Five episodes into its first season, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead has established itself as one of the gems of the summer anime season. “Hero of the Dead” is another well-balanced episode that expands on the themes that were explored in “Flight Attendant of the Dead” by again using a silly and exhilarating action set piece to show how the connections between people are just as necessary post-zombie apocalypse as any survival supplies. The complete introduction of Shizuka Mikazuki is deftly handled and the episode creates a genuine connection between her, Akira, and Kencho while avoiding clichés.
Akira’s goal of remembering his childhood dream is resolved early in “Hero of the Dead.” A flashback featuring a truly adorable child Akira reveals his love of tokusatsu shows inspired a dream of becoming a superhero. It’s a revelation that immediately tracks with Akira’s actions so far. Even as early as his first beer run in “Bucket List of the Dead” Akira has been willing to put himself in danger to try and save other people. Revealing a love of television heroes reflects Akira’s colorful view of the world when freed by the apocalypse.
Akira decides to get into the superhero business and seeks to secure a costume. This mission leads him and Kencho to an aquarium where they once again cross paths with a group of survivors. While there, they encounter an equally hilarious and terrifying zombie shark being puppeteered by the zombies that it has swallowed. The zombie shark is a fantastic example of how Zom 100 manages to come up with novel ideas in the well-trodden zombie genre. Every sequence with the shark is imbued with that manic energy that has been present since the first episode. It also brings the same level of dread when Shizuka is knocked over by a panic-stricken girl. Zom 100 has not shied away from the brutality or the despair that would be caused in these situations which makes the moments of connection and hope have an even stronger impact.
Akira’s biggest challenge in the episode turns out to be Shizuka’s wariness. Having already disappointed her once, he’s desperate to change her opinion of him. Unfortunately, his heroics only reinforce her assessment. Although the rejection stings, when push comes to shove Akira’s heroic instincts win out. His courage is enough to inspire Shizuka to put logic aside and take a risk herself. Neither Shizuka’s tactical thinking nor Akira’s physicality would have been enough on their own to take down the shark and seeing the two work together is incredibly satisfying. As we’ve seen before, when Akira stops trying to be cool or impressive and embraces his natural personality he has an energy that is just as effective as the zombie virus.
The only disappointment of “Hero of the Dead” is that Shizuka chooses to part ways with Akira and Kencho in the end. They made up an interesting group and their continued interactions seemed like a good way to learn more about all three characters. Fortunately, Shizuka does finally agree to exchange contact information with Akira so it feels likely that they will meet again. Zom 100 has also shown that it is willing to spend time away from Akira to check in on other characters so I look forward to learning more about Shizuka and her life before the outbreak. There must be compelling reasons for her pragmatic approach to life. The closing moments of the episode set up a welcome change of scenery as Akira and Kencho head for the countryside. It’s the perfect time to shake up the formula before it becomes stale and an opportunity to expand the world of Zom 100.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is available on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu.
Featured Image ©Haro Aso, Kotaro Takata, Shogakukan/Zom100 Project
‘Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead’ - “Hero of the Dead” - 9/10