Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Another World's Zombie Apocalypse Is Not My Problem!
Mizuha has no idea what's going on when she wakes up one morning on an island in the middle of the smelliest swamp she's ever had the misfortune to be near and is promptly charged by a zombie. She throws out her right hand in order to fend it off and is even more shocked when the zombie turns back into a living, breathing human being. It looks like Mizuha's been sent to another world that's in the middle of a massive zombie outbreak and given the power to purify the zombified residents. Lex, the knight she first turned back, thinks this may be the greatest thing ever, but as far as Mizuha's concerned, this is all just one big pain in the ass she never asked for. Seriously, couldn't they have found someone else for this?
You may think that getting reincarnated as an inanimate object is scraping the bottom of the isekai barrel, but Mizuha would beg to differ. She's been dropped smack dab in the middle of another world's zombie apocalypse, and this high school girl is so not into the whole “saving the world” thing. For one thing, she definitely never harbored any ambitions about being sent to another world, and she's certainly not dead – she was just stolen from her bed one night and dumped in a stinky swamp. For another, her new purifying powers mean that she has to touch zombies who smell like something that's been dead for just a little too long and then somehow fermented on top of rotting – and the smell is almost impossible to get off her hand. As far as being transported to another world goes, this is really pushing it in terms of “fantasies.”
That is, of course, the point of Haru Yayari's Another World’s Zombie Apocalypse Is Not My Problem!. The stand-alone novel is a send-up of the more typical isekai tale where a poor teen or overworked young adult is whisked away to be the heroic savior of some fantasy world – Mizuha is neither overworked nor unhappy (she's just tired the night she's transported and didn't bother to get into her pjs) and while she may be the heroic savior, it's a pretty grim job. Even worse (or better, in terms of the satiric elements), it's totally at odds with her sensibilities as a high school girl: it smells awful, looks worse, and involves touching a lot of strange men. She does get a knight in shining armor in the form of Lex, the first zombie she purifies, but she's just as much his savior as he's meant to be hers, since he gets re-zombified at least twice over the course of their adventures.
Yayari's parody is perfectly conscious of the fact that for some readers, the fact that Mizuha saves Lex just as much as he saves her is a plus rather than just a satiric element. Mizuha may lament about this mess being contrary to her high school girl image, but she's also no slouch. She continually pushes herself to the limit to figure out how many zombies she can purify in one day (or one hours-long spurt, to be repeated twice a day), and she's very firmly aware of the fact that she's no one's damsel in distress: this girl can, and will, take care of herself. She may at times gripe about the fact that Lex isn't as much help as fiction would have suggested, but she likes that they have a more equal relationship, and until quite late in the book is leery of any hints that he may be developing a crush on her. She's more like Ani from DamePri than any other shoujo heroine, and that's a lot of fun to read about.
I don't use DamePri as a completely random example here – there are definite elements of what in another story would have been a reverse harem within the text. Lex is the only one ever really in line for Mizuha's consideration, but we've also got the handsome thief who falls for her once she thwarts him, the wealthy noble who pines (loudly) for her, the older gentleman knight who is hell on enemies with his shield, the younger scholar boy, and, for good measure, the younger girl who calls her “Big Sister” in the Class S sense. The whole gang is there, and mostly for the goal of annoying Mizuha or for her to utterly miss the subtext. Although Lex does get some moments that clearly indicate that she may like him as well, any sort of romance plot is firmly in the secondary tier as far as story developments go. Mizuha is, first and foremost, there to save the land and heal the people.
How she does this is, more than anything else, a source of great embarrassment to her. If slapping zombies was bad, the fact that her bodily fluids also have the ability to heal anything they touch is even worse. While the demographic of this work (YA girls) means that nothing goes beyond spitting on things, that's more than enough to make Mizuha feel like a drooling freak in that she literally is being asked to drool on things in order to make crops grow or water drinkable. To say that this is embarrassing and totally against social norms of what high school girls are supposed to do is to understate Mizuha's upset; that people call her the Holy Saint of Spit just makes it even worse.
For us as readers, however, it's all good. Mizuha is a heroine it's easy to get behind in not only her determination, but also in that she's simultaneously frustrated, pleased, annoyed, and embarrassed to be where she is and doing what she's doing. Despite the parodic nature of the novel, Mizuha still does have an issue to resolve (a lack of ambition or idea for her future life), and that does get resolved in a way that feels believable. More than many isekai stories, Another World’s Zombie Apocalypse Is Not My Problem! is a book that gives us a lead character who acts like regular people might if dropped into a similar situation. It may be the bottom of the isekai barrel, but maybe a world where you get to repeatedly punch zombies in the face isn't as raw a deal as it sounds like after all.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Mizuha's a fun heroine, good parodic and satiric elements, easy to read and engaging
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