Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? 04 and 05 – A Big Middle Finger to Common Sense

And to you as well, logic!

Well let’s consider the focus of what happened in these last two episodes. Love interest and some melodrama. Yeah ok fine there was some melodrama in episode 3 near the end, but that’s nothing compared to all this not-so-subtle pointing to the fact that Ayumu is special. Somehow. Why? Eh, it’s not like it really matters. He just is. But what really, really matters at this point is just how subversive this show is in terms our expectations for the female characters.

Did you think for a second that any of them are as they appear to be? Yeah think again. You know, something that struck me about Ayumu is just how similar he is to the generic male protagonist in literally every silly romance show out there. Altruistic, yet not without his flaws. Funny, caring, interesting to be around, etc, etc. The only real difference between him and a lot of male romance leads is… well…

This for one…

But in the end it doesn’t really matter, because what matters in a romance is just that his personality is aligned correctly.

Ok, now let’s observe the girls. Yeah sure, they’re cold to Ayumu, but they’re actually with him, so I’m assuming that for at least Yuu and Haruna, they have some connection with him. It’s highly unlikely in the case of Sera, but that’s probably episode 6 or something.

But they like him for some mysterious reason, as the overly long, drawn out conversations in episodes 5 and 6 about Yuu and Haruna respectively showed. Hm… Liking the protagonist for some mysterious reason even though he seems rather repellent and consistently harasses the girl… What does this remind me of…

Oh yeah!

No, seriously. The only real difference here is in the number of romance ends that Ayumu has available to him. The personality elements align more or less correctly, and the melodrama follows from the development of the characters, etc, etc.

But what’s different here? Well, for one, there’s some melodrama, but it’s a different kind of melodrama. The reason is because the major focus of the melodrama isn’t on some sort of personality defect of the girl characters, but it’s because they’re so damn good at something that they become a victim of their own powers so to speak.

Episodes 4 and 5 pretty much set up this paradigm really neatly. For example, Yuu suffers because she’s just so damn powerful. It causes conflicting feelings on the part of the viewer. On the one hand, you want to feel sorry for her because she’s a victim of circumstance. On the other hand… She can pretty much blow up the world whenever she feels like it. The viewer is then trapped between these two conflicting opinions of the character, but the likely side that ends up winning is the “feel sorry” side because, well, either because we’re just inherently sexist, or because we view her as a human being first and as a necromancer second. It depends on your point of view.

But even though one side does seem to win out, our opinion is still tempered by the mere threat of her power. In fact, KoreZombie plays on this by pretty much introducing a situation where Yuu’s power has to be used the episode after the extent of her power is revealed. Ok, sure, we feel sorry for her, but even that gets pushed to the side in favor of her powers.

Yeah I don’t even remember what was said about her in the previous episode at this point.

Apart from her power, Haruna and Sera are pretty damn badass, along with Kyouko, who I’ll get to later. The common thread between all of them is just that they’re all pretty much self sufficient. I highly doubt that any of them actually need Ayumu for anything. In that sense, they’re all people who, in our minds, can be separated from him. Pick any other harem show, and that’s not how we think. When we think of the girl, we think of the male, and vice-versa. You can’t throw away the male lead and expect to think of the female characters in the same way.

But KoreZombie basically expects us to think this way. Yuu, Haruna, and Sera would all be the same without Ayumu around. If Ayumu isn’t around, fine, no big deal. If you think of something like Infinite Stratos, try to separate the essentially tsundere attitude of each character when they’re around the generic male protagonist out from their normal personality… Yeah that’s not possible.

I mean they basically destroyed this mental connection of ours between Kyouko and Ayumu in episode 5. In episode 3, we could only think of her as a really shy character around Ayumu. Now, we don’t see her as like yandere for Ayumu, but instead just as a general bitch.

KoreZombie basically takes your generic harem set up, makes you think that it’s going to be a generic harem, then trolls you multiple times along the way as you try to think of it as a generic harem. It trolls you subtly, but it trolls you nonetheless.

Speaking of trolling, I suppose that I should mention the two major trolls in episodes 4 and 5. First off, the ending of episode 4:

I don’t even get how this logically relates to what we saw in episode 5.

