As soon as I started Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, two things sprang to mind—a phrase and a joke. Horror is my favorite genre, and zombies are top tier among it. So any anime, manga, movie with zombies is bound to attract my attention. The vibrant pink cover of the manga lets us know this isn’t standard zombie survival horror. The story is by Haro Aso—creator of Imawa no Kuni no Alice (Alice in Borderland), art by Kotaro Takata with translations by Nova Skipper, and lettering by Vanessa Satone. They all came together to make a manga that is, well, amazing. 

The Zombie Grind

It follows 24-year-old Akiro Tendo at the beginning of a zombie outbreak. But instead of terror, he’s filled with happiness. Before the apocalypse, Akiro watches a zombie film on television and wishes he could trade places because of his toxic, exploitative job. This manga will leave many readers internally screaming the phrase “I feel seen!”

Zom 100 manga with Akiro wearing a crown on a motorcyle with Shizuka sitting behind him

The majority of us have worked at these kinds of jobs, either currently or in our past. We’ve experienced jobs that were so abusive and mentally traumatizing that they sucked the vibrancy out of us. Point of fact, I typically wish for a zombie apocalypse, not just because of jobs I’ve had, but the entire capitalist machine that rewards output over treating people decently. Happy to know we are not so rare. 

The joke that springs to mind are the hilarious words of Chris Rock that rang with dark, humorous truth. “If you live in an old project, a new jail ain’t that bad!” Life, for so many, is little more than survival. And what is a zombie apocalypse if not survival in a raw form? At least in a zombie apocalypse, there’s no arbitrary cost given to living life.

So some of the population are devoured, and survivors are in terror. But Akiro? Akiro is happy to get beer and loaf around at home. Akiro becomes inspired, and he creates the bucket list of 100 things he wants to do before zombies devour him. As a former rugby player, Akiro is more than capable of defending himself and, fortunately, we get a front row seat to his endeavors.

Typical Male Gaze But Akiro Still Shines

The only slightly typical part was Akiro droning on about his love for coworker Ohturi, which was no more than a crush. But that’s a common affliction as people often mistake lust for love. There’s some fanservice present. But if you’re favorite mangas include some fanservice, this won’t deter you from the series.

The ecchi moments, like when Akiro meets Shizuka on his beer run don’t stop the fun this series has to offer. Each chapter in this volume is funny and, even with the zombie apocalypse backdrop, relatable. That’s thanks to the story and the depiction of the characters. From Akiro’s dead-eyed gaze while he’s a “wage slave” to his jubilance when he realizes he is never going back to work, the emotions speak to our personal experiences with employment. 

The artwork adds to the hilarious scenes and dramatic zombie-eating frenzies. Unexpected laughter is part and parcel of this manga thanks to expressive artwork. The way characters respond to Akiro’s joy during the zombie outbreak is comedic gold. Because for Akiro, this abnormal life is preferable to the normal life that negatively affected him. Akiro’s universality is precisely why we are engrossed in his story.

We’ve been at jobs we hated and felt that rush of almost manic excitement when we’d quit a job that abhorrent. This manga is a funny gorefest, and any fan of zombies or comedy should add this manga to their read rotation. Entertaining, with a commentary about society, living, and the different kinds of walking dead.  

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