Ayumu Aikawa isn’t your typical zombie, he doesn’t hunger for brains or flesh. But instead he feasts on moe images and delusions of his roommates. There is no hiding it, Is This a Zombie? is a mesh of contemporary anime tropes such as magical girls (or in this case magikewl girls), vampires, zombies and cute girls with powers that can drastically change the world. These random combinations are combined together in the hopes of forming a coherent story line.
Our protagonist is someone who lives an ordinary life until something dramatic happens and he is forced to battle evil. The trope itself is almost as redundant as the gags in this manga. The manga starts out with our protagonist walking home, when all of the sudden a girl by the name of Haruna falls out of the sky. A battle scene quickly erupts as the protagonist is forced to protect the magikewl girl against a giant bear . This is because Ayumu took her powers when he touched her weapon. Eventually the battle is won and Haruna decide that she will live with Ayumu until her powers return to her. Ayumu is forced to battle with creatures known as “Megalos” with his newly found magical girl powers until further notice.
While simple plot can allow characters to shine, Is This a Zombie’s plot is perhaps too simple. Characters are introduced on a whim, bad guys appears out of nowhere and the dialog overall feels weak in terms of plot development. This manga panders to otaku demographics and is very upfront about it. Ayumu’s frequent reinterpretation of reality to fit his otaku taste and the occasional panty shot makes it very obvious who the target demographic is. Otaku pandering isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering that they are the main consumers of anime and manga products. However it can have a polarizing effect on its audience. Readers that are not familiar with the otaku culture will feel alienated with the references in Is This a Zombie?
The manga’s art is heavily catered toward the otaku demographic with its usage of fan service and stereotypical moe cliché. First we have Haruna who is the cute loli magical girl, E.U who is the silent but powerful type, and Sera who fits the busty older sister type. And last but not least we have Ayumu who is essentially an otaku himself. There are a fair amount of panty shots which doesn’t really enhance the story but serves as fan service materials.The art itself is fair and the character designs does a good job of portraying anime stereotypes.
Overall Is This a Zombie? vol.1 is a manga that is designed to appeal to the otaku population. With its use of fan service and otaku humor, it can be a monotonous read if the reader is not familiar with the otaku culture. The story is slow but it does have its moments during the various action scenes in this volume. While Is This a Zombie? has its moments, the whole premise itself does not leave anything interesting to think or ponder about. One of the manga’s strong point is its use of slapstick humor, but even then the events feels highly forced and as a result leads to a disappointing laugh. The overall concept of a zombie that has to fight evil does have the potential to be an interesting and hilarious story. Whether or not volume 1 can captivate the reader with this premise is dependent on the reader’s sense of humor. Is This a Zombie? can be a fun read, but be aware that its sense of humor is not for everybody.