On the one hand, it seems like a confirmation that Yuu’s the killer. She came back to silence it, and Kyouko is vindicated of possibly being a liar just by the virtue of her death. On the other hand, Yuu’s characterization in this episode points against this interpretation, which means that Kyouko was lying? And then what happens in episode 5… This scene isn’t even mentioned. So yeah, this scene is just meant to screw with us. It’s really just an example of how this show sets up expectations, then blows them up.

But the other half to this troll is:

So… She’s like everything?

So apparently Kyouko is: a masou shoujo, some spin off of a kyuuketsu ninja, and has multiple lives. I call foul. Ayumu was supposed to be everything. Why the hell else would you start every episode with the line that “I’m a zombie… and a masou shoujo” if you aren’t going to add to the list?

But I digress. By typing Kyouko as basically your generic antagonist, I’m almost certain that the show is setting up another wrong expectation scenario. Given the pattern that’s emerged so far, it certainly seems that way. The show seems to set up really anything and parody it. I don’t expect this pattern to change any time soon. Clearly the females in this show are far more powerful than what we would normally expect. Now it’s just time to see how the series trolls us next in this regard. From the looks of the number of characters in the light novel, there’s a lot more fodder left to just screw around with Ayumu’s “harem”, if you can even call it that.

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28 Comments

  1. Fencedude
    Posted February 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Considering that Candlejack is in the OP, Trolling is to be expe

  2. rrw
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 4:55 am | Permalink
    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Pffft because clearly those things actually make sense. They’re epic, but not illogical ;o

  3. Kherubim
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Common sense was already kicked to the curb in Episode 1 when Zombie-kun became both a zombie AND a cross dressing piece of filth *ahem* I mean Masou Shoujo…

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      This guy speaks the truth!!!

      Anyway curious about how they are gonna explain it by next episode…

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Those things are surprising, but it just sets up the premise. It’s not like anything that follows from that set up is illogical, but these episodes just destroyed that somewhat logical followup.

  4. godlet
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    This show brings out a very conflicted response from me. After checking out the first episode, I wasn’t going to watch it anymore, but then seeing everyone talking about it convinced me to give the other episodes a go. Now I’ll finish it because it’s very entertaining to see a show that revels in its own absurdity. However, at the same time as really liking the show, I also find myself hating it. Some of the jokes are incredibly stupid, and I find this last development about the identity of the slasher to be ridiculous. That was one part of the show that seemed to be developing itself seriously, to counter all of the stupidity, so if there isn’t a good reason for it all (if it’s really just some crap about gathering magical power or something I’ll be really mad), that will feel like a pretty big letdown. I don’t want this show to become a drama by any means, but I don’t want them to just cop out on some of the more serious themes they were bringing up. Maybe I’m too picky?

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Ha I’m conflicted on it too. The excessive fanservice is such a turn off during each episode, but somehow I’m working through it. Somehow. I mean I’m pretty much writing somewhat serious troll/joke posts at this point, because I need to like balance out the stupidity with something. I’m not sure if people are just following up my joking or not.

  5. CarVac
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I interpreted that scene as: Kyouko got finished off by the unnamed antagonist, who then assumed her identity. The same unnamed antagonist who took the form of Yuu against Kyouko. It’s not so inexplicable in that case.

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Oh my. Now that would be interesting and fitting. Maybe episode 6 will make sense of the scene then!

  6. dbm
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    The common thread between all of [the girls] is just that they’re all pretty much self sufficient. I highly doubt that any of them actually need Ayumu for anything. In that sense, they’re all people who, in our minds, can be separated from him. Pick any other harem show, and that’s not how we think. When we think of the girl, we think of the male, and vice-versa. You can’t throw away the male lead and expect to think of the female characters in the same way.

    This is not uncommon for older, “traditional” harem shows. Most harem shows in recent years are based on bishoujo/ren’ai/date-sim computer games in which the player sequentially interacts with a series of girls and helps or saves them somehow. The female leads in anime based on these games tend to have weaker personalities and are looking to be supported by the male lead.

    But harem shows have been around much longer than bishoujo games. In 90s titles like “Tenchi Muyo”, “El Hazard”, “Dual” and so on, the female characters are powerful, have strong personalities, and are looking to dominate the male lead. Is Eu any less powerful than Washuu, for instance?

