Zom 100: Bucket List Of The Dead (2023) Movie Review – A life-affirming but overlong manga adaptation

Currently streaming on Netflix is Zom 100: Bucket List Of The Dead, a post-apocalyptic zombie comedy adapted from the Japanese manga series written by Haro Aso and illustrated by Kotaro Takata.

If the film’s title sounds familiar, it’s because it has also been adapted into an animated series that is currently streaming on Hulu. You can learn more about that series here

The film follows the plotline of the series and the source material, revolving as it does around a young man named Akira Tendou (Eiji Akaso), a young man who excitedly starts a new job and then quickly begins to hate his workplace. If you have ever worked in a place that holds little meaning to you, with a job that runs you ragged with a boss who has no regard for your welfare, you will be able to sympathize with the situation Akira is in as the film begins. 

Akira doesn’t stick around in his job, however. It’s not that he quits or is fired. Instead, an opportunity arises that frees him from the shackles of his mundane office existence. That opportunity comes in the guise of a zombie outbreak that, ironically, causes Akira to feel more alive! This is because he realizes he no longer has to go to work when he sees the world-ending carnage around him. 

As the plot progresses, Akira decides to make the most of the time he has left before he is turned into a ravenous zombie. To achieve this, he creates the titular bucket list, which is a list of 100 things he wants to do before his time on earth is done. Some of these things are rather mundane – he cleans his house and dyes his hair – and others are more exciting, such as riding through the city on a high-powered motorbike and skydiving. 

For the first time in an age, Akira can live life, unlike those poor souls who have already been bitten. And thankfully for our plucky young hero, he doesn’t have to survive the zombie apocalypse alone, as he meets up with best friend Kencho (Shuntarô Yanagi) and forms a new friendship with another survivor, a woman named Shizuka (Mai Shiraishi). 

Akira enjoys the opportunity to live a life that is more meaningful than the one he had been used to but when he and his friends arrive at an aquarium, which is supposed to be a place of safety for survivors, he discovers his old boss, Kosugi, runs the place.

Unfortunately, Akira’s tyrannical employer is the same guy he always was, as he forces people to work tirelessly to earn their place at this sanctuary. He even uses zombies as security guards because they are “exemplary employees who work without complaint.” It’s not long before Akira loses sight of his list as he once again falls into a routine that drains the life out of him. 

That’s all we’re going to reveal in terms of plot synopsis but if you would like to learn more about the story (at the risk of spoilers), you can check out our Ending Explained article that is linked at the bottom of this review. 

If you’re familiar with the original manga or if you’re a fan of the animated series, you will already know how the plot of this one plays out. If you don’t fall into either category, you’ll be glad to know that this isn’t just a rehash of what you may have seen in other zombie films and TV series. Some things will be familiar to you – zombies chomping on brains, people scrambling to survive through city streets – but within the mix are a few surprises, such as a zombie-infected great white shark that can move around on dry land because it has somehow developed legs! 

The fact that this is a film that satirises the joylessness of the workplace is another reason why this stands apart from other zombie flicks. As mentioned, Akira’s situation may be relatable to you if you’re currently trapped within a career that offers little meaning. If you have ever daydreamed about ways to get out of your job, perhaps via a world-threatening event that rules out work forever, you’ll certainly relate to Akira and his initial jubilation after realizing his city has been taken over by zombies. It’s certainly a better way to get out of work than phoning in with a made-up excuse about a sickness bug!

But while the film is unique in certain ways, it’s not always interesting to watch. After the entertaining opening chapter, in which Akira gets a job and then starts to celebrate when the world effectively ends, the film begins to drag, shambling aimlessly from one event to the next, rather like a stumbling zombie with no sense of direction. The committed playing of the cast ensures we never get completely bored but in between the film’s standout sequences, such as one involving the aforementioned killer shark which creates havoc in the aquarium, the film never really catches fire. 

Part of the problem is the film’s length. It runs at just over two hours, which isn’t an epic running time but it’s long enough to cause a person to get fidgety, especially during scenes that don’t have a lot of momentum. Admittedly, the length might be due to director Yûsuke Ishida trying to cram in everything from the original manga (I haven’t read it so I can’t compare), but he would have been wise to follow that age-old saying ‘less is more.’

The film’s overlength sometimes works against it but it doesn’t relegate it to the grave. There is still fun to be had here, largely because of the upbeat Akira and his efforts to become a hero, so the film is still rather enjoyable. The special effects are good too. But should the director ever make another manga adaptation, he should narrow down his checklist of the things he wants to achieve to ensure a shorter, snappier, and hopefully better film. 


Read More: Zom 100 Bucket List Of The Dead Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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