“Is This A Zombie?” is the heartwarming story of an average high school guy who is killed, turned into a zombie, then transformed into a magical girl. He lives with a necromancer, another magical girl, and a ninja vampire. He uses a magical chainsaw to fight off monsters invading Tokyo and to search for his killer.
As you might guess, this is not a serious story. This is a fun supernatural harem comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously and pokes fun at common anime genre tropes. Harem anime are series where one average guy inexplicably ends up surrounded by a gaggle of cute girls who are all in love with him. He will hopefully pick a designated love interest by the end of the story, but harem series guys can be extremely indecisive.
One night, when walking home from a convenience store, Ayumu Aikawa is stabbed by a serial killer who has been making the rounds in the neighborhood recently. However, instead of dying, Ayumu is brought back as a zombie by a powerful necromancer named Eucliwood. She just happens to be the cute girl he’d tried his pathetic flirting skills on back at the convenience store.
In anime, whenever an average guy meets an unusually cute girl, odds are she will move in with him. Sure enough, Eucliwood (aka “Eu”) makes Ayumu her servant and wastes no time moving into his conveniently large and empty house. Eu is a calm, emotionless girl who communicates through written words on a notepad. Ayumu’s servant duties mostly involve making her meals, but his status as a zombie also means that he has physical strength much greater than an average human, and thus also serves as Eu’s guard. Ayumu can’t easily be killed (fire and sunlight are his weaknesses) and he heals incredibly fast. Considering how often he loses limbs, that healing ability really comes in handy.
One girl doesn’t make a harem, and soon Ayumu meets the other girls who will, of course, end up moving in with him. First we have Haruna, a “Magical Garment Girl,” which is basically an anime magical girl in the tradition of “Card Captor Sakura” or “Sailor Moon.” Clad in a pink frilly dress, she fights monsters who are invading Tokyo. However, instead of a typical magical girl wand, she wields a fantastic pink chainsaw. When Haruna and Ayumu first meet, he manages to absorb all her powers, leaving her no choice but to move in with
him until she can get them back.
Next is Seraphim, a busty vampire ninja who moves in with Ayumu in an effort to get close to Eu. A vampire ninja? Well, why not? Sera is refreshing in that she doesn’t like Ayumu very much, but with this being a harem show, it’s really only a matter of time before she falls for him.
Together, this unlikely group faces numerous challenges, including enemies coveting Eu’s powers, more monsters invading Tokyo, and evil magical girls. Romantic hi-jinks also ensue, as some of the girls fall for Ayumu, more girls join the harem, and there is a sudden forced engagement or two.
“Is This A Zombie?” contains all 12 TV episodes, plus the bonus direct-to-video 13th episode, spread across 2 discs. This is a lighthearted, wacky comedy with two major story arcs. The first 6 episodes mainly involve character introductions and Ayumu’s quest to find his killer, while the last 7 focus more on foes from Eu’s and Haruna’s past and the romance of the harem. I’m glad the 13th episode was included in this set, as it contains one of my most favorite scenes in the series, a parody of the classic anime/manga “Cat’s Eye.” There are a lot of parodies and anime in-jokes sprinkled throughout the series, but even if you don’t catch any of them, (and I know I sure must have missed a lot) there is still plenty of funny to go around.
Harem series aren’t usually my thing, yet I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Yes, there is a ridiculous amount of fan-service in the form of panty shots and gigantic boob-jiggle. However, for me, this show gets away with a lot of it because there is an exaggerated, tongue in-cheek sense to it. I appreciate shows that acknowledge how ridiculous all the fan-service is and in a way, make fun of it a little. I’m more creeped-out at shows where the fan-service is more obviously meant as voyeuristic titillation. For what it’s worth, the fan-service here is fairly equal opportunity. Just as Haruna ends up naked quite often, so does Ayumu. When Ayumu absorbs Haruna’s powers, he becomes a magical girl too. Or rather, he gains her ability to transform, and ends up just being a guy in a pink frilly magical girl dress. And just as Haruna would end up revealing many panty shots in the frilly dress, so does Ayumu…
I also usually dislike the wishy-washy indecisive guys who are often the leads in harem series, but in this show I actually like Ayumu as a lead character. Throughout most of the show, we see things from his point of view, and he has a great internal dialog that comments on all the action. He has a dry, sometimes sarcastic sense of humor. (He reminds me of another favorite character of mine, Kyon from “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”). Lots of strange stuff happens to Ayumu, but he rolls with it, and doesn’t shirk his duties. I also enjoy his supportive relationship with Eu, and the way he can be a source of emotional strength to her when she needs it. Plus, any time Ayumu dances, it’s pure comedy gold.
Insane, cracktastic action, adventure, monsters, zombies, romance, vampires, chainsaws,what’s not to like?
“Is this a Zombie?” is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic wide screen. This is a colorful, fast-moving series, and it looks pretty good. Colors pop in daylight scenes, but can be a tad murky in night time scenes. Over all, I’m very satisfied with this release.
Per FUNimation standard, there are 2 audio tracks on this disc: an English 5.1 Dolby Surround, and a Japanese Dolby 2.0 Stereo track. Both sound fine. I watched the series in Japanese. I didn’t mind most of the English voices, but there is something about Ayumu’s Japanese voice that I prefer. His tone of voice is more weary and deadpan than his English counterpart. I also appreciated the who’s who of veteran female voice actresses they brought in to voice Eu in Ayumu’s many fantasies about her. Some of those actresses are ones I haven’t heard in ages, and even they only had a line or two, I was always surprised and delighted to hear them. I mean – Kotono Mitsuishi, and Sakura Tange, among others? Awesome.
Disc 1 contains English cast and ADR director commentary on episodes 3 and 7. Disc 2 contains the US trailer for the series and clean opening/closing animations.
A rare harem anime that doesn’t make me groan and fume, “Is this a Zombie?” is a fun comedy worth checking out. It has fighting, fanservice, lots of bloodshed, ridiculous situations, and likable characters. A second season was made after this one, and FUNimation simulcasted it online when it aired in mid 2012. I hope it gets a DVD release soon as well. I’d like to see more of these silly characters.