Zombies. Necromancers. Boobs. Dapper Dressed Animals. Magical Girls and Boys. Pudding Monsters. This month I watched Is This a Zombie, and boy was it interesting.
When I wrote about Glitter Force a few months ago, I mentioned that it was like the essence of the magical girl genre – made in a lab. Is This a Zombie has a very similar vibe, except that it’s the concentrated goo of the best and worst parts of anime. It’s so upfront about its weirdness that it’s wonderfully fun to watch.
Is This a Zombie also dips heavily into the supernatural teen genre, with a cast of characters so over the top you’d think it was some top notch fanfiction. The main character, Ayamu, is a somewhat hopeless teen boy with major delusions about the women around him. Oh, also he was brutally murdered and brought back as a zombie. Being a zombie impacts Ayamu’s life remarkably little, with the only real downside being that he can’t go out in the sun. It’s the women that come to live with him that make his life a lot more difficult. First up is Eucliwood Hellscythe (Eu), which, aside from being my new favorite name ever, is a necromancer from Hades who resurrects Ayamu after he is murdered. She very, very rarely talks or shows emotion because her magic is so powerful that even speaking can have unintended consequences for her. Despite the fact that Ayamu has frequent lewd daydreams about her and that she considers him a servant, they have a remarkably strong relationship and respect for each other. Less respectful are Ayamu’s other two housemates: Haruna and Sera. Haruna is a Magical Garment Girl from a world called Villiers, who carries a magical pink chainsaw named Mystletain and fights animal shaped monsters in tuxedos called Megalos. She joins them when Ayamu accidentally steals her powers and becomes the shows official magical girl. Haruna is brash, energetic, and constantly beats the shit out of Ayamu. And right behind her is Sera (short for Seraphim), a big breasted vampire ninja who consistently calls Ayamu “maggot” and yells her only attack like a Digimon. Sera shows up hoping to serve Eu, and is rather miffed that Ayamu is technically already serving her. Sera and Haruna consistently call Ayamu out on being a pervert, and while they’re often not wrong that leads me to the main troubling portions of the show.
I said that this show has the best of anime, but it’s also got the worst. Whenever Ayamu transforms into his Magical Garment Girl form, the other characters waste no time calling him a “tranny pervert” almost every time. It’s really regrettable language and is consistently the main running joke of the show. The fact that the girls grow to respect Ayamu’s ability to be a Magical Garment Girl doesn’t do much to forgive the amount of transphobic language in the show. There is a major immaturity to the humor of the show, it’s definitely geared towards teenagers and less adult adults. There’s more than once where Ayamu getting a bamboo spear in the ass is played as a hilarious joke. And the girls aren’t immune either, for every time they call Ayamu a pervert, there are panty shots, ridiculous boob shots, and a very extended bathing scene. Most of the time the show is reveling in it’s ridiculousness so much that it almost pulls it off, but it’s definitely not always handled super well.
The magical girl elements of the show are super fun, the writers were clearly having fun with the conventions beyond simply making a male character into a magical girl. When Ayamu powers up he gains frills and bows on his costume, with cuteness directly correlating to power. And seeing anybody in a frilly outfit slicing open a flying blue whale with a glowing chainsaw is incredibly fun to watch.
That reveling in its trashiness is certainly appealing though. Is This a Zombie is unabashedly weird, confusing, stupid, dramatic and self aware of all those facts. It’s almost amazing that it manages to produce some well rounded, interesting characters within all that mess. It’s teen drama soaked in supernatural powers with a side order of meta. The fourth wall is constantly broken into smithereens. And yes, it has upsetting elements and those do not redeem it. But the weird earnestness of the show won me over, and I had a genuinely fun time watching it. It’s like eating an entire tub of ice cream, you wouldn’t do it all the time* and you feel kind of bad after, but damn if you don’t enjoy it.
*I do actually do this all the time
Moon Girls is a monthly column for GeeklyInc. where Steph Kingston discusses Magical Girl anime and TV shows. Get ahold of Steph on Twitter @StephOKingston or firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazing banner art by Kym Stonick, you can find her @kymcattys or http://kymstone.tumblr.com/