Once more, as I sat down to write this list, I realized that there were some glaring holes in my zombie anime experience. I haven’t watched Highschool of the Dead, Is that a Zombie or Corpse princess and I have a feeling a lot of my readers are expecting them on the list. Sorry about that. Alls I can say is that these shows weren’t snubbed, I just haven’t seen them yet.

But I have seen enough zombie anime to make a list! And for some reason, I have been itching for another good zombie story so I might pick up some of the ones I have missed. For now though, here are my top 5 zombie anime!

5. D-Gray Man

To be honest I have not seen the D-Gray man anime but I have read the manga. And it’s a weird manga. Nevertheless, I fell for it big time. And it certainly has its share of reanimated corpses running around.

D-Gray man essentially has its own rich lore so it pours in tons of magic and mysticism into the zombie myth it uses. That may be why I don’t remember the actual term Zombie being used. Still, there’s no denying that this is very much a zombie story, just one told to us as if it were an ancient Eastern fairytale. I got to pick it up again!

4. Sunday Without God

I’m not sure how many of my readers have seen this series. I don’t hear people talk about it much. For my money, it’s probably one of the best reinventions of the zombie myth out there. It uses a lot of the familiar tropes but with subtle subversion and additions to make it both more haunting and sad and yet somehow kind of mundane.

As a series, Sunday Without God tended to falter in execution but it had a lot of good ideas and none more interesting than how it interpreted zombies. For that reason, I think it’s a must-watch for any zombie aficionado out there. It’s got something unique to offer to the genre.

3. School Live

Man, you know I was spoiled making this list if School Live is number 3. I was obsessed with this anime and it’s the reason I started my blog. There’s no School Live review on here you say. Yup, there isn’t. I watched it before starting I Drink and Watch Anime and I really wanted to talk about those first episodes with someone but no one I knew had seen it or would care to do so. I found that so frustrating that I ended up getting the idea for the blog shortly after. Then I never got around to writing a review because the moment had passed.

So School Live attempts to mix adorable school girls and deadly zombies. and it works. Maybe it works less well when you know the premise but I found it tense and engaging all until the last episode. I also do like how traditional the zombies in School Live are. These are the slow shambling corpses that can infect with a bite or wound that we all know and… love?

2. Zombie Land Saga

I’m not sure how Zombie Land Saga was perceived at large. I really liked it and so did Crow who I reviewed it with. We had a blast watching season 1 and I know for sure I will be watching season 2. (I’m writing this in February but that second season might already be playing by the time I publish it). However, a dear blogger friend of mine who loves cute girl anime thought it was unwatchable and I did see some more scathing reviews. So I guess the reception was mixed?

Or maybe I just have a soft spot for cute girls and comedy zombies. In any case, Zombie Land Saga is actually fairly faithful to traditional zombie tropes except that it treats its zombies as if they were normal everyday people. And I fell in love with it.

1. Tokyo Ghoul

I have to rewatch the series. I saw it a long time ago under less than ideal circumstances and as a result, I hardly remember anything. Nevertheless, I do know I liked it at the time and it certainly is the first anime I think of when I think of zombie anime. And who doesn’t spend their days thinking of zombie anime?

But it’s not only me. I would bet that if you ask any random anime fan out there to name some zombie anime off the top of their head, 90% would come up with Tokyo Ghoul as an answer. The series has permeated our otaku collective to install itself as a quintessential title in the animated zombie genre. Just for that, I think it deserves the top spot. Very few other anime have the same type of cultural significance. At least in the zombie genre.

I might be making the pool a bit too small.

In any case, these are my current top 5 favorite top 5 zombie anime! I wonder what the next big monster trend will be. I’m hoping Kaiju. Kaiju No. 8 is really awesome!

Do you have a favourite Zombie anime? What is it? Did you also think of Tokyo Ghoul when you saw the title of the post?

23 thoughts

  1. School-Live is just so good IMO. The first time I saw it, I had n oidea what sort of show it was, so when the zombie reveal happened, it caught me compeltely off guard.

  2. You know what’s really odd? The first anime I think of when I think zombies is Zombie Loan. It’s a bit old, so it’s not much talked about, and I haven’t even seen it beyond the first few minutes of episode one. I always mean to get back to it, but never do. Maybe that’s what lodges the title in my brain?

    I wouldn’t have thought of Tokyo Ghoul as a zombie anime at all, because the title says “ghoul” not “zombie”. It’s silly, but that’s how my mind works.

    Kore wa Zombie desu ka? is hilarious, and can even hit some emotional beats at times. Interstingly, it doubles as a found family story in a weird sort of way, but it’s not front and centre. It’s primarily an ecchi harem series. I love it. it’s sequel isn’t bad, but really doesn’t measure up, in my estimation.

    Highschool of the Dead I liked just enough to finish it. If you ever want an ecchi zombie show (an ecchi show with zombies not a show with ecchi zombies), that’s pretty much what you get here. I can see it’s good, but it didn’t work for me.

    I know next to nothing about corpse princess.

    Another show I tend to think of is Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. I moderately enjoyed this one, but the zombies were pretty cool, and so was the action. Good characters, too. It always sounds like I liked the show more than I actually did when I talk about it.

    School Live is probably my favourite.

