Is This A Zombie is a thirteen episode anime series chronicling the exploits of Ayumu Aikawa, who as the title suggests, happens to be a reanimated corpse. Until recently Ayumu was a regular high school student, but all that changed one fateful night when an unknown assailant stabbed him through the chest. Thankfully for Ayumu a nice necromancer named Eu saves him from death by turning him into a zombie, before moving into his place and making him her servant. Just as well then that Ayumu, despite his age, lives by his lonesome free of parents who may object at having a silver haired lass with supernatural powers becoming a lodger at their abode.
Cohabitating with a mute necromancer might seem like a handful, but the situation gets even more complicated when an additional two ladies enter Ayumu’s life. First up is the feisty Magical Garment Girl named Haruna (pretty much Sailormoon brandishing a chainsaw) who invites herself into the Ayumu residence after our undead protagonist manages to drain her powers during a graveyard spat. Rounding off the trio of animated femmes is Seraphim who happens to be a ninja. What’s that? An oriental assassin isn’t weird enough for you? Oh did I forget to mention that she is a VAMPIRE ninja??
As you may have gathered from the above-mentioned synopsis, Is This A Zombie is a harem show at its core. Much like Rosario Vampire, the series however manages to utilize its cast of eccentric characters, with unearthly powers, to stray into the realms of action and comedy, with copious amounts of fan service thrown in for good measure. Many episodes have Ayumu and co squaring off against creatures called Megalos in battles that are surprisingly bloody, although the blood splatter is so excessive that you can never take it too seriously. As you would expect the fan service comes in the form of the heroines posing in revealing outfits, but in the sake of fairness even Ayumu is forced to take off his kit when the situation demands it. In episode one for example a collision with a bus propels him out of his clothing and we also get the “treat” of zoomed in panty shots during the occasions he is forced to cross-dress.
In terms of personality Ayumu is a little more interesting than the average male found in harem shows. A recurring gag sees him fantasize about Eu talking dirty to him. His perverse thoughts don’t go unpunished however as he is often subjected to humiliation. One such example is the manner in which he calls upon the magical power he drained from Haruna. In order to tap into that reserve of mystical energy he has to transform into a magical girl, which means donning a frilly pink dress! On the plus side he isn’t the traditional rotting cadaver you normally associate with zombies (just as well, I don’t think the girls would put up with the smell.) Ayumu looks like a regular teenager, but as a member of the undead he is able to regenerate from injuries that would down most people. This comes in handy as the scraps with the Megalos often end with him being torn to shreds. He’s virtually indestructible, although going out in the sun instantly dehydrates him… hmmm I wonder if I am a zombie too, it would explain why I stay indoors and shun daylight.
From the supporting cast the energetic Haruna would have to be my favorite of the three girls. It’s a little disappointing that she is robbed of her powers early on in the series, as I would have liked to see her take a more active role in the battle sequences. As the show progresses it is revealed that she has a crush on Ayumu, but romance between the pair never goes beyond her pummeling him whenever she gets embarrassed. Physical violence is a sign of affection? Maybe I should call up those girls who pepper sprayed my face after they spotted me hiding in the bushes.
Although Eu is central to the show’s plot she doesn’t get as much screen time as you might think. This is probably due to the fact that she is a silent character who communicates by scribbling on a notepad. Still I am sure she will go down well with geeks who fall head over heels with the likes of Rei (Evangelion) or Angel (Angel Beats.) On the other hand Seraphim is more vocal and has no hesitation in using her tongue to mock Ayumu, who she often refers to as a maggot. In a cast of physically underdeveloped girls Seraphim is clearly filling the role of eye candy courtesy of her toned figure, sexy red eyes and fabulous rack. If you find the other two girls more attractive I won’t judge you, but beware because Chris Hansen might.
Overall I enjoyed Is This A Zombie as the whacky random humor made me laugh. The comedy does get tiresome by the end though, not helped by a weak plot that haphazardly jumps from one thing to the next. The main story, revolving around the hunt for Ayumu’s killer, gets resolved by episode eleven, leaving the series to peter out with filler. Episode thirteen’s collection of funny short stories was all right, but episode twelve was painful to watch. It has the group going to a public pool, as an excuse to show the girls in bikinis, which wouldn’t be so bad had they not resorted to padding out the remainder of the running time with horrible singing in an impromptu idol contest.
If comedic harem shows are your thing I am sure you will like Is This A Zombie on some level. I enjoyed it as mindless fun, but it’s not an anime I envision re-watching anytime soon. Given the less than substantial plot I’m not sure were the series will go in season two. If the final two episodes are any indication I fear the makers will continue to introduce more and more girls who will squabble over their secret crush for Ayumu. That’s not something that interests me as, even with a zombie thrown in the mix, I find that harm cliché to be “dead” boring.