Highschool of the Dead opening scene

Zombie anime don’t often make the headlines regarding their potential for thought-provoking discussions.

It’s strange as these shows often deal with more universal themes of death, loss, and fear of the unknown or uncontrollable.

When exploring zombie anime, death will always be a key factor, integral to understanding or appreciating the story.

Zombie anime, as much as they tread old ground, often make use of death as the catalyst for powering the narrative they want to tell.

What is the Best Zombie Anime?

Highschool of the Dead, despite not having the highest MAL score, is the best zombie anime. Since its debut, when someone mentions zombie anime, this is the show that instantly springs to mind. Great fight scenes, enjoyable characters, and fluid animation are what lies in store should you choose to make this anime your starting point.

For new fans looking to start a zombie anime or veterans looking for an alternative to the masterpiece that is Highschool of the Dead, here, we look at how each of these series uses the concept of death to create a unique viewing experience for the watcher and how much one writer can simp over one necromancer.

Lastly, before we begin, purchasing the manga of a series is one of the best ways to support the artist. Often, the manga will continue far past where the anime stopped airing. If you enjoy any of these series, please consider buying a copy of the manga for yourself. Links, if available, will be included at the end of each section should you be interested.

These links will refer to either the first volume or the series, or where anime watchers should begin reading after they finish the final episode.

1. Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (Is This A Zombie?)

MAL: 7.46

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? is an odd case. This is a world where zombies are synonymous with disaster. A world where protagonists spend the majority of their screen time fleeing from them at all costs. A world where one bite is the difference between life and death! Here, we meet a cross-dressing zombie magical girl, wielding a sentient chainsaw.

You can’t make this stuff up, I tell you.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?'s Aikawa Ayumu holding a pink chainsaw
Aikawa Ayumu wielding the pink chainsaw Mystletainn

Our protagonist, Aikawa Ayumu, finds himself resurrected by necromancer Eucliwood Hellscythe, after being brutally murdered by a prolific serial killer. Now, forced to undergo the remainder of his life as a living zombie, he undergoes a search to unearth the identity of his mystery assailant.

This show offers a very complex deconstruction of death and zombification for both the main character of Ayumu and his peers. 

Look, I know it’s difficult to think that a show featuring scenes like this, could have any kind of deep message. 

Aikawa Ayumu dressed as a magical girl
“He really is a pervert” – Aikawa Ayumu’s magical girl identity is revealed to his classmates.

But trust me. This show deals with death in a way I have not seen replicated in other zombie anime.

Usually, upon being bitten, the characters will wrestle with their inner turmoil before plugging a bullet between the victim’s eyes and merrily continuing their day. With death all around us, it’s easy to become desensitized to just how painful it can be for you and those around you. Despite being a zombie anime, Aikawa’s journey through this show is a great examination into the finality of death.

Check out this unique comedy zombie anime and feel free to tell me which episode exactly made you fall in love with Eucliwood. 

The power of “death” as told by Eucliwood Hellscythe

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? Manga

2. Gakkou Gurashi (School-Live)

MAL: 7.64

Gakkou Gurashi is a show about a group of school children where everything is fine. They go to clubs and everything is fine. They hang out and eat lunch and everything is fine. Then, at the end of the day, they go home and everything is fine.

I’m not delusional, you are!

Gakkou Gurashi cast standing in a classroom.
Gakkou Gurashi cast

I hate this show.

This show traumatized me.

This show crept up behind my innocence in a dark alley and bludgeoned it to death with a hefty baseball bat.

I was prepared for a nice, lighthearted high school anime. Unbeknownst to me, my wallet, keys, and any sense of trust I had for this show would soon be cast into the abyss as I ascended the sudden loop-de-loop imposed upon me after finishing the first episode.

The entire show touches on notions of denial and delusion. Our protagonist believes everything to be normal and she and her peers are simply attending an extended after-school club. In reality, however, the school has been overrun with waves of flesh-eating zombies.

These themes are showcased to great effect in the first episode. Upon luring you in with promises of cute and amusing classroom dynamics, the rug is swept clean away as the camera pans out to reveal the zombie outbreak. 

