Sometimes it is tough to find a unique zombie film that can take this genre to the next level. Whether that’s with blending it with some other style or just coming up with a unique story idea. I waited for October to roll around before watching Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead. And what it delivers is perfect for those wanting another reason to avoid swimming in the sea. Although that season is over, what’s revealed here is a compressed version of the manga (and perhaps the television show too).
Now that some appetites have been whetted, I doubt anyone wants fish sashimi that’s way past their date of expiry. Instead, what’s presented here isn’t quite like Zombieland. What I find is a hodge-podge mix of George Romero style commentary, an attempt to compress the manga/anime into a singular film and a protagonist who isn’t alwaya 100% there.
Here, Akira Tendo (Eiji Akaso) is pretty much a slave. Although he has a good job at a corporation, life isn’t sweet as his boss pushes him around, and he’s asked to burn the midnight oil. Pretty soon, he just wants to quit. But before he can do that, a pandemic has wiped out most of Japan and those who haven’t been infected by this mysterious virus have to fend for themselves. His skills as a football star don’t really amount to anything in this film.
While some folks believe they now have the run of everything now that “control” has fallen to them, others are rebuilding. While I’m curious why the military and governments aren’t doing anything, this plot hole doesn’t seem to get explored either in the summaries I’m finding about the other adaptations. Maybe one day, we’ll get a backstory. When considering the film barely scratches the surface of the still ongoing manga, to wrap this saga up will be tough!
When Akira realises that he’s not alone, life seems better. One of them is Kencho, his best friend, and the other is Shizuka (Mai Shiraishi). Together, these ragtag heroes can do everything they want to do without repercussions and paying. It makes for some good humorous moments, but what’s presented is no different from those time loop stories we find in science fiction. Eventually there’ll be a moment where the person(s) involved will grow tired of doing everything they’ve wanted to do in their bucket list, and have to let progress continue.
In Akita’s case, that’s to stop being a pushover and finally take charge. One can’t stay in one place and rot. Although he and his friends found a safe harbour, nothing has truly changed when he accepts his old position and allows his boss in that former job to be that boss. The time it takes to get to this realisation is long, and this film can benefit from being edited down.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead tries its best to be a social commentary. When there’s a lot to pack in for one film, this work misses its mark as too many ideas are spilling over. One such arc is when the lead meets his boss again later on in the film, and the tale acts like nothing has changed, before the outbreak. As a result, I’m more inclined to read the manga written by Haro Aso and illustrated by Kotaro Takata to find what got edited out. When this tale is a long-running series in that version, I want to see how the characters have developed.
What’s compressed down for the film is very much an introduction. It’s like those clip shows where the age old question is shown as vignettes as each item gets ticked off the bucket list. When there’s an apocalypse, it’s easy to get away with those things you’ve always wanted to do but were either afraid to perform or worry about being ridiculed for.
As for whether we’ll know how many more things Akira wants to try, we’ll never know. A television series would be better than a film, so each episode can play with revealing just how this bucket list truly is.
3 Stars out of 5