    What I do find unusual about “Kore wa Zombie” is that there isn’t any symmetry in the relationships between the male lead and the girls. Usually in these shows the lead character remains emotionally centered between the girls, but it seems Ayumu has already chosen Eu, hasn’t he? He has made his feelings to her clear, and the only thing keeping her from responding in kind is her tricky magical powers. Haruna he seems to see as a bratty younger sister, and Sera as a co-worker, or perhaps an obnoxious in-law.

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      This is definitely true, and I have little experience in older titles in general aside from Tenchi Muyo (to an extent at least). In the context of more recent times though, I think that this self sufficiency is a rather interesting note. And aside from that, KoreZombie isn’t really a harem show in the truest sense either. It’s like a mix of different genres, though it focuses far more on comedy and fanservice than others.

      In many regards though, harem shows are far more about the comedy than the romance. Or at least that’s my impression.

      • Darkfireblade25
        Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        I think Key would like to beg to differ… tho that’s a visual novel adaptation instead of straight off manga or indie work.

        • Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

          Key works definitely aren’t harems in the traditional way that we consider the genre. The requirement for a harem show isn’t just having a bunch of girls and a central guy. Generally the point of the harem is that it’s a love triangle… Except with more vertices. Recently that definition has frayed a bit though. I still don’t think that Key works can qualify, or at least not to the extent that I’m thinking of the genre. Harems are often something like a comedy of errors. Something like that.

  7. Posted February 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Full of WTF-ness

  8. qwerty
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    As far as the “episode 4 ending troll” my guess is going towards someone who knew she was the culprit but didn’t know enough to realize she’s a zombie or has multiple lives or whatever.

    My first guess is Eu since there’s definitely a grudge or some history or something between them and Eu seems to know whats going on enough to try and warn the others away from the encounter in episode 5.

    • Darkfireblade25
      Posted February 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I also agree on your first guess. I think it would be Eu that tried to kill her and Kyokou is getting her back. but of course that’s all speculation :P

      • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        That’s still completely inconsistent with Yuu’s entire thing about how death is painful at the end of episode 3. I think it’s fairly clear after episode 4 that she’s completely serious about that.

        • Darkfireblade25
          Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          Unless she considers her to be a threat so much that she is willing to sacrifice her pain for the greater good. If goes by this assumption, then Kyokou is srsbznz. Though of course, it is all speculation.

          • Posted February 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            Even if you say that, there’s absolutely been no indication of any darker side to Yuu’s personality.

  9. Posted February 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Hahah well Kyoko does seem to be everything rolled into one character! Seems a bit crazy but I don’t mind her to much.

    Just waiting for Yuu to do something next week :D

  10. Marigold Ran
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Minor quibble: logic and common sense are not necessarily related to one another.

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Yes I know. I use common sense as just general knowledge, but logic more in terms of the logical progression of things. In that you’d expect Y to follow from X, etc.

  11. ~xxx
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    I never expected that one coming… Seriously.

  12. Kaitune
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I know that there is something that makes me like these lasses more than I normally do in ‘harem’ flick, but I never fully realize it until you put it out that way. Pretty interesting.

    However, now that I talked about that particular aspect, another reason why I am liking this series a lot more than I expected is probably because it isn’t quite a ‘harem’. Sure, there are a bunch of girls around the main dude (and all of them are stereotypically hot), but the guy pretty much seems to be going for Yuu already instead of remain indecisive. Other ladies also don’t seem to like him in a romantic way either although they have developed a certain amount of respect for him by now. Hopefully this show won’t end up making all the female characters falling for him though.

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Well Haruna is at least falling for Ayumu in a certain respect. Or at least in the same way that Yuu fell for Ayumu. Aside from that, there doesn’t seem to be a reciprocation of love from Yuu, or really any female character, which is generally vital to harem series.

      And if they somehow make Sera fall for Ayumu, I will laugh so hard. I just can’t imagine it as is.

  13. Hogart
    Posted February 12, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m enjoying this one more than I should. Possibly because the male lead doesn’t seem totally clueless – just thrilled that he even has girls living with him, and is being given the chance for revenge on his killer. His delusions feel like his pride’s defense mechanism, letting him feel less like their slave and more like they’re his harem. I also like the fact that so far the “romance” hasn’t been played off as “serious business” or so stupidly that I feel like playing Yakety Sax while watching.

    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Oh I’m pretty sure that we’re all enjoying this more than we should… KoreZombie takes a very contradictory stance on these things. It just does things to plain confuse us, then make us laugh.

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