Gakkou Gurashi’s Episode 1 Ending: A Twist in the Zombie Anime Formula

“The window’s open”

Yuki takeya

Our protagonist made this remark. Unable to perceive the reality in front of her, she closes an already smashed open window. A more metaphorical death in a sense; this anime showcases the loss of childhood and the loss of innocence. When catastrophic events are forced upon a still growing psyche, it’s easy to see how said trauma could result in a rejection of reality. Consequently this stagnates the character’s maturation. 

Surely you’ve had a test scheduled for the following week or an assignment you need to finish by the end of the day. You should probably get to work as soon as possible. Yet, the sweet siren song of Reddit, anime, and video games becomes too hard to bear. So, instead of working, you choose to procrastinate and pretend it doesn’t exist. Same logic.

Makes everything a little more digestible, doesn’t it?

It is difficult to mend something that is broken. You can only make small steps on the road to recovery. Closing a broken window will not stop the outside air from entering the building, but the remaining shards of glass will still try their hardest to keep the cold breeze at bay. 

This show destroys the viewer’s preconceived notions of what a high school anime should be but offers a chance of salvation, should we take the necessary steps and power through to the final episode. 

Gakkou Gurashi episode 1 ending (spoiler/volume warning)

My verdict: 8/10 – would happily be mentally scarred again.

Gakkou Gurashi Manga

Gakkou Gurashi Manga (continuing from anime)

3. Sankarea: Undying Love

MAL: 7.39

Answer me this. Did you ever wish you had a girlfriend? 

Now answer me this. After your fiftieth rejection, did you ever wish you were dead? 

What if I told you, you could combine both of these wishes to generate a relatively pure-hearted anime love story with which to binge yourself rotten. That’s just as good as a loving and committed relationship, right? Right?

Sanka Rea eating poisonous hydrangea leaves.
Rea eating poisonous Hydrangea to survive.

In all seriousness, Sankarea follows the life of Chihiro Furuya, a zombie obsessed teen with but one sole wish: to obtain a zombie girlfriend. Rea, a young and wealthy girl attempting to escape the stranglehold around her oppressive life, mistakenly drinks a resurrection potion, hoping it would kill her. Consequently, upon suffering a fatal injury, the potion’s effects take hold, reviving her as a reanimated corpse.

Sankarea’s Commitment to ‘Undying’ Love in the Form of Zombies.

Throughout the show, the two struggle to overcome Rea’s strange cravings and abnormal strength. However, the one constant of the show is the relationship between its titular characters. No matter what obstacles they face, even death itself does not detract from their love for each other. 

Chihiro holding Rea
Chihiro holding Rea

This zombie anime plays fast and loose with its undead references. At its core, it’s a beautiful love story between two characters (one of whom just happens to be a decaying corpse). 

Going so far as to even use the phrase, ‘undying love’ as a subtitle, this anime implores its viewers to view love not as something so easily disregarded but as something eternal and unwavering. 

For those who have experienced such emotion, this show should be a great nostalgia trip to the outset of your relationship. For those yet to find that special someone, Sankarea showcases what you can look forward to in the future. Those who have found their partner, check out this show to see if your feelings are strong enough to be considered, ‘undying’.

Sankarea: Undying Love Manga

Sankarea: Undying Love Manga (continuing from anime)

4. Highschool of The Dead

MAL: 7.17

Possibly the most widely renowned zombie anime in existence, Highschool of The Dead (HOTD for short) blurs the line of what is acceptable when it comes to nudity on television. You have been warned – make sure to read this section while you are alone.

Highschool of the Dead cast holding weaponry
HOTD cast

After a zombie outbreak, several high school students and staff are forced into a Walking Dead like scenario, as they attempt to survive for as long as possible and outlast the invasion.

The plot, for the most part, is fairly by the books. The cause of the contagion is side-lined and the zombies behave as expected – lacking any unique characteristics or powers of which to speak. 

