Week 2 of the best anime series to hit the airwaves. I’ve seen many people have only a lukewarm reception to the second episode, but CLEARLY they don’t know what they’re talking about. Just like Shinbo in Madoka, the director of this show, Kanasaki Takaomi, has shown that he’s willing to make those bold decisions to take this particular series where no other show in its genre has ever stepped before. Especially since the genre that this show currently occupies is empty. Why is that? You just can’t categorize awesome. That’s why.
But there’s something real substantial going on here in Kore wa Zombie desu ka? that I didn’t pick up on until episode 2, and really makes you consider episode 1 in a new light. What KoreZombie does in episode 2, is set up the show as a wonderfully subtle feminist rebuttal of the current anime scene. Or expressed through an analogy, KoreZombie is to moe anime as Milky Holmes was to moe anime, except much better directed. And as with Madoka, I think that the first step that KoreZombie makes in approaching the series in a new light is through the astounding visuals.
One thing that really drew my attention is the eerie opening sequence. I daresay that this beginning 1 minute sequence was much better executed than the crazy psychedelic scenes in Madoka. We see what appears to be a scene of Ayumu meeting Yuu (too lazy to write out her full name), but this scene is literally sliced apart by Ayumu’s first person view, walking with blood blocking his vision. Observe.
Now it’s completely changed. Notice the much lighter filter used here.
Well that’s a slight downer.
Happy times! He’s alive again thanks to Yuu~
This cutting apart of a scene emphasizes the debt that Ayumu owes to Yuu. If he hadn’t met her, he would just have died, and that’s it. This sets up a preview for later in the episode, where we learn exactly why Yuu saved him.
But you see, the show not only stops there, but immediately cuts from that scene to the aftermath of episode 1. Now what appears to be a comedic scene is actually FAR darker than it looks. Look at the following shot:
Now your eyes probably drifted straight to the ass shot and the slight buldge underneath, but as the camera slowly pans over, you get to this shot:
Before what seemed like pure comedy has now taken on a completely new meaning. In fact, the comedy in KoreZombie only serves as a foil to the seriousness of the anime. Look at the faces of the crowd. ALL of them are absolutely expressionless. Look at that one girl right next to Ayumu. She even has her arm crossed behind her back! Now why would they go to the trouble of drawing that, but not drawing emotional faces? The true answer here lies in the idea that Ayumu’s transformation really isn’t funny at all. It’s serious business. But why is it serious business? Observe this next shot:
First of all, look at the crowd here. They aren’t laughing. Some are cheering, certainly, but not laughing. What are they cheering and looking serious about? It’s because they realize just how serious Ayumu must be about cross dressing as a girl. This really is serious business for these people. They respect Ayumu for what he’s doing, and they’re taking pictures because of that.
This is a far more progressive take on traps than any other anime to date. They have traditionally been a source of ridicule and comedy (see: Hideyoshi), but the issues surrounding them are real and all too serious. Hourou Musuko recognizes this fact as well, and tends to approach it from a far more serious point of view. However, what that show will probably lack is viewership. KoreZombie fixes that problem. It drew everyone in with what seemed to be a completely slapstick episode 1, but now it’s getting to the real meat of things. It’s ingenious, really.
In fact, this entire show is a subversion of standard moe tropes. It systematically brings up what seems to be fan service, and then COMPLETELY knocks them down. Take for instance Haruna making lunch for Ayumu.
But while that appears at first sight to be a merely comedic and pandering move by the creators, it actually holds more significance than we first realize. After all, admit it, we were definitely expecting some comedic mess up by Haruna to happen here. And when Ayumu opens the bento, we initially feel like we’re vindicated in our belief. But what’s everyone’s reaction?
Weren’t expecting that now weren’t you?
In fact, there’s a subtle change here. Notice how in the first tsundere shot of Haruna, it seemed as if Ayumu was in the position of power. She tries to hide herself, and acts shy, even defensive. But look at the latter screenshot. She’s confident, crossing her arms, and not afraid that her panties are showing. Did you expect a standard tsundere moe trope? Well you were wrong. Expect something completely different. In fact, you can even say that Haruna is in a position of power relative to Ayumu. He’s humbled. Look at his face. Just look at it. He’s humbled. The woman has won. Think about that last statement. The. Woman. Has. Won. This is anime we’re talking about. Women pretty much never win unless they have a man with them. KoreZombie basically lifts a middle finger to the rest of the industry.
But this moe subversion doesn’t stop here. Meet the new girl.
