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Review: Is This A Zombie? (Vol. 02-03)

Is This A Zombie? (Vol. 02)

Author: Shinichi Kimura
Manga-ka: Sacchi
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2012 | November 2012

Synopsis: “Ayumu Aikawa is settling into his new life – or lack thereof – and enjoying the ties he’s building with his new roommates, strange though they may be! But when the opportunity arises to face his murderer, will this zombie/magikewl girl be up to the task?? …  And with Eu under threat from a mysterious nemesis known only as the “King of Night,” the motley crew is tighter than ever as they resolve to keep the “shady necromancer” safe. But when the resident vampire ninja, Sera, receives orders from home that threaten Eu’s well-being, will she turn her back on her new friends?!”

Is this a Zombie? started out as a light novel series, which has since been adapted as an anime and a manga. I haven’t read the novels, since I don’t know enough Japanese, but I have seen the anime and, while it wasn’t for me, I didn’t think it was that bad.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the manga.

This series doesn’t seem to know what it is. It is part supernatural action, part harem, part ecchi, and part magical girl/boy. And while it’s trying to be and do all of these things, it just becomes a mess.

Is this a Zombie?‘s style is, I must admit, not one of my favourites. I can enjoy moe when it is cute for a purpose, such as in series like Bunny Drop, or light-hearted fun, such as K-ON!, but here it is used to be emotionally manipulative and, even worse, to be sexualized. Some may call it prudish but panty shots of characters who look to be about fourteen gets old fast.

But while the stylistic choices made here are not to my personal taste, that is not the only reason for my dislike of these two volumes, although it certainly did not help. There are many other problems with this series but the main one is that it is, at times, incomprehensible. And it is also very shallow, with only one of the characters even approaching two dimensions, let alone three.

In most of my reviews, I start off with a brief synopsis of what is going on with the plot in the volume(s) in question. For Is this a Zombie?, I honestly can’t say much more than there is a zombie who is a magical boy and a bunch of moe magical girls and they fight bad guys, maybe.

These are still early volumes and it should be easier to know who is who and what is going on. Instead, I found myself struggling to follow conversations that seemed to come from nowhere, from characters I was supposed to have recognized but didn’t, and when that wasn’t happening I was in the middle of one of the disjointed action scenes that I eventually gave up trying to make heads or tails of. I have never read a manga where I knew less about what was going on than this one.

And even during the few times I did know what was happening, I didn’t really care that much. The characters are all the usual walking stereotypes you find in a harem, with the cute, angry one, the cool one, and the mute one. Shockingly, that last one is not as rare as you might expect. And of these characters, it is only the mute one, EU, who has any depth, though it only appears in fleeting moments.

Is This A Zombie? (Vol. 03)

The series tries repeatedly to make the claim that this group is becoming like a family but this is a huge case of telling and not showing, as none of them seem that close or familial like, especially with the amount of time our male lead spends checking out the female characters breasts. There are very few good moments, hidden beneath the rest of it.

The last chapter of volume two, where the cast goes to an arcade, is actually written and drawn in a clearer way and the characters relate to each other well. At the end of it, there are even brief hints of a plot for EU that could be at least a little compelling. Unfortunately, volume three doesn’t really continue this well and things quickly descend back into the chaotic status quo.

There are a few good jokes, though the best actually comes in one of the small drawings that appears between chapters (the one about the tail). And “Ayumu’s version” of EU can be entertaining, though it is a joke I have seen done better.

And there is a magical girl with a chainsaw. If nothing else, that idea is pretty awesome.

All and all, this series is just not very good. Perhaps it was written under the impression that most readers would already be familiar with the characters and plot, which meant that these things did not have to be handled well. I certainly do not recommend this series and do not plan to be checking out any of the subsequent volumes.

If I never have to read and roll my eyes at the word “magikewl” again, it will be too soon.

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Books provided by Yen Press for review purposes

Victoria K Martin

About the Author:

Victoria Martin has been a manga fan every since university, when a particularly evil, enabling friend introduced it to her (as well as re-introducing her to anime as well). Seven years later, she has quite the collection of books on her shelves, mostly shoujo/josei but with some others as well. She's always looking for the next series to love and cherish and religiously re-read for years.

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