Is This a Zombie? offers a unique interpretation of what it would be like to live as a zombie. As a zombie, Ayumu Aikawa, has to figure out how to live a semi-normal existence, all the while slowly building a harem-like household and trying to figure out why he died in the first place. There are a variety of different genres at work in the show, which is ultimately part of its allure. And the series incorporates the different genres in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Most importantly, they are incorporated in ways that constantly propel the story forward.
In Is This a Zombie?, Ayumu is brought back from the dead by a Necromancer named Eucliwood Hellscythe, Eu for short. He then finds himself trying to act like a normal teenager by day and coming home to cook and clean for Eu by night since Eu has begun living with him. Along the way Ayumu ends up fighting Megalos, which are beings from Hell, as well as a Magical Girl named Haruna. Unfortunately, during the fight with Haruna, Ayumu ends up taking her power and now has to fight as a magical girl, which requires cross dressing. Because her powers are gone, Haruna ends up staying with Ayumu and Eu, and the three are later joined by a Ninja Vampire named Saraphim thus setting up the harem like household.
The way in which Is This a Zombie? handles the powers of the different characters is in a matter of fact way. When they all find out about each others powers, no one is overly surprised. Although Ayumu is new to the ‘other world’ he seems to catch on pretty quickly. This makes the fact that these characters are normally thought of as horror characters, into just other beings who live next to you and me. The characters can be good or evil depending on their personalities not by what kind of being they are. For example, although Ayumu is a zombie he doesn’t go around killing and eating people and the Ninja Vampires are out to help mankind. As the viewer, you end up feeling the same way about the characters as they are written; just characters who happen to be from the ‘other world’.
The harem aspect of Is This a Zombie? is treated similar to the way in which the characters are treated. The aspects are all there, Ayumu is surrounded by beautiful women of all different shapes and personalities and he always seems to find himself in situations that make them desirable. This is as far as it goes, although there is some aspects of romantic feelings on one side or another, there is not the normal ‘all the girls fighting over the male’ aspect that you normally expect from a harem anime. The series is also quite aware of its harem aspects and therefore uses them in ways that are amusing yet not overpowering in terms of the storyline. This of course, changes in episode 13, which was an OVA in the Japanese airing; this is the “Spa episode”. This episode is becoming more and more popular in current animes. Thus showing all the characters in the smallest amount of clothing possible. The difference is that Is This a Zombie? acknowledges what the episode is and there is no other aspects to the episode then this. This makes the episode, which other wise feels out of place, easier to accept and enjoy.
I can’t say that I have too many faults with this series, although some of the episodes are decidedly better than others. There are four episodes right before the end which are so much better than the others that it can cast a dark shadow on the series as a whole. Because this series has been told in many different genres; it’s original light novel series, manga, and anime, it is hard to tell if this is a result of story translation or if it is the way the story is told.
Is This a Zombie? from FUNimation is a two disc set which comes in a flashy pink and black box. The special features included are; episode commentaries, textless openings and endings, and trailers.