgoing and a womanizer. These aspects are considerably toned down so whilst Yanagi may not entirely look the part, his performance is solid given the writing.

  • Shiraishi doesn’t quite look like how I would picture Shizuka. Setting appearance aside, whilst her performance isn’t bad, it is too single-dimensional. Shizuka is not merely cool, she is educated and she thinks strategically and tactically. In a film, not all of this can be conveyed but both the writing and acting can be fuller.

  • In the anime, Kosugi is physically big and imposing. Whilst Kitamura is comparable to Akaso in size, he is more than a good enough actor to pull off Kosugi, which he does so convincingly.

Kosugi (Kitamura Kazuki)
Kosugi (Kitamura Kazuki)

● The anime is quite stylized with paint splatter taking the place of blood and gore. Whether this works or not is arguable. Either way, the film wisely avoids over-stylization. Although nothing is held back in the zombie design and presentation, there is actually not that much blood and gore which works well because zombie violence is not the point.

● Overall, it’s a decent adaptation. It’s cool to see shots replicated from the anime or with minor changes that are well-executed. Some changes are necessary and even with those that arguably aren’t, the film manages to cover the opening arc up to the point that gives an emotionally satisfying ending for the characters, particularly Tendo. It is shot and edited rather conventionally but well. The lighting goes for a slightly higher contrast to give a richer look, presumably to reflect comic/manga/anime. The main weakness is that the absurdity and cynicism are not strong enough.

Shizuka telling off Tendo outside the convenience store. (Film)
Shizuka telling off Tendo outside the convenience store. (Film)
Shizuka telling off Tendo inside the convenience store. (Anime)
Shizuka telling off Tendo inside the convenience store. (Anime)

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