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Review: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka @

Haruna cuts Ayumu and an evil Megalo in half with a chainsaw.

Studio Deen brings us a 12-episode adaptation of light novel series "Is This a Zombie?" about a high schooler, Aikawa Ayumu, who recently became a zombie, and the bizarre girls surrounding him, including Masou-Shoujo (magiclothes girls), Vampire Ninjas, and the mysterious Necromancer Eucliwood Hellscythe who raised Ayumu from the dead after he became a victim of the neighborhood serial killer.

Art & Animation: Deen is a studio with a rather poor reputation for animation, and Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? demonstrates why. The character designs are decent enough adaptations of the original art, and they're not animated as sloppily as some better series, but the way things move and feel generally comes off as kind of awkward and lazy. It's not all bad, though. It manages to look good when it counts (sometimes), and the show does a nice job of picking mood-setting color palettes and avoiding really cheesey loops, reused footage, although it makes judicious use of slow-panning static shots. The worst part for the series, though, is definitely its rampant use of bad-looking CGI for everything from monsters to generic fanboys to (blatant product-placement) Dyson fans. In an age where I thought we were starting to move beyond the stigma of bad CGI, Korezom shows that we're not out of the woods yet. The last episode, which is kind of a joke episode after the main story concludes, is the worst case of this... probably because they blew all their budget on the episode before it.

Plot & Characters: In accordance with its bizarre title, Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? brings a series of wacky scenarios and off-the-wall humor to the table. It also manages to fit some relatively ordinary, but not disinteresting, plot and character development between gags. Occasionally the structuring of the episodes feels disjointed, but overall, the show does a good job of remembering who its characters are, letting them do their thing, and then making you question what the hell is going on in an amusing way. The story doesn't venture far from the depressingly safe road with its romantic elements, genre-conventionally implying that every girl has a crush on the protagonist while still keeping all of them (emotionally) at arm's reach most of the time. I'd have preferred it vary a little more than that, but it's OK for that to be ordinary in a show where everything else is so goofy.

Music & Sound: There's not much to say here. The OP and ED are typical anime-pop music, and not in a good way; there are some insert songs, some of which are better than others but none of which have me going out to order a CD, and the background music is utterly forgettable. It's organized well, like the particular motif it uses for the comedic twists, but nothing stands out. As for voices, the cast is mostly composed of relatively less-established seiyuu, with most of them having a few notable credits to their names, but not really "big names" in the grand scheme of things. One interesting note is that, since Eucliwood doesn't really talk, the show picks different voice for her each time Ayumu has a delusion about her (about once per episode), which works wonderfully.

Audience Considerations: Korezom is primarily aimed at the typical adolescent male + otaku audience, although it's just crazy enough that it may find some appeal outside of that range. This does mean that viewers have to put up with scantily-clad girls, occasional innuendo, and the like. If you're squeamish, you may want to be warned that the main character is a zombie, so there's a decent amount of gross violence and gore played for comedic effect. It's usually not drawn in much detail, but it's there.

Overall: Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? is a better show than I expected, and a fun ride that does a good job of combining screwball comedy with a modern fantasy plot. It occasionally takes itself seriously, but never for long, and it delivers a pretty good run throughout. The production values are about average, with the animation being a particular low point, luckily not so bad as to ruin the whole series. It was worth my time and I got some good laughs, but when I look back a year from now, I don't expect to think much about it.


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