On the surface, a collection of zombie stories by different authors sounds promising. Certainly, it's an opportunity for depraved scenes of mutilation, body horror, and other repulsive content. To say nothing of abominable sexual scenarios.
All of which this manga has in abundance.
However, one ALSO needs mangaka who can write decent stories, draw good art, or even make intelligible transitions from one scene to the next.
And in those qualities, dear reader, this manga is very lacking.
Hiroaki Samura is listed here, but he only did a single 2-page panel with some accompanying text, not a full story.
It's a simultaneously gorgeous and revolting scene of bloody zombie carnage involving a former prostitute turned zombie, her zombie children, and a naked man. Possibly the highlight of the entire work. In terms of the individual stories, here are my views;
1. A bleak, depressing tale where a human family with a zombie grandmother is as ugly and wretched as any undead fiend, told from the point of view of the psychopathic daughter.
Nothing special, aside from the dark outlook. The art is uninspired, but decent enough. Sadly, the 3rd best tale in the collection.
2. The main character's sister has her arm bitten off by their mother, but instead of becoming a normal zombie, turns into an incredible sword-wielding zombie assassin whose skin remains intact. This is never explained.
There are lots of gratuitous upskirt shots of the sister, who still wears a sailor school uniform, which don't jibe at all with the zombie guts.
All would be forgiven if the action was good, but the author sucks at fight scenes. I couldn't even tell when the sister had hit a zombie or how, since it was never clearly drawn.
The conclusion was random and unsatisfying.
3. A stomach-churning story in terms of both the plot and its visceral scenes, featuring two young kids whose parents are both turned into zombies and shackled up. Features solid art and an ambiguous ending portending evil.
I liked it. Second best story of the manga.
4. At a school reunion, a man wonders whether a classmate who died was in his coffin at the funeral. We never find out one way or another and nothing happens. Pointless and bereft of ideas, it never should have made it into any professional publication.
The first, but not the last utterly garbage story in "Manga of the Dead".
Funnily enough, I think the editors realized this, since the Hiroaki Samura drawing referenced above appears right after this chapter.
5. A tale about a professor looking for a "Pet Sematary" based on a tale of Japanese mythology and his student that receives a journal of the former's research. While hardly original, it's executed well at every point. It was written by an experienced, respected horror manga author, unlike the neophytes on other chapters, and it shows.
Good art, several unique quirks, and a solid conclusion. Best work of the collection, if nothing spectacular.
6. A horribly animated work about a kid who doesn't want to die a virgin and gets roped into fighting zombies. Gordon Freeman from Half-Life and Kilgore from "Apocalypse Now" ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning") are both characters, and the naked, sword-wielding female looks suspiciously like Molotov Cocktease from "The Venture Bros".
If this sounds cool, rest assured my description is much better than the reality. The art is garbage, and damn near incomprehensible when any action is occurring. There is no humor, which is paramount in a work like this.
As a "bonus", when the main character worries he might have to sell his body, there is a thought balloon of a graphic scene of gay prostitution.
Awful dreck that gives the impression it was written by a stoner 14 year-old.
7. "What if zombies mixed with MMA? Oh, what's that? It was already done many years ago in a live action movie called Tokyo Zombie, with way more ideas and actual humor? And the movie was ITSELF an adaptation of a manga of the same name from the late 90's? Oh, fuck it! I can't come up with anything else!"
8. In the future, a virus known as OV causes human skin to rot and the victims to go insane and want to eat flesh. A hitman decides to take out an old man and a young girl.
The author is clearly new to writing manga. Certain transitions were poor, several facial expressions didn't make sense, and the story was muddled and nonsensical at times. The art is mediocre and so are the action scenes, but given what I saw just two chapters earlier, it could be much worse.
Better than some of the previous garbage, but that's not saying much.
Thus, there are 2 worthwhile stories in this collection, another passable one, and a nice drawing by Samura. Check those out, and skip the rest. You will be glad you did.