HOTD trades all of its originality in favor of admonishing your viewing experience with as many cleavage, panty, and lewd scenes that you could dream of.  

I can’t handle the crushing weight of the elephant’s foot on my torso for much longer. I know what you want to see. You know what you want to see. So, how about we just take a minute to watch that scene before continuing. Ok? Ok. 

That scene from HOTD (NSFW)

The Role of Ecchi in HOTD and Zombie Anime

As much as this scene has been condemned over the years, discrediting meaningful character interactions and plot development for a glorious display into the world of physics, I can’t help but feel that it holds some relevance.

While I am sure you could make an argument for HOTD resulting in the death of civilized television or the death of a lack of fan service, I would counter these points and claim that HOTD is using its medium to evoke the death of sensibility. 

HOTD wasn’t meant to scare you.

In zombie anime, it is easy for us to become bored with the violence and take it in stride. Becoming numb or almost dead inside at this once exciting spectacle. HOTD attempts to jumpstart your flatline and give you something to get excited at all over again. 

The characters in this anime never accept their fate of becoming zombie chow. No matter how dead inside you may feel, there will always be something to make life worth living. In this case, it’s a gigantic swaying pair of-PERSONALITIES.

Highschool of the Dead Manga

Highschool of the Dead Manga (continuing from anime)

5. Soul Eater

MAL: 7.91

This counts, right? While not inherently classifying as a ‘zombie’ anime, several undead characters are present throughout the show and play a tangible role in the anime’s plot.

Soul Eater cast looking annoyed
Soul Eater cast

The story follows the lives of several students, as they attend a school for demon hunters. Lord Death is the jovial headmaster of Soul Eater’s Death Weapon Meister Academy (or DWMA). This school allows for human hybrids known as ‘Death Scythes’ to transform into weapons; and in turn be wielded by other students, known as ‘Meisters’.

Having death personified in this series is great for what Soul Eater is trying to do and Lord Death displays a great deal of self-awareness. He recognizes the need to ease the worries of his younger students, who would fear an ominous and foreboding Death, stalking the hallways every recess. He does this by acting incredibly goofy to become more accessible to his class. 

Lord Death's scary face from Soul Eater
Lord Death’s true face from Soul Eater
Lord Death's friendly face from Soul Eater
Lord Death’s friendly face from Soul Eater

Soul Eater prides itself on its aesthetics. The lustrous and colorful art style, its upbeat and melodic instrumentals, and its downright gut-wrenching comedy would feel out of place supporting a gritty narrative about zombie survival. Soul Eater teaches viewers not to fear death but to embrace it as an inevitability. Once you do this, the world becomes a much brighter place to which you can enjoy. 

Soul Eater Manga

Soul Eater Manga (continuing from anime)

6. Zombie Land Saga

MAL: 7.55

*Sigh*. Once again, let’s just get it out of the way. Truck-kun you wiley devil, you’ve done it again.

Truck-kun strikes again in Zombie Land Saga!

On her way to an idol audition, teenager Sakura Minamoto is abruptly murdered in a traffic collision with anime’s most prolific killer. Ten years later, she is resurrected along with several other girls by a man named Kotaro Tatsumi, who holds dreams of constructing the world’s first zombie idol group. 

This anime uses death as a means to inspire perseverance in its viewers. It’s easy to give up on your dream because of one lousy audition, one rejection letter, one failed exam, or one three-ton truck inadvertently sending you to the grave. 

Even death did not stop Sakura from achieving her dream, so what excuse do you have for not doing everything you can to make yours come true? 

Zombie Land Saga cast in both human and zombie forms.
Zombie Land Saga cast in their human and zombie forms.

This show also takes a magnifying glass to other idol anime and the idol business in general. Idols are expected to be pristine virtuosos of perfection. This doesn’t mesh inherently well with our reality where truck-kun could strike at any moment and end your life.

This anime also attempts to use its zombies as an allegory for the death of the traditional idol and the rebirth of a more accepting idol business. One which acknowledges that these stars are real people first and entertainers second. As we learn more about the characters underneath their public personas, we see them grow as people. Zombie Land Saga sends a great message about the nature of the modern entertainment industry.

