What will it take to light a firecracker under YOUR life? You have to get up, do the dishes, go to work, come home, do the dishes, do laundry, and then go to bed presumably still doing dishes.
A humdrum routine is needed just to stay on top of the bare minimum. Blink, and years have flown by. Is this how you envisaged life? It certainly isn’t how office drone Akira saw his.
Belittled, overworked, and exhausted, the naturally exuberant Akira (Eiji Akaso) gains motivation from an unexpected source: the zombie apocalypse. Can’t go into work if the undead are swarming across downtown Tokyo, can you?
What Is Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead About?
Freed from the monotony of the daily grind, Akira draws up a bucket list of things to achieve (before the inevitable) now that he has the time.
Teaming up with pal Kenichiro (Shuntarô Yanagi) and hard nosed survivor Shizuka (Mai Shiraishi), the trio dodge the lurching legions to seek life, even if others they meet along the way have very different ideas…
Such an approach to the zombie movie genre is quintessentially Japanese. In a country with a notoriously poor work / life balance it’s not for nothing that not having to clock in anymore is the first thought that occurs to Akira. The Japanese even have a specific word – karoshi – for death by overwork.
From blissful shopping outings to ‘becoming a superhero’, young Akira is delighted to have some agency in his life once more.
His enthusiasm is infectious both to his long standing friend Kenichiro and to us as the audience. Director Yûsuke Ishida uses all the visual tools that an anime source can gift; so many moments feel like a cool freezeframe in the making.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Official Trailer
Is Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Worth Watching
It’s almost a distraction to have to fight off some snarling nasties or worry about keeping an eye on who has been bitten, although thankfully the addition of Shizuka to the gang lends a cold-eyed drench of reality check.
The innocence of Akira and his personal growth is contrasted by a clashing tone that Zom 100 struggles to mesh at times.
A swarm of naked zombies at a love hotel and a saucy encounter with some air stewardesses (in notorious ‘sells everything’ store Don Quijote) smack more of appealing to a horror crowd after kicks than serving the story we are being told.
However these are words I must eat when it comes to the third act which is gloriously absurd to the point of wrapping the tone around itself like a blanket made of nonsense.
A reversion to the status quo threatens to derail Akira’s mission with a wonderful subtext that work WILL find you anywhere you go.
When a promised safe haven is – unsurprisingly – not quite the utopia imagined, Akira finds his moment during a laughably daft outbreak. Trust me, this is about the sweetest and funniest ending you could hope for.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is a heart-warming story about seizing the moment regardless of the anchors that threaten to drag you down.
If the 9 – 5 (or longer) is grinding you into pulp, let Zom 100 throw off the shackles of neckties and spur you on to personal happiness.
Words by Mike Record