「アキラ オブ ザ デッド」 (Akira obu za Deddo)
“Akira of the Dead”

Zom 100: Zombie ni Naru made ni Shitai 100 no Koto or as I’ll refer to it going forward Zom 100 is a promising anime premier for Summer 2023. While at the same exposing some of the darker side of Japanese work culture. Tendou, Akira (Umeda, Shuuichirou) is your typical fresh-out-of-college hard-working freshman who played rugby all throughout his life. This is important as the inevitable zombie apocalypse is about to happen. Giving jock status to Akira is an important detail.

The story starts in media res with Akira watching a zombie film while eating microwave ramen in his apartment full of trash bags. You would be forgiven for thinking that the zombie apocalypse has already happened but it’s simply some foreshadowing for what’s to come. Akira looks worried, with heavy bags under his eyes and the soul left out of his eyes. With a crunch culture like the one Akira is currently experiencing – he has missed trash pickup days and is forced to horde it. Nevertheless, the story picks back up after promptly using its hook to drive us in.

It’s an important detail note – as zombies have always been a metaphor – in the case of Zom 100 is a metaphor for the working class, the Japanese businessmen. The show makes a clear distinction to make Akira look like a zombie early on. Each zombie media has its own metaphor in each type of media, so I can only speak for this specific case. Zom 100 presents a hell worse than the apocalypse. The workers at this company look like zombies already!

Now, Akira is happy to go lucky boy who wishes nothing but the best in his new endeavor, but it seems he didn’t do enough research before interviewing for this company. Aren’t there Japanese websites that rank companies by color? It seems he was eager to jump the bullet. Everything is peachy – he meets a cute girl Ootori, Saori (Amamiya, Sora) by bumping into her and accidentally making her throw her stuff to the ground. Akira helps her up and they exchange a few good luck words. After his first day, he is invited to a nomikai where he chats with his coworkers and even oogles Saori. Not before realizing – everyone is going back to the office.

2 days go by before he can actually go home – after sleeping the whole night and waking up to his alarm, he is met with a terrible feeling of dread. Not wanting to go back. It’s an incredibly relatable feeling and something that makes us empathize with Akira right from the get-go.

Three years go by in the blink of an eye, and we get to experience just how awful his working conditions are and just how he goes day by day scraping by and making sure everyone gets what they want – it doesn’t matter if they push him down, he just has to take it.

It brings him to the brink of suicide.

I love how the show just goes there – it seems Saori is the only thing keeping Akira alive, and from the very first moment this character got introduced I was sure we were going to see her as a zombie. But adding insult to injury his first love is also his boss’s mistress.

Nevertheless, one random Thursday – as it would happen in real life – things go off the rails for Akira and he soon realizes thanks to the zombie apocalypse he doesn’t have to go to work anymore and is therefore ridden of all burden that it caused. Who said that the zombie apocalypse had to be depressing and sad? Not in Zom 100 the apocalypse is actually a lot better than the hell that was his job.

The show even shows color through Akira’s perspective, and when the big reveal happens it even breaks free from the shackles of 21:9 borders. And goes full widescreen in glorious 16:9.

It’s a cute premise and something that I would definitely want to keep watching – however, everything points out that this could totally be the next sleeper hit of the season. As JJK and Mushouku both show promise of greatness, so does Zom 100. Can it keep up with the immersive storytelling of Mushouku, or even the great horror direction of JJK, only time will tell.

Zom 100 certainly has a funny bone, but can it scare me? That’s the real question.

Full-length images: 60.

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  1. From the screenshots I got a Gakkou Gurashi vibe from this, but from the way you describe it is seems it’s somehow trying to present a zombie apocalypse as a slice of life where a man feels free, that it?

  2. I’ve been waiting for this… Actual anime Zombieland (not that one), let’s go!

    Well, things haven’t been the same for the Japanese zombie apocalypse genre since the death of High School of the Dead writer Daisuke Sato (rest his soul), and ever since I’ve completed reading Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am A Hero (as well as seen the live-action movie). Not to mention I haven’t got around to continuing Gakkou Gurashi in manga format from where the anime left off. Also tempted to mention All Of Us Are Dead and Train to Busan‘s animated prequel Seoul Station (from the relatively friendlier neighbor across the Sea of Japan)…but I digress. So thank goodness Zom 100 is here to end that JP-side zombie apocalypse drought.

    Anyway, if working conditions in corporate Japan are anything like what Akira experienced (pre-zombie apocalypse), it’s small wonder why escapist fare like isekai series (usually imagined as a fantastically better place to be than slaving away for a corpo/having a s**tty school life) and series with high school settings (which is usually the last time for Japanese youth to enjoy life, be carefree and have fun) are popular. Heck, I’m even familiar with the terms “black company” (the same “Black” in Hataraku Saibou Black) and “karoshi” (a.k.a.: death by overwork)!

    I remember crunch time from working on a certain broadsheet newspaper’s anniversary issues (which was an all-nighter with all the pages we had to check and send for printing–and even if I went home in the morning, I still had to report for work later in the afternoon if it wasn’t my day off) and having demanding, condescending (and sometimes sociopathic) higher-ups seeing employees as expendable/replaceable. There was a time where I dreamed of writing for an English-language anime magazine, but that dream felt so far away when I was working for that broadsheet newspaper. I could honestly count the good people I met in that workplace on one or two hands. So in some way, yes, I can relate to what Akira went through in that advertising production company. And I consider the advertising industry to be one of the most unethical (if not THE MOST unethical) industries one can be in–doubly so if it’s a black company.

    So once the zombie apocalypse hits, I can also feel the sense of catharsis Akira went through, helped along by the sudden explosion of colors giving life to Akira’s once-dreary existence. For the first time, here’s an escapist character that I can finally relate to!

    And after watching this episode, I started reading the first chapter of the manga and only stopped at chapter 27. I love that the first episode of the anime perfectly captured the essence of the manga’s first chapter while giving more focus on establishing Akira’s character. (I do hope we’ll see Akira’s surviving neighbors downstairs next episode.)

    Looking forward to see some funny, heartwarming (and a few heartbreaking) moments. Oh yeah, there’s gonna be a live-action adaptation for this series, too!

  3. I won’t call it a slice of life, but Akira, the MC, is free from the job he just started. The company was exploiting him and every other employee that started before Akira. Since Japan suddenly in an outbreak and the citizens were all infected, Akira thought the world had ended. So Akira decided to create a bucket list of things he would like to do as a free man in what Akira believes is the world’s end.


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