7. Tokyo Ghoul

MAL: 7.82

Wait, wait, wait! Let’s just talk about this. Let’s define a zombie really quick.

Eats/Kills humans to live
Suffered infection from another ‘zombie’ (e.g. bite)
Died and was reanimated by some form of magic
A very accurate zombie criteria list
Kaneki Ken wearing his mask
Kaneki Ken wearing his famous mask

Tokyo Ghoul follows the life of Kaneki Ken, a man transformed into a half-human half-ghoul hybrid after receiving an organ transplant from a different ghoul. Now, forced to live life as a ghoul, he must dine on human flesh to survive.

How Zombie Anime and Ghouls Debate Humanity

As you can see by my scientifically proven chart, Kaneki fulfills two out of three requirements of my ‘what makes a zombie’ checklist. That’s 66% – equivalent to a satisfactory C grade where I’m from. That’s a passing grade every day of the week and I’ll take it straight to the bank, thank you very much.

Tokyo Ghoul’s popularity exploded in recent years and it isn’t too hard to see why. Be it an abundance of stylized gore, interesting characters, or an easy cosplay option in Kaneki’s mask, this show’s fanbase continues to grow by the day.

Kaneki was forced into this world. Forced to eat humans in order to survive. It parallels greatly with the death of his own mother. She continuously supplied his uncaring and deadbeat older sister with money until Kaneki’s mother unfortunately died.

Inheriting many of his mother’s traits, Kaneki struggles to accept his fate at first. However, he also debates whether or not to give in to his urges. Rize, the gluttonous, over-indulging ghoul responsible for his transformation, was indirectly killed by her insatiable hunger.

There is an argument for both cases but ultimately, Kaneki embodies the happy medium. Both a lackadaisical life and a life of uncapped depravity have the same result. Too much or too little of anything can result in both a literal or metaphorical death. Learning to balance both addictive urges with melancholic apathy, is the key to ensuring a satisfying life and avoiding an untimely death.

Tokyo Ghoul Manga

Tokyo Ghoul Manga (continuing from anime)

8. Hellsing Ultimate

MAL: 8.42

Clocking in at only ten episodes, Hellsing Ultimate is an OVA to the original series that follows the manga more loyally. Like Soul Eater, zombies are not the focal point of the plot but are featured extensively throughout the series.

Zombies, vampires, nazis; this show has everything! I guarantee that, whatever demon you’re looking to see ruthlessly eradicated, Hellsing Ultimate has you covered.

Hellsing's Alucard holding a gun
Hellsing’s Alucard holding a gun

The show follows Alucard and the Hellsing organization, tasked with the destruction of all things spooky, in an effort to protect the Queen.

A vampire eradicating vampires, I like to think that Hellsing wants its audience to see the value of empathy. You cannot truly destroy something until you learn to understand it.

Alucard has every opportunity to go rogue and rid himself of his symbolical shackles but never does so. Instead he is allowed the opportunity to suppress his urges, unlike those whom he kills.

What I’m trying to say is; you should always try to understand someone’s ideology, before you conclude them to be disgustingly evil and attempt to destroy it and them entirely.

Now that’s a motto to live by.

Hellsing Manga

9. Shikabane Hime: AKA (Corpse Princess: AKA)

MAL : 7.26

With a gun in either hand, the protagonist of this zombie anime pulls no punches when it comes to letting lose on the zombie scum she is tasked with eradicating.

Makina Hoshimura holding a MAC-11
Corpse Princess’ titular character Makina Hoshimura

After being murdered alongside her family, Makina Hoshimura is brought back to life. She now strives to end the lives of other resurrected corpses in hopes of avenging her family and gaining entry into heaven.

Wielding dual MAC-11 machine guns, Makina is the badass heroine of this series. With great action scenes and over the top enemies, this show is a wild ride from start to finish.

Makina herself puts it best.

You should know by now I fear nothing!

