When is a Zombie apocalypse a great thing? When it means you no longer have to go to work! Instead of wearing yourself down at a job you hate every day, you can find what brings you joy in life…as long as you can stay out of the zombies’ way! That’s the theme of the genius Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, the best zombie anime in years!
Bucket List of the Dead is Smart Commentary on the Modern World
When Akira Tendou got a job with his dream company, he was elated and eager to work hard as their newest employee. He soon learned the truth about his employer: that it was a burakku kigyou or a “black company,” the word for businesses that abuse their employees for profit. He’s expected to work day and night and sleep at work.
Three years later, Akira has been completely ground down by his abusive company, working long hours and giving up on all of his dreams. Then one day, something glorious occurs: there’s a zombie outbreak in Tokyo, killing hundreds of thousands and ending society as we know it. That’s terrible, right? Wrong! It means Akira never has to go to work again!
Bucket List of the Dead is an extremely smart anime based on the manga by Haro Aso and Kotaro Takata, published in Monthly Sunday Gene-X. The animation by BUG Films, who worked on Komi-san and Summertime Render in the past, is also top-notch and colorful.
A Proper Zombie Anime
Ever since Highschool of the Dead, the anime that will make you write “highschool” as one word obsessively, I’ve loved the wonky blending of east-and-west that the zombie anime genre represents. And Zom 100 is a proper zombie story, exploring subjects like fast vs. slow zombies and the strategies we would need to survive in such a world.
What are the best experimental anime? Read this blog post!
That said, the zombies in the anime are not really characters to interact with, just a background threat that the characters must avoid. The real story focuses on the characters themselves, who learn to grow in new ways, now that the world has changed forever.
(I’ve got a minor obsession with films released in 1968, the year of my birth. This list includes such legendary works as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Another important release of that year was Night of the Living Dead, the first proper zombie film, which is loads of fun.)
What would you want to do if you were living in a zombie apocalypse? Ride around on a motorcycle? Sit around and drink beer all day long? Perhaps see how you look in dreadlocks? This zombie anime is great because it makes us ponder questions like this!
Do Japanese Companies Really Work Their Employees to Death?
In the same way that Mexico has unfortunately become famous for its drug cartels and related violence, despite there being much more to the country, Japan has become known as the country where companies work their employees to death. As an actual company owner in Japan, the truth is a bit more complex.
As I’ve written before, Japan has a robust system of rules in place to curb the abuse of employees. There are many rules to follow and representation is available if companies don’t follow the law. We obviously hear about extreme cases of abuse because they stand out more.
That said, there are “black companies” that take liberties with their staff, expecting them to work saabisu zangyou (free overtime), and deservedly get bad reputations. One of the worst was Dentsu, an advertising company that put so much pressure on new employee Matsuri Takahashi to work long hours that she committed suicide, which created a huge national scandal about how many hours Japanese employees work. This event provided part of the inspiration for the story behind Zom 100.
And for what? While Japanese employees might work long hours, Japan is one of the last least productive countries in the industrialized world. Productivity is the value of useful work per person per hour, and the most productive countries in the world are Luxembourg, Norway, Ireland, Singapore and Denmark (source). The United States is #13, and Japan is all the way down at #27, below Lithuania and South Korea but above Spain and Israel.
A Live-Action Version of Zom 100 is Coming
If you’re into live-action stories instead of anime, there’s a live-action version of the story dropping next month. I think this is great, since it will bring the outstanding story in front of a larger audience. And hopefully, get more people to reflect on the importance of work-life balance.
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