Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kore wa Zombie desu ka? (Episodes 1 - 3)

There isn't much love out there for the zombie as an actual main character for a show. Yes, it's been fun running from them (Highschool of the Dead), partnering with them (Zombie-Loan, Corpse Princess), or even lusting after them (Sankarea...wait, what the hell?! Never mind!), but we really haven't seen it all from the vantage point of the zombie since Pai turned Yakumo into a Wu back in 3x3 Eyes.

Granted, you probably wouldn't get much of a story out of your traditional zombie, probably only a bunch of mumblings and grumblings about "brains" and all. The general portrayal of zombies in animation and live-action film from Japan has been that of the mindless horde (although you have to admit that there have been sparks of creativity at times), so having the main character a zombie takes away a large chunk of interaction with the audience.

Imagine if Jack Tripper was a zombie, and you'd have the gist here.

This obstacle between zombie and human is ultimately explored and torn down in the new dark comedy series Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka? (Japanese for "Is This A Zombie?", although Crunchyroll elected to leave the name as is). The main protagonist of KoreZom, Ayumu Aikawa, is actually a member of the undead before the show begins, of which we are notably reminded when Ayumu rescues a kitten from an oncoming truck and is launched in a scene reminiscent of Nanaca Crash. We come to find that Ayumu is thankful that the silent Eucliwood Hellscythe, a mute necromancer who communicates strictly through writing, has resurrected him, as it gives him a chance to find the serial killer who killed him in the first place.

However, somehow being a zombie hasn't made him any less of a lightning rod when it comes to the supernatural. While trying to relax in a cemetery, Ayumu encounters Haruna, a reckless "magical girl" with a chainsaw who hunts down animal-based demons known as "Megalos". However, somehow during the process and despite being bladed in half by Haruna's "kick" (It's not a kick! - Ed.), Ayumu absorbs Haruna's powers, which just happen to conveniently keep her from becoming nude. The next encounter comes from Seraphim, a mysterious vampire ninja who appears in the house to ask Eucliwood for help, only to admit defeat from a battle with Ayumu and also move into the house. Considering the sales pitch for the series involves a fourth female, the crowded house will no doubt be getting more crowded.

Well, it does make saving seats at a table easier.

So what are we to make of this show? Judging by the playbook, most of the comedy ought to come from two sources—Ayumu getting bloodied, severed, and broken like Sakura from Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan, only to revive in the next scene, and the three girls getting put into arousing poses by the imagination of the staff. It's pretty much decided that Ayumu is competing against three bossy characters, and he's taking as much of the brunt as possible. It's like he's a Highlander version of Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

However, there are some surprising flashes of comedy and drama that keep the show from turning into a superhuman version of The Real World. The characters are truly unique to anime (I just may be going moe for pink chainsaws that magically display your name), and I'm getting the idea that the producers may be enjoying the chess game that Shinichi Kimura, author of KoreZom's light-novel series, is playing with these pawns. In a method that may be more a slap at the face of otaku novelty, we get a curious side-effect of Ayumu's funneling of Haruna's powers (and we'll only mention that it has Ayumu wishing he could die of embarrassment).

Okay, so it wasn't that hard to predict this.

There very well could be potential in KoreZom with this line-up of demanding females, but there could be equal potential for disaster if the show turns into something lesser than the sum of its parts. There almost seems to be too much crammed into Ayumu's apartment, yet there may be episodes where too little happens. For example, we get introduced to Ayumu's filthy-minded friend Orito (who may as well be the filthy-minded Ieyasu from Mayoi Neko Overrun!) and a girl that could hold the key to Ayumu's murderer, only to find the episode soaked up by a bowling competition between the girls for the last pudding in the fridge.

In other words, we're not sure about the direction of the series yet, but it seems a little absurd for the girls to be fighting over something so trivial.

Eucliwood outdoing Yuki Nagato in the "emotionless" category by never speaking.

KoreZom could do quite well for the season, but there's this nagging feeling that it may end up being lumped in with the other "one-boy-many-girls" shows being presented (Dragon Crisis!, Yumekui Merry, Freezing). That could be a shame, as so far KoreZom is the funniest of the bunch. It could probably impress people without having to resort to partial nudity and fan service, but the show has already gone through that door, vowing never to backtrack.

If KoreZom is unable to tell its story by tying all of these unrelated characters and their objectives together, the traffic jam could be hard to drive through. So far, the fireworks resulting from the interactions have been nice to watch, but we're going to need a nice big finale for KoreZom to stand by itself as a success. Here's to hoping that there's enough TNT in the package.

(Kore wa Zombie desu ka? is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Monday at 1 PM EST.)

No comments:

Post a Comment