Makina Hoshimura

It seems as though achieving death has granted Makina the power to overcome any adversity. A lack of fear and a dangling carrot in front of her, act as all the motivation she needs to achieve her goals.

Once you’ve died once, there isn’t much left to fear. Perhaps Corpse Princess also wants to tell us the importance of accepting death and not fearing it.

Makina Hoshimura Vs. Monster

Shikabane Hime Manga

10. Gungrave

MAL: 7.88

Based on the critically acclaimed video game of the same name comes the anime adaptation. Only with this series can you, after finishing the last episode, pick up a controller and relive the experience first-hand.

Brandon Heat (Beyond the Grave) holding a gun
Gungrave protagonist Brandon Heat (a.k.a Beyond the Grave)

After being betrayed and murdered by his best friend, titular character Brandon Heat is reborn as Beyond the Grave. He now seeks to find his best friend, Harry McDowell, and exact his revenge.

This show is a great example of unfinished business. It’s common knowledge that ghosts and demons often haunt the living due to their unresolved issues. They can only be laid to rest upon completing whatever it is they were not able to accomplish during the time they were alive.

Gungrave Manga

11. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God)

MAL: 7.37

If you choose to believe in the existence of deity, it’s baffling to think of how much his or her influence has over our lives. Birth bringing new life, ageing and decay, until eventually death; are all controlled by this one higher being.

What would happen if, one day, that person decided to just…leave?

Sunday Without God cast looking happy
Sunday Without God cast

God has abandoned Earth. Now, in a world where new life cannot be produced and those living can never truly die, only those with special powers (known as ‘gravekeepers’) can lay people to rest.

Ai, a young girl, is one of these people. Embarking on a journey to both perform and hone her powers, she searches for information as to how the world fell into such disarray. With a colorful cast in tow, she vows to save the world that God left to rot.

This show sends a powerful message about the necessity of death. Many of you may have experienced the death of a loved one or the death of a prominent figure in your life. It’s difficult to find the reason for such a horrible act when the pain is so overwhelming.

Yet, death is necessary to give meaning to life. Such a life without death sees the world of Sunday Without God thrown into absolute turmoil. Akin to a curse, the ability to live forever would soon grow stale and familiar. Sunday Without God and Ai, in particular, drive home the importance of an ending to everything.

12. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)

MAL: 7.26

From the man who worked on such hits as Gungrave, Guilty Crown, Attack on Titan, High School of the Dead, Black Lagoon, and Death Note – Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is a zombie epic exactly like the others.

I say that as a compliment.

Mumei firing a gun
Mumei firing a gun

Set in the age of the samurai yet on the brink of an industrial revolution, beings, known as kabane, are separated from civilization via a large wall and…

Sorry about that, I thought my cue cards were mixed up. Anyway, these monsters, should they ever enter into a populated city, would no doubt devour each and every human that…

No, this is definitely the right show. Very steampunk in nature, lots of over the top action scenes take place where half-monster half-human hybrids use their special powers as an edge in battle to…

The monsters are killed by attacking a specific weak… spot…

The protagonist fights alongside a badass… female… companion…

It’s…it’s Attack on Titan but with zombies.

How Kabaneri distances itself from Attack on Titan and other Zombie Anime

Yes, the similarities are incredibly apparent once you start watching this show. However, I don’t know why this is considered a bad thing. Yes, Attack on Titan is the more critically acclaimed show and arguably better in every way. Personally, I think Attack on Titan is a great show and anything that even comes close to replicating its genius deserves my attention.

I like chocolate cake the most but if the supermarket only has cheesecake that day, I’m not going to post a five-page review of the store discrediting their produce.

I’ll just buy the cheesecake and enjoy it for what it is.

Kabaneri doesn’t have the greatest story, the greatest plot development, or the most original concept. What it does have, is a pounding musical score, beautiful animation, and marvelously choreographed action.

Sometimes, death can be kind of cool.

If you have ever sat through any piece of media where the villain monologues to a fault, torments the protagonist for the majority of the experience, and appears seemingly invincible, it is nice to see said person receive their comeuppance.

