Best Zombie Manga
Lovers of both anime and zombies can rejoice because Japan has caught its own case of zombie fever, producing a variety of zombie manga both traditional and unique.
You know what’s better than manga? Manga with zombies in it. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. After America, Japan is probably the world's #2 producer of zombies. Our fascination with zombies, of creating a new world via some warped death fantasy, has been the focus of just about every format from video games to Hollywood movies. But we can conclude that anime does the zombie genre best because, hey, anime is awesome! With that in mind, we reckon that these are some of the best zombie manga out there.
If you had the ability to tell when someone’s about to die, what would you do? Michiru Kita – the schoolgirl star of Zombie-Loan doesn’t waste time doing homework. Instead, when she notices that two classmates who should be dead (they have a black ring around their neck, see) are knocking about as if they’re not, you know, festering corpses of the undead. Teaming up with the duo, she joins Zombie-Loan in order to hunt down zombies. Which is precisely what we’d do if we had special death-seeing powers.
Sankarea: Undying Love
Love is blind. It must be, if Sanakrea: Undying Love is anything to go by. Take one guy, Chihiro Furuya, who’s utterly obsessed with zombies (ask us if he wants to kiss a zombie and we’ll hang our heads in shame as we nod in the affirmative). Throw in a suicidal girl who drinks a resurrection potion she hopes might kill her – it doesn’t, but falling off a cliff does – and you’ve got the makings of one of the weirdest zombie romantic comedies ever. A zom-rom-com, if you will.
Highschool of the Dead
What is it about schools that draws zombies? Probably it’s either the fresh meat on offer like a cannibal buffet, or they just really love algebra. Highschool of the Dead (Yes, ‘highschool’ is all one word here for some reason) is more of your classic zombie thriller, making it one of the best zombie manga you can get. An undead apocalypse breaks out in Japan leaves a small cluster of school-kids and their nurse to survive in the wake of society’s collapse. It’s almost like a zombie road-trip, as the kids travel across town scavenging food, avoiding off-their-head survivors and wondering whether it’s even worth surviving now anyway (it is).
Now this is a clever set-up for a story: After a zombie outbreak, schoolgirl Yuki Takeya spirals into pure crazy, deluding herself into seeing the world not as a zombie wasteland, but just as it was before the apocalypse. So that means going to class and gossiping with friends and generally having fun. Her pals in the School Living Club, on the other hand, are all too aware of their fragile existence as sole survivors, and doing anything they can to protect themselves. Which loosely translates into killing zombies.
Cool title, cool art design, cool characters. Gungrave is just cool all over. The impossibly named Brandon Heat is a small-time criminal turned big shot in a crime syndicate who’s killed by his long-time friend, Harry, before being restored to life by a doctor – we’ve all been there. Along with, you know, not being dead, Heat is now known as ‘Beyond the Grave’, and sets out to destroy the syndicate, and his friend. Which sounds like a suicide mission, except he’s already dead. A neat twist on a familiar formula.
I Am a Hero
I Am a Hero has got to be the best zombie manga around. It’s also pure wish fulfilment, with the lead character, Hideo Suzuki, being a manga artist suffering paranoia and self-esteem issues, living a dead-end life. And as anyone who’s been depressed will know, sooner or later you’ll suddenly find yourself facing disease-ridden maniacs who are hooked in eating humans in the most brutal way possible. So what would you do? Because Hideo arms himself with a shotgun and does what any hero does – converse with an imaginary friend, consider the moral consequences of his actions, and kill the undead hordes. If you want a not entirely accurate sum-up, think The Walking Dead meets 28 Days Later. And better than both put together!
Jujitsu. Haven’t you always wanted to be good at jujitsu? Professional slackers Fujio and Mitsuo have, wasting time idling dreaming of becoming champions of the art, and killing their boss before dumping his body… Wait, what? Oh yeah, these guys off their boss and leave the corpse in a toxic waste dump. Anyone with a basic understanding of zombie resurrection knows this is a big no-no, which leads to a whole undead army rising up to do what zombies do best: eat people.
Sunday Without God
We can no longer have kids. We can no longer die. We’ve been abandoned by God. And we are so screwed because of it. Sunday Without God is a dramatic zombie manga that spotlights a 12-year-old gravekeeper, despatched by God to end the ‘lives’ of the undead (and unhappy) citizens. And what does every 12-year-old girl want? To rescue a world abandoned by God, of course. Not that she’ll do it alone – she joins up with a mysterious (and mysteriously immortal) gunslinger, Hampnie Hambart, another gravekeeper putting the undead where they belong.
Is there a more zombie manga-style title than Corpse Princess? We don’t think so. It’s just so perfectly blunt and awesome. The lead character, Makina Hoshimura, is a corpse princess, forced to kill 108 other walking corpses in order to gain entry to Heaven. And man, does this princess murder in style – dual-wielding MAC-11 sub-machineguns that spit bullets like venom. Chuck in an anti-zombie Buddhist monk (you read that right) and a revenge quest storyline and you have a kick-ass zombie-killing manga you need to check out.
Reiko the Zombie Shop
Going in the opposite direction, Reiko the Zombie Shop ain’t about a schoolgirl killing zombies, but about a schoolgirl resurrecting the dead – for a price, natch. She’s not doing it for fun, though, although it probably is fun if you do it; she’s doing it to gain info to solve murder cases. Pretty cool, huh, just ask a murder victim the name of the person who killed them. Never as simple as that though, as Reiko finds out when she faces off against a truly psychotic teen killer who just wants a younger sister, at any cost.
Is This a Zombie?
Because as we’ve seen, just what even is a zombie in manga and anime anyway? Well, Ayumu Aikawa definitely is one – that’ll explain the post-death resurrection thanks to a powerful, white-haired necromancer who guards the schoolboy and helps him defeat a whole ton of demons. But hey, this is zombie manga, so let’s have a ridiculously cool vampire ninja live with them too, as they try to discover the circumstances behind Ayumu’s death. Oh, and there’s some weird, magical cross-dressing in it too.