Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead episode 2 delivered another visual stunner with Director Kazuki Kawagoe showing off his creative muscles yet again. This week’s episode of Zom 100 carried over its wonder visuals, humor, and sense of adventure from the first episode. On top of everything else, best girl Shizuka was introduced in the midst of a beautifully directed episode comprised of stellar contrast and ice-cold beer.
Kawagoe’s Directing Genius
A major directing choice I notice quite often in this episode was Kawagoe’s decision to constantly frame Akira to the right side of the screen. If you go back and watch it after taking note of this, write down how many times you see Akira framed to the left, center, and right. It’s significantly greater for the latter. Now, this leads to some contrast, which was already great, with Shizuka which I particularly loved.
While some could interpret a lot of shots of Akira framed to the right of the screen as “moving forward”, or some sort of progress, Shizuka for the most part was constantly looking to the left. While she is center-framed a lot of times in this episode, there were only a couple of instances where she’s “looking forward” and those moments are when Akira saw her riding away on her bike and at the very end of the episode in her apartment.
This type of directing really gives each character way more depth and personality. In a series such as Zom 100, giving the characters even more personality than they already have is not only a tall task in itself, some might even find it unnecessary because the characters are already great in the first place. But Kawagoe is taking each of them a step further just as an anime should.
Without contrast, you can’t make an entertaining story. It’s a foundation of storytelling. Kawagoe managed to visually show this contrast while simultaneously letting the story do its own thing. What I simply mean by this is that the story focuses on Akira wanting to create a bucket list of things to do before he turns into a zombie while Shizuka is making a list of stuff to prevent her from becoming one in the first place.
Never mind the fact they’re polar opposites in personalities and character designs. The contrast between the two runs to the very core, even to the point of how Akira is completely in touch with what he wants to do while Shizuka is on the fence wondering if what she’s doing is right. Shizuka constantly pondering whether she should’ve taken the sakura mochi while Akira was cheerful and singing a song grabbing beer without any care in the world opened the door for a unique friendship between the two going forward.
That contrast continues more and more as we peel back the layers. While Akira was happy and excited to clean his tiny apartment. Shizuka is clearly not feeling happy with how life is while living in an expensive high-rise apartment in the heart of the city. Want even more? Green (Akira) and pink (Shizuka) are complementary colors as well.
Moving on from the layers and layers of contrast this episode put in the spotlight for us to love and admire. We have to wonder if there was any downside to this week’s episode since it clearly didn’t have that thrill factor from last week. So are there any? Nope! Simply put, this episode was perfect in its own way. It introduced Shizuka just as perfectly as the manga did only with beautiful animation and composition that hit harder than the truck that almost turned Akira into a pancake.
Having this episode show both sides of Akira’s and Shizuka’s day was a wonderful display of directing from Kawagoe as well. Akira’s half kicked off the episode while Shizuka’s was the second half, something very reminiscent of how Link Click Season 2 handled its first two episodes. The climax was in the middle of the episode yet it felt like the episode still carried on well.
Letterboxing (black bars) was used around Shizuka’s day just as it was Akira’s in the first episode. So I have to wonder if Shizuka will have her big breakthrough moment next episode when the letterboxes disappear just as they did for Akira. Take note, any time Akira looked at Shizuka the black bars weren’t present. But when Shizuka was describing her day, they were constantly there all the way to the very end. It’s such a cool, yet simple, touch.
While Akira brings the fun and happy-go-lucky attitude the zombie apocalypse genre is missing, Shizuka gives us the level-headed character that can basically make sure Akira doesn’t die… As this episode showed.
Zom 100 Episode 2 Wrap-Up
I understand everyone’s concern with the opening and the number of animation directors for an episode where not much action happened. But despite all of this, the color coordination and framing were fantastic. The animation was wonderful as always. And it was another episode that keeps you entertained from start to finish while admiring the little things, even something as simple as Akira writing down his bucket list and finding the iconic motorcycle of the series.
Episode 2 rating: 10/10
If you enjoyed episode 2 of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead then be sure to vote for it in our weekly poll! Episode 3 is set to air on Sunday, July 23, and will be available to watch on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
© Haro Aso, Kotaro Takata, Shogakukan / Zom100 Project