ANIME & MANGA - Review
09:00 - 12th September 2013, by David West

Is This A Zombie? - Season 1 Collection

When Ayumu Aikawa is brutally murdered by a mysterious serial killer, it looks like his number is up. But the teenager is saved from the cold embrace of oblivion by a petite girl wearing a suit of armour. She is Eucliwood Hellscythe, a powerful necromancer from Hell who stops Ayumu from shuffling off this mortal coil by turning him into a zombie. When Eucliwood - or Eu or short - has nowhere to go after performing her good deed, Ayumu invites her to stay with him. Soon they are joined by Haruna, a hot-tempered Magical Garment Girl with an enchanted chainsaw, and Seraphim, a busty vampire ninja who constantly refers to Ayumu as 'maggot'. So that's a sweet girl, a crazy girl and a mean girl all sharing a house with one guy. Yes, it's harem anime time.

Is This A Zombie? throws together a hodge-podge of different ideas and genre tropes with mixed results. For a harem show, it is often bloody and the action scenes are not afraid to dish out the violence, but it still devotes plenty of time to slapstick, gags and fanservice. Ayumu makes a pleasantly sleazy change to the typically bland harem protagonist. He is really a bit of a creep and unashamedly fantasises about the girls who have taken over his afterlife.

The show has a particular spin on what constitutes a zombie. Ayumu is super strong and can survive injuries that would kill a normal person, but he shrivels up like a raisin in direct sunlight. Better lather on the Factor 50, young man. The script never lets him keep his dignity for very long - in many of the action scenes he is dressed in a short, frilly dress thanks to a mix up with Haruna's Magical Garment Girl powers.

Haruna is the most interesting of the three female leads, thanks to her manic personality. Eu never speaks, a side effect of her own magical nature, and fits the mould of the pure moe girl to perfection, but there is little to distinguish the character from a hundred other idealised anime girls. Seraphim is your classic tsundere, constantly putting Ayumu down with withering insults.

The script is patchier than a moth-eaten blanket, throwing in supporting characters just to provide exposition, and many of the ideas are half-baked. Ayumu and his friends frequently have to face monsters called Megalos in battle, which take the form of huge animals wearing school uniforms. It's not really clear what the Megalos want or where they come from. The plotline about the serial killer wraps up at the end of episode 11, meaning the final two episodes of the show are pure fluffy filler, first with an idol contest that all the girls spontaneously decide to enter, then an episode in which they organise a festival. It is pretty poor pacing to finish the main plot before the show itself reaches its conclusion, but given the number of holes in the script, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise.

Is This A Zombie? is a smorgasbord of a show, mashing together horror and humour in a harem setting. The humour works okay, and the attempt to impose a semi-coherent supernatural narrative over the top of it never really fits, but for anyone who likes fanservice, noisy gags and anime girls, it should tick enough of the right boxes.
SCORE: 3/5
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