Matt Kamen has some modest proposals for zombie anime
Highschool of the Dead: Drifters of the Dead Edition is released this week, packaging the original series – pitting its teenage cast against a post-apocalyptic world of the risen dead – with an exclusive video short set on a tropical island. We’re not going to lie – fanservice is the order of the day in this bonus episode. And is a break in a sun-kissed paradise after weeks of zombie-fighting really too much to ask?
Maybe the sight of all those questionably-dressed young animated women with dubious boob physics has infected us, like some sort of sexy virus, but Drifters of the Dead got us thinking: what would some of the world’s best known zombie films and series look like with an anime makeover?
Take The Walking Dead, for instance. In Japan’s adaptation, Rick’s son Carl could be the only male survivor following the escape from the Centre for Disease Control, left to face the horrors of a crumbling society, legions of voracious walkers – and the impending onset of puberty! Can he survive against the undead, bandits and his own hormones? Loosely following the format of the original comics, the prison he’d eventually stumble upon would, of course, be a women’s juvenile detention centre, full of feisty ‘tsundere’ girls who are as lethal with a weapon as they are with their cruel words. Despite the girls’ early disdain for Carl, his bumbling everyman persona (no, no, forget his being a terrifying junior badass in the comic and TV show – this is anime!) soon wins them over. Anime Walking Dead isn’t just a battle for survival, it’s a battle for Carl’s heart – and as one of the few men left, he’ll be in high demand!
Or how about the BBC’s excellent ‘post-zombie’ drama, In the Flesh? The three-episode series depicted a rarity in zombie cinema – a world where the outbreak was stopped, and the unfortunate state of being undead was treatable. Where the live-action show focussed on the harrowing experiences of ex-zombie Kieren Walker as he attempted to reintegrate into the community, the anime would probably play it for laughs. Rather than a global pandemic, Keiren-kun would be accidentally cursed with zombification after, let’s say, a cute female necromancer resurrects him with a kiss. Being undead would probably have some sweet super powers too – really strong and able to absorb magic. Oh, and let’s really up the absurdity and have the reluctant hero forced to cross-dress as a magical girl to fight other supernatural menaces! Hang on – that’s the anime Is This a Zombie? Never mind.
Upcoming Brad Pitt flick World War Z – rather than the source novel by author Max Brooks – would surely be a great fit for anime. Directors could go serious here, and with someone like Yugo the Negotiator’s Seiji Kishi at the helm it could accurately re-tell United Nations agent Gerry Lane’s globe-trotting quest to stop the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, Kishi’s track record isn’t perfect. If he were channelling the kind of slapstick comedy he employed in mermaid mafia harem series (yes, you read that right) My Bride is a Mermaid, then World War Z would probably end up with the gruff Lane supported by a bunch of sexy female soldiers, all bursting out of their sexy combat fatigues while killing zombies…. sexily.
But what about the holy grail, the great-granddaddy, the crème de la crème of zombie films – George Romero’s …of the Dead series? The anime would no doubt translate the action to Japan, make the cast a bunch of teenagers instead of a broad cross-section of society, but still try to examine the downfall of civilisation. The flesh-eating ghouls would remain metaphors for everything from sublimation of personal identity into a collective whole to simple fear of death, but there’d be a lot of improbable jiggling and unlikely clothing worn by the show’s largely female cast. Oh, and it’d start everything at some sort of highschool. A Highschool…. of the Dead, if you will.
OK, the joke’s dead now. See how anime creators really handle zombies in Drifters of the Dead, out now to be devoured in its entirety.
Drifters of the Dead is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.