It’s great to see our protagonist finally best this mystery enemy in a tooth and nail fight scene and ultimately send him to the pits of hell. This is what Kabaneri nails in its execution.

If you love action, blood, and fighty-pew-pew-gun-bang-explosion, give this show a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

Mumei fights the Kabane

13. Zombie-Loan

MAL: 6.91

‘A deal with the devil’ is a well known idiom. Not meant to be taken literally; it condenses the action of selling your soul to an irreputable source.

Zombie-Loan is the result of someone who struggles to differentiate metaphors from reality and thank goodness they can’t.

Zombie-Loan cast looking toward the camera
Zombie-Loan cast

Zombie-Loan’s Michiru is a schoolgirl who has the ability to see the lifespan of those around her. One day, she discovers that two of her classmates are zombies. The two boys had died but made a deal with the company, ‘zombie loan’ to continue their existence. In exchange, they must hunt as many zombies as possible in order to repay their debt.

The two boys recruit Michiru to help them distinguish other zombies and the trio set off to track down and eliminate as many undead as possible.

Zombie-Loan delivers an entertaining mostly episodic series that centers around the dangers of continuing to live past your allotted time.

We’ve all seen Final Destination and it didn’t work out too well for those guys either.

For our two male leads, they have no escape from their duty and the only way out is death. Many of us can surely relate to such a situation – being forced to work at a job you hate to put food on the table.

Zombie-Loan does a great job of replicating your mundane work environment but stylizes it – releasing all of your pent up stress in an eruption of zombie killing.

As a salaryman, maybe it isn’t possible for you to go on a ruthless killing spree to offset some of your frustrations. However, when you need to see someone in your situation let go of all their aggression, look no further than Zombie-Loan.

Zombie-Loan Manga

14. Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack

MAL: 5.48

Zombie Fish.

Need I say more?

A salaryman from Gyo being chased by zombie fish
A salary man from Gyo being chased by zombie fish

Adapted from esteemed horror mangaka Junji Ito’s comic of the same name, comes this absolute monstrosity of a conceptual OVA.

After a rotten stench caused by reanimated fish life is found to be able to infect humans, swarms of fish with robotic scuttling limbs, ranging from small salmon to enormous sharks, flood Japan.

A young girl embarks on a 75-minute epic to venture across the plagued city and reunite with her boyfriend.

For those unaware, Junji Ito has become widely renowned as one of, if not the mangaka to look towards when it comes to horror. Gyo does not top the charts of MAL with such a mediocre score but as a work of fiction, I felt that it warranted an exception.

The rotting carcasses of the fish are juxtaposed here very well with several of the characters in the movie. Kaori’s friends are two-faced and resentful and the infection brings these inner traits to life. If our inner malice had the ability to poison, we would undoubtedly see a lot more bushy-tailed citizens walking the streets.

This show seems to want to send the message that our actions do indeed have consequences. The consequences seen here are of course heavily exaggerated, but the message still stands firm.

Gyo Manga

15. D.Gray-Man

MAL: 8.07

I’m sorry – do I need to get out the checklist again?

Eats/Kills humans to live
Suffered infection from another ‘zombie’ (e.g. bite)
Died and was reanimated by some form of magic
A very accurate zombie criteria list
D.Gray Man heroes and the Earl of Millenium
D.Gray Man cast

Two out of three people! I didn’t make the rules, I just designed and executed them.

I placed this entry last as I knew it would ruffle a few feathers. D.Gray-Man does in fact have a zombie arc but was I to use that as evidence – I may just as well put One Piece’s Thriller Bark arc on the list!

D.Gray-Man follows the life of Allen Walker, an exorcist, and a member of the Black Order. The Order’s purpose is to rid the world of Akuma, zombie-like entities that the Earl of Millennium has revived in order to destroy humanity. Allen and his friends, Kanda, Lenalee, Lavi, and many others embark on a mission to defeat the Earl

How D.Gray-Man Campaigns for a Human’s Right to Die

Akuma are artificially created by the Earl when a living human asks the Earl to bring a deceased person back to life. Consumed by hatred, the now restored soul murders the one who wished them back into the world before continuing on a merciless killing spree.

