Is This a Zombie? Season One
Studio: Studio DEEN
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Price: $49.98 – Available Here
The zombie craze has swept the entire globe at this point with countless forms of media focusing on zombies in some way or form. We have countless zombie-themed video games, hit zombie apocalypse television series, numerous zombie novels and there have even been a few anime/manga created where zombies play a pivotal role. However there is one series which contains a zombie unlike anything we have seen before and that is Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? or as it is being called in the West, Is This a Zombie?. Now that FUNimation has brought the first season of Is This a Zombie? to North America does this fresh take on an undead being create something worth watching?
We join our main character Ayumu Aikawa on what is a pretty standard looking day for a high school student. He leaves the house and goes to school like any average teenager would do and once school ends, he heads on home. Although he seems a bit annoyed at the fact that it is sunny out, Aikawa appears to be your run of the mill main character with no special characteristics. That is until a semi-truck literally knocks him out of his clothes and he spends more time worrying about his nakedness than the fact that he should have been killed by that collision.
Then again… it is very hard to die if you are already a zombie it seems. As it turns out, Aikawa was murdered by a serial killer but the story would be quite short if it ended there. Instead of dying, he was resurrected by a beautiful expressionless girl named Eucliwood Hellscythe as a zombie. Things take an even bigger twist as this silent girl Eucliwood, Eu for short, starts living with him and has him take care of all the cooking. Thankfully the now zombified young man cares little about this as not only can he try and track down the person who killed him, but he now has a gorgeous girl living in his house.
Though things quickly spiral out of control when a “Magical Garment Girl” appears and slices him in half with a chainsaw while she tries to kill a crazy looking bear creature. This girl turns out to be named Haruna and while she tries to erase our undead friend’s memory, he somehow manages to absorb her powers which not only makes him a target for these Megalo creatures, but also gives him the ability to turn into a cross-dressing pervert capable of using Magical Garment Girl abilities.
With Megalo appearing out of nowhere to cause havoc, yet another busty girl calling herself a vampire-ninja moving into his house and treating him like a maggot, the crazy battleground which his house has become and the fact that he is still dead, what has Aikawa’s un-life become?
Is This a Zombie? may sound like a rather simple harem anime with a twist on paper, but believe me, it is anything but. The show manages to take a large number of genres and manages to cram them together into something that becomes a beautiful catastrophe. At it’s very basic, Is This a Zombie?’s pacing is very unpredictable and some of the funniest and most light-hearted moments of an episode can be followed by intense action sequences featuring blood and mild-levels of gore then turn into something very touching before something is turned into a gag. Now while this may seem like it is something crazy, it ultimately works for the best as the unpredictable nature is something to fall in love with.
Despite the show’s random pacing, there are two solid overarching story arcs to the first season of Is This a Zombie? and both of them manage to tell an interesting story that manages to blend together well enough to create a nice storyline to go along with the vampire-ninjas, magical garment girls, zombies, necromancers, cross-dressing and chainsaw dismemberment.
Now Is This a Zombie? is a harem show and while the female characters all feature rather unique backgrounds, since they all manage to come from completely different situation, they still fit your standard harem model. There is your soft-spoken and mysterious girl, a loli-tsundere with a bottomless pit of energy and crazy ideas, a big-breasted woman who seemingly hates everything Aikawa does and even the tomboy role manages to be filled later on. Thankfully, as mentioned before, while these girls may seem to fit the generic harem model to a letter, their outlandish actions and abilities help them shine beyond simple stereotype characters and make them unique to the genre.
Ultimately Is This a Zombie? can be a real rollercoaster of a ride as far as the storyline can be concerned. With the multitude of worlds coming together and the diverse personalities of the female cast, it is hard to predict when the show is going to swerve towards a serious situation or something comedic and outlandish. In fact, Aikawa can be more of a comedic punching bag than anything else as he is always the brunt of the girls’ jokes or insults and many running gags are created throughout the show thanks to his weakness to sunlight turning him into zombie-jerky and the fact that he becomes a cross-dressing magical garment girl who becomes cuter the stronger he gets.
