One of the coolest additions to curb the heat of the Summer 2023 anime lineup is Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. Premiering on July 9, this slice-of-life anime with the zombie apocalypse in background highlights the importance of enjoying life even amidst survival. Akira Tendo, for example, the protagonist of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, understands this better than anyone else. Despite being trapped in the shackles of corporate life, he was unable to find a route to enjoy life outside of work.
However, the break came in the form of a zombie apocalypse, and Akira, with a renewed sense of vigor and enthusiasm for life, made a list of 100 things he wanted to do before becoming a zombie. Quite an unconventional take for an anime, but the series has been pretty hit. While the same kind of anime is difficult to find, here are seven anime series that see humans engaging with zombies in some form and cohabiting in an unconventional setting.
Gungrave, Sankarea, and 5 other anime like Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead that feature zombies
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Although Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress may seem like a hodge-podge of many things, the anime shows a slightly different take on the concept of zombies, who are known as kabane here. To kill them, one has to destroy their steel-coated heart. Kabane comes from humans who have been infected with a virus that other kabane has injected on them through biting.
Against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution, protagonist Ikoma, a half-human and half-kabane, is assisted by Mumei, another kabaneri, to protect the civilians and board the Kotetsujo so as to find shelter. However, their journey is rife with mystery, action, gore, and lots of kabane who pose a threat to human survival. Since it’s a dark fantasy, the anime doesn’t have the light-hearted elements of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. Yet, it manages to grip fans’ attention because of the seriousness of the situation.
The Empire of Corpses
Finished watching <the empire of corpses>.
Such a feast for my eyes😤 pic.twitter.com/BjSriGV2iP
— Naga 🍅 (@nagamager) June 4, 2020
Set in 19th century Europe, The Empire of Corpses chooses to seek the process of reanimation of human corpses rather than see them being infected by a virus and becoming zombies. Essentially, these reanimated corpses are introduced to make meet ends such as manual labor. However, humanity is still far away from imbuing the corpses with their lost souls.
Amidst all this arrives John Watson, who, inspired by Dr Victor Frankenstein’s revolutionary work to revive a human corpse with a soul, sets out to search for the scholar’s notes. But knowledge often comes with a price, and this is what The Empire of Corpses focuses on.
Highschool of the Dead
Fitting into the mould of generic zombie trope, Highschool of the Dead sees a deadly pandemic called the “Outbreak” turning humans into zombies. Here, a group of highschoolers and the school’s nurse navigate their way to survive the zombie apocalypse. However, danger doesn’t come in the form of zombies only. They also face societal collapse as other survivors also pose a risk to survival. Moreover, as the situation worsens, the survivors also see the loss of their moral ethics in favor of selfish gains.
Like Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, this anime packs a punch with its violence. While the former tries to reduce the effect of gore with the use of various colors, Highschool of the Dead doesn’t feel restrained by such inhibitions, so each execution of the zombie kind is accompanied by creative methods.
Is This a Zombie?
Is This a Zombie? will probably have to be the most unconventional zombie anime, replacing elements of horror and thrill with laughs, unseriousness, other magical beings, magic, and crossdressing! Yep, you read it. The anime sees a boy named Ayumu Aikawa being resurrected by a Eucliwood Hellscythe after being murdered. However, he inadvertently ends up taking the power of Haruna, a Maso-Shojo, which compels him to act like her and, by extension, crossdress. The anime follows the journey of him living with Haruna, Eucliwood, and a vampire called Seraphim.
The zombie trope can be a playground for taking creative liberties, and Is This a Zombie? aptly shows. While unlike Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, the anime does a good job at showing how not everything needs to be serious just because human-eating zombies exist in a certain world.
Got to the part in the Gungrave anime where Gungrave himself goes, "I have to go Beyond the Grave. AAAAAARGH I'M GONNA GO GUNGRAVING!" and Gungraves all over everyone.
Hardest line ever said pic.twitter.com/l2IavmvkRV
— SSSS.Kanan (@KananTiga) May 26, 2023
Just like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress sees a human-kabane hybrid, Gungrave presents viewers with a protagonist who is a zombie but used to be a human at one point. Being revived scientific methods in a way similar to Frankenstein, Beyond the Grave, as he was known in his human life – Brandon Heat, goes on a perilous journey to seek revenge from his murderer and former partner, Harry McDowel.
In a crime filled drama, the protagonist’s need to complete his unfinished business resonates with Akira’s need to fulfil his 100 wishes before turning into a zombie. However, Gungrave is less fun than Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead and more dark, gritty, and rifed with violence by nature. As such, this should make a good watch for those looking for a well fleshed out take of an unique hero who isn’t scared of some action.
As per the synopsis stated in the DVD Complete Series of Tokko,
“Shindou Ranmaru has just graduated from police academy and assigned to Tokko: Special Mobile Investigation Force. On the day of his graduation, he meets the half-naked girl he has been seeing in his dreams. Her name is Rokujo Sakura and she works for a secret group within Tokki, known as Tokko: Special Public Safety Task Force. Shindou ends up joining Tokko to avenge his parents’ death, and solve the mysterious mass murder of residents in his hometown of Machida. Meanwhile, bottomless pits begin appearing around Japan, and mysterious creatures emerge from them. Could these events be linked to Machida Massacre?”
Although the anime isn’t limited to just zombies, it also sees parasitic demons posing a risk to humanity. As such, the ineffectiveness of guns leads the task force Tokko to take action in order to stabilize the societal threats and bring the situation under control.
Sankarea: Undying Love
"If my own happiness will lead the misfortune of others then being unhappy is probably the wisest choice."
– Rea Sanka
Anime – Sankarea pic.twitter.com/Xg3ffiZ6pd
— Anime Quotes Bot (@sagequotes_) February 20, 2023
This anime has a good combination of dark humor, romantic comedy, and most importantly, zombies! Protagonist Chihiro Furuya becomes depressed following the death of his pet cat, Babu. In an attempt to revive the cat following an old manuscript, he creates a potion to revive him. However, Rea Sanka, who wishes to die, drinks the potion instead. During a tiff with her father, she accidentally falls off a cliff, and instead of dying, she turns into a zombie who consumes hydrangea leaves to survive. Thus begins the romantic journey between her and the zombie nerd, Chihiro Furuya.
Like Is This a Zombie?, Sankarea: Undying Love takes many liberties with the nature of zombies, such as eating hydrangea leaves instead of brains. Moreover, the romantic love was unexpected,even though the medium of anime abounds in many unconventional love stories. In theme, essence, plot, Sankarea is nothing like Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. Yet, the common factor, i.e., zombies, makes it a worthwhile watch.