D.Gray-Man is a big advocate of death. Self-proclaimed exorcists, Allen and the Black Order strive to rid the world of these abominations and lay the souls inside to rest.

While an anime like Sunday Without God sees the importance of death and how it is a right bestowed upon all humans, D.Gray-Man goes a step further. Humans should not be objected to eternal life and once they die, they should be allowed to rest in peace.

The resurrection of the dead is what zombies are all about. In D.Gray-Man, however, the cause is not a failed experiment or a magical spell gone wrong. It’s a desire to bring the dead back to life.

What is dead can never come back. The only way the dead can continue to live in our world is through the memories of those who knew them. D.Gray-Man sees these people killed by the person they wanted to revive. As much as we would love to bring those who have passed back to life, it’s ultimately better that the dead remain so.

D.Gray-Man Manga

D.Gray-Man Manga (continuing from anime)

Conclusion – Zombie Anime: Cliché or Underrated?

So, there you have it. A very biased, very opinionated list about zombie anime that hopefully inspired some of you to watch a new series and look below the surface a little deeper.

I think zombie anime have something to offer other than cool action scenes defeating waves of faceless enemies. I definitely recommend those still on the fence to give one of these recommendations a try. Zombies are already overdone in modern media but anime seems to always put a new spin on the once tired genre.

A wave of Kabaneri marching
A wave of Kabaneri marching

Now, as somewhat of a bonus, here are five honorable mentions of zombie manga that you should also check out if you have the time.

1) I Am Hero

MAL: 7.77

Zombie anime are quick to form a cast of characters all in their youth, or seemingly capable of long excursions with little to no respite. What if you’re 35, your girlfriend is cheating on you and your back hurts?

I am Hero Zombie chase scene
I am Hero Zombie chase scene

I Am Hero follows the life of protagonist Hideo Suzuki. After failing to publish his own manga, a suspected cheating girlfriend, and a life going absolutely nowhere, he follows up on his suspicions and accuses his girlfriend of infidelity. Upon regretting his decisions at a later date, he makes his way to her house to apologize. However, on the way, he realizes that society around him has changed forever, as terrifying zombies now plague the world he once knew. 

With realistically empathetic characters and a compelling storyline, I am Hero is a fresh new take on the zombie genre. Living such a mundane life until this point – Hideo himself could be considered an almost living zombie. I am hero explores the death of motivation through its protagonist – only finding value in his life when forced to uproot his standard way of degenerate living, in order to fight his way through a zombie apocalypse. For those interested in an older protagonist with more realistic expectations of what a normal person would do during a zombie outbreak, I Am Hero is a fantastic read.  

2) Zom 100: Zombie ni Naru made ni Shitai 100 no Koto (Zombie 100: 100 Things I Want to do Before I Become a Zombie

MAL: 7.64

We all have bucket lists – things we want to accomplish before we eventually ‘kick the bucket’ into the afterlife. Most of us have seventy to eighty years to carry out these goals. No pressure, right? Try to imagine if those several decades were suddenly reduced to weeks, days, or even hours. What would you strive to do with the short time you have left?

Protagonist of Zom 100 screaming "Hell Yeah" while being chased by zombies
An unexpected reaction to the zombie apocalypse

Akira is a salaryman working for a black company. After dedicating so much of his life to his work, he is mentally and physically exhausted. On his way to work one morning, he is shocked to learn that the world has been overrun with zombies. Forced to adapt from an average worker into a full-blown survivalist, he sets off into a world of corpses. 

Zom 100 incorporates lots of shounen elements into its plot. Great action scenes, cartoonish and over the top villains, all of these loved tropes come out in full force here. Not only this, akin to Akira’s company, slews of black comedy are also used to pepper the storyline. Zombies are a dark topic. If you really think about it, the prospect of a zombie invasion is deathly serious. It’s refreshing to have the blackness of death used in conjunction with black comedy. Working jobs you hate can lead to your spirit dying inside. Through comedy, however, that will to live can be revitalized. Be it as a coping or escape mechanism, sometimes a good laugh is enough to transform the worst of days into something to be remembered. 