As far as the artwork for Is This a Zombie?, many people may find the show a bit standard looking as far as character design goes thanks to the fact that the female character designs are very predictable considering the harem genre the series occupies. Unfortunately the Aikawa and the rest of the cast are given relatively basic designs that have trouble standing out. The only one character design which is unique is the way that Eu’s character is handled thanks to her armor.
While the character designs are hum-drum, whenever the action picks up the animation takes a significant jump in quality. Each of the battles in Is This a Zombie? are often over the top, especially whenever they are against a Megalo and the abilities used by the cast, especially Seraphim’s various leaf sword attacks and the hilarious magical garment girl transformations that Aikawa often goes through and this often leads to some very unpredictable battles unlike anything you have seen before.
Now thanks to the fact that Eu does not actually talk (outside of Aikawa’s delusions), she communicates throughout the show by writing on a note-pad. It is worth noting though that FUNimation did not translate the actual note-pad itself and instead provided subtitles for what she has been writing. This is hardly an issue thanks to the fact that her notes are usually blunt and viewers shouldn’t have any issue reading the subtitles.
It is worth noting that Is This a Zombie? does feature a number of fan service scenes thanks to a number of random scenes, such as the girls playing Twister or fantasies from the male cast. While there is no actual nudity there are plenty of panty flashes and close-ups of the big-busted girls’ provides a pleasing level of fan service without going over the limit and awkward.
As standard with a FUNimation release, Is This a Zombie? contains both the original Japanese voice track as well as the brand new English dub. It is interesting to note that just like the Japanese release, Aikawa’s delusions of Eu are also voiced by multiple English voice actors depending on the episode which is a nice touch that stays true to the original anime concept. It is also worth mentioning that the dialogue in Is This a Zombie? is dripping with double-entendres and sexually suggestive dialogue that is very humorous and subtle unless you’re looking out for it.
As for the rest of the English cast they have done a suitable job with the characters, with the voice actresses for Seraphim (Morgan Garrett), Yuki (Brittney Karbowski) and Haruna (Jad Saxton) stealing the show. It is worth noting that the company also provided an English dub for the songs sung by the characters in the twelth episode and these are handled nicely, though the first song is difficult to hear over the English dub compared to the original Japanese version.
Is This a Zombie?’s background music can be rather forgetful at times except for the aforementioned English translated songs. As for the opening and ending songs, the opening song “Leave-It-To-Me Tonight” by Iori Nomizu is set to some gorgeous animation which works well with the fast-paced rock style song and the ending takes a more comedic tone with “Notice Me, Mr Zombie, I am your Classmate” bye Rie Yamaguchi and Manzo all set to a humorous and simple ending animation.
As far as bonus features go, Is This a Zombie?’s offerings are rather simple and are your standard fair with an English trailer for the anime, trailers for other FUNimation releases as well as a clean version of the opening and ending songs and two commentary tracks, one for Episode 3 and one for Episode 7.
Episode 3’s commentary features Tyler Walker, the ADR director, Austin Tindle the voice of Aikawa Ayumu as well as the voice actor for Orito, Anthony Bowling. The three discuss their work on translating the show as well as how fun the double-entendres were to work with, the Dyson fan and various scenes in the episode.
As for Episode 7, we have Tyler Walker again and this time he is joined by Morgan Garrett the voice actress for Seraphim and Jad Saxton the voice of Haruna. This commentary isn’t as great as the first one, but is still enjoyable as the three discuss how this is Morgan Garrett’s first time voicing a named character at FUNimation and her work with Seraphim.
Is This a Zombie? takes the well-known zombie theme and creates something unlike we’ve seen before by combining zombies, necromancers, vampire ninjas and even magical girls into a show that is wonderfully unpredictable and these unpredictable elements make Is This a Zombie? a brilliant and comedic romp. With great action sequences, a nice level of fan service and unique character backgrounds this zombie is certainly the freshest we’ve seen in a long time and definitely worth your time.