Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Dec 31st 2013
Is This a Zombie? of the Dead
DVD - The Complete 2nd Season [Limited Edition]
Welcome back to the world of Ayumu Aikawa, zombie, magical garment girl, alleged pervert, and proprietor of his very own supernatural harem. Ayumu's life hasn't gotten a whole lot better since we last saw him, but his misfortunes involving being unmasked (and undressed) in front of the school, crazy magical opponents, and his own twisted living situation are still funny for us as he tries to keep forces from Villiers and the Underworld from taking over...sort of.
Have you ever felt that there just aren't enough scenes in anime where the male lead does a strip tease before yodeling? Fret no more, because Is This a Zombie? Of the Dead is here to fix that for you. This is just one of the crazy scenes in this second season of full-time zombie boy, part time magical garment girl Ayumu Aikawa's adventures, and like much of the first half of the series, it's really, really funny. The second half suffers a bit from incoherent and largely unresolved plot, but on the whole, this sequel to Is This a Zombie is a fun, nutty romp that even those who generally disdain harem or boob shows should be able to get a chuckle out of.
Our story picks up (after “episode 0,” which recaps and gives us lots of girls in barely functional swimwear) with the daily life of one particular high school boy, Ayumu Aikawa. He's still a zombie who dehydrates in sunlight – his friends think he just needs to drink more water – and he's still hoping no one will ever find out that with the help of the magical pink chainsaw Misteltain he can transform into a poofy pink princess of a crime fighter. On a trip to the health room, he bumps into what appears to be a little girl in full Goth Loli regalia looking for alcohol to imbibe, but since this is hardly the weirdest thing he's seen, he thinks nothing of it until he finds her setting up shop in the science lab. Assuming she's a rainbow-vomiting figment of his active imagination, Ayumu pours out his heart to her and is feeling pretty okay with things...until a megalo shows up and forces him to transform in front of the entire school. Then to compound matters, Misteltain breaks, rendering him a) naked and b) unable to erase his classmates' memories. Hello, notoriety!
If there was a lot of plot towards the end of the first season, there's very little at all in this one, and what there is is very thin. For the most part, this isn't a huge problem, because what's left are plenty of off-color jokes and humorous situations. As we approach the so-called finale, however, it becomes more of an issue, and there is little to no resolution that comes with episode 10 or the OVA that is episode 11. Humor is great, but it can only take us so far, especially since an attempt is made at having a legitimate plot, albeit sporadically. Fortunately for Is This A Zombie? Of the Dead, there are a lot of other things going on, and the dub track makes them even more amusing for an English-speaking audience. For the most part, the dub deviates from the subtitle script in terms of what is said, but the general mood and meaning are preserved, giving us lines like, “Why does fantasy me sound like a chew toy?” or “You're sparkling like a Mormon vampire!” While this is funny now, some of it is ultimately going to date the dub, so enjoy it while it makes sense. (It also contains a surprising amount of Yiddish.) All of the voice actors turn in very good performances, with Austin Tindle's deadpan Ayumu being particularly fun. As a side note, those who watch the dub should pay attention to the background voices, as some of the best lines are lurking back there.
While this is not strictly a fanservice show (I would class it as a comedy), there are a lot of fanservice moments, many of which feature the usual pendulous breasts of the female cast. What is more remarkable, however, is that Ayumu is objectified right along with them,and not only in his Magical Garment Girl guise. This season has more butt jokes than you'd expect, perhaps more than the boob jokes, and his posterior is featured nearly as much as the bosoms. Also interesting is that there are plenty of male nipples on screen, with only one shot of female nipples towards the very end. To call this “refreshing” would be overstating things, but it certainly is interesting to see a more equal fanservice divide. Another artistic point of note is that all of the characters cycle between several outfits rather than having “uniform” and “not uniform” like many other shows. It is the small details like this that help you ignore the cookie-cutter character designs of all of the girls and to realize that more effort than is at first apparent went into this production.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable aspect of this show is the character of Chris, the alcoholic goth girl. While she is clearly older than she looks (see Head Teacher), she still appears to be a child with a major drinking problem, and no matter how funny she is, that's a little awkward when watching. On the one hand, at least the most uncomfortable part of the show isn't some form of sexual harassment played off for laughs. On the other, this is also a sensitive issue, and one that may be a bit much for some viewers. Interestingly enough, even the four lead voice actors comment that this is a little discomfiting during their episode one commentary, the only such thing to arise in a show that they all clearly enjoyed working on. Incidentally, even if you do not normally watch commentary tracks, this one is worth it, if only for Austin Tindle in a lovely little dress.
Is This a Zombie? Of the Dead may be light on plot, but it's pretty heavy on laughs. Making the most of all of its gimmicks, the show never takes itself too seriously and forges ahead with equal opportunity fanservice, crazy hijinks, and a dub that keeps the energy of the sub and makes it even funnier for English-speaking viewers. Some of the butt jokes go too far and Chris can be an uncomfortable character, but for the most part, this is a fun continuation of the story of the undead boy who wears a dress and wields a magical pink chainsaw.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C+
Animation : B+
Art : C
Music : C
+ Very funny dub, equal opportunity fanservice. Episode one commentary track is worth watching.
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