ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’ve all had a bad job where we’ve been worked to the bone, encouraged not to use our vacation, and pretty much let it consume our life. This is pushed even more when you become a wage slave, someone whose livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. That sums up Akira’s life in ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead Volume 1 (ZOM 100). Written by mangaka Haro Aso, ZOM 100 features are from Kotaro Takata and is localized in English by VIZ Media. Unfortunately, our review copy did not include a credits page for the translator nor letterer.

In ZOM 100, Akira’s life has lost any shine after spending years toiling away for a soul-crushing company. But when a zombie apocalypse ravages his town, it gives him the push he needs to live for himself. So what does he do? Go on a mission to complete all 100 items on his bucket list. Our protagonist, Akira Tendo is a 24-year old who lives in a trash-filled apartment and spends his time watching zombie movies.  After spending three hard years at an exploitative corporation, his spirit is broken. So much so, that he can’t even muster the courage to confess his feelings to his beautiful co-worker Ohtori – the one and only bright spot of his life. Then one morning, he stumbles upon his landlord, who just so happens to have become a zombie. But Akira isn’t scared, he’s just thrilled to have a day off.

Now, to start the review of ZOM 100, I have to say that this is a manga filled with fanservice. Told from Akira’s perspective, boobs matter, and not in the wholesome way they do to Denji in Chainsaw Man. While it doesn’t feature as much fan service as High School of the Dead, readers should know that there are a lot of zombies in bikinis, a lot of boobs, and a lot of focus on the male character’s fantasies. That said, once you know what to expect, it’s not that bad – the fan service I mean. This is due in large part to how it frames Akira as our protagonist.

As he builds out his bucket list, Akira notes confessing to his crush, which leads him to seek her out, riding his bike in the middle of a zombie horde, and that goes about as well as you can think, but at least he saw her boobs. Outside of that though, the bucket list is the most mundane list you can think of. Clean his room, take a day off, and more things that people Akira’s age do daily have a special place in his must-do before he dies list. That said, as he begins to enjoy the zombie apocalypse the loneliness sets in and he seeks out his best friend. While I won’t reveal more adventurous elements of his bucket-list, all of this is important to who Akira is as a character. While he is of course the deprived 24-year old, the truth is he’s surprisingly relatable. I mean, when we think of zombie apocalypse, we think of survival plans, not beer runs to the local convenience store. In this way, ZOM 100 is different from other stories in the genre. This story is about finally getting to live a life, instead of just trying to survive.

Overall, ZOM 100 is funny and filled with moments that readers can see themselves in – even with the fanservice. Additionally, the art is fun, gory, and somehow lighthearted. But truly, my favorite thing about this manga is that Akira isn’t your traditional hapless male protagonist living out his fantasy. He’s actually a capable former rugby player who just wants to live before he dies. And that’s a story we can all get behind.

ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead Volume 1 is available February 16, 2021, wherever books are sold.

ZOM 100: Bucket List of the Dead Volume 1
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, ZOM 100 is funny, and filled with moments that readers can see themselves in – even with the fanservice. Additionally, the art is fun, gorey, and somehow lighthearted. But truly, my favorite thing about this manga is that Akira isn’t your traditional hapless male protagonist living out his fantasy. He’s actually a capable former rugby player who just wants to live before he dies. And that’s a story we can all get behind.