Zombies have become quite the popular trend lately, as they have invaded every aspect of entertainment. Countless zombie movies are made every year, zombie novels are written, zombie artwork is created and I bet there is even zombie music out there somewhere. However where almost every entertainment form sees zombies as shuffling, rotting creatures seeking human flesh, only in anime do you see zombies that live a day to day life like anyone else, or as close to it as possible. With Is This a Zombie?, the review of which can be found here, we were introduced to the life of such a zombie and now that FUNimation has brought the second season, Is This a Zombie? of the Dead, to North America, is it worth continuing the story?
For those who don’t know, Ayumu Aikawa may appear just like anyone else on the surface, however after running into a mysterious girl named Eu and being murdered by a serial killer, he has been resurrected as a zombie in the service of Eu, a necromancer from the Underworld that wields so much power that her words are capable of bringing about destruction if she were to speak.
As such, Ayumu accepts his new life with Eu living in his house as he tries to cope with becoming a zombie, only to see his life thrown for an even bigger loop when he encounters a Magical Garment Girl named Haruna as she fights against a strange beast known as a Megalo. After defeating the creature himself, Ayumu also finds himself absorbing Haruna’s abilities and becoming a Magical Garment Girl, giving him the abilities to wield a powerful magical weapon and also dress in drag the entire time.
Throughout the first season viewers are introduced to many characters that become part of Ayumu’s life, such as a new live-in vampire ninja by the name of Sera, another vampire ninja he accidentally marries at school all while facing down a dangerous threat from Eu’s past. The reason for all of this backstory is pretty simple and that is because Is This a Zombie? of the Dead picks up shortly after the final events of the first season took place.
After defeating the King of the Night and reuniting with Eu, the story continues on with Ayumu living the life of a normal zombie high schooler with a vampire ninja, a necromancer and a magical garment girl living at his house. Living such a life can be hard on one’s nerves and when Ayumu meets a drunken young girl dressed in a white gothic lolita outfit in his school, he becomes convinced that she is simply a creation of his stressed psyche.
Unlike the first season, there is no major running plot line throughout the majority of Is This a Zombie? of the Dead outside of the one involving the aforementioned girl named Chris. A few plot points are carried over from the past, such as Haruna’s missing powers and the various jobs the vampire ninjas have to do to get by, but nearly everything else is focused on developing the girls in Ayumu’s harem and Ayumu’s relationship with them.
Ayumu’s life is thrown into disarray quickly after the events of a Megalo fight leave him incapable of erasing the minds of those who saw the event, making him an international cross dressing celebrity overnight. This running gag lasts for over half of the season as Ayumu deals with his new found celebrity and the reactions of his classmates to his revealed cross-dressing fetish, though oddly enough ignoring how a talking gigantic squid attacked their classmates and had to be killed by Ayumu.
As mentioned before, outside of that plot point/running gag, most of Is This a Zombie? of the Dead develops the characters a bit more as some of Eu’s past is detailed a little bit more and the feelings of both Sera and Saras are fleshed out. In fact, while it was hinted at at the end of last season, Saras’ feelings for Ayumu are developed the most as she goes past someone simply obsessed with his delicious derriere to someone who cares a bit about his feelings as well.
The rest of the developments with the cast take place over the course of numerous hilarious situations that the group is placed into as they go from working at a cosplay maid café to a mixer with a dangerous old enemy to celebrating at a school festival with a disastrous outcome. In a way, Is This a Zombie? of the Dead feels more like a slice of supernatural life series at this point than one with a solid storyline with decently developed characters and plenty of ways for the story to go.
While still funny at times, Is This a Zombie? of the Dead’s actual storyline episodes, not counting the two OVA episodes 00 and 11 which mostly focus on fan-service and one off storylines, is limited to only ten episodes and unfortunately little is done to actually create a satisfying story here. You see, I say satisfying because while a storyline is introduced the anime ends at an unbelievable point in the story.
