Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is a welcome comedy in the annals of zombie apocalypse stories. Just when you think the zombie apocalypse genre has become a cliché, along comes a manga that finds something new to say. And it's hilarious.
The "100" in Zom 100 is the items on ex-salaryman hero Akira's bucket list of things he wants to do now that he's no longer a wage slave in an illegal and exploitative "black company" that was working him to the bone. Life in the zombie apocalypse is now a permanent staycation for him and his best bud Kenichiro as they chill out in his apartment building, having barbeques on the rooftop, safe from the zombie hordes infesting the streets of Tokyo. Akira's bucket list hasn't reached 100 items just yet. They've managed to cross "Stay at home camping" off the list. Other items include "Clean my room", "Ride a motorcycle", "Try dreadlocks", "Learn English" and "Give free hugs". Freed from the social obligation of having to work boring jobs as cogs in the system of Japanese Capitalism, Akira and Kenichiro are free to live their best lives.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead Vol. 2 slows down the pace from the adrenaline-rush of Vol. 1 but manages to up the ante of the raucous comedy from madcap to outright insanity. In "Flight Attendant of the Dead", Akira and Kenichiro venture into the overrun district of Ikebokuro to score a large screen TV so Akira can play his video games better, only to run into a group of flight attendants holed up in a warehouse. This gives them the chance to cross "Wine and dine a flight attendant" off their bucket list. A pleasant impromptu dinner date goes to hell, unfortunately, ending in melancholy and heartbreak to remind Akira – and us – of what's still at stake in this new world. This leads to "Hero of the Dead" where Akira decides to "Remember my childhood dream", which is to be a superhero, complete with costume and a mask and everything. He wants to save the next people he and Kenichiro meet. At an aquarium. And then a zombie shark on legs gets involved. The results are decidedly mixed but utterly insane.
Writer Haro Aso and artist Kotaro Takata, almost certainly with lots of input from their editor, create a seamless zombie universe of slapstick mayhem with existential undertones that poke fun at the cracks in Japanese society. Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is the freshest take on zombie stories just when you thought the genre had burned itself out.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead vol. 2 is now out from Viz Media.