Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is Netflix’s latest live-action adaptation of an ongoing anime series by the same name, and the premise is as interesting and fun as ever. At the center of the plot is the protagonist, Tendo Akira, an overworked employee at an exploitative corporate company who is exhilarated to find out that the world is going through a zombie outbreak. Akira’s thrill in being able to completely slack his days away without having to worry about the office and his toxic colleagues is undoubtedly the brightest element of the work. Although the anime series still remains far better in my personal preference, Zom 100 does a decent job of presenting the story in an entertaining style.
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Zom 100 begins in the middle of an absolute crisis when Akira steps out of his house and notices that everyone in his neighborhood has turned into zombies. Despite such a horrible situation, Akira’s first reaction is frustration, only because he will be marked late at his office because of this inconvenience.
The film then takes us back a year, when Tendo Akira first joined his job. A young man fresh out of college, Akira was beyond excited to get the opportunity to work his dream job at the commercial division of a production company named Master Shot. After joining the office, Akira eagerly made introductions, started work, and was even immediately smitten by a senior colleague named Ohtori. But as the hours went by, the man started to realize what he had stepped into when Akira could finally return home from his first day of work after two straight night shifts. This limitless work schedule and regularly having to spend entire days and nights at the office became a common thing for the man over the past year, and within this time, Akira grew too tired of it. Physically and mentally draining, the job also involved exploitation and harassment from professional seniors, and Akira truly turned into a corporate slave. Unable to gather up the courage or resilience to quit the job, Akira instead even contemplated giving up on his life.
But on this particular morning, as Akira woke up and hurriedly stepped out of his apartment, reality crashed down upon him. After successfully avoiding hordes of zombies, the most important realization hits Akira—he no longer has to go to the office or care about his exploitative boss anymore! Taken over by unbridled joy, the man goes over to Ohtori’s house to check on her and also expresses his love for her. Although this does not go very well for Akira, who finds his company’s director at Ohtori’s apartment before both of them turn into zombies and attack him, he does truly enjoy the adventure. Returning home, Akira starts to write down 100 things that he wants to do before being bitten and turning into a zombie.
How do Kencho and Shizuka join Akira?
After initially beginning with his bucket list of things to do before essentially dying, Akira tidies up his room, gets hold of a motorcycle, and rides it around town, gathering fireworks to put up a show for himself, and then even makes a stay-at-home camp. However, the loneliness of the world does eventually catch up to him, and Akira thinks of his best friend from college, with whom he had had a falling out in recent times. During his college days, Akira was on the football team as a skilled wide receiver, while his best friend Kencho was the quarterback. But during the final of the esteemed college tournament, Kencho was unable to perform well, which led to their team losing the final.
Along with the other players, Akira also felt Kencho was inadequate as an athlete, but he did not seem to say anything to his best friend. Once their professional careers began, the men got to meet each other much less frequently than before, and Akira also started to dislike how Kencho would act with him. Hearing about the struggles of the exploitative company and his ill-mannered department boss, Kencho would always tell Akira to leave the job and find a place in some other company or profession. Such suggestions to Akira were of no use, and instead, they only made Kencho seem like a know-it-all to him. To make matters worse, Kencho would also proudly share about his work and how his clients’ daughters would get interested in him, which all seemed to Akira like his best friend was being boastful.
On the day of their final meeting, much before the zombie outbreak, Akira could no longer tolerate Kencho’s boastful remarks, and he confronted his best friend over what had happened during the college football final game. This ended their relationship for the time being because of the fact that Kencho himself was actually quite scarred and hurt by his inability to perform. An interesting difference kept between the anime series and Zom 100 in this regard is that while the anime has Kencho being secretly tired and dissatisfied with his professional life, the film adaptation’s Kencho does not share any similar details. Instead, he is marked by an immense lack of self-confidence, which keeps the man from trying any means of escape from the love hotel, and he instead remains inside the place for days before Akira eventually calls him and then meets up with him. Now that there is a zombie apocalypse in motion, the few survivors have all the time and respite in the world, with hardly any reason for frustration or ego clashes. Therefore, Akira remembers his best friend and rides out to save him, and from this point on, he and Kencho become close friends once again.
In the case of Shizuka, the young woman is another survivor but is quite different from Akira and Kencho. Unlike the men, she is extremely serious about the whole situation and is even shocked by the carelessness that the two friends show. Shizuka and Akira first meet at an abandoned convenience store, where they both go to gather supplies, but the woman does not even reveal her name to Akira. Although the protagonist gets smitten by Shizuka, the two do not meet again until later on, when the zombie outbreak takes on a more devastating shape, claiming more victims. It is to be mentioned in this regard that no specific detail about this zombie outbreak is provided (neither in the film nor in the anime series yet) other than the statement that people were turning into zombies because of some spreading disease.
After the zombie outbreak began, the few remaining groups of survivors got to know that a specific project called the Marine Paradise Aquarium was in development a little distance away from Tokyo, and this space was the safest for shelter. This was because of the security detail at the place and, more importantly, because it had innumerable fish and aquatic animals and, therefore, no risk of food shortage, at least for a year or so. Because of this reason, whatever few survivors remained were all trying to reach the Marine Paradise Aquarium, and Shizuka was also among them. The woman had boarded a bus, along with many other passengers, to reach the aquarium, but their vehicle was taken over by zombies midway. When Shizuka fights off the zombies and tries to find shelter, she runs into Akira and Kencho once again, and it is now that the three first become a group.