But is she really a moe trope? After all, we’re talking about a:
A vampire ninja? I was pretty sure at this point that the creators weren’t even trying to hide their true intensions now. But then I realized something. Wow that’s pretty badass. It’s like Kanzaki Kaori to Touma in Index. But there’s a key difference here. A much more subtle deconstruction of the standard character trope. The catch here? Sera (yes, that’s her name) loses.
Now when a big breasted female character loses, they’re usually the object of some fan service or something. What happened when Sera lost? She gracefully admitted defeat. But there’s something even more important to note here. Sera didn’t really “lose”. It was technically a draw, since both Sera and Ayumu went down. But she admitted defeat. Who the hell admits defeat nowadays? It’s all or nothing. But that’s the point of Sera’s character. To introduce the idea that women aren’t just moeblobs or objects of desire. They’re serious business. Dignified, proper, but also crude when they need to be. Sera gracefully departs the battlefield for home. But is she this “prim and proper” lady that most animes make their characters? Hell no. She’s proud, and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Aside from Ayumu’s strange fetish with imoutos, these are all things that you would expect from your generic fan service anime. But what does Sera say in response?
OWNED. Yeah I really have no other words for that. But here’s the thing, why would they show the fan service in the first place? It’s to make the eventual burning of Ayumu that much stronger. In fact, the fan service is vital to this series. You can’t parody something without setting up what it means in the first place. So in the end, where does this put Sera in relation to Ayumu? Way above him. Just like Haruna, we originally expected moe tropes, but in the end, we didn’t get it.
But there’s one last girl that might possibly be THE counterpoint to the argument that this show is a parody of moe. Yuu. She’s been literally this giant moeblob from episode 1, and her docile attitude only adds to that image. Add in Ayumu’s constant fantasies, and you have the perfect moe character. But is that really the case?
It really isn’t, especially when you realize the impact that Yuu has. It has a greater impact when you consider how their first meeting went. Ayumu basically approached Yuu, and said this:
Of course, I’m pretty sure that in any anime, the girl would have basically reacted the same way, which leads to a bout of Ayumu realizing that he’s basically screwed.
So what’s his next course of action?
Being the comedy series that it is, he breaks his wrist, and once you see Yuu say that it was interesting, you’re pretty sure that they’re going to hit it off right? A slow relationship that culminates in something, a la Amagami style. But in every narrative in Amagami, romance just seemed to… happen. Once Junichi started interacting with a girl, that is it. They were on the path to love. But in the end, we didn’t really get any indication that he knows what love is aside from blushing. But consider what Ayumu learns from this exchange:
What is this? Ayumu’s saying that cute girls aren’t only there for looks? What madness is this? And Ayumu actually LEARNS stuff from a cute girl? Even further madness! They’re only supposed to be there for the sex appeal!
But that’s not the case in KoreZombie. In fact, if Yuu had never met Ayumu, this entire story would never happen, because, well, Ayumu would be dead. But Yuu revives Ayumu from the dead. This is a unique kind of female empowerment, because in addition to raising Yuu up from the standard moeblob, it also puts Ayumu at a servant level, and we’re not talking like how Shichika is Togame’s servant in Katanagatari. Ayumu actually owes a debt to Yuu, and she’s most likely a rather powerful person, considering that she made Ayumu essentially so life-like, that the show is named after just how skillful she was in bringing him back to life.
Who would have expected a girl like her to act in such a violent way? Generally, characters like her remain silent for the rest of their screen time, and they rarely end up running the gamut in terms of emotions. We’ve already seen a rather large spread of emotions, and it’s likely that she’ll only show more emotions as the show goes on. In the end, she might even end up becoming a character to break out of her trope, though whether that’s true or not is a question left to the future.
Speaking of breaking out of tropes, I do find it interesting how the little card thing on the episode preview changed a bit. Here’s a shot with a bunch of overlaid text:
Out of that giant mess, two lines popped out at me. First, it says that his previous job was being a Zombie. We know that he’s a Masou Shoujo now as well, but the other line that strikes me is “Shall I turn you into a vampire ninja?” What would be really cool is if Ayumu ended up being like literally everything. Would be hilarious to see. I’m having flashbacks to that SUPER MOE character from NHK again lol. Think of a costume that is part Masou Shoujo, part Vampire Ninja, and part Zombie.
Anyway, KoreZombie is a serious anime. Don’t be too quick to judge, because you’ll only get slapped in the face later in the anime.
By the way, sorry this is so late, but this past week was just hectic. I’ll get to Madoka by tomorrow. I think.