While it is always possible that it may be rectified sometime in the future, the storyline involving Chris, who eventually turns out to be the strongest magical garment girl in existence, and her plans or even motivations are left completely out to dry. Ayumu may take his first few steps to handling Chris but instead the series just decides to end itself with an whimper that, while a bit interesting as it examines Ayumu’s feelings about his new life, leaves much to be desired.
That isn’t to say that Is This a Zombie? of the Dead isn’t enjoyable, as that would be the farthest thing from the truth. The numerous sight gags, running jokes and hilarious interactions between the diverse cast of characters still makes for great comedy paired alongside a ton of fan service. Sadly numerous jokes does little to make up for the unfinished feeling of Is This a Zombie? of the Dead.
Oh boy, well let’s talk about the basics first. Is This a Zombie? of the Dead is a rather brightly colored and varied anime with numerous characters that are nicely detailed and actually go through a number of different outfit changes throughout the series, keeping things fresh. Their faces are generally expressive enough for comedic purposes, but there are noticeable drops in the quality of these facial expressions often throughout this season, and I’m not talking about the changes in art style for comedic effect either. Environments are nicely handled and, while less action packed than the first season, the few fights that do take place are still nicely animated and look great.
That being said, let’s move on to the cheesecake. Is This a Zombie? of the Dead is bursting at the seams with fan-service. Surprisingly enough, there is almost no female nudity in this season as Ayumu usually is the one spending time naked much to his dismay. Instead, the fan service comes from the numerous lewd outfits and poses that the girls are placed in over the course of the series. The characters with large breasts are often almost spilling out of their tops or in tight clothing, giving viewers something to enjoy while not going directly towards nudity.
The cast from the first season has returned to provide the English voice work for Is This a Zombie? of the Dead and this remains rather impressive. The cast of characters is nicely handled by their English voice actors and they continue to keep with the original theme of the Japanese version of the anime where, in Ayumu’s delusions and this time in the post-credit ending sequences, Eu is voiced by a different voice actress every time, though it is worth noting that her main voice actress, Cherami Leigh, does have a few speaking parts this time around.
The series’ background music is forgetful at times but it is worth noting that there are a few enjoyable insert songs that are kept in the original Japanese while songs sung by the characters, such as Haruna or Saras, are dubbed into English and sung by that character’s voice actress. This season’s opening theme is “*** Passionate” by Iori Nomizu and provides a nice action packed opening while the ending theme “Koi no Beginner Nan Desu” by Rie Yamaguchi, the Japanese voice actress for Ayumu’s classmate Taeko, highlights the female members of the cast and also offers a bit of comedy.
While Is This a Zombie? of the Dead’s bonus features may be a bit slim at first glance, since there are your standard inclusions such as a textless version of the opening and ending songs, a US trailer, trailers for other FUNimation releases and also two episode commentaries but there is also a special video commentary for the first episode.
The video commentary features Cherami Leigh, the main voice actress for Eu, Austin Tindle, the voice of Ayumu, Morgan Garrett, the voice of Sera, and Jad Saxton, the voice of Haruna. This video commentary is a nice little bonus as it is rarely done by the company and it even opens up with a gag where the characters all dress a bit and act like the characters they voice.
As for the normal audio commentaries, there is the episode 4 commentary which features Anthony Bowling, the voice of Orito, Caitlin Glass, the voice of Saras, Morgan Garrett, the voice of Sera, and finally Brittney Karbowski who voices Yuki. This commentary is packed with voice actors and is very fun to listen to as they make various jokes about the series and the characters. The final commentary is for episode 10 and features Jad Saxton, Austin Tindle, and the director Jerry Jewell.
Is This a Zombie? of the Dead manages to continue to provide a hilarious and fan-service laden series teeming with supernatural entities. However where the first season had plenty of action, character introductions and a meaningful plot, Is This a Zombie? of the Dead only manages to deliver on the part where these characters are developed further. The lack of any actual storyline progress, or anything even close to a conclusion, holds the series back despite the many elements that make it memorable.
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