After two heavier episodes, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead returns with lighter fare in “Sushi and Hot Springs of the Dead”. This episode introduces Beatrix Amerhauser, a delightful German tourist obsessed with Japanese culture. Beatrix spent years working to save up for a trip to Japan only to arrive just as the zombie pandemic was kicking off. She’s a great addition to the Zom 100 cast by rounding out their personalities and impacting the group dynamics in interesting ways. Akira, Kencho, and Shizuka decide to help her in her quest for sushi which leads to an adventure and chances for everyone to bond.
Beatrix has been present in marketing materials and the opening for Zom 100 from the beginning so her appearance isn’t a surprise. Saving her introduction for the eighth episode is unexpected but Beatrix in fact arrives at the perfect time. Akira and Kencho’s history is well established and after the events of “Truck Stop of the Dead,” Shizuka has started to open up. At the start of the episode, the group is starting to settle into a groove. Akira and Kencho continue to work on the bucket list while Shizuka mitigates risk for the group. This leaves a gap for Beatrix to slide into the group and quickly fit right in. She and Akira are clearly kindred spirits. He is immediately invested in her dream to reach the sushi restaurant and is impressed by her skills fighting off zombies. With Beatrix, Akira isn’t the only person running around in a ridiculous outfit and demolishing zombies! The group’s effort to clear a path through a zombie horde in the middle of the episode is another impressive action set piece from Bug Films that showcases the cooperation of the group. Shizuka is the brain, Akira and Beatrix are the muscle and Kencho is whatever you need him to be. In “Sushi and Hot Springs of the Dead,” that means being the bait, which Kencho is happy to do since it offers another opportunity for him to strip down. After enjoying the amazing sushi together, Beatrix is reduced to tears, and a new bond is forged.
The back half of “Sushi and Hot Springs of the Dead” is less action-heavy and starts to introduce some romantic tension between Akira and Shizuka. Since their first encounter in “Bucket List of the Dead”, Akira has been harboring a little crush on Shizuka and up to this point all Shizuka has done is inadvertently rebuff him by refusing to group up with him over and over. Even though Akira’s feelings have been obvious, he hasn’t expressed them in words or allowed it to jeopardize the group. I’ve appreciated how Zom 100 has handled this subplot up to this point. The signals of a romantic story have been there but nothing has been rushed and the way that Shizuka reacts to Akira is understandable after seeing her past experience with her father. What also feels earned is the moment between them in the hot spring when she finally opens up to Akira and begins to explain why she is the way she is. “Truck Stop of the Dead” showed how Shizuka’s experience of watching Akira be treated in a similar fashion to the way her father treated her not only allowed her to become closer to Akira but was also an opportunity for introspection. When she defended Akira she was defending herself and it makes perfect sense that she would continue to interrogate how her childhood influenced the person she is. Spending time with Akira, Kencho, and now Beatrix has exposed her to completely foreign ways of thinking. Moments like this hot spring scene perfectly balance out the high-octane action and zany misadventures in the rest of the episode.
“Sushi and Hot Springs of the Dead” is another episode with a carefully crafted balance of action, humor, and heart. The episode even manages to avoid falling into uncomfortable territory despite the tropes of hot spring stories. There have been many manga and anime hot spring moments that are inserted into stories purely for fanservice and titillation. Zom 100 manages to thread the needle by acknowledging that two young men could be delighted by the shared hot spring moment but giving Shizuka and Beatrix agency in their participation. Beatrix’s introduction provides most of the humor in the episode as she’s revealed to be a huge weeb and the running gag of her encyclopedic knowledge made me laugh every time it was deployed because of how real it felt. I must sound like a broken record at this point but Zom 100 keeps knocking it out of the park and it certainly seems like that will continue for the remainder of the season.
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’ - "Sushi and Hot Springs of the Dead" - 0/10