Hour of the Zombie – Vol. 1 (Manga Series)
Written by Tsukasa Saimura
Illustrated by Tsukasa Saimura
Published by Seven Seas Entertainment
Suitable for ages 16+
Here at Dread Central, we love zombies. What’s not to like? The rotting and decaying flesh of undead swarms making their way towards anything that still breathes. The inner struggle of those still alive as they decide whether or not these things are still human somewhere in their cold, maggot-infested hearts. Could you kill a zombie knowing that it might become human again? The new manga Hour of the Zombie seeks to illustrate this very question.
Starting first with the design of Hour of the Zombie, there’s plenty to like. The manga opens with four full color pages and quickly shifts to the traditional black and white. The main characters are all illustrated very different from each other, whereas the rabid hordes tend to blend together. There’s minimal use of blood and gore in the grander scope of the manga, but when it is used it sticks with you. A great example is when one student is thrown to the masses as a distraction and shows up later with half of his face chomped off. That eye ball glaring at you? Yeah, it’s barely hanging in there.
What Hour of the Zombie does to differentiate itself from all the other festering crowds of zombie pop culture is that it starts in stages. While many zombie stories now start right in the middle of the apocalypse, Hour of the Zombie starts at the beginning. Still not original enough for you? Well, the thing about this zombie break-out is that the infected don’t stay rabid. What we mean to say is, they go ballistic and start nomming on people, but then they turn back into their normal selves. The students at the school start having hope that everything will be all right, but then shit hits the fan again. This happens multiple times in this inaugural volume of Hour of the Zombie. Zombies attack, zombies go back to normal, then zombies attack, then they go back to normal. When will the madness end?!
This premise leads to some more believable moments of, “Do we kill them, or don’t we?” than most other zombie series. However, that’s where the enjoyable parts of Hour of the Zombie end. The main character of the series, Akira, is obsessed with fellow classmate Kurumi. Like any typical manga fare, Kurumi doesn’t like Akira but is in fact in love with his best friend, Umezawa. Be that as it may, Akira doesn’t let that get in the way of still pining over her. And that’s the least of his worries since Kurumi is also a zombie. Therefore, almost the entirety of the first volume of Hour of the Zombie is dedicated to Akira being completely bat-shit crazy over Kurumi even despite her drooling zombie-ness and fixation on his best friend. This is understandable for maybe a few chapters, not the entire volume.
If you can get past the aggravating sense of, “Get over her already, dude!” in the first volume, understand that there does still seem to be hope for the series. This volume of Hour of the Zombie ends on a cliffhanger that (without giving everything away) indicates there may be hope for the zombie students. Something happens that one does not see in the zombie world, and we’re left with many questions unanswered. There’s also the addition of a mysterious character named Kisaragi who seems far too calm for all this madness. Here’s hoping that his blasé attitude over everything gets explained somewhere down the road.
So far, Hour of the Zombie functions as an introduction to a world where zombie students run amok, and the rest have to fight to survive. Violence abounds as to be expected, but there isn’t an overwhelming amount of gore for gore’s sake. Main character Akira spends the entire first volume annoying the shit out of us over his girl crush Kurumi, but there’s still hope. With other more layered characters, and a plot twist of an ending, Hour of the Zombie may just surprise us.