Shizuka is not willing to be part of any group, though, as she firmly believes that being together with the two stupid men would only get her into more trouble. This proves partly correct as well when the bus driver and the air hostesses turn into zombies and attack Kencho, Akira, and Shizuka. She still keeps thinking of how she would not have been in this trouble had Kencho and Akira not been with her, but Shizuka soon realizes the benefits of being in a group as well. It is Akira and Kencho who decide not to escape the store by themselves but instead return to help Shizuka out of trouble. Although the woman is evidently glad and thankful for this help, she does not speak out about it immediately.
Shizuka’s character is soon revealed to be one who has always stuck by the rules of being self-reliant and professional to the core, but she gradually understands that she has been missing out on life because of this perspective of hers. Instead, she starts to enjoy herself with Akira and Kencho, as the trio keeps doing things on Akira’s bucket list, and Shizuka eventually does away with her self-restricting manner. While she had always been heading towards the aquarium, Akira and Kencho had also decided to go there since Akira knew a secret about it, owing to the fact that he was working on the aquarium’s advertising team. The Marine Paradise Aquarium supposedly had a shark suit, i.e., a metal suit used as protection against sharks, and Akira wants to use this suit against zombies as well.
What happens at the Marine Paradise Aquarium?
When the three friends reach the Marine Paradise Aquarium, their camper van gets punctured, which leads to an accident, and Akira loses consciousness. After waking up, though, he once again finds himself in a nightmarish situation like before, for his departmental boss, Kosugi, was also among the survivors at the place. When the zombie outbreak first began, Kosugi and his team were at the place to shoot for the advertisement campaign, so he was able to stay back and make it his shelter. Other groups of survivors then poured in. In true corporate leader fashion, Kosugi had somehow convinced all the survivors at the aquarium that he must lead them all toward starting their own community, and he was now reaping the benefits of such an arrangement. The man continues to be as ill-mannered and exploitative as ever, making the others do backbreaking work while he and his select few men just laze around.
In this part of the plot, Zom 100 actually reminds one of the very devastating societal effects that are possible during any apocalypse or crisis, even more realistic ones than zombie outbreaks. There is some space for an argument that Kosugi had climbed his way up the corporate ladder and could, therefore, now make his subordinates do most of his work, even though his manipulative behavior cannot be justified. However, now in this post-apocalyptic world, Kosugi has simply assumed the same role based on his previous profession, and he turns into an almost autocratic leader. While the advertised seafood delicacies were only being consumed by Kosugi and his select associates, the rest of the survivors were getting meager rations that were neither nutritious nor fulfilling. Keeping up with all the societal injustice in the real world, the community at the Marine Paradise Aquarium also has the real workers survive on the bare minimum while the higher rungs of society enjoy repeated rounds of delicacies.
This paradise does not last very long, though, as one zombie manages to creep into the place and bite one of the workers. Total commotion follows, as the entire place gets overrun by zombies, to the extent that the great white sharks at the aquarium also turn into monsters after gobbling infected bodies. While the characters initially feel respite at the fact that the sharks won’t be able to attack on land, all the legs from the consumed bodies push out from the sharks’ bellies, turning them into supremely creepy and mobile monsters.
‘Zom 100’ Ending Explained: What Finally Happens To Akira, Shizuka, and Kencho?
Among various other entries of varying degrees in Akira’s bucket list, there was also one specific wish of his—to be like a superhero and save innocent people. Therefore, the final part of Zom 100 pits the protagonist against the hordes of zombies, especially the two zombie sharks that attack everyone at the aquarium. Akira steps up to save the day, wearing the shark suit that was indeed present at the place and running through groups of zombies, as he is now resilient to their bites. Kosugi continues his selfish acts as the boss tries to only ensure his own safety, and he does not mind sending others towards death to protect himself.
However, when the time comes, Akira decides to save his ex-boss as well, even though he had already emphatically expressed how he was quitting Kosugi’s team a little earlier. But at this moment, the protagonist acts accordingly, like a true superhero who would not make judgmental differences based on his own opinions about the helpless victims. Naturally, two helpers or side heroes of the main superhero also rise to the occasion in the form of Shizuka and Kencho. Shizuka makes use of her intelligence and even comes up with a plan to destroy the sharks while also selflessly working for the benefit of the trio and not just for herself. On the other side, Kencho has to crucially throw the batteries towards Akira, and by doing so, he finally redeems his bad performance and fumbles during the college football final game.
During Zom 100‘s ending, all of the central characters survive the ordeal and manage to get out of the zombie-infested aquarium. However, the survivors now refuse to work for the cowardly Kosugi anymore, and they drive away from the place despite the corporate boss’s weak efforts to make them stay. Kosugi suddenly looks like the loneliest man on Earth, and a short post-credits scene also shows him picking up his own essentials at the parking lot of the aquarium. Meanwhile, Akira, Shizuka, and Kencho remain a trio as they decide to travel across the country on their camper van, looking forward to more adventures, and the two friends now add their own wishes to Akira’s bucket list. While the zombie apocalypse is still shown to be going on, it would be safe to say that Akira, Shizuka, and Kencho have survived this part of the story and will continue on more adventures together from now on.