So what is 'Is This A Zombie?' aka 'Koreha Zombie Desu ka?'
Zombie Desu ka (as I'll refer to it from now on) is an anime that abuses genre cliches, it's horrendously inconsistent, shockingly violent and has some of the most uncomfortable shots of a guy's ass on several occasions...and it's easily one of the funniest animes I've ever seen.
YES. Zombie Desuka is the BUSINESS. I honestly couldn't contain my laughter ever since the dynamic and hysterical first episode. What makes this anime so special is, as I've mentioned, how it abuses genre cliches such as harem, shonen, fantasy, fanservice and even a bit of heavily implied yaoi. There's an ample amount of fanservice in this anime, ranging from your typical 'pantsu' shots to bouncing cleavage, but there's also a surprising amount of fujoshi bait (and by that I mean moments that would make girl fans cream themselves) which is a nice balance. So while it was uncomfortable to see the main character's ass every so often, I can take it as fair since modern animes try more to appeal to both perverse fanbases.
Speaking of the main character, Ayumu is your typical, lazy-eyed, dangling spiky hair protagonist. You can draw comparisons between him and Tomoya from Clannad and Ichika from infinite Stratos, but I believe that he is a lot like Sato from the anime Ben-To. They're both energetic guys who don't go out of their way to be perverted but are definitely guys who wouldn't pass a chance to take a look, nor do they act all bashful when they're caught. In fact, there's a lot of similarities between Ben-To and Zombie Desu ka, from the absurd plot devices, the pacing and tone as well as the random comedy. And like Ben-To, I found myself surprised by wacky elements popping up every so often and it was great how it managed to blend with the semi-serious story. I've grown fond of animes like this; the whole 'comedy action fanservice' genre, cause it manages to not take itself too seriously but delivers a hilarious plot with some great action and fanservice shots. It's a delicate balance that few animes manage to achieve properly, but these few are pretty amazing. Animes such as Heaven's Lost Property and Highschool DxD have much 'darker' stories and heavy ecchi/ fanservice, whereas animes like Ben-To and Zombie Desuka are lite on the fanservice but emphasize the wacky side more often.
So as the title implies, the anime revolves around Ayumu being a zombie, resurrected by a quiet, moe necromancer named 'Eu' who treats him as a servant and friend. He uses his newfound life, and surprisingly superhuman powers, to find his killer. If this all sounds awfully serious and deep, trust me the first episode derails that by the end. The dramatic air that the first few minutes of the first episode give off is immediately dispelled by a hilarious moment when Ayumu gets hit by a car in a wacky fashion. By the end of the episode, I shit you not, he becomes a magical garment girl on top of being a zombie, doing a whole long-ass magical girl transformation and everything, with PANTY SHOTS AND EVERYTHING *shudders*. The weird train doesn't end there, as he ends up having a 'masou-shoujo' in this house, then later a vampire ninja girl (with big boobs, cause why not) and eventually has another vampire ninja girl (also well endowed) end up falling in love with him, under ridiculous, parody-cliche circumstances. While this all sounds like a cluster of absurd plot devices, it's exactly what makes this anime so hilarious.
One of the defining features of Zombie Desu ka is the aforementioned moe necromancer, Eu. Her full name is 'Eucliwood Hellscythe' and she takes the quiet moe girl cliche to a whole new level. What I found very creative is how, while she doesn't speak at all and prefers to write down what she wants to say, the main character imagines her voice in his head, saying perverted things in place of the normal request she asked. This is done each episode by a different voice actress (both in the sub and dub) so you're never sure which voice is her real one, and it's probably one of the most creative things about her character. While there's a lot of cliches in her design, her reason for not speaking are actually quite dramatic. The explanation comes off as a load of over-complicated fantasy mumbo-jumbo, but it fits in with the semi-serious tone of the show and it's a major plot device. I won't ruin too much but there's a lot of surprises in store regarding her reasons for not speaking, and trust me you'll wanna see what those reasons are.
The antagonists in this anime are unexpected but manage to be entertaining in their own ways, and the overarching main bad guy delivers one of THE funniest lines in the second to last episode. The final episode decides to take all the cliches it hadn't touched upon and abuse them to a comedic end as well, and so does the OVA episode. While this can be considered a harem anime at its base level it surprisingly manages to dodge a ton of genre cliches or use them in moderation; strange for an anime that parodies cliches. It almost never uses the typical 'walk in on girl naked' cliche and 'fall on and grope girl' cliche that animes like To Love Ru are infamous for, and when it does the result is violent retribution (as usual) which is balanced by the fact that Ayumu is a zombie so any physical damage is real but doesn't last. The main character however does go through a ton of physical and verbal abuse from start to finish, being called 'pervert' and 'maggot' for a ton of different reasons, a lot of which is funny. However the vampire ninja girl Sera does weigh on your patience with her persistent insults and she's not even a tsundere or love interest waiting to happen, she's more of the freeloader who has her own motives and shits on the main character all the time. While she is hot and her insults are funny for the most part, it can become annoying after a while. Despite that, every character manages to be goofy and funny in a variety of ways so small things like that don't get in the way.
That isn't to say that Zombie Desu Ka is perfect, far from it. There's a lot of plot holes, inconsistencies and moments that go unanswered. There's characters that get introduced but disappear just as quickly or aren't seen often. There's plot devices that are mentioned or implied, but never expanded upon. And there's a lot of issues regarding the depth of Ayumu's powers and why he's able to steal someone else's powers. However, I don't believe that any of these are an issue since the animes M.O. from the start was to abuse plot devices and cliches, so you tend to go with the flow rather than look for answers in a semi-serious anime. A lot of the occurrences in animes like Excel Saga go unexplained and we accept them purely because it's wacky fun, and whilst a lot of comedy animes have a decent amount of wacky elements I'd say that Zombie Desu Ka is one of the few animes that fully embraces the wacky side. Despite the inconsistencies, there's a lot of subtle things that this anime does well. The animation is solid and the fight scenes are fluid and epic. The music is upbeat and can be mellow when dramatic things occur. The plot device of Ayumu hating the sun since it dries him up (strange plot device for a zombie, I know) is interestingly accentuated by how blinding the light is during the day and each character has one or two defining quirks just like this, including the main bad guy. So while it was the kind of anime you don't have to think too deeply about, it was easy on the eyes too.
In the end, what can I say about Zombie Desu Ka? It's absurd, it's violent, it's random and it's just plain weird sometimes. But it's also hilarious, epic, touching at times and surprising at other times. I don't usually give numbered scores but if I could give this anime a score i'd give it a 9/10. I've only watched the first season so far so I have big hopes for the second. I watched the dub of it, and the cast did a phenomenal job, especially with the many voices that portrayed Eu in Ayumu's thoughts. Both the japanese and english versions manage to be funny for their own reasons in both the delivery of jokes and contexts of funny situations, so each is a unique watch. I look forward to watching the dub of the second season and I really hope it doesn't derail itself like too many second seasons do. However if it's like Heaven's Lost Property or Highschool DxD, it can only get better and funnier. Despite all the physical violence, verbal abuse, weird situations and world ending events that come across Ayumu's way, he can take it. Why? Cause he's a zombie.