Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead episode 1 didn’t simply air on Sunday. It was a season premiere that crash-landed on a pile of zombies in a colorful explosion leaving behind a mushroom cloud of epic proportions. There’s now a poster child for series premieres post-Attack on Titan and this is it. And if studio BUG FILMS debuted their first anime series in this fashion then my goodness are we in for one hell of a ride these next 11 episodes.
I’m not mincing words on this review. This premiere for Zom 100 couldn’t have been any better. Perfection. Utter brilliance. Whether you love sakuga, cinematics, color design, comedy, drama, action, flawless exposition, or just anything with straight-up zombies, Zom 100 has already proven to be the must-watch anime of the Summer 2023 season.
Throughout my days of losing myself in the manga, I’m always left with a single thought after closing the last page of each volume, “This series deserves a proper anime adaptation.” Not just some typical anime adaptation, but one that captures the feeling of adrenaline and excitement that I experience reading the manga. Luckily enough for all of us, that’s exactly what this episode accomplished and more.
As someone that covered episodes for 86 Eighty-Six (2021-2022) on a weekly basis, I became enamored with Director Toshimasa Ishii’s use of scene transitions. Up until that point, I never saw an anime that utilized scene transitions like 86 Eighty-Six had done. Yet, here we are in 2023 with Zom 100 giving us our much-needed fill of beautiful transitions and jaw-dropping cinematics thanks to Kazuki Kawagoe’s creative genius.
The use of letterboxing (pictured above) is few and far between in anime series. While it’s a lot more common in movies, not enough anime series that have a place for it will utilize letterboxing. The creativity that goes into the use of aspect ratios is a realm that should be explored more often and I applaud directors like Kawagoe and Ishii who use it to uplift stories that primarily don’t need to be, but damn sure benefit greatly from it.
Watching this episode it really did feel like I was watching a piece of cinema. The monotone colors with the letterboxing mirrored Akira’s life and amplified the emotional feeling as if we were him ourselves. The color palette from the drips around the zombies was like a balloon full of dye waiting to be popped. Then, low and behold, everything exploded from that feeling of confinement with an array of colors while smiling because it’s the best day ever — those hopes and dreams that Akira is dedicated to from here on out feel obtainable.
Unlike Akira’s first love interest, this series isn’t going to become a bundle of short-lived cliches and hopelessness. Zom 100 has the potential to redefine the zombie apocalypse genre and set its own bar in the medium of anime not just on a story and genre level, but on a directing, creativity, and animation level as well.
All eyes are on Kawagoe and his staff the rest of the way to main that feeling of adrenaline and excitement every Sunday for the rest of the summer. Any beautiful visuals and storyboard work will just be icing on the cake for me at this point. The main thing going forward is to just let the story and characters work the magic themselves. Additional elements and creative decisions can only make everything that much better.
The vision that Kawagoe had for this first episode alone proves that Zom 100 is in the right hands. The exposition, also credited to series creator Haro Aso, is some of my favorites in anime and manga. Akira is like a lot of us in regard to what he went through and the episode didn’t waste time showing all of us who he is and what he’s about.
The range for both character and story development is far beyond what the mind can think of after watching the Zom 100 season premiere. Akira creating his bucket list is the spark that’ll ignite a wildfire of adventure, comedy, and drama in a world that’s just waiting to be ravaged by it, even if some people don’t know it yet.
Zom 100 Episode 1 Wrap-Up
Wow. That’s all I have to say for now. Just…wow. In the midst of the return of widely popular series like Jujutsu Kaisen and Mushoku Tensei, Zom 100 needed to make a statement with this first episode for a plethora of reasons. It’s no sugarcoating it to say Zom 100 delivered one of the best series premieres in a long time. It’s crazy to think the director for Komi Can’t Communicate, one of the most wholesome and relaxing anime in recent history, is also the director of this glorious mesh of chaos and comedy that is Zom 100.
Trending on social media is the least this series deserves right now. I want to see manga sales spike and a drink in every hand of everyone who worked on this first episode. It was simply that amazing and I cannot wait for next week’s episode!
Episode 1 rating: 100/10
If you enjoyed episode 1 of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead then be sure to vote for it in our weekly poll! Episode 2 is set to air on Sunday, July 16, and will be available to watch on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
© Haro Aso, Kotaro Takata, Shogakukan / Zom100 Project