For a Shounen zombie anime with a dark sense of humor, look no further than Zom 100.

3) Fort of Apocalypse

MAL: 7.58

With an incredibly unique premise, here comes Fort of Apocalypse. Doing away with the plot of a traditionalist zombie story, Fort of Apocalypse setting as well as its ideas are on an entirely different level.

A tsunami of bodies crashing into a building - Fort of Apocalypse
A tsunami of bodies crashing into a building

After being framed and convicted of murder, Yoshiaki Maeda is sent to a juvenile detention center. Already accustomed to how unfair and cruel the world can be, things take a turn for the worst when the outside world has been plunged into a zombie apocalypse. Now, after a truck of infected humans crashes into the prison, Yoshiaki and his cellmates must fight to survive the impending zombie onslaught. Spending the rest of one’s life in jail can implicatively evoke yearnings for death. In Yoshiaki’s case, it was the start of the rest of his life. 

This manga has great character dynamics between the different cellmates (all of which are real criminals unlike Yoshiaki). If you enjoy a more morally ambiguous zombie affair where you are unsure who you should be rooting for. Fort of Apocalypse is a great watch. 

4) Zombieya Reiko (Reiko the Zombie Shop)

MAL: 7.18

With a prolific serial killer on the loose and only the deceased victims holding any clues to their identity – who you gonna call? Ghostbu-!

Excuse me…Reiko. We’re gonna call Reiko.

Reiko the zombie shop manga cover
Reiko the zombie shop manga cover

Reiko is a necromancer for hire. Upon starting an investigation into a serial killer topping twenty-nine victims and counting, Reiko makes her way through the quaint town of Shiraike. For a reasonable price, Reiko will revive the dead and solve the mystery. However, once all is said and done; she is not responsible for the reawakened corpse’s actions or utterances. 

What an interesting take Zombieya Reiko has on the zombie anime genre. In most entries thus far, zombies are always considered enemies of humanity. However, similar to an anime like Zombieland Saga, we have zombies and humans working together in tandem to achieve a common goal. 

Zombieya Reiko explores the opposite concepts of anime like Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? Or D.Gray-Man. Reiko uses the dead for her own personal gain, not allowing them to rest. Obviously, the dead do not so much like being disturbed and forced to relive their murders, which makes for some very amusing punchlines. 

Zombieya Reiko is a great anime that explores death’s effects on those still living. If you have ever lost a loved one, it can be easy to continually remember the time you had together. Like Reiko, she digs up old memories to save those still living. Without those memories, the dead would stay that way. However, by metaphorically digging them up, we can prolong their existence forever through our memory. 

5) Mouryou no Yurikago (Cradle of Monsters)

MAL: 7.18

Time is limited. Your ship is sinking. You need allies. The Zombies are coming. 

Quickly! What do you do?

Zombie attack from Cradle of Monsters
Zombie attack from Cradle of Monsters

After their cruise ship crashes, classmates Makoto Ayukawa and Yuuya Takigawa find themselves at the mercy of not only the ocean herself but a horde of rapid and encroaching humans chasing after them. Time is of the essence in this thriller manga, as decisions on who is worth saving and how best to navigate a ravaged ship, need to be made in a very timely fashion.

This a great manga that uses the concept of death to showcase how fleeting our lives are. The clock is always ticking, counting down the seconds until we eventually perish. We need to act fast with the allotted time we have. In our world, the Grim Reaper steadily approaches. In Makoto’s, Death takes the guise of the zombie-like passengers in constant tow. 

Cradle of Monsters is a great nail-biting zombie manga that anyone who loves suspense should check out. 

Let Us Know What You Think!

I would love to hear some of your favorite zombie anime and how you think they use their story to differentiate from the crowd.

Let me know down below.

Oh and one final thing…

Anyone who doesn’t stan Eucliwood can die, be reborn as a zombie and then die again.

Thanks for reading!