    I also really liked Sankarea, though it was a tad weak in the middle. There’s this guy (his family runs a funeral parlour) with a zombie fetish, who keeps saying that the only girl friend for him is a zombie. I think he says it to blow off the question, but I’m not actually sure. In any case, he finds this book that tells him how to resurrect living beings as zombies, and when the family cat dies he decides to try it out in a secluded place. It just so happens that he picks a place where an ojou sama wents her frustrations. The two kids bond and start to meet up (oh, and the cat is successfully resurrected). Then her control freak of a father finds them and accidently kills her. Well, as a result he now has a zombie girlfriend… The show isn’t at its best in romcom mode, but the character moments really hit home for me.

  3. I haven’t seen any of these except Tokyou Ghoul and… I didn’t like it.
    Then again, I didn’t finish it, so maybe I was unfair to the series.

    I LOVED the idea of Shikabane Hime. Beautiful animation and action, but I disliked this one for the same reason I dislike most vampire films (outside of What We Do in the Shadows- which is the best vampire film of all time imo). There was a lot of unnecessary posing, and mixing sexual voyeurism with drawn out violence.
    I think I am in the vast minority though in what I find enjoyable and offputting though.

    For example, I loved Blood C… until the last few episodes anyway.

    I don’t like watching my heroine exploited or groped when she is fighting. I know things like that can happen, but I would rather stay in the protagonist’s head and fight with all I’ve got during an action scene, rather than using fillers to drag a moment out.

    I think this is also why I couldn’t stand Sword Art Online, but loved Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. The action scenes are epic in Fate Stay Night, they are exploding with action, there is more movement than mental chess games, or staring, or simply showing still frames with lots of color. I love that the scenes with Saber fighting is purely Saber fighting. She is good in her own right- no slow-mo posing or fanservice is necessary.

    My tastes aren’t really normal, so I don’t think they really reflect what is popular or what is quality vs what is not.

    The first anime I thought of was Sankarea: Undying Love.
    I loved the beginning of it, but… I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one.

    I don’t regret watching it, but… yeah, just thinking about it makes me feel upset, like laughing, butterflies, anger and just confused… like, why??

    I haven’t seen a lot of zombie anime. So, my favourite one probably doesn’t technically count. But, I really liked Gungrave. The ending could have been better, and it dragged a lot in places, but I liked going over his whole story.

    Maybe it is because I can relate with these kinds of characters more, or because there is less fanservice, because there is more purely action scenes, or because it is paced more like a film than a sitcom.

    I wish there were more anime like Gungrave and Ghost in the Shell.
    The characters and their stories are interesting and feels personal. There is a ton of action, and the story seems to be the driving force of the anime.
    Maybe that is just a different genre?

    Yikes! I wrote a lot!

    One last question though- that actually pertains to the topic- yay!
    Have you heard of GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack? I really want to see that one.
    Tokyo is under attack by zombie fish that are attacking and infecting humans, in the midst of it all the protagonist searches for her missing boyfriend…

    Last of all, the BEST zombie related thing I ever watched is “Train to Busan.” Not an anime, but amazing!

    1. “Last of all, the BEST zombie related thing I ever watched is “Train to Busan.””

      I’ll second that. It’s my favorite live action zombie movie ever! So far, at least.

      1. Did you see the sequel? I was disappointed with it. 😛
        But Train to Busan was incredible!

        When I watched it with my brother, he spent the first half of the movie waiting for the deer to start attacking. Because he didn’t know what we were watching, and because of the intro, he thought it was about zombie deer. XD

        1. No, I didn’t see the sequel — and if it disappointed you, maybe it’s better I not watch it! I have such fond memories of the first!

          I half expected the deer to show up later! The thing was terrifying!

          1. “Peninsula” had more of a “Mad Max” vibe to it.
            Not the look of Mad Max (most of the film is in black and blue, and no chainmail nor caveman apparel in sight), but the people that still survive in Korea has the same kind of mentality.

            I think lots of people would still like it. It has moments that I really enjoyed too. It just doesn’t have the same humanity, actors or edge that Train to Busan did.

            The story is that a team is formed to return to Korea to grab money.
            You see bits and pieces of the original breakout through the eyes of the protagonist, a bit of what his life becomes for him and others who escape to Hong Kong, the assembling of the team, and then the rest is watching the night unfold when they return back to Korea.

            I am glad I watched it, but it is nothing like “Train to Busan”

    2. I have heard of GYO but I Haven’t seen it. Busan was great both book and movie. I don’t think any of the anime on the list have much exploitation or fanservice. I guess I watch different styles…

      1. Irina,

        I didn’t know it was a book too!

        No, no- you didn’t name any anime on your list like that!
        The only one I saw from your list was Tokyou Ghoul.

        Naw, I was talking about animes similar to Corpse Princess (or Shikabane Hime). I still liked the anime, but still got hung up in those kinds of scenes.

        And then, I started rambling and went off on a tangent. 😛

  4. You know, I hadn’t even thought of Corpse Princess/Shikabane Hime as a zombie series. I guess since the title characters aren’t alive, they’re in the same class as Franchouchou.

    But with super powers.

    Have you skipped High School of the Dead? It’s because of its reputation, isn’t it?

  5. tokio ghoul is one of my favorite anime, especially last season, we hope to see another one ……

  6. School Live has no zombies! It just a perfectly cute slice of life series!
    Where a teacher and her student fumble to carry a radio! … Just…a sweet teacher and her favourite student!

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